Original Content podcast: ‘Game of Thrones’ burns it all down

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This post and podcast contain spoilers for “Game of Thrones.”

Our original co-host Darrell Etherington returns for this week’s Original Content podcast, which is all about “Game of Thrones” — specifically “The Bells,” an episode that seems to have prompted more fan outcry than anything in the last seven-and-a-half seasons.

The controversy, of course, comes from watching Daenerys (Breaker of Chains, Mother of Dragons, the closest thing the show has to a hero) and her last remaining dragon burn King’s Landing to ash.

But we didn’t just spend 40 minutes venting of our anger and frustration. After all, in a series defined by its ruthless subversion of traditional fantasy narratives, how could the conquest of Westeros end in anything other than mass slaughter? And like “The Long Night,” “The Bells” is full of haunting, beautiful images — except this time, the devastation unfolds in broad daylight.

Plus, as the episode’s pre-credits sequence strains to remind us, Daenerys has always had a ruthless streak; this is a supposedly benevolent ruler who’s crucified some of her enemies and burned others alive.

What fatally undermines all of this, however, is the show’s increased reliance on rushed storytelling. There’s been some giddy fun in watching the early seasons’ deliberate pacing give way to a frantic rush for the finish line, but without crucial connective tissue, Dany’s actions feel less like a carefully constructed tragedy, and more like an arbitrary swing to cruelty and madness.

Put another way: We didn’t sign any petitions, but we’re not feeling optimistic about Sunday’s finale.

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