It's almost the end of Game of Thrones, and penultimate episode "The Bells" left fans reeling. In a move that may serve as one of the show's most controversial and lasting moments, Daenerys Targaryen ignores the bells signaling surrender and lays waste to King's Landing with the help of Drogon and her armies. While not everyone was happy with the episode, the cinematic destruction captures some of the most epic action ever depicted in a TV series.
You couldn't miss the explosions and terror that practically burst from the screen, but the episode still hid plenty of tiny details and allusions in all of that chaos. Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss know that fans are ready to analyze every minute of Game of Thrones, and they made sure to fill the episode with hidden nuggets to keep fans busy.
Back in Season 4, Bran had a vision of a dragon flying over King's Landing along with other moments from the past when he touched the weirwood tree North of the Wall. At the time, it was unclear whether that dragon vision was from the future or the past, but things are a lot clearer after "The Bells." The episode includes almost the exact same shot of Drogon's shadow soaring over King's Landing, though the CGI is updated based on the higher budget in Season 8.
In an episode filled with final moments for beloved characters, Varys starts things off with his last ditch effort to betray Daenerys in favor of Jon's claim to the throne. He fails and, for his actions, comes face-to-face with Drogon, but it's possible that he may still live on in spirit. Before his death, Varys has a scene with a young girl, one of the children who was in the crypts during the Battle of Winterfell. She gives Varys an update on Dany's behavior, and it seems that Varys is teaching her in the ways of the Master of Whisperers.
While it's likely just a final scene showing Varys's gift for planting his "little birds" in places of value, some think it alludes to an even deeper plan that was in progress. Redditor u/hmmmmletmethink theorized that Varys had been poisoning Daenerys with the child's help, and he may have tried a similar strategy with the Mad King. That may also be connected to the moment where Varys removes his rings before being taken away by Grey Worm; the rings may have been payment for the girl, or a nod to the fake gem that took Joffrey's life in the Purple Wedding, where Varys had hidden the poison.
"The Rains of Castamere" is one of the most well-known songs in Westeros, and it plays an important role in "The Bells." The song details the destruction of House Reyne after they rebelled against the Lannisters, and it was adopted as a pseudo-theme song for House Lannister. The song served as a signal at the Red Wedding, and the melody appears again in the score during Cersei and Jaime's final scene. When they find themselves trapped in the tunnels below the Red Keep, "The Rains of Castamere" plays while the twins embrace one last time and the tunnels cave in around them.
The episode ends with a battered Arya riding out of King's Landing on a white horse that was lost among the city's ruins. It's a quietly stirring epilogue to an episode overflowing with destruction and bombast, but the horse may serve as a connection to the books. In A Dance With Dragons, the mysterious Quaithe gives Daenerys a prophetic warning:
Hear me, Daenerys Targaryen. The glass candles are burning. Soon comes the pale mare, and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun’s son and the mummer’s dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying. Beware the perfumed seneschal.
Later in the book, a plague of dysentery strikes Mereen, which is also called the "pale mare," but the horse Arya rides off on could also nod towards this warning. Based on Arya's training and history of offing major threats like the Night King, it could also be a biblical reference to Revelation 6:8: "I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him."