Daenerys Targaryen: For the Throne

Daenerys Dany Targaryen Dragonstone Throne Season 8 805 2

In the fictional history of Game of Thrones, King’s Landing has seen some rough times. During Robert’s Rebellion, the dynasty-breaking conflict that sowed seeds of the now-blooming discord, the capital city of the Targaryens was sacked by the troops of Tywin Lannister. Tywin had come to King’s Landing as a promised ally to King Aerys II and once in the walls, treacherously began to put the city to the torch and sword. During the War of the Five Kings, Stannis Baratheon threatened to bring similar bloodshed and violence into the city, as he pressed his claim against the illegitimate king Joffrey Baratheon. King’s Landing was spared that sacking by the timely arrival of Tywin Lannister and his allies- this time the rescuer and not the reaver.

In the recent episode “The Bells,” King’s Landing fared far worse than during The War of the Five Kings or Robert’s Rebellion. After the precise destruction of the city’s scorpion-artillery and the annihilation of Queen Cersei’s expensive sellsword armed forces, the Lannister soldiers within the walls threw down their swords in the face of northern and Unsullied infantry and Dothraki cavalry. And a dragon. Daenerys Targaryen chose to not honor the surrender of the city. And began to burn the capital.

The question at hand is why. Why not accept victory, rather than bring death to thousands of civilians?

One possible answer seems to be rooted in the madness of the Targaryens. Daenerys’s father was known as the Mad King, and had a history of at least planning city-wide destruction. That Dany, after betrayals and defiance by Cersei and the loss of her close associates, had reached some breaking point that broke during the battle.

This answer seems unsatisfying at best. Targaryen madness has certainly been talked about in the context of the show, and while Dany has taken extreme actions in the past, her seemingly embracing a consuming bloodlust to destroy seems unsupported.

Unless that’s not what happened. Daenerys might have been driven to attack the citizenry not from some emergent madness, but as a choice to achieve her goals.

It’s beyond the scope of this article to talk about madness; what it is, what it isn’t. Daenerys burning thousands of people isn’t something sane. It’s an atrocity. Much like Tywin’s sacking of King’s Landing was an atrocity, and if Stannis had gotten inside the city, the atrocity that could have happened.

Both Tywin and Stannis were rational, ruthless men. Their actions were not driven by madness, but by their ambition. Stannis desired the Throne; Tywin desired to maintain his power by committing to the victorious rebels at the very end of the rebellion.

That is the mindset that Daenerys might possess. And the show has set up supporting moments for that model of behavior from Dany more than the simple explanation that she has slipped into a murderous mania.

SEASON SEVEN – SHALL WE BEGIN

Although proponents of the Mad Queen explanation can find instances to support Dany’s perceived predisposition for madness throughout the series, going back to season one and Viserys’s erratic behavior, followed by Dany threatening to burn cities if she didn’t get her way in season two, and onwards as Daenerys dealt with increasingly difficult challenges, it’s only necessary to start early in season seven and see the groundwork for Dany making a “rational” choice to commit war crimes.

Yara Greyjoy: If you want the Iron Throne, take it. We have an army, a fleet, and three dragons. We should hit King’s Landing hard, now. With everything we’ve got. The city will fall within a day.
Tyrion: If we turn the dragons loose, tens of thousands will die in the firestorms.
Ellaria Sand: It’s called war. If you don’t have the stomach for it, scurry back into hiding.

After a brief digression involving Myrcella’s death and there not being any innocent Lannisters…

Daenerys: I am not here to be queen of the ashes.
Olenna Tyrell: That’s very nice to hear. Of course I can’t remember a queen who was better loved than my granddaughter. The common people loved her. The nobles loved her. And what is left of her now? Ashes. Commoners, nobles; they’re just children really. They won’t obey you unless they fear you.

A plan to lay siege (but not assault) King’s Landing was laid out, to isolate Cersei and to capture Casterly Rock, to symbolically cut Cersei off from her House’s traditional seat of power. Once that was settled, Daenerys wished to reassure Olenna of their mutual goals.

702 - Dragonstone - Dany, Tyrion, Missandei, Grey Worm, Varys, Yara, Theon, Olenna, Ellaria 1

Daenerys: I realize you are here out of hatred for Cersei, not love for me, but I swear to you: she will pay for what she has done. And we will bring peace back to Westeros.
Olenna: Peace? Do you think that’s what we had under your father? Or his father? Or his? Peace never lasts, my dear. Will you take a bit of advice from an old woman? He’s a clever man, your Hand. I’ve known a great many clever men. I’ve outlived them all. You know why? I ignore them. The lords of Westeros are sheep – are you a sheep? No. You’re a dragon. Be a dragon.

Love versus Fear is an element that reoccurs in “The Bells”, bringing the conversation with Olenna back into consideration.

QUEEN OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS

It’s important to recognize that Daenerys has ambition. When she met Tyrion, she made it clear that she wanted to sit the Iron Throne. Upon arriving at Dragonstone and meeting with King in the North Jon Snow, she asserted that she intended to be Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, with an emphasis on the North being one of those kingdoms.

On coming to the North to fight the threat of the White Walkers, who threatened all of the Seven Kingdoms – her perceived birthright – she encountered friction from Lady of Winterfell Sansa Stark, and the unresolved question of what arrangement would be made after the White Walkers were defeated. Now that the North had seceded, the northern lords were not content to bend the knee again to a southern ruler.

Daenerys has stated motivations other than simply ruling the Seven Kingdoms. She’s proud of freeing slaves in Essos (there are no slaves in Westeros for her to free) and she seemed to criticize the political system of Westeros in which she was currently out of favor. Although it’s possible that Daenerys entertained some idea of political reform, it seems clear with her focus on taking the Throne that any reforms would be initiated from the top, with her being able to control the process.

There was a problem with her plan to achieve her dream of being Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. The lords of Westeros, except for allies who had specific grudges with the Lannister regime, were not receptive to restoring the Targaryen dynasty to power with foreign-raised, foreign-supported Dany as candidate. Randyll Tarly would rather burn alive than yield to Daenerys, preferring Cersei Lannister: the devil he knew versus the devil he didn’t know.

On choosing to head North and fight the White Walkers (and contend with Sansa) Daenerys found the northmen somewhat unwelcoming, despite her joining forces in their mutual defense. After the battle, she noticed that Jon was getting attention and credit. Tormund the Wildling was happy to toast her, but he was invested in bragging about Jon, highlighting things that Jon had done (which also applied to the under-heralded Dany.)

Sansa Stark Drinking Jon Snow Tormund Season 8 804

Which brings up the second problem with her dream of becoming Queen of Westeros. Jon Snow had the better claim.

Daenerys begged Jon not to tell anyone about his being the legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen. Because she would lose her legitimacy. The lords of Westeros might be sheep, but they would prefer Jon as their shepherd over Dany.

It doesn’t matter if that was true or not (it does matter and it is true) – it matters that Daenerys believed it to be true. Jon’s true birth was a threat to her ambition, and she was invested in keeping that threat minimized.

IT’S NOT A SECRET – IT’S INFORMATION

If Varys did succeed in sending any ravens from Dragonstone reporting on the details of Rhaegar and Lyanna’s marriage and offspring, presumably to influential Houses that could spread the information, he may have killed Dany’s hopes to keep Jon’s superior claim a secret. As surely as Gregor Clegane killed Missandei.

With the northern host having marched into the Crownlands to join with Dany’s Unsullied and Dothraki, Daenerys had to consider the possibility of two battles. First, the military battle against Cersei – against her Iron Fleet and sellsword army. And should her coalition prevail, she’d have to consider the possibility of a political battle, if the lords of the land opted to choose between Aegon Targaryen’s solid claim, or her own.

In the history of Great Councils, where the claimants were ostensibly bound to the decision offered by lordly debate, males of lesser claims came out on top. Jon does not have the lesser claim.

Tyrion and Varys had already discussed a possible solution (before Varys decided to go all-in on telephone-tag treason and get roasted.) Tyrion suggested that Jon and Daenerys marry, which would solve the problem of competing claims, and the situation would go from being a potential civil war to a domestic dispute.

Varys didn’t seem keen on the idea, but Varys’s opinion was less important than Jon and Dany’s. Dany seemed game to continue a romantic relationship with Jon, but Jon was not.

It was never expressed explicitly by Jon, but he clearly was reluctant to have sex with his aunt. No amount of fan assertions that Ned Stark’s parents were cousins, or that Tywin Lannister married his cousin Joanna matter. Cousins marrying isn’t the same as an aunt and nephew marrying, and it matters what Jon Snow thinks about it. He’s just not into it, auntie.

Jon Snow Daenerys The Bells

So, without a clear pathway to marriage to bring her into the halls of power directly, Daenerys was looking to have her claim set aside. Even if Jon refused any offered crown, her claim would be considered illegitimate. Unless she had support. Unless they loved her.

Daenerys: Far more people in Westeros love you than love me. I don’t have love here. I only have fear.
Jon: I love you. You will always be my queen.
Daenerys: Is that all I am to you? Your queen?
Jon: 😐
Daenerys: Alright then. Let it be fear.

ASK NOT FOR WHOM THE BELLS TOLL. IT TOLLS FOR THEE

Daenerys had her battle plan set. She’d destroy the Iron Fleet, sweep the defenses on the Walls and open a breach for the coalition army (and rout the Golden Company and their lack of elephants.)

Tyrion hammered home that the city might turn away from Cersei and surrender. That the citizens would ring bells to signal their capitulation. Daenerys knew those details, but did not seem too invested in them. She agreed to Tyrion’s plan only reluctantly, after making it clear her preferred method of attack involved fire and blood.

As plans go, ones that are articulated usually go awry. But the Stark/Targaryen assault worked like a charm. And to Tyrion’s relief, the city surrendered. The bells rang and rang.

And for some long seconds, that seemed to be that. The day was won. A tremendous victory. And then it began to rain fire. And the victory became an atrocity.

Why?

As said before, Dany might have snapped, or went mad, or some other simple and uninteresting explanation. Or, the slaughter of innocents and commission of an unfathomable record-breaking atrocity served her ambitious goals.

The city surrendering would certainly get her revenge on Cersei, but it would not get Daenerys the Iron Throne. Not when heroic Aegon Targaryen had captured the city from the grip of the sept-bombing Queen Cersei. Jon Snow would be credited with this victory when the lords conspired against her to insure that their preferred claimant got the throne. The heroic Rhaegar’s son would be honored, instead of the Mad King’s daughter.

Kit Harington Jacob Anderson Liam Cunningham The Bells

Marillion: My lord of Lannister! Might I entertain you while you eat? I can sing of the Lost Son of Rhaegar’s victory at King’s Landing.
Tyrion Lannister: Have a care. I might provide some fact-checking notes.

She did not have their love. She likely would not get their love. She could only have their fear. And so she embraced fear entirely.

STANNIS AND RENLY

In the second season of Game of Thrones, two Baratheon brothers were in competition for which one of them would be able to take King’s Landing, depose Joffrey, and be recognized as ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, King of the Andals and the First Men. Stannis was older than Renly and therefore should succeed the dead Robert by the usual rules of succession.

Renly did not come with a legal document supporting his bogus claim to a crown. He came instead with most of the Stormlands armies and with the chivalry of the Reach. The powerful Tyrell family had decided to play kingmaker and make a king out of Renly.

Stannis had the better claim, but Renly had the larger army.

Renly

To make up for her inferior claim, Daenerys would have to rely on a similar framing.

Jon/Aegon has the better claim, but Daenerys has the Only Dragon.

And when Cersei loses King’s Landing, it wouldn’t be to Jon and the ground troops claiming a victory. It would a dragon bringing ruin that men would remember for generations.

When the builders of the Wall made that massive structure, they made it so large that even when the memories of men passed they’d still understand its purpose. That big wall of ice was built to keep something out.

And after the destruction Dany deliberately wrought on King’s Landing, just like the melted towers at Harrenhal reminded people for generations, people would remember to fear dragons.

Did Daenerys go into battle with full awareness that she was going to destroy King’s Landing? Was it something she chose to do, entirely in the moments that the bells tolled? Was she weighing her options when Tyrion was explaining the bell-ringing surrender option? Since we’re not privy to Daenerys’s thoughts (before anyone brings up what Benioff and Weiss say, Death of the Author is my go-to response,) we can speculate, but unless Dany explicity talks about her thought process in the finale, we won’t know. And I don’t think it even matters. Certainly not to the dead of King’s Landing. Or the horrified living.

AND DANY MAKES THREE

Could Dany have not done this? Of course. She was not mentally well, obviously, but it’s not like she was mad, in the literal sense of the word. (If in next Sunday’s episode Daenerys is suddenly a cackling “psychotic” villain, that will refute this entire feature, but somehow I don’t think that’ll be the case.)

She could have accepted the surrender of the city; she could have just targeted the Red Keep to kill Cersei. Both could then be credited as massive victories to the heroic son of Rhaegar and his pretty aunt, the one the dragon carries around.

She could have killed less fewer people in Drogon’s extended strafing of the city to prove her point, but when you’ve killed five thousand people, does it matter if you kill five thousand more? (Well, it does matter, depending.) It’s all bad. But if Dany’s goal is to really make a mark, to create an atrocity of legend so that it would be toxic to consider this a victory, then more death and destruction is the way to go as insurance.

None of this is good for Daenerys as a person. It’s understandable that people who have named their children Daenerys because they’ve been enchanted by the story of the little blond girl and her dragons, just trying to come home and be a queen, would be upset. People who have gotten Daenerys tattoos might have instead just gotten a tattoo that said “I regret this.” Some people are still mad that Ned Stark was killed.

Some people might prefer that Dany had actually gone properly “mad,” and fallen victim to some dangerous recessive genetic situation. That way they can feel that it’s not Dany’s fault. But that’s not nearly as interesting a story.

This isn’t a hard and fast rule in storytelling, but the Rule of Three does have weight. Martin often talks about having a three-fold reveal to his stories, which isn’t the same as a Rule of Three in a story, but feels similar. With Daenerys choosing to do evil, she completes a trinity of antagonist characters on the show, particularly during this season.

Daenerys Dany Targaryen King's Landing Red Keep Drogon Season 8 805 The Bells

The Night King, who was unknowable and abstractly evil; Cersei Lannister, who we knew and was mundanely evil; and now we can possibly add Daenerys Targaryen to the list. Who we knew and rooted for. And tragically chose to become a villain.

Hashtag. For the Throne.

258 responses

Jump to (and Always Support) the Bottom

    1. I agree with the choice for fear explanation, like what she did to the Masters, but it’s definitely coupled with her inclination to see the world in black and white (I think Tywin would have chosen fear too, but he certainly doesn’t consider people evil when they are not on his side, he paints in grey). I think that’s a Targaryen thing (also Starkish, but Jon had good lessons at the NW to forgive the past, and also among the wildlings). Everyone who chose to flee to KL, became an enemy.

      Add to that a little bit of paranoia. Jon will not be King if he doesn’t want to, but it seems Daenerys didn’t fully trust him anymore, after her original friends are gone, and she feels a stranger in Westeros. I think she sees Jon’s origin, and him not wanting to keep it completely secret, as a betrayal that he might want to Throne a little bit, but a little bit of insight could have taught her that after Jon wanting to know his mother for his whole life, it is selfish to demand him he cannot even tell his family he was not a bastard. It is only a betrayal to her sense of entitlement, not to her power (he’s supporting her). Her paranoia makes it self-fulfilling, for sure Jon is now going to reconsider if he should support her.

      Added to her titles, how could she expect love from the people in Westeros who don’t know her? It’s like Viserys his peasant banners. She has to prove herself. Jon and Sansa got an ear because of Ned, but only after they proved to fight successfully and rule wisely they got the support.

      The lords of Westeros are sheep, except for the wolves. She may have won many houses, but she lost the Starks.

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    2. Thanks for this. I far prefer that she chose to do this out of some rational strategic reasoning than that she “went mad.”

      Portraying this as a spur-of-the-moment emotional reaction undermines the point that I imagine GRRM is trying to make with this particular turn. You did a great job summing that all up.

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    3. Great article. I’ve been trying to tell people all week that Dany is not mad; this was a rational (though evil) action to consolidate her rule. It fits with the person who crucified the slavemasters, burned the Dothraki crones and sacked the ancient city of Qarth.

      It worked as a surprise in the show and hopefully when GRRM writes it we can see her thought process. She was probably planning this at least Varys’ betrayal and maybe even before she left Essos.

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    4. Thank you, Patrick for this well thought out article! It speaks to why I was not quick to call Daenerys “mad” last week, despite there being a “Mad Queen” featurette. My own rationalisation was because she was not mad in the literal sense, as Aerys was. She was villainous and ruthless, most definitely, but she was lucid in her decision to kill civilians (which is arguably scarier). But imagine if Tywin had dragons? I would expect he would do something similar. I also appreciate you using the term “civilians” rather than innocents. Yes, the innocents were featured in “The Bells” but not every person in KL was innocent. Although, that doesn’t make what she did OK.

      “She could have accepted the surrender of the city; she could have just targeted the Red Keep to kill Cersei.”

      Dany targeting the Red Keep is exactly what I thought she would do so I was quite surprised when she started burning everything down haha. So I hope the why of it all will be further explored in the finale. I honestly don’t know what’s next for her. Death is an obvious thing. Will she be killed, will she be exiled (As you posed for Cersei last year), or is her villainy and ruthlessness a way to unite Westeros via fear á la Zhang Yimou’s Hero. My only wish for the end is that no one person rules and that the Iron Throne is destroyed. I’m keeping my wishes simple.

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    5. This was a fantastic read, really great job! I’ve been struggling with my feelings about S8 as a whole and especially with what happened in “The Bells” and this provided much need clarity to my confused thoughts. This was the exact thought process for my expectations as to why she did what she did. Just love this article.

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    6. The most frustrating aspect of the final season for me is the dearth of meaningful dialog about significant topics. We can have drinking games and cock jokes, but no conversation about how Jon feels about finally discovering the truth about his parents. Also, wouldn’t a couple who has already been intimate have an explicit conversation about both of their feelings after discovering that they are related? It wouldn’t have to be some long, drawn out scene, but Jon opening his mouth and saying, “I was raised in a place where this is not acceptable, and I am struggling with my desire for you.” Instead, we get only physical rejection on his part and rage on hers. Everything just feels so manipulated.

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    7. I compare Dany to Arya in this episode. Arya, murder teen extraordinaire, chose life. She, in the moment she had waited years for, chose to go another path. It was no coincidence that Cersei ended up alone on the stairs, and, if, and only if Arya had chosen vengeance instead of life would we have gotten the violent gruesome death everyone seems so disappointed to not have witnessed. Instead, Arya is alive and Cersei is still dead. I’m fine with it. Dany was always going to be the Mad Fire Breathing Queen. We can and will argue over how deftly or clumsily the writers got her there, but it is a moot point.

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    8. Colin Armfield,

      No, I think the kill sadly will go to Jon in the end which is why I hated that their stories merged the way they did. I was always reluctant about Daenerys and had a hunch this is where she would end up, I was simply foolishly hoping she wouldn’t muddied Jon in the process. But alas, he will now have to become a kinslayer and it will break him.

