Game of Thrones Philosophy Breakdown: S8E5 “The Bells” – Tyrants, Mercy, Responsibility, and Madness

*SPOILER ALERT FOR GAME OF THRONES, OBVIOUSLY. Don’t listen to this if you haven’t watched the show!*

The penultimate episode brought home many of the truest and most powerful themes of Game of Thrones, from the horrors of war and power to the often cyclical nature of history and human nature.

Ryan and I went long for this episode – there was just so much to discuss:

  • Did Jamie’s end do his character arc justice?
  • What do Redditors say about Daenerys’s plans to burn King’s Landing?
  • Did Tyrion do the right thing in betraying Varys?
  • Was Jon responsible for Varys’s death and Sansa’s betrayal?
  • Is mercy really a weakness? Is it really a strength? Can it be both?
  • Do civilians bear the guilt of their governments if they choose not to revolt?
  • How does Daenerys’s massacre mirror politically-sanctioned massacres in history?
  • Do we even know what madness is?
  • Was there any nobility in the end of Jamie’s character arc?

It was hard to come away without some shock and without strong opinions about who was in the wrong – and what should happen next.

What were your major philosophical takeaways from this episode? Let us know in the comments or tweet with the hashtag #GameOfThronesPhilosophy for a chance to have your words featured on the next episode.

We’ll be right there with you when the finale comes – and, while I expect a tragedy, I hope that some justice will be done.

Ready to dig in? Download the new episode from iTunes or your favorite podcast app. 

You can also listen to this episode (and others!) in the in-browser player below. Want to chime in with your thoughts? Comment on this blog! I’m sure we haven’t said anything controversial AT ALL.

NSFW WARNING: These episodes contain language and themes not appropriate for children and probably not safe for work or your grandmother. In no circumstance should these be heard by the delicate ears of Prince Tommen.

DISCLAIMERS: Despite all evidence to the contrary in this show, I am not a professional philosopher, doctor, climatologist, maester, brother of the Night’s Watch, or financial advisor.

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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