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[This story contains spoilers for season eight, episode five of HBO’s Game of Thrones, “The Bells.”]
Eight seasons. Seven Kingdoms. Seventy-two episodes. All of it has been leading to Game of Thrones‘ eighth season finale — the series finale — clocking in as the 73rd episode and the final resolution for the fate of Westeros.
Written and directed by series creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss, the Game of Thrones series finale launches in its 80-minute entirety on May 19, bringing an end to the stories of Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and so many more for the very last time. Westeros will surely live on, whether in author George R.R. Martin’s hopeful new novels or in one of the developing HBO successor series — but the primary Thrones story? It’s all about to reach the finish line, in one week’s time.
Structured at a scant six installments, the final season of Game of Thrones has featured extra-sized episodes, as the forces of the living first battled the forces of the dead before battling each other. The war against the Night King ended much earlier than expected, with the White Walkers vanquished at the end of director Miguel Sapochnik’s “The Long Night.” From there the fire and blood spilled back out into the realm, as Daenerys and Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) once again set their sights on each other, with nothing short of the Iron Throne and the soul of the realm at stake. All the while, various forces conspired to anoint a different royal possibility altogether: Jon Snow, whose true heritage as Aegon Targaryen gave him the best claim for the Iron Throne. As the son of a Stark, Jon could also rally the North to his cause — a position firmly held by Varys the Spider (Conleth Hill), one of the most savvy political operators in Thrones since the very beginning of the series.
Miguel Sapochnik’s “The Bells,” the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones, pushed the royal race to a disturbing breaking point: King’s Landing in ruins, all thanks to Daenerys’ dragon-riding fury. Several major characters are now dead, including Cersei, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), both Clegane brothers and more. Varys is dead, too, executed at Dany’s command before she brought the skies down upon the innocents of Westeros’ capital. Horrified but still alive: Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), who ends “The Bells” riding away from the carnage, as well as Jon Snow, forced to reckon with the reality of what his queen has wrought.
When it comes to Cersei and Daenerys, an old phrase comes to mind: “The queen is dead; long live the queen.” Who knows about a long life, but Daenerys will live at least through to the finale. With all of their cards now on the table, the only thing Benioff and Weiss have left to do is flip the thing over. What will be unearthed in the series finale? The first shred of true details lie ahead in the official trailer, which offers a bleak look at the ashes at the heart of Daenerys’ kingdom. Watch above.
Read all of THR’s Final Path series, featuring character-by-character predictions:
1. Jon Snow
2. Daenerys Targaryen
3. Tyrion Lannister
4. Cersei Lannister
5. Jaime Lannister
6. Sansa Stark
7. Arya Stark
8. Bran Stark
9. Samwell Tarly
10. Theon Greyjoy
11. The Hound
12. Brienne of Tarth
15. Davos Seaworth
16. Jorah Mormont
18. Tormund Giantsbane
19. Beric Dondarrion
20. The Dragons
21. The Night King
22. Across the World of Ice and Fire
23. Final Predictions
Follow THR.com/GameOfThrones for continuing coverage all season long.
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