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    9. Beth of House Seaworth,

      Excellent point. People are asking for this, and some are dismissing it. But look how effectively they brought Melisandre back into the show and ended her. They could have easily done that with Dany and Jon and I think they made a big mistake overlooking how important that was to the narrative.

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    10. Beth of House Seaworth,

      Jon may well have concerns about the consanguinity, but I also think that when he confided his real identity to her, her reaction was not what one would hope from a lover.

      She was shocked, of course, but the way she recoiled from him, the cold almost accusing tone in which she questioned him, and her obvious resentment would all have been a red flag. It was all about her and her right to the throne – she gave not a moment’s thought to how this had affected his life so far.

      I’m not surprised he’s backed off.

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    11. It’s a good essay, thank you Akash. I’m slowly coming around to it – even if I still think I’d rather have her be forced into this just a BIT more than what we saw. But how often are we violently denied what we would “rather have” happen in this series?

      Dany’s turn was red wedding level WTF-ery. In that, as a Dany Stan 5evar, I am delighted and utterly devastated in nearly equal measure.

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    12. fdr,

      In addition, if Daenerys is somewhat paranoid, every time that Jon refuses her physical love, it doesn’t only hurt her (she never loved someone who didn’t love her), but it also screams to her “I am Aegon VI”. If Jon were truly forgetting his heritage, he wouldn’t have a problem, so if he has a problem, it means he is not denying his heritage, and hence, his claim (from her point of view).

      But with a Hand who’s supposed to be clever and made so many mistakes, I would also question the loyalty of my vassals. Especially in the context of the families (Tyrion to Jaime/Cersei, Jon to Sansa/Arya), which makes it more sad, I think, that Daenerys can’t step over her sense of entitlement to acknowledge that Jon is a Targaryen too, because then she wouldn’t not be the only one. However, I think that after eight seasons she feels so unique by being the last Targaryen, that she cannot let this pass anymore. But if she wants to be unique, she can’t complain that she is lonely (as in the feast).

      Tenesmus,

      Indeed, Arya could let go of her goal. If Daenerys could have let go of her desire, she would have had a family, more allies, and if Jon would then renounce, she would still be able to rule.

      On the other hand, by releasing Drogon (before the bells) she finally took KL very effectively, proving Tyrion wrong (again). That’s why I would have preferred Drogon to be less controllable.

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    13. If we’re discussing Dany and Drogon’s fate, I would love Bran / Three Eyed Raven warging Drogon to be a part of how this ends, whatever else happens. He set the fuse on this series of tragic events by revealing Jon’s parentage – he should be the one to end it also.

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    14. I am hoping for that ‘sweet’ part of the ‘bittersweet’ description that was often used for the end. I’m not seeing anything on the horizon though that would satisfy that definition in only one episode. I sincerely hope we did not spend 70+ hours analyzing a story that was a character study in existential nihilism all along.

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    15. Thank you for a well thought out article. It is one of the best ones I have read.

      I do not see Dany as mad, crazy or insane. What I do see is a person using their power to their utmost ability to get what they want and that being the throne and ruling all the world. Is it right? No, but strategically it is the correct move for her because she does not have the love or backing of the people of Westeros. She does not have Jon’s love. All she has is her desire for absolute power…and that corrupted her absolutely.

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    16. I never thought she had become full-on “mad” like her father, but she was definitely mad, as in angry…with good reason. She’s always had a cold, authoritarian streak in her nature, but tempered with wise counsel -as long as she was willing to listen to it. I do agree she embraced the idea of conquering (thanks Daario) as the means to gain control-she said as much to Tyrion. It’s unfortunate that many circumstances forced her to abandon her ideal of winning the love of the people. Even though I wanted her armies & dragons in Westeros, I always believed it would, ultimately, turn badly for her.

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    17. The problem with all of this, of course, is that there is nothing even remotely sane about slaughtering a city after having won, even if you want to rule by fear.

      Why ? Because now she’s made her power more brittle than ever.

      Had she taken the city with minimal loss of life, she’d almost certainly have been queen and been able to become popular.

      She has Dorne, the North, Yara and the Iron Islands, the Vale, and maybe the Stormlands thanks to Gendry.

      And at that point she’d be the woman who fought the White Walkers, removed the hated Cersei Lannister from power, conquered the kingdoms with almost no innocent loss of life, no cities being sacked, no lords being burned (except for Randyll Tarly), and she only has 1 dragon left.

      So what would have stopped her from eventually becoming a beloved queen ? Nothing.

      What would have stopped her from being feared as well ? Nothing. She has a dragon that single-handedly annihilated the Golden Company, the Iron Fleet, and the gates of the city.

      She has her respawning Dothraki and Unsullied.

      Had she accepted the surrender, she would have be queen, and she would have been both feared and potentially loved.

      By doing what she did, she didn’t consolidate her power. She made it fragile. Because now she’s the most hated person in history, and no Westerosi will accept her.

      She’ll be removed or killed before her reign even begins.

      What she did is not remotely rational, it’s completely evil, self-destructive, pointless, and idiotic.

      Not to mention that she was burning the city without regard for her own forces. She could have killed Jon or Grey Worm at any time.
      And she intentionally mowed down children, when back in Season 4 the death of one child haunted her.

      Dany couldn’t possibly have been less sane to do what she just did.

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    18. JS: Great article. I’ve been trying to tell people all week that Dany is not mad; this was a rational (though evil) action to consolidate her rule. It fits with the person who crucified the slavemasters, burned the Dothraki crones and sacked the ancient city of Qarth.

      It’s not rational to slaughter thousands for no reason, even endangering your own men.

      And it doesn’t consolidate her rule. On the contrary. She just lost Jon and Tyrion, and with them, the support of the North and the Vale.

      She’ll also have Arya gunning for her.

      She’s made herself hated to the point that no one will accept her. Her reign is already over before it begins.

      That’s the opposite of consolidating power.

      And it’s not remotely comparable to the crucifixion of the masters. Those people crucified children, and were slavers.

      Did she go too far by doing it at random without due process ? Sure, but that’s a far cry from the mass murder of innocents.

      She was cruel and ruthless with people she saw as being evil. Not with innocents.
      Dany always acted based on her moral code, and when she killed people she had reasons for it.

      What she just did is a violation of her own code. She specifically tells Jorah that she won’t kill innocents in Westeros (Season 3 Episode 3). She says she doesn’t want to be queen of the ashes (Season 7 Episode 2). She chains her dragons for killing one child (Season 4 Episode 10).

      Dany is obviously opposed to slaughtering innocents. So what she just did goes against her morality (and everyone else’s morality), and it was completely pointless.

      The only way to think that the slaughter of civilians will consolidate your rule is if you’re insane.

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    19. Beth of House Seaworth,

      Yes, Jon and Dany had been intimate, but not for very long — quite possibly not long enough to have that sort of extremely uncomfortable discussion. That brevity, along with imminent threat of the AOTD and Jon not being much of a talker, could easily result in more being unsaid than said.

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    20. Fierce as a Wolverine:
      Thanks for this. I far prefer that she chose to do this out of some rational strategic reasoning than that she “went mad.”

      Portraying this as a spur-of-the-moment emotional reaction undermines the point that I imagine GRRM is trying to make with this particular turn.You did a great job summing that all up.

      It’s not rational or strategic to commit mass murder when you’ve just won, easily.

      What she just did has ensured that she will be put down before her reign begins.

      She just made sure that no one in Westeros will accept her.

      Before the slaughter she had Dorne, the Iron Islands, the North, the Vale, and maybe the Stormlands thank to Gendry.

      Now she’s going to lose all or most of that support.

      She’s made it a certainty that Jon and Tyrion will overthrow or kill her.

      And the only way to not foresee that pointless slaughter will lead to your downfall, is to be utterly insane.

      Not to mention that Dany wouldn’t do this if she were thinking rationally. It would be totally out of character.

      Yes Dany is ruthless and cruel. But she’s ruthless and cruel with slavers, terrorists, rapists, and traitors.

      Not with innocents or with children.

      Season 3 Episode 3 : She tells Jorah she won’t kill innocents in Westeros.
      Season 3 Episode 4 : Slay the masters but harm no child.
      Season 4 Episode 10 : She chains the dragons for killing one kid.
      Season 5 : She’s disgusted by the fighting pits even when free men chose to fight and die.
      Season 6 Episode 9 : “My father was evil. I will leave the world better than I found it”. And she orders Yara to stop all raiding, roving, reaving, and raping.
      Season 7 Episode 2 : I will not be queen of the ashes.

      Yet now she commits the pointless murder of thousands of civilians, deliberately going street by street, incinerating children for sport ?

      This makes no sense, and Dany wouldn’t do it if she were sane.

      Sheer insanity is the only thing this is.

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    21. I’m still of a mind that Daenerys never believed Cersei would surrender, that she wanted and always intended to burn the city to the ground (and take out Cersei, Qyburn, The Mountain, etc., in the process) and was disappointed when the bells began to ring.

      I won’t rehash what I’ve commented in previous posts on WotW; however, I do still believe Dany and Grey Worm had developed a plan, and a signal, to take out Kingslanding – burn the collar, burn the city. My take, at the least, was that the ‘snap’ didn’t happen during the battle, anyway.

      I’m also beginning to think she hoped/planned Jon, and perhaps Davos and others, would die during the conflagration; perhaps Grey Worm was hoping/planning the same.

      A for my part, my biggest hope is that we’ll get an explanation in the last episode. YMMV, but one can dream… for a few more days, yes?

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    22. LL of Darkwater,

      I agree. Dany and GW went into the battle with a plan to show no mercy. Dany pretty much said to GW “wait for my signal” back in Dragonstone, and GW, without hesitation, began the slaughter of unarmed, surrendered soldiers as soon as Dany did.

      He knew the meaning of the bells ringing and knew Dany would ignore it.

      It was premeditated.

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    23. I didn’t like how it went down at all, but I’ve made my peace that it happened and there’s nothing that can change it at this point (no matter how many ridiculous petitions fans sign to remake season 8).

      I’m hopeful that the last episode will be less divisive, but I’m not holding my breath. Much of what has already played out in the final season has made me question the whole point of many of the characters’ journeys. I think that’s the biggest issue for me right now.

      For example, Bran spent 2 seasons training with the Three-Eyed Raven, 1 season to find him, and 1 season completely off-screen just to end up being bait for the Night King in the end. Hodor, Summer, Leaf, Jojen, etc., died for this.

      We spent 5-6 seasons with the Jaime and Brienne relationship wondering if they’ll ever hook up. The second after they finally hooked up, Jaime decided to go back to Cersei and die with her.

      Obviously, some people will feel differently than me and that’s fine. I just haven’t found there to be much payoff at the end of these journeys. It’s been pretty bitter for most of them, so far.

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    24. Cas,

      She does have Jon’s love ( I wish she didn’t) but it isn’t in the way she wants it which is a pity. Someone who had always had a longing for family, can’t find it in herself to prioritize and appreciate the fact that there’s another Targ around who loves her and is willing (or was prior her latest actions) to support her. Daenerys may be unburnt but she still is consumed by the fiery flames of entitlement and ambition.

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    25. orange: I sincerely hope we did not spend 70+ hours analyzing a story that was a character study in existential nihilism all along.

      I wasn’t that surprised to see her undoing, but the severity of it jarred me (as it did many others). I hoped for an intriguing, tragic perspective on how she would be consumed by a lust for power, especially as those she respected and trusted diminished or died and her armies/allies dwindled. I guess we got that, cynical arguments and bizarre army resurgence notwithstanding. Is that an overly done, Shakespearean theme? Maybe.

      Anyway, I do not expect her reign to be satisfying or long. I doubt the Starks will bend the knee like Torrhen and that could prove quite interesting and “twisted.” How will Jon, Arya, Bran effect this finale? Will their undeadness, facelessness, wargness be a factor considering her advisorless victory? Will Sansa be used as tool or a leader?

      Oh, if Selmy could have returned to Westeros as well! 🙂

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    26. She agreed to Tyrion’s plan only reluctantly

      I thought she’d agreed when I first watched. But second time through I was less sure. Before she gives that curt nod, you see her eye focus switch from Tyrion to Grey Worm. On the rewatch, it felt more like an affirmation to GW that whatever they’d planned was still going ahead particularly with the comment about him knowing what to do.

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    27. I think Dany’s actions have nothing to do with insanity and everything to do with justifiable rage. Who saved who during the Battle of WF? Dany saved Jon at least twice, Dany’s armies saved WF and all of Westeros. Did Jon acknowledge that? No, he did not – instead, he took over the funeral and the dinner as though he was in charge.
      It was Dany who lost her dragons, it was Dany whose BFF was decapitated (and the BFF was the sweetest, gentlest character alive, and yet what were her final words? – “Burn the MFers!”, my translation) . It was Dany who was betrayed by Jon, who could not keep a secret for a few days even, despite the example of having a “father” who kept a secret all his life. And her Hand, Tyrion, nothing but bad advice and betrayal – stupid idea to release Jaime, just stupid stupid.

      The civilians at KL were the same people who threw feces at Cersei; they were not innocents. Ok, the children were, but who drew them into the Red Keep?, not Dany.

      And, looking back, what did she gain by showing mercy? Her dearest love (although rapist, oh yuck) was killed by the witch.

      Olenna was absolutely right – you’re a dragon, be a dragon.

      My hoped-for ending is that Dany kills Jon (dim-witted, heroic, handsome Jon with the magnificent hair and eyes, yes, we love him but what a terrible terrible leader he has been – if he isn’t killed, he should wander sadly in the woods with Ghost), and rules forever. Of course, that won’t happen, and I have enjoyed this series so much, I will be happy no matter what the result.

      Still, if it happens, if Drogon burns Jon to a crisp, the roar of laughter you hear across the universe comes from my house.

      Happy viewing to everyone!

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    28. Nick20: It’s not rational or strategic to commit mass murder when you’ve just won, easily.

      What she just did has ensured that she will be put down before her reign begins.

      She just made sure that no one in Westeros will accept her.

      Before the slaughter she had Dorne, the Iron Islands, the North, the Vale, and maybe the Stormlands thank to Gendry.

      Now she’s going to lose all or most of that support.

      She’s made it a certainty that Jon and Tyrion will overthrow or kill her.

      And the only way to not foresee that pointless slaughter will lead to your downfall, is to be utterly insane.

      Not to mention that Dany wouldn’t do this if she were thinking rationally. It would be totally out of character.

      Yes Dany is ruthless and cruel. But she’s ruthless and cruel with slavers, terrorists, rapists, and traitors.

      Not with innocents or with children.

      Season 3 Episode 3 : She tells Jorah she won’t kill innocents in Westeros.
      Season 3 Episode 4 : Slay the masters but harm no child.
      Season 4 Episode 10 : She chains the dragons for killing one kid.
      Season 5 : She’s disgusted by the fighting pits even when free men chose to fight and die.
      Season 6 Episode 9 : “My father was evil. I will leave the world better than I found it”. And she orders Yara to stop all raiding, roving, reaving, and raping.
      Season 7 Episode 2 : I will not be queen of the ashes.

      Yet now she commits the pointless murder of thousands of civilians, deliberately going street by street, incinerating children for sport ?

      This makes no sense, and Dany wouldn’t do it if she were sane.

      Sheer insanity is the only thing this is.

      And your well-written response is the crux of why most fans are angry about ep 5. People I’ve talked to aren’t shocked that she decided to punish KL. They’re shocked she slaughtered children. And while “burning cities to the ground” could always involve killing children, I don’t know if she (or us) ever grappled with that reality. Could children have died if she just attacked the RK? Yes. Some likely died when Cersei blew up the Sept. That why people hated her. But Dany decides to murder them, street by street. Two women who always loved children if nothing else, but Dany chooses to keep killing and killing in a way that could not be remotely construed as casualties of war. And in a way, in terms of pre-pubescent children, that wasn’t foreshadowed.

      My anime reference is Code Geass, but it remains to be seen if she was really wanting to sacrifice her any hope of being respected, even, never mind loved, for a greater good.

      Maybe she’s hoping history will be kind to her as it was to the US post-Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Of course, the kingdoms can’t raise their own dragons and even the playing field.). History is written by the victors. But we suspect she’ll end up being contextualized by the maesters more like her ancestor Maelor. The one good coming from it is her actions will also seed a UN of sorts, alliances that will at least stop petty bickering from expanding to continental wars.

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    29. This was a really great analysis! I’ve always felt the “madness” excuse was too lazy, diffuse, and frankly sexist. After all, we’ve had plenty of incidents in the US where some dude has gone on a killing rampage, and he isn’t ever labelled “crazy”. Being violent and murderous is not a mental disorder – nor is being an assh*** – in fact, it’s almost a requirement to be a cinematic “hero” these days.

      And, lest we forget, Cersei NEVER surrendered. She was up in her gloating window, smirking at Drogon across the city when the bells rang. No way she even understood what the bells were supposed to mean. It was all Jaime, incited by Tyrion, just as Dany had been told by Tyrion that bells meant surrender. The Lannister kids, conspiring against her yet again. Plus, as it turned out, Tyrion had readied the getaway boat, so Jaime and Cersei could flee across the Narrow Sea, to live and conspire and conquer again.

      Some have theorized, correctly in my opinion, that Daenerys set Tyrion up. She had worked out his treason even before he came in to tattle on Varys; she gave him his ultimatum (“one last time”), and then – she told him they’d captured Jaime. Would Tyrion take the bait? He sure did. And he’ll burn for it.

      Daenerys also worked out the “shock & awe” strategy, most likely in consultation with Grey Worm. She seemed to be more productive in her “brooding” and grieving than Jon Snow, the would be Aegon VI.

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    30. Nick20,

      It’s a rational choice to rule with fear and not with love. She’s opposed to killing innocents, but her honouring that led to Cersei trying to use that vs her, by forming a human shield around her. This is a message to all the lords who will soon find out about Jon, that not even that will stop her for taking the throne. This is also a message for the people who might decide to agree with the lords who won’t bend the knee to her.

      Thinking she’s not capable of this is ignoring all the not so heroic things she’s done. Because my perspective of her as a character changed in season 6 when she burned alive the khals just because they refused to obey her. And so she could get a bigger army.
      Here she wasn’t saving anyone, she wasn’t even protecting herself (Dario and Jorah has already come to rescue her and she knew). She burned innocent people (calling the Dothraki innocent is a stretch I know, but let’s not pretend that she did it to save/protect anyone). It’s not that big a leap from this to killing innocent people to send a political message.

      Saying there was no character development is ignoring these moments that show us an ambiguity about her. Yes, she’s done heroic things and has helped people (BUT, coincidentally she always ended up having more power out of those actions), but she has also been shown to be able and willing to do horrible stuff, and to deliver the justice “she thinks people deserve”, whether they deserved it or not.

      Since season 6, I’ve seen her more as a conqueror than a saviour. Through this lens all her actions change and become quite rational. Even freeing slaves has a conquering logic behind it. Conquering through love.
      When that doesn’t work, then she chooses to conquer through fear.

