When it came to hitting big narrative beats, Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 5, “The Bells,” didn’t disappoint. The destruction of King’s Landing, Daenerys going full “Mad Queen,” and Cleganebowl were all things GoT fans knew were coming and were eager to see play out.
But one more major plot point focused on Cersei Lannister might not have happened the way we expected, or did it? Here’s how “The Bells” may have sneakily fulfilled a classic Game of Thrones prophecy without you even realizing.
Spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 5 (and probably the series finale) ahead.
So, Cersei’s reign of terror is finally over. It took a long time for Cersei to decide she needed to evacuate the Red Keep, only listening to Qyburn at the eleventh hour as the castle was crumbling around them. Cersei managed to make it all the way to the courtyard (featuring a map of Westeros she had painted in Season 7), panicking as she realized the castle she thought was impenetrable would actually fall.
Then, in her hour of need, Jaime appeared, having fought his way to her in a futile effort to save his sister/lover. The two have sacrificed so much to get back to one another, so, of course, their last attempt at survival would be together.
Subscribe for free to Multiverse and get Game of Thrones coverage delivered to your inbox the night the episode airs.
The pair quickly became trapped in the bowels of the Red Keep when they discovered that all of the possible exits were blocked with rubble. As Cersei cries, telling Jaime it can’t end like this, Jaime holds her face and tells her, “Nothing else matters.” In that moment, the ceiling crumbles and the two are killed in an instant.
To be fair, we don’t actually see their deaths onscreen. Normally, in Game of Thrones, that would be a big red flag, but there’s a reason we’re confident that Cersei is really dead.
To answer that question, we need to dredge up the Valonqar Prophecy, which was delivered to a young Cersei by a witch and may have predicted exactly how she would die.
Everything up until “The Bells” that was tied to Maggy the Frog’s prophecy for Cersei has come true. She was wed to the king (Robert Baratheon), and she had three children, all who died before her. Another younger queen posed a threat to her own reign as queen, too. First, she thought it was Margaery Tyrell. Then, it turned out Dany was that threat.
But the identity of the Valonqar (“little brother”), destined to wrap their hands around Cersei’s throat once her tears had drowned her, was always up for debate. Jaime and Tyrion were the natural candidates since they’re both technically Cersei’s younger brothers. Over time, other candidates like Arya, Sansa, and the Hound were submitted for consideration since they were all younger siblings with motive and/or means to kill her.
“The Bells,” however, took a different route to Cersei’s death. Jaime ended up being the Valonqar, in a sense, as both the younger brother and the person who put his hands on Cersei’s neck (and face). Rather than killing her, his hands were there to comfort her and keep her calm.
So, technically, the Valonqar Prophecy was fulfilled, just not in the violent way we’ve come to think of the death Cersei deserves or the way death has been depicted on Game of Thrones. That seems pretty fitting for a prophecy that only appeared in the book and was never actually mentioned on the show, giving hardcore fans a bit of closure without confusing casual watchers.
We may have wanted a gorier, more surprising death for Cersei Lannister. As potentially unsatisfying as her and Jaime’s deaths might have been, it also feels right that their end would match the weight of their heinous behavior throughout their lives.
Getting crushed by heavy stones is a hell of a symbolic way to show how all of the choices that led them to the Red Keep’s crypts weighed on them and twisted them into people more fearful and afraid, scrambling to hold onto any shred of safety they could. But Jaime and Cersei would never have been strong enough to survive, even if they fought together.
And so, the Lannister twins left this world as they came into it: together.
The Game of Thrones series finale airs Sunday, May 19 on HBO at 9 p.m. Eastern.