The penultimate Game of Thrones episode has had some (slightly) extreme reactions, including a petition to redo season 8. One of the main criticisms of Dany going full Mad Queen is that it didn’t serve her character development over the last eight seasons, while her reaction to Jon Snow’s revelations about being her nephew have helped tip her over the edge. But is Dany’s apparent madness actually consistent with how she’s acted all along on the show?
Here’s what actress Emilia Clarke had to say recently while speaking about her character’s reaction to learning her and Jon are related, explaining that incest isn’t uncommon for Targaryens.
“The related thing, to her, is so normal. She could have easily married her brother. It’s not a thing. It’s a thing for Jon, but let’s just forget about that. The main thing is we’re up for the same promotion and I’ve been working for it for my entire existence.”
Clarke also points to Daenerys having to deal with the loss of her destiny, whereby: “Dany literally was brought into this world going: RUN! These f—ers have f—ed everything up. Now it’s, ‘You’re our only hope.’”
My take is that Dany’s actions in “The Bells” weren’t a case of her descending into inevitable madness, but rather her natural reaction to Game of Thrones‘ approach to destiny and how characters deal with being thrust into and out of the spotlight. Many major players have been set up for greatness and then moved off the chess board, from Stannis to Robb Stark, and Dany’s arc this season has very much been about her losing her agency as the rightful Targaryen ruler of Westeros.
Dany’s decision-making was ultimately flawed, but was arguably in keeping with her character’s acknowledged history of breaking the rules and defying expectations to fulfill her destiny. Others have rejected prophecy and fate, from Arya and the Faceless Men to Jon pulling away from the throne, and have learnt to live with ambiguity.
By not doing this, it actually makes Dany not the final villain of the series, but the ultimate victim of how Game of Thrones punishes anyone who refuses to change. My view is that her refusal to bend in her messianic mission has a satisfying parallel with Ned Stark’s arc, whereby both characters’ principles ultimately seal their fate.
What do you think about Dany’s journey this season, though? As always, share your thoughts in the comments section down below.