      Every conqueror think oh him/herself as a saviour, and dany is no exception.

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    31. NinaD: Maybe she’s hoping history will be kind to her as it was to the US post-Hiroshima and Nagasaki

      I’d like to argue that one reason the US was treated “kindly” by history is its behavior post-war. The Marshall Plans to help rebuild the defeated enemy nations, working to establish international agreements that would bring countries together for defense and trade, the United Nations with its International Criminal Court (which the Senate refuses to permit the US to join even today …) Plus, there were so many atrocities committed by the Axis powers, including Japan – and also, non-nuclear atrocities by Allies – that there is plenty of blame to go around, if that’s your game.

      Sorry for the digression!

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    32. ShameShameShame,

      Yep, the burning of the city was premeditated – at least that’s my current theory. I’m glad I’m not alone I that thought. I’ve been thinking that since the episode aired and more certain during my re-watch(es). (Nothing is ever certain, until the Extended Directors’ Cut with deleted scenes is released, but still, maybe not even then.)

      Dany has always shown a bit of a brutal side – wake the dragon kind of things – justified or not. She’s also shown a kind, forgiving and caring side, as well. (Whether or not this applies to us all is up for debate – I’ve personally imagined ‘storming the castle’ but would never have done so; I’ve also intended to ‘do a kindness’ but missed the opportunity. I digress.)

      Rage; however, is still rage. Is it insanity? We often pair that word and others like it, with ‘insane’. So is this a Mad Rage, a Crazy Vengeance, etc? Certainly anger. But I’m not thinking she ‘snapped’ during the battle. If any snapping happened, I believe it happened before… and that she’s had the capacity for a long while.

      I do see it as pre-planned, with the burning passion of a thousand suns. Or at least with the flames of one very dangerous dragon and a furious dragon rider.

      Unless, maybe not. I think about this series waaay too much.

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    33. Wonderful essay, Patrick. You eloquently summed up the problem with Mad Queen controversy. Simply put, no more Miss Nice Princess — Daenerys did what any conquerer should do: Stomp the opposition in order to create a new regime from (literally) the ashes. She got down to the business of realm building.

      Daenerys has always been honest about her ambition to take back the Iron Throne. And your call back to Season 7’s council of wise women was a perfect. Lady Oleanna was spot on in her advice and, I was thrilled to watch darling Dany at last harness her destiny. When she followed the boys’ advice — epic fails. She needs the advice of a smart old lady and an all-gal posse of national leaders and it’s victory. (Per the meme, “bitches get things done”)

      Daenerys is not crazy at all. She took what she wanted, using her resources to their best advantage. Her actions were calculated, strategic and smart. (Like a “man”, maybe???) Sadly, it came at a huge cost. Paying the price for success will make for a compelling conclusion!

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    34. I have to give credit to Emilia Clarke for keeping Dany’s heel turn a secret for the past 2 years. It must’ve been really hard keeping that to herself.

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    35. Really great interesting and insightful article. On point too! I would however like to make the point that cousin marriage is NOT incest! It never has been. It may now be looked upon that way by relatively small regions on this planet but largely not, even now.

      My parents are cousins and it’s hugely offensive to me to infer I am the product of incest. No! I am NOT!! 😔

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    36. Dyanna: My parents are cousins and it’s hugely offensive to me to infer I am the product of incest. No! I am not!! 😔

      Are they first cousins?

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    37. Dyanna,

      Interesting. I think it’s one of those things that has more of a stigma attached to it than anything. I just looked it up and apparently the U.S. has twenty states and the District of Columbia that allow cousins to marry; six other states permit first-cousin marriage only under certain circumstances, while 24 states made it illegal.

      I don’t know about European laws though.

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    38. Hodors Bastard,

      But I’m not even sure that it was just lust for power. Daenerys grew up in exiled with a brother who relentlessly told her about the injustices done to their family and how it was their duty and destiny to retake what was theirs by right. They were born royal, they were descendants of the great dragon riders that had conquered and rule Westeros for hundreds of years. The blood of the Dragon. That was her foundation. Once her brother was dead -in her eyes proving that he was no dragon- and after proving her own dragon-ness by surviving the pyre fire and hatching dragons, she just gained an unwavering faith in her destiny and uniqueness. She never allowed herself to wallow in doubt, never allowed herself to truly feel guilt because she had a goal, a destiny to fulfill. She endured hardship and employ ruthlessness to achieve gains and in the process became powerful, sure she still faced detractors and opponents but they could never match her weapons and she easily disposed of them.

      Then came Westeros where her forces and weapons dwindled in ways she could not foresee. Westeros, where her name carried scars and where she was never going to received the instantaneous adoration that she always thought she would. For someone as entitled as her, that is a big blow. Westeros who had taken her blood family away, her home all those years ago, then took her new family away. The ones closer to her, two of her “children”, her protector someone who offered her the unconditional love and adoration she always craved and then her best friend. Not to mention all those soldiers lost along the way.

      Think of the wrath, the desolation, dejection, despair she was feeling. Think how many people/things she feels she sacrificed for Westeros for them all to simply reject her. All of those deaths and losses would be for naught if she didn’t ultimately achieved her goal, she needed to secure her rule. She made a choice but not only because she lusted for power but because she had already sacrificed too much in that pursuit to simply not go after it with full force. She chose to be a dragon.

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    39. Dyanna: Really great interesting and insightful article. On point too! I would however like to make the point that cousin marriage is NOT incest! It never has been. It may now be looked upon that way by relatively small regions on this planet but largely not, even now.

      My parents are cousins and it’s hugely offensive to me to infer I am the product of incest. No! I am NOT!!

      Nobody said that, as far as I can see. The lead article makes the distinction clear.
      “Cousins marrying isn’t the same as an aunt and nephew marrying. ”

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    40. Mr Derp:
      Dyanna,

      Interesting.I think it’s one of those things that has more of a stigma attached to it than anything.I just looked it up and apparently the U.S. has twenty states and the District of Columbia that allow cousins to marry; six other states permit first-cousin marriage only under certain circumstances, while 24 states made it illegal.

      I don’t know about European laws though.

      I can understand why, in our more enlightened times, genetically it is not considered advisable due to an increased risk of genetic problems, which happily I do not suffer from. I once asked my aunt whether my family had an issue with my parent’s marrying because they were cousins and she looked at me incredulously. The answer was obviously no. I have a close friend whose sister also married a cousin. In the Christian faith, cousins are not on the list of incestuous relationships laid down in the Bible. Can’t believe I’m posting this on the net lol.

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    41. I believe it was fairly clear that after the initial destruction, and the victory assured by the capitulation of the city and it’s defenders, Danaerys went spur of the moment black with rage, only then deciding to wage total war. This was no premeditated plan to destroy the city like that. She could have done that without ever breaching the wall or having the army get in the fight. Once the scorpions were gone, there was absolutely nothing that could have prevented her from lighting up the city one block at a time at her leisure. The fact she stuck to the battle plan seems to indicate a last second change of heart and mind and soul once it was definitely won. Her face change in that moment from excited and even scared, to full anger and hatred confirms it as well. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 🙂

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    42. LL of Darkwater,

      Great points.

      Everyone including Jon knew this was coming. Varys said to Jon “you know what she’s planning right?” And Jon said “… yeah but she’s the Queen, so…”

      It would have taken a miracle to stop her, and they thought the miracle was the Bells. Tyrion and Jon were visibly relieved but still on edge… because they knew what she was planning.

      As for the proper word to use for her state of mind, I don’t think “mad” is the wrong one. It’s fair. She didn’t just lose it in a fit of passion and strafe a couple of streets, she planned it and then systematically went block by block through the city, back and forth and back again, Dracarysing every step of the way, targeting civilians and their homes, and not going straight to punish Cersei. In fact she never targeted Cersei.

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    43. Excellent analysis Pat.
      Indeed, with “the heroic son of Prince Rhaegar” around, his “pretty aunt” had zero chances to become queen, unless she instilled so much fear in everyone that noone will fare defy her, the heroic nephew included. Of course she could just get rid of said nephew and leave civilians alone, but then the risk would be that he,even dead, become a symbol for future unrest or even rebellion.
      Random thought: Olenna Tyrell should have been Hand to the Queen instead of Tyrion. Her approach would be so much easier and it would save Dany her meltdown.
      Another random thought: that awful man, Randyl Tarly was right after all!

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    44. Dyanna: Perhaps not but it was referenced as such. Of course it’s not the same. Aunt and nephew in my book is incest. Cousin marriage is not.

      But that’s what Patrick said.

      I didn’t know that first-cousin marriage was illegal in some US states. Amazing. Here in the UK it’s legal, and always has been.

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    45. Dyanna,

      I think it depends on the culture too. In Latin America (and I suppose in Spain too though I’m not sure) the term for first-cousin is primo/a-hermano/a (or cousin-brother/cousin-sister) and more likely than not in our culture were are raised to view our first cousins as our siblings. I am not saying it doesn’t happen but in Latin America, first-cousins marrying each other would most likely raise many an eyebrow. Though I am not sure what the legality of such marriages are, I suppose it differs from country to country.

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    46. Greyworm and Missandei were Dany’s undoing.

      Greyworm had always preferred directly killing the opposition previously, but was neutered by wiser advice. Missandei, a trusted friend and adviser, kept her mentally balanced and was probably her closest friend. Once she lost yet another dragon (her child) and heard Missandei succumb to hate by crying “Dracarys!”, Dany is convinced to ignore Westerosi advice and follow her heart (as Missandei once prescribed).

      Unfortunately Dany’s heart is a cruel and dangerous thing when left unleashed. Dragon’s do what dragons want, and her heart wanted vengeance and retribution more than it wanted reason.

      It appears Greyworm is the only close friend she really has now. Paired with Dothraki and Unsullied, she rules over a family of the emotionally deprived.

      Everyone looks forward to reaching your goal, but for Dany is there a point to the day after? Her reign, like her womb, are destined to be barren.

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    47. Grandmaester Flash,

      Second cousins can marry in any U.S. state, but only half of U.S. states allow first cousin marriages.

      It’s supposedly due to the higher risk of genetic disease that can occur between first cousins.

      Children of non-related couples usually have a 2-3% risk of congenital disabilities, while children of first cousins usually have a 4-6% chance.

      The laws really do vary depending on which state you live in though. For example, if you live in Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Utah, or Wisconsin you can still marry your first cousin, but only if they cannot bear children.

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    48. Lady MarMar: I think Dany’s actions have nothing to do with insanity and everything to do with justifiable rage. Who saved who during the Battle of WF? Dany saved Jon at least twice, Dany’s armies saved WF and all of Westeros. Did Jon acknowledge that? No, he did not – instead, he took over the funeral and the dinner as though he was in charge.

      Dany was acknowledged — Jon defended her to Arya and Sansa on the basis of Dany’s game-changing contributions. Tormund toasted Dany at the feast. Jon was constantly pledging his fealty to her. However, it’s true that the Northerners should have been more grateful to her.

      Jon led the funeral because he is the one who has been preparing for this war for years: trying to make people believe in this threat, trying to gather armies and resources to fight this threat, trying to defend the Wall against this threat, working with Tormund to save the wildlings from this threat — he’s the reason they were all there to fight the AOTD and risked life to do so. Jon spent eight seasons on this.

      Also, all have made sacrifices for this war. Jon and Sansa’s people were fighting too, as were Lyanna Mormont’s people, and the wildlings. The wildlings, especially, lost a great number of people to the army of the dead.

      Dany’s armies did so much to help hold back the army of the dead, that’s absolutely true, but this is her duty because she is their queen. The North is now part of her kingdom because Jon gave up his crown to her. Dany should be fighting for the North as its queen.

      And though she saved Jon twice and received disrespect and rudeness from the North, that doesn’t give Dany an excuse to mass slaughter people.

      It was Dany who lost her dragons, it was Dany whose BFF was decapitated (and the BFF was the sweetest, gentlest character alive, and yet what were her final words? – “Burn the MFers!”, my translation) . It was Dany who was betrayed by Jon, who could not keep a secret for a few days even, despite the example of having a “father” who kept a secret all his life. And her Hand, Tyrion, nothing but bad advice and betrayal – stupid idea to release Jaime, just stupid stupid.

      And so many other people in this war experienced loss as well. So many characters in this series have experienced devastating loss and grief. This just isn’t an excuse for mass slaughter.

      Jon didn’t betray Dany. Jon was firm with Dany that he was going to tell his sisters. She was telling Jon he must keep this secret forever:

      You can say nothing. To anyone, ever. Never tell them who you really are.

      Is it not problematic of Dany to ask the man she loves to lie to his family about who he really is for the rest of his life for the sake of her claim?

      And what Tyrion did was treason, yes, but he was trying to save his brother. The only one who loved Tyrion his whole life and didn’t treat him like a monster. At the same time, yes, it is treason.

      There are two sides here: Dany was right that Sansa would use this info against her. Jon was naive and blind to not accept Sansa would do so. However, Dany was wrong to try to make Jon lie to his family for the rest of his life about his very identity.

      The civilians at KL were the same people who threw feces at Cersei; they were not innocents. Ok, the children were, but who drew them into the Red Keep?, not Dany.

      And that makes it okay to burn them alive? Because Cersei was using them as a meat shield? Because the population of King’s Landing contains jerks? Does this mean all 500,000 of them deserve to die? Also, the population of King’s Landing doesn’t know what we know — they only know what they’re told. And none of this justifies genocide.

      Dany was fighting an uphill battle — she had an unfavourable reputation that preceded her and was being judged by the North for her father’s crimes. Being judged by the North for her father’s sins was especially unfair. But Dany had options, she could compromise, share power, give the people of Westeros time to know her. But she didn’t. She used her grief to punish the people of King’s Landing. Her feelings, however justified they might be, do not make it okay to do what she did.

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    49. Grandmaester Flash,

      So why reference it? Ok I’m not berating Patrick. I do know no offence was intended. I get that. But just as people may infer racism when someone means nothing of the sort, this is the same in my mind. I was offended when I read the article and nothing anyone can say will change that. But hey, I’m simply pointing out that culturally we are all different and the fact that the world is full of cousin marriages and their offspring maybe should be borne in mind. It’s fine 😊

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    50. If the theory of bran warging into drogon is not true. What if it’s true that she though of it before. A strategical move. It has to be layered with a bit of madness to think of it and to execute it.

      So maybe it’s 30% madness and 70% strategic move.

      Nick20,

      As baristan and jorah said in season 3 episode 3. A dragon is worth more than a whole army.

      And that was made clear in episode 5. Jon could have every single man fighting for him as long as dany has her dragon, she will win. No more scorpions, nothing against Dany. The only way we gonna take out dany is if drogon is not there with her.

      So yes she make herself stronger. If she didn’t do this. People could have chosen Jon. Now they are afraid to do that.

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    51. Danny,

      Absolutely. What I am saying is that as the child of a first cousin marriage, I get hugely offended at any inference that I could be viewed as the product of incest. I come from an extremely moralistic and religious background. I’m not surprised that it now raises eyebrows, I doubt I would be advocating it these days, but simply because it raises risks that need not be raised. Morally there is nothing incestuous about it. That’s my point.

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    52. Finally some logic ! I keep mentioning these to all my friends that watch GoT.
      Jon must realize that he triggered this unwillingly, just as Ned Stark started the war of the 5 kings (Joffrey is not the true heir…) also unwillingly.
      This is right up there with the Harrenhal burning by Aegon, though Dany’s reasons are more than two palms in a box…
      Symbolically, Dany burned Kings Landing together with everything that it has represented.

      Oh, and I must quote an internet classic. “I would feel sorry for Cersei, if she wasn’t Cersei”.

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    53. LL of Darkwater,

      I don’t believe Dany did plan this beforehand. According to the showrunners in Inside the Episode and Game Revealed, it was a spontaneous choice. I believe, prior to this point after Missandei and Rhaegal’s deaths, Dany was planning to attack the Red Keep (even with the people inside) and use the armies to fight the GC and Lannister troops to get there. Attacking the Red Keep with the people inside isn’t great… but it’s not on the scale of deliberately burning the entire the city to the ground after surrender, with many still alive.

      Dan Weiss: She knows that she has won this war. It’s in that moment when she makes the decision to make this personal.

      Dan Weiss: I don’t think she decided ahead of time that she was… going to do what she did. And then she sees the Red Keep, which is, to her, the home that her family built when they first came over to this country 300 years ago. It’s in that moment, on the walls of King’s Landing, where she’s looking at that symbol of everything that was taken from her, when she makes the decision to — to make this personal.

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    54. Mr Derp: Interesting. I think it’s one of those things that has more of a stigma attached to it than anything. I just looked it up and apparently the U.S. has twenty states and the District of Columbia that allow cousins to marry; six other states permit first-cousin marriage only under certain circumstances, while 24 states made it illegal.

      I don’t know about European laws though.

      Cousins = Incest is entirely an American thing. Cousin marriages have always been allowed by the Catholic Church and are thus legal throughout Europe. European medieval royalty is mostly a web of cousin hookups. I’m not aware of the Asian nations being any different.

      It should be noted that First Cousins is the limit. Any closer is not permitted, so Aunt and Nephew is off the table (painted Dragonstone table or otherwise). That said, an awful lot of evil Uncle Eurons have tried their absolute best to convince everyone otherwise.

      Random historical trivia: Henry VIII of England tried to divorce Katherine of Aragon on the basis she was his sister-in-law and the marriage should therefore never have been allowed, because “incest”. Katherine had previously been married to Henry’s older brother, but claimed that union was unconsummated and was therefore not a legal marriage in itself. It should be noted that Henry VIII slept with Anne Boelyn’s older sister Mary before Anne’s marriage, but for some reason this detail didn’t count when Henry was determined to marry Anne. Henry VIII was just a dick, I think is the lesson we can ultimately take from this.

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    55. Season 2, house of the undying. Dany has the iron Throne within her grasps. But somehow, she does not take it. Instead, she hears a child screaming and focuses on that, leaving the iron throne aside.
      Now, this might well be the series finale’s story.

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    56. Nick20,

      Dany has been threatening to burn people for several seasons. My take on it is that she didn’t view the people of Kings Landing as ‘innocents’ because they were ‘forced to surrender’, they didn’t bow down immediately to her and show their gratitude at being liberated so to her they aren’t innocent. She’s become a power hungry, narcissist – like most dictators are. Morally good people don’t need advisers to ‘hold them back’ from committing violent acts all the time.

      As for the ‘cousins’ marrying question – a shallow gene pool never does well after several generations, even the current Royal family saw that and is now diversifying to ensure the survival of their house.

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    57. I do not at all buy the argument that Daenerys was acting out of a rational plan to hold onto power. If that’s what they were going for then they would have shown her being very sad about what she had to do but resolved to do it. Instead they showed her in anguish and rage and then she was no longer a person. She became the dragon.

      In the beginning of the story, Dany has no interest in the Iron Throne. It’s Viserys that longs for power. Dany is just looking for a sense of home, of belonging. She finds some semblance of that with Drogo. When she allows Drogo to kill her brother in front of her, I think on some level that’s when she first starts to think about taking the Iron Throne out of guilt. Then her life with Drogo and the Dothraki is taken away from her. Now her quest to become ruler of the Seven Kingdoms comes into full effect as a substitute for the things she really wants but feels she will never be able to have.

