Game Of Thrones Episode 5, Season 8: 15 Easter Eggs And References You Might Have Missed
Game of Thrones Season 8 spoilers ahead!
This week on Game of Thrones, the bells tolled--and the Mad Queen Daenerys didn't care. Season 8, Episode 5, "The Bells," saw the Dragon Queen achieve exactly what all her advisors have been telling her was impossible for the last two seasons: An easy, relatively bloodless conquest of King's Landing. With the ring of the bells and the Lannister soldiers' surrender, Dany had victory in her grasp--and she chose genocide instead.
We can argue all day about whether that choice was properly earned, was foreshadowed for the past eight seasons, or even made one lick of sense. But this is where we are at: With one episode left of Game of Thrones, Daenerys has somehow become the insane tyrant she never wanted to be. She may rule over the ashes, or someone may yet intervene.
One key element of this episode may determine just how things play out. Varys might be dead, but a pair of scenes featuring him point to his attempts to poison Dany. It's never stated explicitly, but the removal of his rings and his discussion with a young girl who works in the kitchen point to him plotting at something--and that could come into play during the finale.
That's all for next Sunday. For now, let's take a look at all the Easter eggs, references, and callbacks we spotted in Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 5, "The Bells." For a look ahead, be sure to check out some new theories and the Episode 6 trailer.
1. Dark Wings, Dark Words
With everything that happened in "The Bells," it's easy to forget how the episode opened: with the Master of Whispers writing letters explaining Jon Snow's true claim to the Iron Throne. Sure, he burned one when he heard his executioners marching down the hallway, but we have no idea how many letters he may have sent offscreen--maybe none, but maybe just enough. We'll know next week.
2. Heads Or Tails
One of the ways Game of Thrones foreshadowed Dany's dark turn is with the idiom concerning the Targaryen family's apparently unusually high rate of madness: "Every time a Targaryen is born, the gods flip a coin." Cersei initially dropped this knowledge on the show in Season 2 Episode 7, "A Man Without Honor," during a conversation with Tyrion.
It initially came from the books; In book 3, A Storm of Swords, Barristan Selmy tells Dany: "...Every child knows that the Targaryens have always danced too close to madness. Your father was not the first. King Jaehaerys [Dany's grandfather] once told me that madness and greatness are two sides of the same coin. Every time a new Targaryen is born, he said, the gods toss the coin in the air and the world holds its breath to see how it will land."
3. Breaker Of Chains
One of the more touching moments in Episode 5 was the short scene between Dany and Grey Worm, in which the Dragon Queen revealed that the only possession Missandei brought with her from Essos was her old slave collar. Grey Worm tossing it into the fire was not exactly a subtle metaphor. Wonder what Missandei would think of her Queen and her boyfriend now?
4. Tit For Tat
As Tyrion himself noted during the episode, when he freed his brother Jaime he was essentially returning the favor. Jaime freed Tyrion before the dwarf's execution in King's Landing, and Tyrion's reciprocal act in the show's penultimate episode was a beautiful moment that brought their relationship full circle.
5. The Rains of Castamere
The song that we catch snippets of while King's Landing's defending armies assemble, and again as Jaime and Cersei clutch one another underground, is "The Rains of Castamere." It played a prominent role in previous seasons, particularly during Season 3's Red Wedding, which Tywin Lannister orchestrated. The song was written to immortalize Tywin's previous destruction of another house, the Reynes of Castamere, after they rebelled against the Lannisters.
6. The Light of the Seven
Snatches of "The Light of the Seven," the song that took center stage during Cersei's destruction of the Sept of Baelor in Season 6, could also be heard throughout the episode, including as Grey Worm, Jon, and Davos led their army into King's Landing. Game of Thrones composer Ramin Djawadi has really written some incredible music throughout the show.
7. Visions Fulfilled
The shot from Bran's vision several seasons ago of a dragon in flight casting an ominous shadow over King's Landing was finally glimpsed in truth during the city's destruction. This could have been a triumphant moment, if Dany hadn't gone completely nuts. Bummer!
8. Green And Red
The green explosions scattered throughout the dragonfire during Dany's destruction of King's Landing were a nice touch, considering how many details and plot points this show has simply dropped or forgotten over the years. The green blossoms Were the Mad King's old stashes of the napalm-like substance wildfire being ignited by Drogon's attacks. Cersei used one of those caches to destroy the Sept of Baelor in Season 6. If you consider that every one of the green explosions glimpsed in "The Bells" was likely at the same size, it puts the whole massacre in perspective.
9. Cleganebowl Confirmed
The clash between Sandor "The Hound" Clegane and Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane was a long time coming, and it lived up to the hype. Sandor has hated his big brother since the two were children, when Gregor gave the Hound his hideous face scars and instilled his lifelong fear of fire. Watching the two brothers duke it out atop the crumbling red keep with King's Landing burning and Drogon doing fly-bys in the background was incredible. Check out our full Cleganebowl explainer for more.
10. Heads Were Dashed
If there was any doubt about whether the Mountain was still the Mountain at some level deep in his gross undead self, the way he killed Qyburn proved it. Gregor Clegane casually dashed Qyburn's head against the wall, smashing his brains--the Mountain's signature move, if there's any truth to the infamous accounts of how he killed Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia Martell's young children during Robert's rebellion.
11. It's The End Of The World And We Know It
The world map Cersei had painted in the Red Keep's open air courtyard literally cracking apart under her feet is a pretty obvious visual metaphor: The world is literally ending, as far as Cersei is concerned. And although the story may be coming to an end, the repercussions of this episode's events will be felt for generations to come in Westeros.
12. The Valonqar At Last
The theory that either Jaime or Tyrion would be the one to kill Cersei in the end came straight from the books, where the woods witch who young Cersei visited predicted that the future queen would die at the hands of the "valonqar," a word that means "little brother" in High Valyrian. In a roundabout way, that theory came true: Jaime led Cersei to her final resting place under the Red Keep, and he did it at Tyrion's behest. Neither brother intended for this to be Cersei's tomb, but you could argue that they share the responsibility.
13. The Woman He Loves
Jaime has said repeatedly that he wants to die in the arms of the woman he loves. Fans may have hoped he meant Brienne, but it turns out that was meant to be Cersei all along. Oh well!
14. Ash, Not Snow
The vision we've glimpsed previously of what appeared to be snow falling over the Iron Throne will, it appears, turn out to not be snow at all--but ash caused by Dany's massacre of King's Landing. We'll see in the finale.
15. End Credits Song
The final credits song was a perfect way to send this gruesome, depressing episode off: It was actually a really cool medley of the show's main theme, "The Rains of Castamere," and "The Light of the Seven." Melodies and riffs from all three songs could be clearly heard as the credits rolled.