*I hope it’s obvious that this article contains spoilers, but just in case, here’s your warning*
Last night on Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen released the bulk of her rage on the people of King’s Landing – and while it’s certainly been a long time coming, the response to the final arc of the Dragon Queen has been divisive, to say the least. However, this is the natural end of her arc, and if you’re not crazy about it, that’s absolutely fine, but there are a few points you ought to consider.
The first thing worth mentioning, due to the amount of fury being directed at show-runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, is that this the same arc that Dany will be going through in the book series as well. George R.R. Martin sat down with the show-runners and laid out in explicit detail how every character’s arc would end so that, in the event of his death, the show could still be finished and honor his vision. So if your issue is this plot turn itself, then your issue is with the author of this series, not with the people who work on the show.
The next thing worth exploring, since we’re talking about the difference between the two mediums, is that Game of Thrones is a very expensive show. The salary of many principle actors is $500,000 per episode, and that’s before we even get into the dozens of supporting actors on a show of this magnitude. The special effects budget has also gone through the roof over the course of seasons 7 and 8 due to the high frequency of battles.
Why is this relevant? Well, because a lot of folks are also complaining about the pacing leading up to Danaerys’ Game of Thrones heel turn. The fact of the matter is, when you’re making television history with the size and scope of your battle sequences, something has got to give in a show as expensive as Game of Thrones. Unfortunately, in this case, that something turned out to be the episode count. So, yes, Martin will have a lot more time to build up to this arc but that’s just down to the financial and time constraint differences between television and literature.
Which brings us back to the moment itself last night on Game of Thrones where the Queen of Dragons made the crucial decision to burn King’s Landing to the ground. Though the moment may have felt rushed, due to the decreased episode count and the amount of content Weiss and Benioff must cover, this is actually something that has been building up since Danaerys arrived in Westeros in the season 7 premiere.
Since arriving in Westeros, here’s a quick laundry list of things that have happened to the Dragon Queen in the last two Game of Thrones seasons:
-Viserion was killed by the Night King
-The Starks challenged her claim to the throne
-The North has rejected her
-Jon revealed his true parentage to her
-She battled an army of the dead
-Two of her armies were totally decimated
-Jorah died defending her
-Rhaegal was killed by Euron Greyjoy
-Missandei was executed before her eyes
-Jon, Varys and Tyrion, three of her four remaining allies, betrayed her trust one by one
-Jon has made their relationship a business only affair
-Varys tried to have her killed
The above list of recent GoT moments is compiled without even considering the fact that she has gone from a place where she is seen as a beloved savior to one where she is seen as an outsider and interloper. The people of the North don’t want her and neither do the people of King’s Landing. In the end, the only choice that she saw left, was the one she made last night. We don’t have to like it but we do have to accept it.
Lastly, she comes from an incestuous line of lunatics, namely: The Targaryens. We’re only really familiar with three Targaryens outside of Dany: Viserys, Rhaegar and Aerys. Of the three, two were madmen of a cruel nature. Add to that the tale of the dragon riders that conquered Westeros with fire and blood a few centuries back, and you have a pretty clear line to where we are today. It isn’t a matter of if Daenerys would snap, but when.
Our beloved heroine was always destined to walk this dark and desolate path of ashes, and now that everyone who could stop her is either dead or a traitor in her eyes, there is no one left to hold back the Dragon Queen’s fury. If King’s Landing will not accept her with gratitude, she will smite it and punish its people. When all else fails in the Targaryen line, it is fire and blood that prevails, and so it was last night.
You don’t have to like the final season of Game of Thrones, or its ending for this character, but you do have to accept them. Whether on the page or on the screen, this final twist was always coming to morph our beloved Khaleesi into her final deadly form.