      Then it finally happens. The bells ring out. This is supposed to be her moment of triumph. But all she feels is empty. She’s faced with the reality that becoming queen was never going to make her happy. This is never going to be her home. All the people who were close to her that might have allowed her to at least pretend it was that way are either dead or can no longer be trusted. She has won but everything is wrong and it all comes crashing down on her.

      I totally buy that she would then take it out on the already surrendered enemy army. I buy that she destroys the Red Keep, her supposed to be home that can never make her feel at home. But I don’t accept that she methodically murders the innocent population of the city. It wasn’t necessary plot wise either. Attacking the Lannister army that has already surrendered is enough to turn Jon, Tyrion, and Davos against her.

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    58. Dyanna:
      Grandmaester Flash,

      So why reference it? Ok I’m not berating Patrick. I do know no offence was intended. I get that. But just as people may infer racism when someone means nothing of the sort, this is the same in my mind. I was offended when I read the article and nothing anyone can say will change that. But hey, I’m simply pointing out that culturally we are all different and the fact that the world is full of cousin marriages and their offspring maybe should be borne in mind. It’s fine 😊

      Hey Dyanna, I’m here to explain. (Also, thanks Flash for defending me.)

      I’ve had people say that Jon should have zero hangups about romantic relations with Dany, because Ned’s parents were cousins, so there is no incest taboo in the North.

      What I am saying there is this: cousins having sex isn’t incest. So that doesn’t matter when it comes to parent-child or aunt-nephew/uncle-niece (for heteronormative combinations.) It’s not a good argument. I brought it up because it’s not weird that Jon doesn’t want to have sex with his aunt, even if he would like to.

      I didn’t mean to offend anyone whose parents are cousins, like Ned Stark, my main man.

      I hope that satisfies you, and I do apologize for having my discussion of Jon’s unspoken hang-ups not presented in a clear enough manner.

      Thank you both for reading the article, I appreciate the feedback.

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    59. ShameShameShame:
      LL of Darkwater,
      Everyone including Jon knew this was coming.Varys said to Jon “you know what she’s planning right?”And Jon said “… yeah but she’s the Queen, so…”

      It would have taken a miracle to stop her, and they thought the miracle was the Bells.Tyrion and Jon were visibly relieved but still on edge… because they knew what she was planning.

      I know I’m stepping into this again after responding to this a few days ago here and here but I don’t think there’s any way Jon could have known what Dany would end up doing. Jon doesn’t have the same information as Varys, Jon’s operating with completely different knowledge. The most he knew of was Dany’s Plan A from the first battle planning session in 804, pre-meat shield, to attack the Red Keep and target Cersei specifically. Neither Tyrion or Jon knew she was going to burn down the whole city, especially since — according to the showrunners — Dany didn’t know she was going to burn down the whole city.

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    60. Colin Armfield,

      If Dany is going to die it needs to be Jon. Itll drive me nuts if they just go the Arya route AGAIN. But at this point who the heck knows.

      Ive enjoyed the season overall regardless.

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    61. Emily,

      Actually, marriage between aunt and nephew and niece and uncle has been permitted in the past in some areas of the world, and still is permitted in some countries, and even has a name: avunculate marriage. “Avunculate marriage is legal in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, Malaysia, The Netherlands, and Russia. It is explicitly illegal in most English-speaking countries.” Wikipedia

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    62. Nick20,

      I think what we saw was the manifestation of the Medea complex. Dany felt betrayed by Tyrion and Jon, so she unleashed her wrath on her surrogate children – the smallfolk, Tyrion and Jon cared so much about. It was an act of revenge, an act of a figurative abortion. IMO that’s the best explanation.

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    63. I don’t think “madness” (insanity, mental convolutions and derangement) and ambitious, fearful, ruthless strategies are mutually exclusive. They weren’t for Stalin and Hitler, who were both politically calculating, yet paranoid and irrational –the latter especially at the end, when he signed the Nero decree. So I believe that mental/emotional/moral degeneration and a “plan” went hand-in-hand in Dany’s decision to burn KL.

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    64. No.

      First, everything Nick said. Daenerys all but assured her own destruction. She is 100% going to die in the final episode and that would not have happened if she hadn’t done this.

      Second, even if you want to ignore what the writers say, the actress also clearly played it as a break. That is on-screen. The last thing we see of her she is practically crying and screaming at the same time while sitting on top of Drogon. She looks like a woman gone mad, not a woman who already made a cold, calculated decision about how to best consolidate her rule.

      Third, none of this is even necessary to achieve what you want her to have been wanting to achieve. She destroyed the entire Iron Fleet and the entire Golden Company in 10 minutes. The people are already on their knees screaming in terror. People fear her plenty. Killing a whole bunch of peasants isn’t going to make them fear her more. It’s just going to make them want to instantly usurp and replace her.

      Fourth, how much of a trump card is a dragon? Her principal antagonist right now in terms of powerful people who oppose her openly is Sansa. She’s really the only one. And her brother just so happens to be able to inhabit and take control of any living animal. Maybe Daenerys doesn’t know that, but she should. She can take on almost anyone flying on Drogon’s back, but the Starks are the one family she cannot, the one family that can neutralize a dragon.

      Fifth, even her whole “I’ll never have love here” act doesn’t hold up when you think about it for more than ten seconds. Jon didn’t have love, either. People love him now, 8 years later, because he served them for years, fought for them and died for them. They don’t love him because he showed upon their doorstep and declared himself their savior. The Daenerys of season five would know that. She had patience. She was willing to stay in Essos for years if that is what it took to bring peace and prosperity to people, even if it meant putting off her quest for the Iron Throne, which we now obviously know she could have accomplished at any point once Drogon was fully grown.

      Why did all of her patience suddenly disappear and melt into a desire for instant gratification and the ultimate fit when it didn’t happen? Simple. There is only one season left. The writers don’t have time to depict patience, so the characters are no longer patient. It’s characters changing to serve the needs of the plot.

      The fact that you need to go to this level of rationalization to ignore what we actually see on-screen is honestly sad. If the writers, actress, director, or anyone else involved in creating this story wanted to show a calculated decision by a person thinking rationally, they could have showed us that. They did not. They did that with Stannis. He explicitly told other people, on screen, that the evil he was about to commit was necessary for X, Y, Z reasons. He did it when was going to burn Gendry. He did it when he burned Shireen. He did it when he moved to sack King’s Landing (and, of course, his plan there was never to kill every last man, woman, and child no matter how innocent). He gave his reasons. He didn’t just show the face of a ragged and broken man, disappear for the rest of an episode while going on a rampage, and leave fans to plead his case for him.

      If Daenerys was being clear of mind while doing this, the writers need to show that. They need to show us the woman who just months earlier explicitly and publicly rebuked Lady Olenna’s advice changing her mind. “Some people support another claimant” is not nearly a good enough reason. She knew that coming in. Tyrion has been telling her for the past three years that she needs to win the support of the great houses and that most of them do not now and likely will not in the near future support her. This isn’t some shocking change that justifies a shift in strategy. She left Daario behind because she knew she was going to need to woo people, to convince them, that weren’t just going to bend the second she landed. If it suddenly became too much for her when that actually happened, we need a better reason than no reason at all.

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    65. JS:
      Great article. I’ve been trying to tell people all week that Dany is not mad; this was a rational (though evil) action to consolidate her rule. It fits with the person who crucified the slavemasters, burned the Dothraki crones and sacked the ancient city of Qarth.

      It worked as a surprise in the show and hopefully when GRRM writes it we can see her thought process. She was probably planning this at least Varys’ betrayal and maybe even before she left Essos.

      She didn’t burn the Dothraki crones, only the Khals.

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    66. Emily,

      Actually it’s not an exclusively American thing. I’m European from a country with Orthodox Christian majority. State laws prohibit first cousin marriages as well as marriages between the children of half-siblings. Church laws and especially societal norms go much further so marriages between second and third cousins are unheard of, although the state doesn’t explicitly ban them. The same goes for marriage between two brothers and two sisters who are not at all related.

      So, yes, so many different traditions around the world:)

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    67. Danny: For someone as entitled as her, that is a big blow. Westeros who had taken her blood family away, her home all those years ago, then took her new family away

      Yeah, I get your point, and thanks for that, but since you used the word “entitled,” that seems to enforce the “lust for power” paradigm. Perhaps her resolve was dramatically/severely enhanced by her losses, her brother’s protective half-truths, and all her “savior” successes. Combined over time, these factors drew out her default Targness to excess…and isolated her even more. Powerlust + isolation = chaos.

      For me, “be a dragon” was the affirmation she needed to move forward….as spoken decidedly by the desperate Queen of Thorns. Now with the events of Ep5, she can’t be seen as anything but her father’s daughter by most 3rd parties. I can’t see her “dream” and powerlust ending well mentally or physically for her.

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    68. Patrick Sponaugle,

      Hey Patrick. Thank you for taking time out to explain. It’s fine. Sensitive subject to me and so I probably failed to read it in context as a result. 🙄 I appreciate the explanation which now makes sense. Please don’t worry. Loved your article and I will go read again and engage with what I felt was an excellent piece.

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    69. Hodors Bastard,

      I had always thought Dany’s desire for power and the throne was to try and forge a connection with her family via reclaiming her family’s dynasty — because she had no family left. And that this goal, in lieu of family (having never known her parents, her brother being the biggest jerk, her son being stillborn, Drogo’s death), became her driving force.

      But maybe that’s a view influenced by the books…

      At the same time, I thought part of Dany would be happy to find blood family, that she wasn’t the last of her kind. Annnnnd it turns out I was wrong on that, so what do I know?

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    70. Dyanna,

      Not all Christians. Most Protestants allow it (I think?) but I think you need a dispensation if you’re Catholic, otherwise it’s verboten.

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    71. You’re right about one thing. This is an uninteresting way to end her story. Genetics is destiny and people can’t change are horrible lessons. Nonetheless, this is the story they’re telling. Interesting characters who had nuance and layers are reverting to their worst and most basic selves. And for Daenerys, the girl who has overcome greater challenges and more adversity than almost anybody and always found a way to get through it and come out stronger on the other end, the one challenge she cannot overcome turns out to be becoming the world’s most powerful person, first queen ever on multiple continents, but not being loved enough. And her most basic self she gets to revert to is uncontrollable rage machine.

      It’s a terrible ending, but to paraphrase Jon and Melisandre, what sort of writers would do that? The ones we’ve got.

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    72. I want to say thank you so very much for a well thought out article with backing analysis rather than an opinion piece. And in turn it has launched a great discussion in the comments.

      I’ve been so sick of reading other articles and comments that are just a hot mess of complaining and whining. Bashing “the writing” when their gripe is really a result of things just not playing out the way they envisioned or wanted.

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    73. Adam,

      It is Dany’s magical genetics that are a problem. And Jon will see he has to worry about his own magical genetics.

      He didn’t want to father a bastard, he certainly won’t want to father a child who could grow up to burn a million people alive.

      It’s magic – omnipotent story-breaking overpowerment – that has to be destroyed in this story. First Ice and now Fire.

      All the petty human squabbling means nothing in the face of magic.

      Jon won’t let it continue. Self-exile would be the sweeter alternative to what I fear will happen.

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    74. Mr Derp,

      I’ve also checked the laws and was surprised to find out that first cousin marriages are illegal in my country, as well as avunvular ones. It turns out, I know more about medieval practices more, than about current laws:)
      As far as I understand, we had two incest concepts. Pre-christian Europe was prety much OK with all kinds of marriages outside the nuclear family, including avuncular ones. At least in acient Rome, no-one had a problem with Claudius marrying his niece Agrippina the Younger. And it’s understandable: marriage practices developed in small semi-isolated communities with limited pools of potential spouses and nobility was a closed coommunity, too. Then the Christian Church brought in Judaic marriage practices which developed in a small, densely populated and higly urbanized Kanaan, proclaimed incest everyting down to the seventh level of consanguinity (including in-laws), and then started dispensating everything to the first leel, including avuncular marriages. So, first-cousin marriages, as well as avuncular marriages fell into the grey zone of dispensated incest: they were not encouraged, but not forbidden either.

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    75. ShameShameShame,

      I think I’ve made my point. Not really keen on discussing it further. No offence. Hopefully posters in this thread can be mindful of my feelings given my parents are first cousins.

      Hint to the poster above…

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    76. I’m glad to see this viewpoint articulated. It’s been nagging at my brain as an explanation that resonated even more than just PTSD.

      She has been treated repeatedly as a woman that needs to follow the wisdom of the male advisors. They keep failing her in attempts to bend her will. Meanwhile, she sees clearly that the women of power were fooling those same men. In the midst of the advisors mistakes in their own self-interest, she is surrounded by traitors who will try to force Jon’s unwanted claim for the throne. She’s thwarted, delayed and treated like her own thinking is all wrong.

      Was she right to turn away from advisors? Absolutely. Tyrion betrayed her even as he tells her to accept the city’s surrender. Should your advise be doled out from a traitor?

      There’s a new video that talks about the Targs feeling superior to ordinary men, and the madness being linked to greater intellect. They believe they are higher beings than Andals and First Men descendants and rightful rulers (Deep Geek).

      She was curbing power to take ‘her’ city, even while she inhabited the north and Dragonstone for months on end because everyone was concerned about her losing the love of her subjects if she moved too quickly. Even as she risked her life and her dragons to help the man she loved, and she lost the only two humans who truly loved her while Jon became repulsed by auntie love.

      For what or whom did she still need to earn love? Burning it all down rebukes her advisors. She’s no longer appeasing their self-centered advice. She’s on her own now, and doesn’t plan to follow the past, but to create a new future. But first, no one in Westeros should ever think they can manipulate her again. Fear her and respect her, but not plan to guide her actions, at least until they earn her trust. Right now she trusts no one.

      Innocent people always die in wars. This one or the next. If plans are not set by the right leader with the right advisors, betrayals, attacks and sabotage set the next war. She may have felt this loss of life was the lesser of battles and wars the land would face. Dont’ think she’s as uncaring for the people as Cersei, even now. I still think she dies, but I am appreciating her thought processes more fully.

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    77. I think the deliberate choice to destroy Kings Landing, whilst cruel, is in keeping with her previous actions of ensuring power. I give immense credit to Emilia for expressing enough ambiguity while the bells rang. She was able to satisfy D & D, and their Daenerys suddenly snapped idea, whilst knowingly respecting the arc of her own character.
      I also have to credit GRRM for the many layers of interpretation in his story. One could see the song of fire & ice as a war between gods played via pawn humans. We have the Night King, perhaps originally powered by the magic of the Old Gods. The Night King was a thief – he stole the dead from the Many Faced Good and stole the living from the Lord of Light. With his elimination, the story has shown the power of the Old Gods to be a thing of history rather than the present.
      In the present, the Gods who seem to be active are the Lord of Light (LOL) and the Many Faced God (MFG). Via Kinvara, the LOL lets us know that Daenerys was promised, “to remake the world,” and that her dragons, a gift from LOL, will “purify non believers by the thousands, burning their flesh away.” The Lord of Light has had a successful run of things. Daenerys has remade the world, Westeros’ most powerful city has been destroyed. She has broken the wheel set in place by her own family. Now, in the final episode, I expect The Many Faced God to restore some balance. MFG’s High Priestess is Arya. Will she kill Daenery’s using Grey Worm’s face? Who will kill Drogon and how? How will Jon (another LOL agent) be eliminated from the story?

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    78. Nick20,

      This makes perfect sense to me along with similar posts.
      Dany didn’t have to do this, she had a choice and made the wrong one which saddens me.
      Yes, Olenna told her to be a dragon. However, look at how Olenna’s house ended up decimated in the end. Choices have consequences, good and/or bad.
      I hadn’t even thought of Dany prearranging with Grey Worm to destroy the city. If true, that makes what she did even more heinous.

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    79. Dyanna:
      Patrick Sponaugle,

      Hey Patrick. Thank you for taking time out to explain. It’s fine.Sensitive subject to me and so I probably failed to read it in context as a result. 🙄 I appreciate the explanation which now makes sense. Please don’t worry.Loved your article and I will go read again and engage with what I felt was an excellent piece.

      No problem, and thank you for bringing it up. Best, best regards. :huggy emoji:

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    80. Nick20: So what would have stopped her from eventually becoming a beloved queen ? Nothing.

      Jon would. Or the people supporting him, anyway. Which is explained in the article. It’s explained in the show, too, by Varys and Dany herself.

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    81. MotherofWolves:
      Nick20,

      This makes perfect sense to me along with similar posts.
      Dany didn’t have to do this, she had a choice and made the wrong one which saddens me.
      Yes, Olenna told her to be a dragon. However, look at how Olenna’s house ended up decimated in the end. Choices have consequences, good and/or bad.
      I hadn’t even thought of Dany prearranging with Grey Worm to destroy the city. If true, that makes what she did even more heinous.

      I super agree. Olenna had an interest rooted in revenge on Cersei (same with Ellaria) without an investment in Dany, or how things would be for Dany after a Be a Dragon assault.

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    82. I’ve seen this argument floating around the web before. A very well-reasoned explanation. It’s certainly better than what we got. This madness nonsense is a detriment to a great character arc, and a disservice to all Dany fans.

      I love Death of the Author, especially when I disagree with the author (case in point). Sadly, I think the final episode is going to disprove this.

      Still, thanks for offering us one final theory before the end! I’m going to miss these most of all. Remember R+L=J? Feels like a million years ago.

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    83. Great post. I heard GRR Martin in an interview mention ASOIF is set in the “machiavellian times” rather than middle ages. It made sense for the previous seasons, it made sense for Daenerys learning in Essos, it makes sense for this episode: (in a nutshell) it’s best to have love and fear, if you can’t have both, fear is best. Then, you can rule and reform. Though, he adds, you must avoid being hated (Tywinn missed this paragraph…). So, I think her first words and acts in ep 6 will be crucial.

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    84. Luka Nieto: Jon would. Or the people supporting him, anyway. Which is explained in the article. It’s explained in the show, too, by Varys and Dany herself.

      This doesn’t square with her character at all, though. Tyrion had to talk her into even caring what the high lords thought of her. She was ready and happy to rule with the support of only the common people. And what do the common people care about? As Jorah told her, a long summer and food for their children. She gives them that and they will love her. And she could have given them that. She may not have ever had the support of Sansa Stark or Yohn Royce, but since when does she care? She never had the support of the wise masters, either, and she was still perfectly happy to rule without it. Hell, she didn’t even always have the support of the common folk. The citizens of Meereen hissed at her when she executed Mossador. Many commoners backed the Sons of the Harpy. She didn’t decide to burn them.

      Her motivations are so twisted here that her own words about it aren’t even true. When she’s dismissing the people of King’s Landing to Tyrion by comparing them to the people and saying the people of Meereen took the city for her the second she arrived, that isn’t even what actually happened. She showed up, made a grand speech to them telling them she was there to hurt the powerful and not them, and then sent the Unsullied undercover to arm them and foment internal rebellion. They didn’t just spontaneously do it and greet her as a liberator. She had to convince them and assist them. She never even tried to do anything like that with King’s Landing.

      And I can’t even tell if I’m supposed to think she’s being intentionally disingenuous because she’s out for blood and trying to justify it to herself or if the writers just forgot what actually happened and hope the viewers will forget, too.

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    85. Lady MarMar:
      I think Dany’s actions have nothing to do with insanity and everything to do with justifiable rage.Who saved who during the Battle of WF?Dany saved Jon at least twice, Dany’s armies saved WF and all of Westeros.Did Jon acknowledge that?No, he did not – instead, he took over the funeral and the dinner as though he was in charge.It was Dany who lost her dragons, it was Dany whose BFF was decapitated (and the BFF was the sweetest, gentlest character alive, and yet what were her final words? – “Burn the MFers!”, my translation) . It was Dany who was betrayed by Jon, who could not keep a secret for a few days even, despite the example of having a “father” who kept a secret all his life.And her Hand, Tyrion, nothing but bad advice and betrayal – stupid idea to release Jaime, just stupid stupid.

      The civilians at KL were the same people who threw feces at Cersei; they were not innocents.Ok, the children were, but who drew them into the Red Keep?, not Dany.

      And, looking back, what did she gain by showing mercy?Her dearest love (although rapist, oh yuck) was killed by the witch.

      Olenna was absolutely right – you’re a dragon, be a dragon.

      My hoped-for ending is that Dany kills Jon (dim-witted, heroic, handsome Jon with the magnificent hair and eyes, yes, we love him but what a terrible terrible leader he has been – if he isn’t killed, he should wander sadly in the woods with Ghost), and rules forever.Of course, that won’t happen, and I have enjoyed this series so much, I will be happy no matter what the result.

      Still, if it happens, if Drogon burns Jon to a crisp, the roar of laughter you hear across the universe comes from my house.

      Happy viewing to everyone!

      I agree in that her actions have nothing to do with insanity and everything to do with rage. Justifiable? No. Jon didn’t take over anything. It’s not his nature. He was applauded and she was largely ignored. Why is that Jon’s fault?
      She was extremely naive and her advisors let her down considering they – Tyrion and Jorah -were Westerosi.
      They didn’t think to warn her that her Dothraki and Unsullied would be looked upon as savages. They didn’t think to tell her that setting people on fire is viewed as barbaric in Westeros? They didn’t advise her, nor did she consider, that hearts have to be won and arriving in Winterfell and looking smug when the locals run in terror from your WMDs wasn’t going to win those hearts.
      She expected adoration and she didn’t get it. She was a foreigner and she failed to take that into account every step of the way.
      She was not betrayed by Jon. He never swore to keep that secret. The fact is that she is not the true heir to the throne, he is. All she cared about was her “right” to rule and her priority was to bury the truth. I was a champion of Dany but this season she revealed it was all about “me, me, me” She didn’t go mad, she unleashed her pent up anger on the general public because they didn’t cheer her victory in KL. she said it herself. She didn’t have their love so she would use fear. She mentioned the citizens of Mereen to Tyrion and how they had welcomed her arrival as a liberator. Tyrion got very exasperated trying to explain that the KL people would be butchered by Cersei if they resisted her. Dany made it very clear she couldn’t care less about the common folk.
      Dany has lost a lot, her friends, her advisors, two dragons and Jon’s love. Too much for her to bear, but her obvious priority is ruling no matter the cost and woe betide anyone who doesn’t bow down to that. She’s a megalomaniac and now has become the tyrant. She saw them running from her once the bells rang and not cheering her victory and she let rip. Unlike in Essos, no one in Westeros loved her or appreciated her and her sense of entitlement overwhelmed her. “I will take what is mine with Fire and Blood!” Except it isn’t hers…

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    86. Adam,

      I don’t even know what you mean. It doesn’t matter if she personally “cares about what the Lords think.” That’s not the issue. She isn’t dumb, so she knows the Lords of Westeros can raise armies against her in support of Jon. That’s a totally realistic expectation she has, given that Jon is a man, has history in Westeros and a good reputation up North, and has a greater claim; so its not out of character for Dany to be worried about that, because it’s in her character to notice obvious stuff like that.

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    87. Adrianacandle: I had always thought Dany’s desire for power and the throne was to try and forge a connection with her family via reclaiming her family’s dynasty — because she had no family left. And that this goal, in lieu of family (having never known her parents, her brother being the biggest jerk, her son being stillborn, Drogo’s death), became her driving force.

      Yeah…which is why I found the utter destruction of KL, which her family built, such an issue. But we’ve had enough of that hyperbole. Was she burning KL for family pride or in spite of family pride? The specifics you mention contributed heavily to the sudden excess and “fatherly madness” that we saw…plans and advice be damned. Plus, the battle with AotD totally corrupted her plans…a necessary, cursed evil before her ultimate goal. Even Aegon the Conqueror took a few years to study and visit Westeros before he began his campaign, right?

      It’s hard to imagine her only perspective of family is through tales told through biased 3rd parties…which is why I yearned after Selmy still by her side. So many biased advisers. I guess we thought that her “successes” in Essos would help her in Westeros, but they really didn’t (except give her armies). But strategic thinking? No. She is consumed by powerlust.

      I think in TWoW we will see how she failed in Essos much more clearly…and how she thinks she learns from that when coming to Westeros. But then she still has to deal with the fAegon mummer, GC, Euron, and the AotD. Is she destined to go full measures with her Targness in the books, regardless?

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    88. AnnOther,

      As you say, Machiavelli said to avoid being hated. Daenerys already crossed that line by murdering untold thousands for no reason.

      I really don’t understand how anybody can try to spin this as a rational or premeditated decision on her part, even if you ignore the writers. They literally have a lengthy shot of Dany going bug-eyed and fuming as the bells ring. The previous episode ended similarly. The “previously on” created a whole audio montage meant to convey insanity. The message the show is blasting out is (per usual) like a sledgehammer to the face: Dany is the Mad Queen.

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    89. Fierce as a Wolverine:
      Thanks for this. I far prefer that she chose to do this out of some rational strategic reasoning than that she “went mad.”

      Portraying this as a spur-of-the-moment emotional reaction undermines the point that I imagine GRRM is trying to make with this particular turn.You did a great job summing that all up.

      Thank you, I appreciate it. I felt that just jumping on “well, she’s mad now” wasn’t an interesting take. And the show provided enough details that I thought a case for consideration could be made.

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    90. AnnOther:
      Great post. I heard GRR Martin in an interview mention ASOIF is set in the “machiavellian times” rather than middle ages. It made sense for the previous seasons, it made sense for Daenerys learning in Essos, it makes sense for this episode: (in a nutshell) it’s best to have love and fear, if you can’t have both, fear is best. Then, you can rule and reform. Though, he adds, you must avoid being hated (Tywinn missed this paragraph…). So, I think her first words and acts in ep 6 will be crucial.

      Thanks Ann. When writing this up, I was considering bringing up Machiavelli since the love and fear discussed in season 7 by Olenna was fairly on point.

      I also am glad you brought up the But Don’t Be Hated angle. I don’t necessarily think Dany is considering it, which is fine for her to make that mistake. I don’t think that Dany is making a wise decision.

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    91. The Reign of The Mad Queen will last one day +/- a day.

      Aegon Targaryen had allies. Daenerys no longer does. She has Grey Worm (an employee, so not really an ally) whatever the diminished number of the Unsullied are (this week!) and perhaps some of the Dothraki (only some, she has lost a lot of her 60k “blood riders”).

      The rest? Enemies all. They can’t wait to kill her. If the final episode is 80 minutes, what’s the over under on how far into the episode until she is assassinated? I’ll give her 34 minutes.

      Pretty Short reign for the Queen Across the Water. You win or you die. She didn’t win. She was never going to win.

      So now, she’ll die. The Queen of Thorns lost, too, if you are keeping score. The Tyrell rose was pulled out root and stem as well.

      So much for how wise it is to ignore your “clever advisors”.

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    92. Hodors Bastard: Yeah…which is why I found the utter destruction of KL, which her family built, such an issue. But we’ve had enough of that hyperbole. Was she burning KL for family pride or in spite of family pride? The specifics you mention contributed heavily to the sudden excess and “fatherly madness” that we saw…plans and advice be damned. Plus, the battle with AotD totally corrupted her plans…a necessary, cursed evil before her ultimate goal. Even Aegon the Conqueror took a few years to study and visit Westeros before he began his campaign, right?

      It’s hard to imagine her only perspective of family is through tales told through biased 3rd parties…which is why I yearned after Selmy still by her side. So many biased advisers. I guess we thought that her “successes” in Essos would help her in Westeros, but they really didn’t (except give her armies). But strategic thinking? No.She is consumed by powerlust.

      I think in TWoW we will see how she failed in Essos much more clearly…and how she thinks she learns from that when coming to Westeros. But then she still has to deal with the fAegon mummer, GC, Euron, and the AotD. Is she destined to go full measures with her Targness in the books, regardless?

      Right, and I have the same issues. And I thought her experience in Essoss would help her out too — that she has to earn the approval of the people, she can’t just demand it. She can make somebody kneel but she can’t make them love her, she has to earn it over time, step by step.

      In contrast to this article, which is nicely laid out, I think Dany could have achieved this if she had been willing to put in the time. You reference Aegon the Conquerer doing his homework on the Westeros campaign and yeah, Dany could have done this. I also remember Dany mentioning marital alliances in 610. She and Jon could have married to combine their claims. I get Jon’s squickiness over the issue but I think he does love her and would consummate the marriage at least once for the sake of peace.

      I hope the message isn’t we’re pre-destined by genetics — that because Dany is the Mad King’s daughter, she’s doomed to evil. That’s a crappy message. It also excuses a character’s actions away on the basis that they have “bad genes”. Yeah, that’s a really uncomfortable message…

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    93. orange,

      In this rushed season, there is still time for a “bittersweet” ending. Something like Dany giving the Dracarys order against Jon, and then Jon walks out of the fire unburnt, like the Night King, and ends Dany’s brief reign. This would also be an independent confirmation of his historicity as the last Targaryen. Then he walks away from the IT to live out his days north of the wall, bringing with him the end of the age of the Kings.

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    94. Adrianacandle,

      Dany wanted to do what Aegon did: overwhelm her opponents with dragons, then conciliate once in charge.

      It was Tyrion (and Jon and Varys) who kept telling her to not use the dragons that way, and thus frittered away her advantages.

      This past episode, in what I’m sure is unintended by the writers, exposed that Tyrion was completely wrong in advising her not to attack King’s Landing. She effortlessly breached the city and forced the surrender of Cersei’s army with minimal-to-no civilian casualties. The destruction of the city only happened when she went crazy and deliberately targeted it.

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    95. Danny,

      To be a woman and to be turned down.
      Had Jon accepted her love, this would have gone better for everyone. Sunday will be a mess and really desperate choices will be made. My hope is that she flies off on Drogon to Valyria, because the other options mostly involve their deaths. I don’t want that, she deserves better. Her abdication would be bittersweet, her murder just bitter.

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    96. Nick20,

      You’re applying modern concepts of legitimacy and popularity to a non-modern world. It’s perfectly possible in this world that though Dany’s action is seen as an atrocity by us, it will shore up her power in a Westeros that either doesn’t want a Targaryen back on the throne (the Mad King was on it less than a generation ago) or would be much more inclined to support a Starkgaryen, given that Jon’s a known local. Understanding that her legitimacy is on very shaky footing, she decides on a show of extreme brutality to take its place. To paraphrase Governor Tarkin, fear will keep this local kingdom in line. Fear of this dragon. Makes perfect sense to me, and is wholly consistent with both her character and the plot developments.

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    97. Brian:
      This was a fantastic read, really great job!I’ve been struggling with my feelings about S8 as a whole and especially with what happened in “The Bells” and this provided much need clarity to my confused thoughts.This was the exact thought process for my expectations as to why she did what she did.Just love this article.

      Thank you Brian, for reading and your kind words. I appreciate it.

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    98. Sean C.,

      True, you’re right. And in retrospect, it does seem like Tyrion’s advice was wrong. At the same time, because Dany does want the love of the people, I think using dragonfire might not be the best way to go about it if she wants to distance herself from the Mad King’s reputation because of the optics.

      Still — yes, maybe Dany wanting to go right for the Red Keep was the best plan, maybe there was no way to ‘gently’ take the city, especially since she took the city quickly with minimal civilian casualties this past episode, as you said.

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    99. Ser Travis:
      Beth of House Seaworth,

      Excellent point. People are asking for this, and some are dismissing it. But look how effectively they brought Melisandre back into the show and ended her. They could have easily done that with Dany and Jon and I think they made a big mistake overlooking how important that was to the narrative.

      Just dropping in to say publicly that I love Ser Travis more than Shagga loves axes. Carry on.

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    100. Cas:
      Thank you for a well thought out article. It is one of the best ones I have read.

      I do not see Dany as mad, crazy or insane.What I do see is a person using their power to their utmost ability to get what they want and that being the throne and ruling all the world.Is it right?No, but strategically it is the correct move for her because she does not have the love or backing of the people of Westeros.She does not have Jon’s love.All she has is her desire for absolute power…and that corrupted her absolutely.

      Cas, I’m blushing. Thank you. Not just for your kind feedback, but for reading the article. It’s very appreciated.

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    101. Nick20:
      The problem with all of this, of course, is that there is nothing even remotely sane about slaughtering a city after having won, even if you want to rule by fear.

      Why ? Because now she’s made her power more brittle than ever.

      Had she taken the city with minimal loss of life, she’d almost certainly have been queen and been able to become popular.

      Hey Nick, thank you for reading and replying. I appreciate your response. All of what you are saying is true about Dany possibly being able to be more popular. I just don’t think Dany agrees with you.

      It’s okay if we all disagree. I’m trying to get caught up on comments, and probably can’t debate, but I wanted to thank you for weighing in.

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    102. LL of Darkwater:
      I’m still of a mind that Daenerys never believed Cersei would surrender, that she wanted and always intended to burn the city to the ground (and take out Cersei, Qyburn, The Mountain, etc., in the process) and was disappointed when the bells began to ring.

      I agree! I think some of the emotion going over Dany’s face when the bells started up was her thinking “damn, now I’m going to look like an asshole.” (Or something a bit more dramatic.)

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    103. Applespider: I thought she’d agreed when I first watched. But second time through I was less sure. Before she gives that curt nod, you see her eye focus switch from Tyrion to Grey Worm. On the rewatch, it felt more like an affirmation to GW that whatever they’d planned was still going ahead particularly with the comment about him knowing what to do.

      Yes, your interpretation is correct, in my opinion. Dany nodding was more of a “oh, I recognize that you made some noises there, Lord Hand.”

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    104. Mr Derp:
      I have to give credit to Emilia Clarke for keeping Dany’s heel turn a secret for the past 2 years.It must’ve been really hard keeping that to herself.

      That must have been a nightmare, when she’d meet people who had a little baby Daenerys with them.
      Clarke: Oh, how interesting that you committed your child to have a semi-permanent association to the fictional character I portray. Is it easy to change one’s name should one want to? Asking for a friend. (The friend is this child.)

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    105. Steel_Wind,

      And she has a dragon. And as stated in season 3 a dragon is more worth and dangerous than a whole army. So the armies that Jon get will have no meaning in the equation who will win. The odds is still dany winning by a big difference.

      But dany has one disadvantage or rather 2.
      – bran. He has some warg powers he can use. Maybe the dragon will not help her because of that. Or he can use it in another way.
      – arya: she doesn’t know about aryas faceless man past. What if they kill Grey worm and Arya takes his face.

      That’s where our hope lies. And of course the poison of varys that maybe tyrion can use.

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    106. kathy,

      Nice read. And exactly my thoughts about the petitions. What do those people think. That they entitled for another ending if they’re asking for it? Well and if after the remake some want something else another remake. Until we are 10 years further with 5 remakes and still people are not happy.

      And I’m really hope more then 1 main character will die. I hope not that half the starks will die next episode. I have a feeling that will happen 🙁

      Sean C.,

      If she went there last season I think she wouldn’t have lost her mind and she would have won without killing innocent people.

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    107. I don’t know if this has been mentioned in the other comments.

      Dany’s closest advisor was Missandei and Missandei’s last word was “Dracarys.” Burn them all. Powerful advice, yes?

      And so that was the plan between GW and Dany. To avenge Missandei. To them there were no innocents in KL. The people fled to KL for protection from their queen, Cersei. Honoring the bells of surrender would not win over the common people whose loyalties were likely toward Cersei, not the new queen on a fearsome dragon.

      In short, Dany did not turn on her heel and became mad. She executed a premeditated fiery sack of KL and GW was on board with it.

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    108. Nice article.

      Daenerys is not mad in the clinical sense. For eight seasons, she has always been a volatile combination of ego, entitlement, and incompetence. By burning the city, she is setting up her rule by demonstrating overwhelming dominance. She wants and expects to be feared. They fear her dragon but now they know they should fear her as a person as well.

      Jon and Tyrion have been complicit in this disaster. Not deliberately but by negligent misjudgment. Tyrion who keeps saying he is clever is worse as he has seen more of her and did not have Varys’ courage to try to reverse course. Jon has been warned repeatedly by his sisters and knows her claim to the throne is false. He loves her but it is unclear if he knew her at all. Tyrion and Jon should both consider themselves at least slightly mad in the clinical sense.

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    109. Applespider,

      Yes, exactly. Then she makes it clear that Tyrion is out of the loop by mentioning Jaime’s capture so offhandedly.

      Just as she signaled that Jon was out of the loop, with GW blocking his way and then speaking Valyrian to GW.

      It’s as if she just used them because she needed them, much like she feels used just because they needed her to fight the AotD.

      Dany and GW planned the sacking-by-Fire of KL.

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    110. Luka Nieto:

      I don’t even know what you mean. It doesn’t matter if she personally “cares about what the Lords think.” That’s not the issue. She isn’t dumb, so she knows the Lords of Westeros can raise armies against her in support of Jon. That’s a totally realistic expectation she has, given that Jon is a man, has history in Westeros and a good reputation up North, and has a greater claim; so its not out of character for Dany to be worried about that, because it’s in her character to notice obvious stuff like that.

      I don’t think that’s at all a reasonable expectation. The lords of Westeros are extremely unlikely to take up arms to crown a man who doesn’t even want the crown and it’s not like Jon is universally loved everywhere. He’s loved in the North and the Vale, fairly faraway places that have seen a lot of war and are not likely interested in even more and they certainly don’t have the forces to take her on alone.

      She may nonetheless fear that, but it isn’t a remotely rational fear. She’s also making it more likely by sacking the city, not less, as about the only thing that could push Jon to actually press his claim is him no longer believing in her.

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    111. orange:

      I sincerely hope we did not spend 70+ hours analyzing a story that was a character study in existential nihilism all along.

      A good thing to ponder, considering where the story has gone, so far. After “The Bells” I’ve suddenly realized this story is a pointless, bleak, dreary, depressing sprawl and nothing more. Such an assessment might be considered harsh, unless, of course, the finale “really hits.”

