My fellow farmers, sculptors and prostitutes of King’s Landing. Rejoice! Praise the Seven who are One! For today a new mad queen arises to rule over us, take away from us, enslave us and destroy our very lives. Daenerys Targyaren, the Breaker of Chains, has decided she is going to burn it all, like her beloved daddy. But of course, if I may, I have one question: what in the darnest tarnation of slapstick comedy?
Episode 5 of season 8 of Game of Thrones was all about our sweet Dany going absolutely crazy and venting her anger by sicking her suddenly overpowered dragon on the city, burning not one street, not two buildings, but the entire city. Many fans are shocked. How could this character do this? She who has spent her entire character arc trying to help people by freeing slaves, sellswords and slavers so that they may improve their lives by working hard and earning their fortunes. Now she suddenly went mad and made Drogon kill thousands of innocent people. Quite a switch, really.
But the madness itself isn’t a problem. It’s the execution of it, the rushed way in which she goes from moderately sane to absolutely batshit insane and hungry for blood in only one episode. In… a few days? However long it took for her to lose a part of her Unsullied army and Missandei. You know, when she was so mind-numbingly stupid to put a part of her army on ships when her biggest enemy has the super OP Euron fleet… Cuz as this season has said several times before: fuck strategy, we need dem drama.
And that’s what Dany is a victim of. Drama. Artificial stupidity. The writers trying their very best to keep the battle between Cersei and Dany “even” by making them do stuff that not even a toddler would do. Like seriously Cersei, you put your goddamn Golden Company OUTSIDE of your walls?! Where did all these nitwits learn these horrible military tactics?? Did they all go to the “Ye Olde We Need No Wallz” School of Military Inadequacy?
So could Dany going insane work? Yes, in fact I think it’s rather likely that Dany may go insane in the novels as well. After all, the final chapter of A Dance With Dragons has Dany learn that “you are the blood of the dragon. Dragons plant no trees. Remember that. Remember who you are, what you were made to be. Remember your words. “Fire and Blood”, Daenerys told the swaying grass.” (page 1031)
A not so subtle indication that Dany will at the very least become a great deal more violent in the next book. If you take a look through Targaryen history you’ll see that even the noblest of the kings like Aegon I and Jaehaerys I weren’t exactly shy about using their dragons to burn their enemies alive. In fact, George R.R. Martin even writes that as a necessary evil for the greater good. After all, Aegon killed 4,000 people with dragonflame on the Field of Fire, but also improved the lives of millions of people after he became king. Jaehaerys used dragonflame to prevent needless death by ending the second Dornish War before it could even begin. And Dany is fighting against slavery and could use Drogon to put the Meereenese fleet to the torch and finally kill all of the slavers to end the horrible practice.
Another element of Dany, both in the show and in the books, is that she has a very strong sense of morality. She feels that slavery is wrong and therefore she will end it. She has the power, the men, the love because of it. She feels justified in taking away from the bad slavers and helping her good children. A very black-and-white morality that doesn’t work if you’re trying to rule in a world like A Song of Ice and Fire, but does work if you force everyone to do things your way. In other words, she’s being rewarded with love and admiration for essentially killing hundreds, if not thousands of people. That’s not a good thing for a teenager in her adolescence. And how easy would it be for her to see her enemies in Westeros as the bad guys? Especially when Tyrion compares serfdom with slavery and finds they’re not all that different?
So say she goes to Westeros, with her adoring fanclub behind her. She arrives in her homeland and finds that everyone despises her, thinks she is a foreign invader who has no business there whatsoever. Not only that, but her nephew/Blackfyre pretender Aegon Targaryen may have a better claim than she does and is showing a big middle finger to Dany while he’s trying to establish his own little kingdom. All of a sudden Dany growing hostile and insane because she lacks the things she’s always considered to be hers (the praise and the birthright) isn’t that unlikely. Especially if she truly is the daughter of kooky Aerys Targaryen AND a product of incest.
But of course, all of this is a natural evolution that will presumably take place over the next two novels. GoT Daenerys goes absolute batshit insane over the course of two episodes. She’s constantly being held down by her advisors, who demand that she doesn’t do the thing that everyone else does and that would most likely save the most lives in the progress. After all, Varys’ and Tyrion’s… strategies… keep costing her men, time and admiration. All for the sake of “not burning the people of King’s Landing”, even though this very episode demonstrated that she could take over King’s Landing with minimum casualties even if she uses Drogon. Is it any wonder that this woman goes crazy? She’s literally surrounded by idiots!
Joking aside, I’ve heard an argument that even in the show it makes sense that Dany goes insane. After all, it’s been foreshadowed for a while now. Remember how she burned slavers? Remember how she wanted to burn the Meereenese fleet down? How she burned the Tarlys, the three masters after Barristan’s death and the khals at Vaes Dothrak? And what about the prophecy?! Isn’t that evidence of her slowly going mad? That she was only sane because her advisors kept dissuading her from doing horrible stuff? Maybe, but that would require George’s themes to develop schizophrenia.
Because there’s a very important point that isn’t addressed here: Dany’s advisors follow her because she demonstrates that she is better than the rest. Not because they feel they need to restrain her. Jorah, Barristan, Tyrion and even Daario found out that while she is ruthless she genuinely wants to make a better world. She treats the people under her charge better than most people. She frees the slaves, treats her enemies with relative kindness (for that society at least), tries to prevent needless death and wants to rule to end the system of feudalism. So is she a good person or a mad person who constantly does bad shit? Or are these actions merely examples of her being ruthless? Is that bad?
George’s themes would argue that it isn’t. If you read Fire & Blood and take a look at the lives of the Targaryens you’ll consistently find that good rulers are supposed to be willing to do ruthless things if they’re for the greater good. The aforementioned Aegon and Jaehaerys are examples of this, but Aenys I and Viserys I are examples of weak kings who don’t wage war. Who don’t use their dragons for dem good old Dracarys. Who want to be friends with everyone around them. In other words, George explores whether kind-heartedness alone is enough to be a good ruler and the answer so far seems to be “no”. As Varys says: “We who presume to rule must sometimes do vile things for the good of the realm.”
So these examples are not really a foreshadowing of her descent into madness. At least not for the standards of Westeros. Our standards however are quite different and when we look at her burning people alive for dem gainz we see displays of madness. But that’s why this doesn’t work and why the characters IN the show are not supposed to reflect OUR morality. Tyrion and Varys shouldn’t be constantly getting her to “not burn King’s Landing.” Tyrion used wildfire to burn Stannis’ fleets for fuck’s sake!
But D&D don’t seem to understand this distinction and that’s why this doesn’t work. Why Dany having all these hippies around her doesn’t make sense. Why her letting her army slowly being crushed by her enemies should piss her the fuck off. And why it would make sense that she could go insane, since she lacks the love of the people, something she’s very used to, even though for all intents and purposes she’s a better person than most. Trying to improve people’s lives and all that. But like everything else this season it’s handled in an extremely poor and rushed way.
Still, I think it’s possible Dany will go mad in the books as well. So come forth Mad Queen 2.0 and BURN THEM ALL!
- The Rise of the Mad Queen – Discussing Cersei’s Character Arc in Game of Thrones
- Come At Me Bro – Why I Hate Lyanna Mormont
- A Doomed Relationship – Why Klaus Could Never Have Been a Good Father to Marcel
Copyright: The images used in this article are screenshots taken from the episodes of the show. We are allowed to use them under section 107 of the US Copyright Act of 1976. Game of Thrones is created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, belongs to HBO and was inspired by the book series “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin.