"The Bells," the highly controversial fifth episode of "Game of Thrones'" final season, may have gotten the series' lowest Rotten Tomatoes score ever (along with its highest viewership numbers), but it did spark unusual interest in the creators' after-show commentary, which had until this week been regularly dismissed as astonishingly super-dull.
Season after season, HBO has offered a post-episode "inside look" called, with a decided lack of whimsy, "Inside the Episode." And season after season this turned out to be David Benioff and D.B. Weiss droning through a play-by-play recap of what viewers had just seen, with such dazzling insights as "Tyrion has made a lot of mistakes and Dany really is at the end of her patience," and "for Brienne, I think she's in love with someone who doesn't realize she is."
All delivered in a way that can only be described as dueling monotone.
Even if the episode in question had included an important revelation, a horrifying death or an overwhelming battle, there was no behind-the-scenes dish, no sense of fun or excitement. Just Weiss and Benioff, invariably in button-downs, grinding major plot points to dust like some long-since-disengaged English professor teaching to the test.
Seriously, many wondered, often publicly, these are the guys who wrote the best, most exciting show on television?
After "The Bells," however, many fans turned to "Inside the Episode" with newfound desperation and/or fury. What the hell was Dany doing/thinking when she let loose on King's Landing?
"You look at those people who have been closest to her for so long," Benioff explained, with a flat somberness that for once matched the subject matter, "and almost all of them have either turned on her or died and she's very much alone, and that's a dangerous thing for someone who's got so much power."
"I think that when she says 'let it be fear,'" Weiss adds, "she's resigning herself to the fact that she may have to get things done in a way that isn't pleasant ... in a way that is horrible to lots of people."
The commentary remained enigmatic, no doubt intentionally enigmatic; in the debates over whether the episode was a reprehensible character shift or a natural evolution, some quoted Benioff's reference to Danaerys' cool reaction to her brother's horrific death in Season 1, others Weiss' feeling that the sight of the Red Keep, a symbol of all that had been "taken from her" caused her to make the battle "personal."
Either way, it was the first time in a long time that viewers appeared to find the creators' commentary at all revelatory.