Examining Daenerys Targaryen

Image retrieved from IMDb

The ending of Game of Thrones left what seems like the majority of fans dissatisfied, especially with how many of the character arcs wrapped up. I already wrote about why I loved the final season on SiftPop, but I still have more to say when it comes to specific characters. This series will look into why many, if not all, of these arcs worked so well for me, continuing with Daenerys Targaryen. Full spoilers and adult content will be discussed.

Out of all of the character conclusions in Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen is the one that generated the biggest uproar and the most backlash. This turned out to be the story of someone who seemed good – like a glimmer of hope in a dark and hopeless world – making an out-of-nowhere heel turn to the dark side. It’s like Walter White, but without any of the character development, say the critics of this turn.

Never mind the foreshadowing and small hints at the fact that Dany was walking a tightrope this whole series, it was unacceptable to many people to see her finally snap and go all-out evil. She was a symbol of hope and empowerment. The thing is, though, the groundwork was laid during the first seven seasons. She was ruthless, power-hungry, and ready to kill any who opposed her. It just so happened that those who opposed her were often seen as morally reprehensible, so we as viewers thought that she was justified in her actions.

Now, when looking back, it’s easy to see that maybe she was a cautionary character that we were supposed to be wary of. Maybe, when looking at the iconic Mhysa scene, it is supposed to be a bad thing to see her surrounded and being worshipped by all these freed slaves. Upon a revisit, she’s portrayed almost as a white savior, and in a negative light.

But none of this would have ever been considered if it hadn’t been for her turn. Many of the criticisms against Daenerys’ were leveled after the penultimate episode, and people went into the finale ready to hate it. They were too far gone to be able to see the complete story. That isn’t a totally fair way to look at it, though. That final episode is especially important because it explains some of the actions that people had such a big problem with, most notably where Daenerys delivers a line to Jon explaining her reasoning behind burning King’s Landing.

Dany says of Cersei, “She used their innocence as a weapon against me; she thought it would cripple me.” This is important, as it explains the reason why she felt threatened by the sound of the bells, which were supposed to signify surrender and victory. Her paranoid mind thought that a surrender was just another way for Cersei to try to trick her. In her mind, the only way to make sure that she had truly won was to destroy everyone in the country’s capital. It’s heartbreaking, but it makes sense.

You can even read the exchange between Jon and Dany as an exchange between filmmaker and audience. The audience thought they knew what was good – we theorized and came up with how we wanted the show to end, but when all was said and done, it was always going to end this way. We didn’t get to choose. Even though it hurts horribly to see a hopeful character turn hopeless, the show was trying to say something specific about what a desire for power does to a person. Even Drogon could tell that the Iron Throne is effectively what killed his mother. It’s not what we wanted to see, but it’s what had to be done.

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