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    112. orange:
      I am hoping for that ‘sweet’ part of the ‘bittersweet’ description that was often used for the end. I’m not seeing anything on the horizon though that would satisfy that definition in only one episode. I sincerely hope we did not spend 70+ hours analyzing a story that was a character study in existential nihilism all along.

      I cannot see how they can avert this as the final conclusion with only one episode to go. Let us hope they manage a minor miracle.

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    113. I just tried to edit that to be Houses as in plural not House’s as in possessive, but the editor marked my edit as spam. Not sure what the heck the spam filter is looking for.

      Okay, never mind. Apparently the entire comment was marked as spam since it’s gone now. Thanks, guys. I wrote like ten paragraphs and spent 20 minutes on that.

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    114. I would like to see Danny surveying the damage to King’s Landing and coming across a house with a red door, with a lemon tree outside the window. Except both house and tree were heavily damaged in the fire and the body of a young girl, also badly burned was in the room or outside under the tree.

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    115. Adam:
      She may nonetheless fear that, but it isn’t a remotely rational fear. She’s also making it more likely by sacking the city, not less, as about the only thing that could push Jon to actually press his claim is him no longer believing in her.

      Of course, it’s also worth mentioning that both Jon and the northern armies are right there with her. If we’re really to believe she just burned a million innocent people to dissuade a completely different set of people from taking up arms against her to crown Jon, she could have just burned Jon and his army and that threat is literally gone instead of her just hoping it’s gone.

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    116. Patrick Sponaugle: I agree! I think some of the emotion going over Dany’s face when the bells started up was her thinking “damn, now I’m going to look like an asshole.” (Or something a bit more dramatic.)

      This was closer to my thinking – but I try not to watch the Inside the Episode and Game Revealed videos too terribly closely, so I missed showrunners with their comments on no preplanned annihilation of Kings Landing.

      So… well…. yeah. Okay.

      I’m never really good at this kind of thing; going back to lurking, probably.

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    117. ShameShameShame:
      Applespider,

      Yes, exactly.Then she makes it clear that Tyrion is out of the loop by mentioning Jaime’s capture so offhandedly.

      Just as she signaled that Jon was out of the loop, with GW blocking his way and then speaking Valyrian to GW.

      It’s as if she just used them because she needed them, much like she feels used just because they needed her to fight the AotD.

      Dany and GW planned the sacking-by-Fire of KL.

      Yeah it does kind of look that way doesn’t it?

      On a more emotional level, I think since she hit Dragonstone she’s felt let down-because home was this holy grail in the distance, and when she arrived it was nothing like she’d imagined. Tyrion’s bad calls and the loss of her allies made it worse. And then she pinned all her hopes on Jon’s love for her and to a lesser extent “Jon’s war”, thinking that was the solution for what she’d clearly felt she was missing. (As an aside the fact that she saw the army of dead and then the NK killed her baby should have made it entirely her war, but I get what she was trying to convey to Sansa)

      When she’s at her lowest points, it’s fire that’s always brought her back. It’s been her ticket to power, freedom and followers. Even love.

      Fire and a pot of melted gold ended a lifetime of abuse and dysfunction from her brother and opened her way to the throne.
      Fire and a blood sacrifice gave her dragons.
      Fire melted her shackles and killed the Warlocks.
      Fire and a false dragon trade gave her the loyalty of the Unsullied
      Her time in Mereen with locked up dragons was not a good time for her and she quickly made enemies of both the masters and many former slaves for her decisions.
      But once she killed all the Khals and walked through fire, her army of completely loyal followers grew.
      To them she was practically a goddess. The Unburnt.
      It even won Jon’s loyalty and awe after she saved him from certain death.

      However, another basic trait of Dany’s was not wanting to hurt innocents.
      She freed slaves, mourned dead children and focused on the AOTD, so we forgave her “I’ll take what’s mine with fire and blood” speeches because really, we wanted all those bad guys to burn.

      Dickon was her only true misstep that I can see, but he was a soldier and a grown man and he made his choice. It was just unfortunate that she was used to dealing with things in a more black and white way. She didn’t take prisoners (until Jaime-and I feel like that was a test for Tyrion)
      Varys- He made his choice as well. And she’d warned him.

      The people of KL made their choice too. They shouted to ring the bell.
      But this time it was only fear and horror instead of gratitude she was hearing from the women and children.
      Another bit of evidence that she would never be loved in Westeros. That she wasn’t being greeted as a liberator or a savior for the first time in her life.
      That-as the post mentions-Jon would eventually get the credit for a clean win, despite her dragon. Her loss. Her suffering.
      I’m sure that added to whatever else was going on inside her head.

      Do I wish there’d been more of a transition between her fighting an enemy we all hate and just straight up decimating an already sacked city of civilians who’d begged to surrender to her?
      Yes.
      Honestly I also wish the people of KL had risen up against Cersei after she blew up the Sept, because why didn’t they do that?!

      Anyway, we’ll know based on what we see in the finale if there is any of the Dany we love left, or if it got burned away in that one unforgivable act of destruction that nearly destroyed as many lives as she’d saved over the series.
      “If I look back, I am lost”

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    118. Beth of House Seaworth:
      The most frustrating aspect of the final season for me is the dearth of meaningful dialog about significant topics. We can have drinking games and cock jokes, but no conversation about how Jon feels about finally discovering the truth about his parents. Also, wouldn’t a couple who has already been intimate have an explicit conversation about both of their feelings after discovering that they are related? It wouldn’t have to be some long, drawn out scene, but Jon opening his mouth and saying, “I was raised in a place where this is not acceptable, and I am struggling with my desire for you.” Instead, we get only physical rejection on his part and rage on hers. Everything just feels so manipulated.

      I am frustrated by this as well. in season 7 I did not by the romance at all, did not feel any chemistry between them, even after she saved them from the WW. This season is even worse; there needs to be some conversations to explain to us what we cannot see. But that is not to be, pity.

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    119. Patrick, thank you for your brilliant analysis. You are correct that Dany’s decision to “burn them all” was coldly rational. (It was also deeply emotional, as Emilia Clarke perfectly portrayed. They can go hand in hand.)

      Jon Snow can say he does not want the Iron Throne all he likes, but it does not matter. For anyone who opposes a Queen Dany for any reason, Aegon VI Targ’ will always be a cause to use. They will always cite his superior claim as a reason to oppose her. It’s the flip side of Illyrio Mopatis’ cynical lie to Viserys, about how the commoners of Westeros sew banners in the hope of Targ’ restoration. (The passion on Westeros for “blood right” is so keen that Tycho Nestoris openly mocked it to Stannis and Davos.)

      Nick20:

      “It’s not rational to slaughter thousands for no reason, even endangering your own men.”

      Although commenters have referenced the American nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of WWII, in “The Game Revealed” for “The Bells,” B&W explicitly mention the Allied fire-bombing of Dresden in the same year. By the time the Allies bombed Dresden, Nazi Germany was finished. The city was also a known prison for Allied POWs, so the Allies were indeed “endangering [their] own men” in attacking it. The excuses the Allies gave were (a) the rail yards were delivering men and supplies to the Eastern Front, and (b) the many factories adjacent to the city were contributing to the Nazi war effort. Despite these putative reasons, the Allies repeatedly attacked the city center — and only the city center — with explosives and then fire-bombs. (This has never been satisfactorialy explained, and we Americans were so embarrassed by our resultant atrocity that our military was still keeping reports on Dresden classified thirty years after the war ended.)

      After the masonry buildings in the city center had been cracked open by our explosive bombs, our incendiary bombs created a fire-storm — an unquenchable cyclone of incineration which asphyxiated and even (in some cases) melted anyone caught within. (Sound familiar?) Due to this horrific destruction, the death toll has been a point of contention ever since, but 25,000 seems to be the absolute minimum number of civilians brutally murdered in their own homes. And for what? Speer testified that the local war industry had barely been affected, and the rail yards were running again within two days.

      Recall that this was all planned and executed not by the evil Nazis, but by the very persons who worked to free our world from the criminal Nazi regime — persons we’ve been brought up to believe were righteous heroes.

      There’s always an excuse for releasing the dragon, and we fallible humans often avail ourselves of it. GRRM and B&W knew this quite well. Dany’s incineration of King’s Landing was exquisitely foreshadowed all through the series, and her turn to destruction perfectly played by Emilia Clarke. No matter how the series ends, “Two Bells” will always be an artistic triumph for me.

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    120. Dyanna,

      I understand you are offended by it, but just like you’re wanting people to think of your feelings you need to accept that in some parts of the world that IS considered incest. Specifically where I’m from, marrying someone as close as a first cousin would be unthinkable… especially by the Christian churches here. People aren’t trying to offend by pointing that out, it’s just a fact of the matter.

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    121. ash: I am frustrated by this as well. in season 7 I did not by the romance at all, did not feel any chemistry between them, even after she saved them from the WW.This season is even worse; there needs to be some conversations to explain to us what we cannot see.But that is not to be, pity.

      Agree that so much of this could have been clarified with a little more conversation a little less action. Some of my favorite moments on the show were the conversations!
      Also, you’d think the big love story that got it’s own awesome theme song would have more talking. Ygritte talked to Jon more than Dany did. Dany talked to Tyrion more about what they had in common.
      J&D had so many oddly parallel experiences, they both felt the weight of responsibility, their first loves were both a little wild. She was fireproof, he was raised from the dead (maybe) by a fire god. They both had odd animal companions lol
      Would have loved some more human interaction that had nothing to do with the throne.
      Especially since it’s clear she doesn’t even know what kind of man he is, and he didn’t realize what she was capable of.

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    122. Grandmaester Flash,

      Both sides of my family have at least one cousin+cousin marriage. Both happened in the Ukraine where such things were common. Its been a while, I’ve always heard such pairing increases the chances of a child with developmenta delays, but I am curious i that is still the case, or an insignificant number?

      Children of non-related couples usually have a 2-3% risk of congenital disabilities, while children of first cousins usually have a 4-6% chance.

      ETA just read the informatio above, thanks for that. that is a significanty difference, tho still small.

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    123. RG: Honestly I also wish the people of KL had risen up against Cersei after she blew up the Sept, because why didn’t they do that?!

      Yeah, the complacency and subservience is mindnumbing in KL. It’s sort of like the citizens of Alabama these days. Maybe a Sherman’s March a la Drogon was/is a good thing?

      Seriously though, it seems like the rich lords throughout Westeros/Essos would have hired fleets of faceless folk to infiltrate and destabilize Cersei’s regime after the Sept of Baelor massacre.

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    124. Hodors Bastard,

      Right and at this point they would also be starving because of Loot Train incident and even more soldiers to feed. There would have been repercussions. She would have had more reason to hide in the keep and rule with force.
      I mean, there’s a lot that didn’t make sense about the KL folk following that event. Everything just went back to normal like all the brothels hadn’t been torched by religious zealots followed by a wildfire explosion that destroyed a city block and then no more food from the Reach.
      (I think Euron was too busy causing trouble to do supply runs.)
      But this is fine. We’re good. Yay Cersei?

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    125. RG: Right and at this point they would also be starving because of Loot Train incident and even more soldiers to feed. There would have been repercussions. She would have had more reason to hide in the keep and rule with force.

      Yeah, trade and food issues would have been overwhelming anyway after the Wot5K. Suspend disbelief, right?

      Several times in the past, I’ve harped on the food issues for armies and dragons. It was simply never discussed. I must admit I was particularly pleased when Sansa brought up the issue of feeding both the dragons and the armies at WF this season. Three cheers for Sansa! Respect! 🙂

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    126. LL of Darkwater: This was closer to my thinking – but I try not to watch the Inside the Episode and Game Revealed videos too terribly closely, so I missed showrunners with their comments on no preplanned annihilation of Kings Landing.

      So… well…. yeah.Okay.

      I’m never really good at this kind of thing; going back to lurking, probably.

      LL thank you so much for the comment! I think you are good at this, my lurker friend

      🙂

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    127. Mango:
      Jon has been warned repeatedly by his sisters

      His sisters’ warnings were based on childish xenophobia, not any sort of analysis worthy of the name. No sensible person would have listened to either of them. Arya hasn’t even spoken to Daenerys onscreen; Sansa told him not to trust Dany, but also told him not to trust Davos, because her stated position in 804 is basically that anybody outside of the family is untrustworthy (and also a random assortment of people she feels emotionally attached to, but she allows no other character this privilege). She’s the proverbial stopped clock.

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    128. It looks like a lot of mixed feelings out there. I have them too, but its time to consider the flip side of this. Tyrion just had his home burned to the ground and the last of his family that he cared about (Jaime) slaughtered by his hoped for queen. He probably just realized that Varys was right and that sometimes you have to do whats best for the realm. Was this what was best? I think he might reconsider his position, and that he might actually side with Jon Snow who now has to consider what course of action he’s going to take. He’s now aware of what Daenerys is capable of and knows that his family may be in great peril if she’s allowed to continue to rule. This is how I see a way out that really won’t make anyone happy, but it will sort of settle things down. The first thing is Tyrion and Jon have to plot a way to kill Daenerys. Tyrion might actually do it but make it look like Jon did it. Tyrion has to maintain control of the Dothraki and unsullied so Jon would be implicated as I see it, and would be sentenced by the queens hand to banishment to the now shattered wall as a criminal. Jon wants to go north anyway and have nothing to do with this. I see Grey Worm want Jons death for his queen and demand a trial by combat. I see Jon winning the fight, but sparring Grey Worms life. He makes Grey Worm swear to follow Tyrion. I would like to see Bron become Tyrions advisor as payment that he never received along with Davos who really doesn’t want to go north again. I would like to see Sansa just where she is as lady Stark of Winterfell with Brien as the captain of her guard. Sam is already the new lord Tarly with his new wife Gilly, and baby Sam and one on the way. He could also become the new kings maester and write about all of this. Gendry is the new lord of where ever he was made lord of. Theons sister might become the new ruler of the iron isles. Aria would have a new and suitable job as the new rulers fixer. She would basically be the new fox to the old hound and travel around to all the kingdoms and through whatever means necessary get the right people in charge of the kingdoms. I would also like to see Bran finally complete his destiny after being mostly useless. He should go north with Jon to the caves of the forest children and become the new elder tree and heal the land from the night kings winter. Which is what I think the night king wanted to stop him from in the first place. Last but not least the dragon. He should just do whatever he wants. Jon doesn’t want him but won’t kill him. He probably won’t fly far enough north to bother his family. Let whoever wants to try deal with him. I think Jon should become king of the north in a rebuilt castle black have a family with children who may one day discover dragon eggs, learn about their heritage and want to take over the world, or a portion of it. Tyrion should finally be made king, have Bron as his hand, use the unsullied as the new guard and send the Dothraki back to their homeland. Who knows the iron bank might even still work with him. After all he is a Lanister. As no one will probably get far enough to read this. Its just a useless thought.

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    129. Sean C.: His sisters’ warnings were based on childish xenophobia, not any sort of analysis worthy of the name.No sensible person would have listened to either of them.Arya hasn’t even spoken to Daenerys onscreen; Sansa told him not to trust Dany, but also told him not to trust Davos, because her stated position in 804 is basically that anybody outside of the family is untrustworthy (and also a random assortment of people she feels emotionally attached to, but she allows no other character this privilege).She’s the proverbial stopped clock.

      It does not change that he was repeatedly warned. Xenophobia? His sisters showed no dislike of the wildings nor Varys as far as I could see. Arya lived for a while outside Westeros and seemed comfortable with others from a different background.

      Ned and the northerners had marched south to overthrow her father. This is after their grandfather and uncle were fire treated by Aeyrs and he demanded more northern heads. So the girls have a decent reason to be careful with Targs. Plus Daenerys arrived with a large army made up of soldiers with a reputation for rape and plunder.

      Given it was wartime, care with whom is trusted seems to be a reasonable concern. Sansa, in particular, must be wary – she trusts Brienne who is not family.

      And the girls were right, were they not?

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    130. RG,

      > Dickon was her only true misstep that I can see

      That, and her entitlement.

      Funny thing about Dickon. They aged him up between S6 and S7, and somewhere D&D even say “Sam’s older brother”, forgetting that if he is, there was no reason for Sam to be at the Wall, and the sword was never his birthright…

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    131. Dyanna,

      I do not know what denomination you belong to, but marriage between first cousins is prohibited in the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church (they both have the collateral consanguinity up to the 4th degree rule).

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    132. Sou:
      Dyanna,

      I do not know what denomination you belong to, but marriage between first cousins is prohibited in the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church (they both have the collateral consanguinity up to the 4th degree rule).

      I think it may occur by dispensation, though.
      I am not saying this to offend you, by the way, only to point out that the Christian Faith is by no means a homogeneous set of rules.
      Personally I would not even have had a problem with the aunt-nephew relationship in GOT’s context (young adults of the same age who did not grow up together and did not know they were related).

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    133. fdr,

      Yeah. That’s why I don’t watch the inside the episode things anymore.
      They forgot Dickon was younger than Sam, when Sam’s powerful intro into the story was about how his father was going to hunt him if he didn’t leave so Dickon could become his heir.

      That’s not like-we forgot he didn’t like cheese.

      Also yes to Dany’s entitlement. I was just addressing her actions. She’s always talked tough and sounded overconfident when she’s threatening people or feels threatened.
      Some people thought it was just talk.
      I’m no ordinary woman, my dreams come true
      I’ll take what’s mine with fire and blood
      I’ll burn cities to the ground
      I was born to rule and I will
      I’m so hot I’m fireproof, neener neener

      Okay I made that last one up lol

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    134. Her decision to turn the city into a pile of ashes was not rational, it was irrational. She just conquered the city with a dragon, proving herself to be basically unstoppable and unrivalled. Her enemies surrendered, does that not already make her feared? Anyone with half a brain would fear her as a ruler from this success. So choosing to then burn everything to ash ultimately was totally unnecessary. It’s also possible to be loved and feared at the same time, which is surely much better, she could have chosen that.

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    135. Ten Bears:
      Burn the Mall!

      Oh my gosh THIS was funny! I was not expecting…. Burn the Mall. Totally going to steal this 10 bears to use in the last 2 days…. ha ha

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    136. RG: Agree that so much of this could have been clarified with a little more conversation a little less action. Some of my favorite moments on the show were the conversations!
      Also, you’d think the big love story that got it’s own awesome theme song would have more talking. Ygritte talked to Jon more than Dany did. Dany talked to Tyrion more about what they had in common.
      J&D had so many oddly parallel experiences, they both felt the weight of responsibility, their first loves were both a little wild. She was fireproof, he was raised from the dead (maybe) by a fire god. They both had odd animal companions lol
      Would have loved some more human interaction that had nothing to do with the throne.
      Especially since it’s clear she doesn’t even know what kind of man he is, and he didn’t realize what she was capable of.

      Agree that so much of this could have been clarified with a little more conversation a little less action.

      I saw that Elvis throw in. Nice one RG.

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    137. Fiery Heart:
      Her decision to turn the city into a pile of ashes was not rational, it was irrational. She just conquered the city with a dragon, proving herself to be basically unstoppable and unrivalled. Her enemies surrendered, does that not already make her feared? Anyone with half a brain would fear her as a ruler from this success. So choosing to then burn everything to ash ultimately was totally unnecessary.

      A professor from the Army War College today published an article on Slate, coming to the same conclusion of Daenerys thinking strategically.

      Again, it is a political move against Aegon Targaryen.

      It’s fine if you and I don’t agree.

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    138. Sou,

      Yeah, me either. I’ve seen a few showrunners talk like that — as if they’re analysing a person rather than writing a character, the character they’ve just written. I’ve always found this style of speech odd because, as you said, they would know definitively.

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    139. Emily,

      First cousin marriages are prohibited as per Canon Law (1091). They are consanguinati of the fourth degree. But the couple may apply for a dispensation to the bishop, and apparently it is not that difficult to get it if the State they live in allows for first cousin marriages. That is what the nobility did throughout history. And royals needed to get their dispensation by the Pope.

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    140. Sou:
      Adrianacandle,

      I don’t get it when showrunners say “I don’t think that she…”and things like that. I mean, it is your show, man. If you don’t know who does?

      That’s the way it should be, if we respect Death of the Author. Vince Gilligan of Breaking Bad was great about that, letting the show be the definitive source, and viewer’s takes be as important as his own on things that were not explicitly revealed.

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    141. Adrianacandle:
      Patrick Sponaugle,

      Oh, I had no idea! Good to know! Thanks! 🙂

      It’s not a hard and fast rule, not everyone embraces Death of the Author. But it is why I don’t pay a lot of attention to Benioff and Weiss when they discuss character thoughts.

      The same with things like script notes for the actors to guide their performance. Those are interesting, but shouldn’t be considered canon. (But i dont have a dragon, so i am not the boss of you. What works for me is not a requirement for all.)

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    142. I agree with most of the article.
      But…
      There is no such thing as a villan! Not in this story.
      Was Aegon the villan when he burned down Harrenhal during night time – when everyone was asleep ?
      Was Robert Baratheon the villan for starting a war for a woman that did not love him back ?
      Was Stannis the Villan for corectly being the heir to the throne ?
      Is Dany the villan ?
      I repeat. There is no such thing as a villan! Not in this story. Ned Stark started the war of the 5 kings, just as well as Jon forced the choice of fear onto Dany.
      A ruler does not do what is right! He does what is necessary. Jon did what was right and got murdered for it. Became the Lord Comander and gave it up. Became the king in the north and bend the knee. He would be a good ruler… and last less than a year. But together with Dany, they will have the perfect balance love and fear. They started far from eachother, as far as ice an fire can be. Now they are togheter, and in the begining there’s alot of steam, but eventually, ice tempers fire and fire melts the ice reacing the “sweet” spot.

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    143. Patrick Sponaugle,

      Fair enough! I usually rely on the showrunner (or writer’s) takes on character thoughts/motivations myself because it usually serves as the definitive voice for me, helps me sort through various interpretations! 🙂

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    144. Excellent article, Patrick. The madness (mixed with grief) explanation never seemed right to me but I never came up with a better explanation. I think your explanation is spot on and makes a lot of sense. Thank you for putting it all together in this well reasoned and written article. I am anxious to see what happens next on the series and how George handles this in the book (I pray!).

      Plus, this has been an interesting thread to read!

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    145. Iul,

      I appreciate your comment. I do feel comfortable calling Dany a villain for killing innocents, even if she thought it was a necessary evil.

      Also, you are on thin ice in your assertions, because I will die on the hill of “Littlefinger is a capital V Villain”

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    146. Adrianacandle:
      Patrick Sponaugle,

      Fair enough! I usually rely on the showrunner (or writer’s) takes on character thoughts/motivations myself because it usually serves as the definitive voice for me, helps me sort through various interpretations! 🙂

      Hey, I respect that. 😃

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    147. onefromaway:
      Excellent article, Patrick. The madness (mixed with grief) explanation never seemed right to me but I never came up with a better explanation. I think your explanation is spot on and makes a lot of sense. Thank you for putting it all together in this well reasoned and written article.I am anxious to see what happens next on the series and how George handles this in the book (I pray!).

      Plus, this has been an interesting thread to read!

      Thank you very much! I have enjoyed reading the comments in this thread.

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    148. Patrick Sponaugle: and viewer’s takes be as important as his own on things that were not explicitly revealed.

      I detest GoT’s “Inside the Episode” bits and haven’t listened to one since S4. I consume and interpret GoT as it is served on the screen, then debate it with other viewers. When I read ASoI&F and D&E and F&B, I didn’t seek out GRRM to explain the latest chapter to me (and I doubt he would have offered a summary either).

      In fact, after I read what is in ep5’s “Inside the Episode” from Adrianacandle’s post above, I respect your analysis even more. I don’t agree wholeheartedly with the logical offscreen leaps (especially involving forced fear, Jon and Tyrion’s insufferable silence and inaction, and “what’s another 5000 dead?”) but the rationale is intriguing.

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    149. Hodors Bastard: I detest GoT’s “Inside the Episode” bits and haven’t listened to one since S4. I consume and interpret GoT as it is served on the screen, then debate it with other viewers. When I read ASoI&F and D&E and F&B, I didn’t seek out GRRM to explain the latest chapter to me (and I doubt he would have offered a summary either).

      In fact, after I read what is in ep5’s “Inside the Episode” from Adrianacandle’s post above, I respect your analysis even more. I don’t agree wholeheartedly with the logical offscreen leaps (especially involving forced fear, Jon and Tyrion’s insufferable silence and inaction, and “what’s another 5000 dead?”) but the rationale is intriguing.

      Thank you HB! I appreciate your skepticism, especially in regards to some of my stuff.

      I will be the first person to say that my thoughts have no special insights- it’s good for us all to think about these complex situations to see what makes sense and what is likely.

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    150. Haha, love it when shills try to explain away the awful writing of Dumb & Dumber. All round the world, even the people with least creative ability, recognize the bad writing and calls out D&D for it; meanwhile, Watchers on the Wall is trying its best to shill for the show, along with its majority shill comments.

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    151. Rizwan:
      Haha, love it when shills try to explain away the awful writing of Dumb & Dumber. All round the world, even the people with least creative ability, recognize the bad writing and calls out D&D for it; meanwhile, Watchers on the Wall is trying its best to shill for the show, along with its majority shill comments.

      Don’t be so hard on yourself, Rizwan. One day, you might not have least creative ability. Keep practicing. We’re rooting for you.

      And thanks for reminding me to cash all these fat shill checks from HBO.

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    152. Patrick Sponaugle,

      “Also, you are on thin ice in your assertions, because I will die on the hill of “Littlefinger is a capital V Villain””

      Well, you see… this is where the show is not quite accurate.
      Apparently, Littlefinger and the NK are VILLAINS. Not quite, if we follow the book clues.
      Littlefinger thought he slept with Catelyn (actually it was Lysa) and felt she was stolen from him by the arranged marrige with Ned. After that, in the show he kind of saved Sansa and Jon; in his own interest of course.
      There is no NK in the books… But as for the White Walkers, we must wait and see…they were created to defeat the humans because, humans were and are terrible in many ways. We will have an entire HBO series on this topic though. Many things to find out in the years to come.

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    153. Iul:
      Patrick Sponaugle,

      “Also, you are on thin ice in your assertions, because I will die on the hill of “Littlefinger is a capital V Villain””

      Well, you see… this is where the show is not quite accurate.
      Apparently, Littlefinger and the NK are VILLAINS. Not quite, if we follow the book clues.
      Littlefinger thought he slept with Catelyn (actually it was Lysa) and felt she was stolen from him by the arranged marrige with Ned. After that, in the show he kind of saved Sansa and Jon; in his own interest of course.
      There is no NK in the books… But as for the White Walkers, we must wait and see…they were created to defeat the humans because, humans were and are terrible in many ways. We will have an entire HBO series on this topic though. Many things to find out in the years to come.

      Littlefinger is a villain in both books and show. Full stop.

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    154. Rizwan,

      Haha, love it when shills try to explain away the awful writing of Dumb & Dumber. All round the world, even the people with least creative ability, recognize the bad writing and calls out D&D for it

      Haha, I love it when people complain about awful writing and lack of creativity from D&D, but still wasted 10 years of their life watching their work, and after all this time they can’t come up with a better insult than Dumb and Dumber.

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    155. Nick20,

      THANK YOU! finally a rational comment in here. I can’t help but feel that I am surrounded by Dany’s haters whenever I read the comment sections on this website these days. Its like people completely ignore the reasons for everything she did in the past and are merging her arguably justified ruthlessness to her enemies to the unexplained killing of civilians. Dany has always been shown as someone calculated with a strong sense of justice and moral code. This is what made her the ideal ruler of the 7 kingdoms. Regardless of what people feel about her, the woman is smart and has a good intuition. What she did to KL made NO SENSE no matter which way you look at it. She has never ever jumped straight into mindless violence like this. She has always been careful to give her enemies a chance to follow her rule and would reward them when they did. The fact that she went on a random rampage just because her latest boytoy refused to kiss her is an absolute disrespect to her character. Don’t tell me she lost her close friends because Dany’s journey has always been about loosing close friends and being betrayed by those she loves yet she always comes out stronger and wiser every time. This decision was a complete disregard of everything we have seen of Dany or the character growth she had gone through over 7 seasons.

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    156. Solar,

      So you feel it’s pretty much been a waste then? I’m disappointed in the writing and the pace this season for sure, just like millions of others right now, but I’ve decided to mostly laugh it off and convinced myself that journeys are still fun, even if you don’t reach your destination you’ve still gotten out of the house and experienced things. I can pretend the series ended at season 6 with the wonderful Winds of Winter if I want. But they did drop the ball. Most people are saying that. Go to YT comments on the Inside the episodes for 3 and 5. I’ve just spent an hour over there and it’s cathartic 🙂

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    157. Tenesmus,
      Dany was always going to be the Mad Fire Breathing Queen

      If most people realized this most likely was to be the case about Dany, why did I get so much push back when I speculated on it years ago here? Even had to start making myself only see the good in her and twisting some of the controversial things she did into positives just to get along and not make some people jump all over me on here. I know going forward I won’t let another fandom tear down my faith in my own interpretations.

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    158. Queen of Nothing,

      They needed a full 10 episode season. HBO wanted it. The money for it was there. George said they’d need more. My best guess is the show runners got burnt out, had other obligations piling up, were keen on starting something fresh and more lucrative (Folks is saying Star wars.) But if that were the case, how come they couldn’t pull some of their other writer’s in? This show became a cultural phenom. You’d think they would have the pride to end it in a rich, satisfying way. I dunno man.

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    159. There is a huge problem with this season’s main conflict. 2 Targaryens not being able to have a relationship anymore, because they are 2 Targaryens. Everything was fine when Jon was a bastard. This gets even dumber, when you realize that the solution is: Them to be in a relationship ! In Westeros, no one had anything against nephew-aunt relationships. Not even religious fanatics:
      “And the doctrines of the Faith, handed down through centuries from Andalos itself, condemned the Valyrian marriage customs as practiced by the Targaryens. Incest was denounced as a vile sin, whether between FATHER and DAUGHTER, MOTHER and SON, or BROTHER and SISTER, and the fruits of such unions were considered abominations in the sight of gods and men.”

      So what is going on here ? Is this not in Westeros anymore ?
      Dany is not mad. But she certainly should be!

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    160. Haven’t read the comments,

      but IMO the real question about this episode is about us viewers, do we distinguish between good type of violence and bad type?
      Dany has done violent acts before, so if we think the purpose of those acts is “good” do we agree to them? Do we support violence as long as we think it’s for a good cause?

      I’m not talking about pacing of episodes, that’s a different matter, but character arcs, so many people say they didn’t expect this character to do that or to do this, the answer to these questions imo has to do more with us than with the show.

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    161. fdr: Funny thing about Dickon. They aged him up between S6 and S7, and somewhere D&D even say “Sam’s older brother”, forgetting that if he is, there was no reason for Sam to be at the Wall, and the sword was never his birthright…

      True, but I think that was just a slip of the tongue. I don’t think it was actually said in the show, was it?

      They did recast Dickon but I doubt it was to “age him up” as both actors are of similar age. More likely an availability issue.

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    162. Kevin1989: And she has a dragon. And as stated in season 3 a dragon is more worth and dangerous than a whole army. So the armies that Jon get will have no meaning in the equation who will win. The odds is still dany winning by a big difference

      Wouldn’t it be funny if Drogon just pissed off on his own and didn’t come back. He’s done it before.

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    163. Onedon,

      That video is heavily editted, that part with Peter Diglage is from official HBO video after episode 3, the 40 minute video of how to make that battle.

      Other’s were also edited. And I agree only the pace is the problem. If they decided to have a 8a (5 episodes) with the WW and 8b with Cersei (3episodes) and Dany (2 episodes) it would have been enough in my book.

      And it has to be safe to assume the video is heavily edited because else they are not really being professional, you can a lot but Isaac was fully professional, if a young man can do that one with more life experience should to. And that video would also meant some actors broke their contract so no money from them.

      So for me writing this season is great and amazing, except the choice for only 6 episodes instead of making it 10 episodes total.

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    164. Sou: I think it may occur by dispensation, though.
      I am not saying this to offend you, by the way, only to point out that the Christian Faith is by no means a homogeneous set of rules.
      Personally I would not even have had a problem with the aunt-nephew relationship in GOT’s context (young adults of the same age who did not grow up together and did not know they were related).

      It’s the limited genetics that is the issue with close relations. As shown in more frailty and weaker composition in mind and body among offspring in royal lines between repeatedly too close cousins. So yes, to some extent the church has been inconsistent in what they’ve given their blessings to.

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    165. Sean C.,

      Not true at all, What they meant is that you should trust somebody blindly without knowing them, that’s what Jon did. And they meant that you can better have a couple of close allies, than a lot allies who you can’t trust.

      Even in my country there’s a saying that translate roughly to that you can better have 1 close friend than 10 that you barely see (don’t know better wording for it)

      Arya looked in awe with everyone that entered WF, she even liked the dragons. But once she saw Dany, her feeling (that she learned from jaqen) kicked in and she distrust Dany, Dany lost the game of faces with one look.

      Sansa didn’t trust her either. More once Dany faked that smile in 8×02.

      Yes the north is Xenophobic, but Arya has shown us that she is far from that, she never shown any sign she disliked POC, her hero is even Syio Forel.

      Maybe the conclusion is much simpler, they saw something in Dany that they didn’t trust and that they were right with that.

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    166. Patrick Sponaugle: Don’t be so hard on yourself, Rizwan. One day, you might not have least creative ability. Keep practicing. We’re rooting for you.

      And thanks for reminding me to cash all these fat shill checks from HBO.

      This made me chuckle.

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    167. fdr,

      But isn’t it a bit strange that shevhad lost the Starks and they were the first she had come to help. Yes, she has the throne in mind all along, but only if she survives. She did put her head at stake and yet, the Northern lords were still ungrateful. And they never explain why is it that Sansa and Arya dislike her.

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    168. kevin1989,

      I agree with this. Using modern labels, like “xenophobic”, to disparage characters in a medieval fantasy is a no from me, dawg.

      Sansa has already explained her distrust of Dany. She knows the treachery and ruthlessness that the quest for the Iron Throne brings, and she’s seen first hand how that’s decimated her own family, usually through lies and manipulation. She laid it out, directly to Dany and then later to Tyrion.

      Why should she trust Dany when her most formative years were spent learning NOT to trust the Cerseis and the Littlefingers of this world?

      It’s not “xenophobic” to know that a mad Targ king burned your grandfather and uncle alive. Though I will grant you, Dany’s haughty little speech to Jaime rang oddly, considering what her family had done to the Starks – and also considering what she was about to do.

      As for Arya, “xenophobic”? No. She was actually very kind with Jon about Dany… twice, both times in the godswood. But she was also practical, and both times elicited a response from Jon that showed he too way pretty damned wary of the situation.

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    169. ShameShameShame: Dany’s haughty little speech to Jaime rang oddly, considering what her family had done to the Starks

      That’s her all over though, isn’t it? Consistent with her character. It’s all me me me.
      In the same way, when being told of Jon’s lineage she never paused to consider what he had been through as a result of the secret: the stigma of being brought up as a bastard, having to join the NW etc. No, it was all about how it affected her and her entitlement.

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    170. Beth of House Seaworth,

      My thoughts exactly! This is a good post, and is probably the best explanation provided so far. Yet, the way it has been put here, it means that she is really evil if she has decided to rule by fear. How can anyone become that evil all of a sudden?
      And I don’t think she was evil before. Yes, there is nothing left for her really, Jorah and Missandei gone, Jon constantly rejecting her, without a single dialogue between them. It just does not seem natural, would it really happen in real life that you just reject someone you love and not give an explanation? Even if that explanation does not please Daenerys, then we would be able to see this change in her, it would be more credible that way. Plus, I would love to have seen a conversation between Jon and Tyrion about Jon’s parentage, his relationship with Dany, and Tyrion would thus also be able to give us some of his brilliance again. And perhaps a conversation between Tyrion and Dany on the subject. If this is THe change, the major twist that GRRM had intended for Daenerys, than it would have been great to see that process ocurring in her. The torching of KL would still come as a shock but it would at least be easier to swallow. The way it played out, our favourite character just snapped, lost, alone and abandoned, and burntca city and everone in it to the ground. No wander so many people cannot accept it as likely.

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    171. Patrick Spoonagle

      Thanks Patrick! This is an excellent piece and introduced an idea I hadn’t considered: that Daenerys’ decision was in part made to make it “her day” as opposed to AeJon’s. I need to rewatch to see how that looked. And I agree with you on your other point: her decision was in part based on her desire to sear into the history of Westeros that Daenerys Targaryen would be ruthless in ending opposition to her reign.

      While you describe her increasing isolation and loss of advisers, I don’t think you quite put enough thought into the psychological impact of the events of seasons 7 and 8 quite enough. As is mentioned in many of the great comments above and elsewhere, her general state of mind is important. Trying to add and also summarize:

      1) She is in battle fever. In war and battle, the adrenalized nature of combat and the way the body responds to fear and danger leads to a decreased sense of rationality. Some data shows that blood flows away from the rational center of the brain to a more core response. Military training leads to an appropriate response, but without training, a rational response is less likely, rather one is in survival mode.

      2) She sees all the citizens as her enemies. In the key throne room scene, Daenerys suggests that the citizens of KL are complicit in Cersei’s reign. As she looks around the city, that she has just conquered, she sees enemies everywhere, not just among the Lannister forces.

      3) She is in deep pain and needs to make others share in it. You go into most of it so I won’t elaborate. Betrayals, loss of those closest to her, rejection by the man she loves, rejection by the populace of Westeros, loss of her legitimacy — all of that has left her in a place of pain and rage. I believe it is a very human although not rational response to want to make others share the pain she feels. And of course self destructive — she may think in that moment she has nothing to lose, but how wrong she is.

      4) The place where Targaryen’s go to die. Finally, I also think that looking at the Red Keep, Daenerys could have been thinking about all of her family was slaughtered there: her father, her aunt, he other nieces/nephews. Was this really a place she wanted to return to? Rule from a keep that may be a symbol of Targaryen power but also was a place where so many of them died? Perhaps she felt she had to destroy Kings Landing because it is part of her effort to destroy the past and to break the wheel. Of course, this thought may be less relevant depending on what she does next.

      So there you have it: suppressed rationality; a paranoia on who were her enemies and who were subjects; a continued pain that she felt was being expiated by her reign of fire; and her sudden revulsion at the idea of walking the halls where her father died. Then put on top of the urge towards destruction the “rational” reasons for destroying the city that you lay out (instilling fear and making it “her” day), and you have a poisonous cauldron of “rational” justifications for the violent desires of the heart.

      Don’t get me wrong, this is not justifying the atrocities that took place. I found myelf yelling at the TV as she decided to not just destroy the Red Keep (which I think would have been a powerful act showing that a different kind of reign was about to begin) but also to flame large parts of the city and kill the innocent. It changed my view of her character forever.

      Rather, I am trying to see how the flawed human being that GRMM/D&D wrote could come to the place of destroying those she was determined to rule.

      Thanks Again for the great article!

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    172. Patrick Sponaugle,

      Thanks to YOU (and all the WotW team) for providing so many constructive discussions !
      I just happened to read Machiavelli’s Prince and it is striking how the books/show are infused with it (in a deep, philosophical sense), your paper reminded me with that. It is also very keen on “situations matter” (conquering/expanding, conquering a Republic/a “kingdom”, with same culture/with a different culture, with your own army/with external armies, etc.) and we have many of these situations in the books and show.
      Actually, in M.’s book, “avoid hate” boils down to “don’t take their women nor properties”: it clearly applies to Tywinn (women: Shae, properties: allowing Boltons at Winterfell) and maybe to Dany in Essos. Not sure how it applies here (I mean, for the characters within Westeros, not the viewers!).

      My own feeling is also that she made a mistake: she secured the throne, not the ruling part afterwards (the more so as at this point there are two big families that can be considered, to some extent, still standing, Lannisters and Starks.). Even if you don’t subscribe to Bodin’s “continuation” of Machiavelli (= the Prince is accountable for killing children and innocents). Even Machiavelli is about subsequent ruling more than sheer warfare (= the ideal Prince conquers in order to be able to rule in a stable long-term, not as a short-lived tyrant). I feel Dany’s learning has been fruitful about conquering, not long-term ruling but I may be wrong (I’m stating this on political grounds, not on moral ones) and she may have created an occasion for the Queen to change the rules for the better, at great initial cost; Jon’s learning has been fruitful about ruling (seeing danger coming, being stern one time in the beginning, cf Throne/Olly and merciful later cf. Karstaks & Umbers, thinking about the next step when not lying to Cersei – even more clearly in the books). Not about conquering – never was his point, so far, and that was maybe his mistake: Sansa is right, bending the knee to Dany was a mistake. So, in my mind, ep 6 is still very open, according to how the writers (GRMM and D&D) choose to deal with the Machiavellian subtext (or not to deal with it).
      Anyway, Machiavelli is just one journey among others through the story. It’s a story, not a philosophical essay 😊

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    173. Mango: It does not change that he was repeatedly warned

      And the girls were right, were they not?

      A warning that lacks a rational basis is not a warning that a person has any reason to follow. If I warn you not to trust all Italians and then subsequently an Italian man kicked you in the shin, was I “right”?

      Xenophobia? His sisters showed no dislike of the wildings nor Varys as far as I could see. Arya lived for a while outside Westeros and seemed comfortable with others from a different background.

      Yes, the writing is indeed inconsistent.

      Ned and the northerners had marched south to overthrow her father. This is after their grandfather and uncle were fire treated by Aeyrs and he demanded more northern heads. So the girls have a decent reason to be careful with Targs. Plus Daenerys arrived with a large army made up of soldiers with a reputation for rape and plunder.

      Being careful isn’t the same thing as prejudging the whole situation. And neither of them every said anything about the Dothraki.

      kevin1989:
      Not true at all, What they meant is that you should trust somebody blindly without knowing them, that’s what Jon did. And they meant that you can better have a couple of close allies, than a lot allies who you can’t trust.

      You might prefer that’s what they said, that that isn’t what they said:

      Arya: “And we’re doing the right thing telling you we don’t trust your queen.”
      Jon: “You don’t know her yet.”
      Arya: “I’ll never know her. She’s not one of us.”
      Jon: “If you only trust the people you grew up with, you won’t make many allies.”
      Arya: “That’s alright. I don’t need many allies.”
      Jon: “Arya…”
      Arya: “We’re family — the four of us. The last of the Starks.”

      Arya categorically rejects getting to know Dany and says she never will. Which fits, because she’s never even had a conversation with her. Sansa, likewise, had made up her mind before meeting her.

      Jon by that point has spent months with Dany, on his guard initially, but gradually getting to know her. He certainly has more of a basis for assessing her than either of the sisters do.

      Maybe the conclusion is much simpler, they saw something in Dany that they didn’t trust and that they were right with that.

      Sansa had prejudged the situation. We don’t even know how Arya made up her mind about Dany, seeing as she’s never spoken to her, so it would appear it’s an identical situation.

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    174. Sansa and Arya come of this looking like psychics because they are, in fact, psychics. They are written by the same people who wrote Daenerys and those people knew Daenerys was going to turn, so they could make the sisters distrustful with virtually no justification knowing they’d be vindicated eventually and fans would just fill in the blanks and invent good reasons we were never actually shown.

      Poor Jon, though. He goes in properly wary and gradually breaks her down, not finally committing himself to believing in her until he see her risk her own life and lose a dragon to save him and the other wight-hunters, sees her give Cersei a chance instead of just instant-plundering the city, sees her abandon the war for the throne to fight the Great War once she understood the circumstances. He could never have known she was being secretly manipulated by the true gods to do all of these things just to make her turn, which was completely inevitable once George gave the outline and decided it would happen, more shocking and tragic when it finally happened.

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    175. kevin1989: This made me chuckle.

      Thanks Kevin. I don’t like making fun of people, and I did feel like I was punching down, but calling us Shilluminati is just silly.

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    176. David A:
      Patrick Spoonagle

      Thanks Patrick!This is an excellent piece and introduced an idea I hadn’t considered:that Daenerys’ decision was in part made to make it “her day” as opposed to AeJon’s.I need to rewatch to see how that looked. And I agree with you on your other point:her decision was in part based on her desire to sear into the history of Westeros that Daenerys Targaryen would be ruthless in ending opposition to her reign.

      While you describe her increasing isolation and loss of advisers, I don’t think you quite put enough thought into the psychological impact of the events of seasons 7 and 8 quite enough.As is mentioned in many of the great comments above and elsewhere, her general state of mind is important.Trying to add and also summarize:

      1) She is in battle fever.In war and battle, the adrenalized nature of combat and the way the body responds to fear and danger leads to a decreased sense of rationality.Some data shows that blood flows away from the rational center of the brain to a more core response. Military training leads to an appropriate response, but without training, a rational response is less likely, rather one is in survival mode.

      2) She sees all the citizens as her enemies.In the key throne room scene, Daenerys suggests that the citizens of KL are complicit in Cersei’s reign.As she looks around the city, that she has just conquered, she sees enemies everywhere, not just among the Lannister forces.

      3) She is in deep pain and needs to make others share in it.You go into most of it so I won’t elaborate.Betrayals, loss of those closest to her, rejection by the man she loves, rejection by the populace of Westeros, loss of her legitimacy — all of that has left her in a place of pain and rage.I believe it is a very human although not rational response to want to make others share the pain she feels.And of course self destructive — she may think in that moment she has nothing to lose, but how wrong she is.

      4) The place where Targaryen’s go to die.Finally, I also think that looking at the Red Keep, Daenerys could have been thinking about all of her family was slaughtered there:her father, her aunt, he other nieces/nephews.Was this really a place she wanted to return to?Rule from a keep that may be a symbol of Targaryen power but also was a place where so many of them died?Perhaps she felt she had to destroy Kings Landing because it is part of her effort to destroy the past and to break the wheel.Of course, this thought may be less relevant depending on what she does next.

      So there you have it:suppressed rationality; a paranoia on who were her enemies and who were subjects; a continued pain that she felt was being expiated by her reign of fire; and her sudden revulsion at the idea of walking the halls where her father died.Then put on top of the urge towards destruction the “rational” reasons for destroying the city that you lay out (instilling fear and making it “her” day), and you have a poisonous cauldron of “rational” justifications for the violent desires of the heart.

      Don’t get me wrong, this is not justifying the atrocities that took place.I found myelf yelling at the TV as she decided to not just destroy the Red Keep (which I think would have been a powerful act showing that a different kind of reign was about to begin) but also to flame large parts of the city and kill the innocent.It changed my view of her character forever.

      Rather, I am trying to see how the flawed human being that GRMM/D&D wrote could come to the place of destroying those she was determined to rule.

      Thanks Again for the great article!

      David, thanks for this thoughtful and comprehensive response!

      I recognize that I didn’t really dive in on her emotional state, and that was a deliberate choice, so it wouldn’t look like I was just blaming her Targaryen genetics, or calling her a hysterical woman, or whatever. I think her emotional state certainly plays into this, but I wanted people to bring that with them to the feature as I focused on a neutral basis, as much as possible.

      Thanks again!

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    177. AnnOther,

      Thanks again for bringing more context to the thread!

      I know people are assuming that Dany will be bumped off in the next episode, but I think it would be more interesting if she survives, with some indication of how she’ll rule. This is a huge bar to clear, though. I am glad it is a long episode.

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    178. Patrick Sponaugle,

      Sorry for the bad spell by the way.

      And I was guessing something like that. I was worried I might get flamed for my post. And just to be clear everything I wrote would have applied to a male character who went through the Trauma she experienced.

      I found myself very curious how her arc ends in the “hero vs hero” phase. An awful lot to wrap up in 80 minutes and i am sure David and Dan will face more criticism no matter what.

      Which is a shame. Yes I see how many fans are disappointed that the show went from awesome adaptation to a more traditional TV show format. But without WoW or ADoS, how could it not?

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    179. Direcat: Soooo when food shortage isn’t discussed it’s writers fault, but when Sansa discusses food shortages good for Sansa? That’s 😄

      Oh no, my hypocrisy has been outed again! Damn! I’ll go back to my designated corner and sit next to my chest of misfired guns, tolerable non sequiturs, unintentional consequences, complacent innumeracy, offscreen plot strings, and reverse engineered, undemocratic conundrums! 😉

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    180. David A:
      Patrick Sponaugle,

      Sorry for the bad spell by the way.

      LOL! I hadn’t even noticed. It’s not a problem.

      And I was guessing something like that. I was worried I might get flamed for my post. And just to be clear everything I wrote would have applied to a male character who went through the Trauma she experienced.

      I found myself very curious how her arc ends in the “hero vs hero” phase. An awful lot to wrap up in 80 minutes and i am sure David and Dan will face more criticism no matter what.

      Which is a shame. Yes I see how many fans are disappointed that the show went from awesome adaptation to a more traditional TV show format. But without WoW or ADoS, how could it not?

      Yeah, they’re wise to be away from the Internet during that time. Even if the episode just NAILS IT, there will be people who will claim that it’s a disgrace, and they feel betrayed, because the past two seasons (which can’t be changed now) were so rushed.

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    181. ygritte,

      So you feel it’s pretty much been a waste then?

      No, on the contrary, I have enjoyed the show tremendously, including seasons 7 and 8. However for the type of people that make comments like the one I responded to, I would assume that is how they feel since their level of disdain toward D&D seems to reach absurd and quite frankly childish levels.

      I understand the want for more details, more episodes, more everything related to the story, but at the same time I understand that wasn’t possible. For example, the production time for this last season started not long after season seven, filming started in Oct 2017, and went on for 10 months and then you have the long post production process.

      Adding more episodes would have meant a 3 year process as opposed to the two we got. At some point people have to realize some things are simply not doable. They can’t magically squeeze in more episodes even if they wanted to, yet a lot of people think it was just because they didn’t want to, as if they said “screw this, let’s just be done with it”

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    182. David A,

      Great post! Your point 4 – about the past and breaking the wheel – is fascinating! In the episode we see strong emotions on Dany’s face as she sits on Drogon and the bells start to ring. What are those emotions, where are they coming from? I never saw them as Dany “cracking” or “turning,” it was something else. I think your post provides some good ideas to answer that question.

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    183. onefromaway:
      David A,

      Great post!Your point 4 – about the past and breaking the wheel – is fascinating!In the episode we see strong emotions on Dany’s face as she sits on Drogon and the bells start to ring.What are those emotions, where are they coming from?I never saw them as Dany “cracking” or “turning,” it was something else. I think your post provides some good ideas to answer that question.

      Big agree.

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    184. Adam,

      My only hope now is that Sansa (and Arya) will be punished along with Dany. Sure, there’s no excuse for her, but neither there’s an excuse for them. Small countries located at the frontiers of civilisation (and the North is a small country despite of it’s size) need allies – as many as possible – and most of small countries understand that. The countries of the Central and Eastern Europe won their independence in 1989-1991, because they managed to form an alliance with the Russian democrats, athough it wasn’t easy: Eastern Europeans had many more grievances than the Starks and the Russian democrats were much more stubborn than Dany. But we did that – by playing fair and in good faith. Should the Stark sisters shown Dany a bit of northern cosiness, instead of a chill, should Arya offered to take out Cersei in return to what Dany did to the North, things would have gone differently. Instead, they chose to hate her potential sister-in-law, just because they were possessive about their brother; moreover, Sansa broke a sacred oath. Basicly, now she is the true queen of ashes: Dany is destroyed one way or another, Jon is destroyed one way or another, Tyrion is destroyed one way or another, and Sansa can claim “I told you” with a self-righteous smirk… It shouldn’t be.

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    185. Patrick Sponaugle,

      IMO, you should also consider the Medea complex: that’s the best and probably the only explanation why Dany suddenly turned on the smallfolk, which she used to conider as her surrogate children.

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    186. Inga:
      Patrick Sponaugle,

      IMO, you should also consider the Medea complex: that’s the best and probably the only explanation why Dany suddenly turned on the smallfolk, which she used to conider as her surrogate children.

      The Medea complex isn’t a bad thing to consider, and the image of Medea fleeing Jason’s city in a chariot pulled by dragons is pretty compelling. I guess I didn’t want to explore it, because I might not be smart enough to present a discussion of someone so bent on revenge, who murdered their own children. Although the freed slaves called Dany Mhysa, the Westerosi smallfolk never had that relationship with her.

      I don’t think that it’s wrong to consider it though.

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    187. Inga:

      My only hope now is that Sansa (and Arya) will be punished along with Dany. Sure, there’s no excuse for her, but neither there’s an excuse for them. Small countries located at the frontiers of civilisation (and the North is a small country despite of it’s size) need allies – as many as possible – and most of small countries understand that. The countries of the Central and Eastern Europe won their independence in 1989-1991, because they managed to form an alliance with the Russian democrats, athough it wasn’t easy: Eastern Europeans had many more grievances than the Starks and the Russian democrats were much more stubborn than Dany. But we did that – by playing fair and in good faith. Should the Stark sisters shown Dany a bit of northern cosiness, instead of a chill, should Arya offered to take out Cersei in return to what Dany did to the North, things would have gone differently. Instead, they chose to hate her potential sister-in-law, just because they were possessive about their brother; moreover, Sansa broke a sacred oath.

      Well, I doubt it. The series seems almost destined at this point to finish with the Starks on top one way or another. And Sansa has been very good for her people. I think she’ll stay beloved for as long as she’s the Lady of Winterfell.

      Though I agree the show gave them almost no reason other than prescience to distrust Daenerys. We got to see all the evil things she had done as a conqueror. They never did and neither did Jon, for that matter.

      I will point out not all conqueror/conquered relationships went quite the same as that of your ancestors. I’m somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 Native American on my dad’s side, though mestizo Mexican, not a U.S. tribe. But the U.S. tribes that were left by the end faced glaringly similar decisions to the Stark sisters with a much more powerful force that had just won a war to end slavery insisting the whole continent needed to be united under them. Some resisted and some conciliated and made alliances. It didn’t make much of a difference. They all suffered the same fate.

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    188. Patrick Sponaugle: A professor from the Army War College today published an article on Slate, coming to the same conclusion of Daenerys thinking strategically.

      Again, it is a political move against Aegon Targaryen.

      It’s fine if you and I don’t agree.

      The most obvious problem with this line of thinking is we had a leader who did exactly what Daenerys did only a generation ago and it led to his doom. Tywin ended the Castemeres and sacked King’s Landing and attempted to rule by fear and fear alone and ends up murdered by his own son on the toilet and what is left of his house and his fiefdom is utterly destroyed by the remnants of the family he attempted to destroy.

      And Daenerys knows this because Tyrion literally just told her what happens to people like Tywin, Joffrey, and now Cersei, who try to rule by fear alone.

      It’s especially odd for an Army War College professor to defend a strategy like this. I happen to have also been a U.S. Army officer, for 8 years, and this runs exactly counter to the most current understanding of how to deal with foreign populations. If I’m being honest, we largely fail at this, but we at least attempt to win support by buildings schools and basic infrastructure, training local police, building up the institutions of local government, not by bombing into submission. This was the strategy employed by the British during the American revolution. Dissuade rebellion by utterly destroying anyone and everyone who hinted at it. And that is largely understood today to have been exactly the wrong thing to do and to have led to the downfall of the British Empire.

      And it will lead to the downfall of Dany’s empire, too, no matter how uninteresting that makes the ending.

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    189. There are other things my own military experience taught me. My first Captain, the man who taught me everything I knew about leadership and mounted battle tactics for some time, was a maniac. He was dropped into the middle of Ramadhi only months removed from his West Point graduation to replace a platoon leader who had just been killed and he would tell us stories about how hard his dick got blowing up hospitals in the middle of a war-torn city basically experiencing what King’s Landing just did.

      But not everyone is like that. Not everyone has the capacity to snap and commit war crimes when great pressure is placed on them. Plenty of us never did. Plenty of stayed good people to the end.

      And you know what the most powerful takeaway from that is? It made no difference. Whether or not he or I were personally good people able to resist the temptation to break and kill indiscriminately when we could have gotten away with it, what we were doing over there was evil. More than a decade removed, I can admit that. The individual characters and resolve of the people on the ground don’t matter. War itself is evil. Game of Thrones used to be a story that depicted that. It didn’t need to turn its heroes into war criminals to make that point. Robb Stark stayed true and just and honorable to the end and it didn’t matter. Not only did he lead his own men and his own family to ruin, but even before that, his war effort ravaged the Westerlands every bit as badly as the Lannister forces ravaged the Riverlands.

      For a long time, Daenerys embodied this central conflict of the entire story, that even a well-meaning person with a good heart can’t turn conquest and warfare into a force for good. This point is made so much better when you don’t turn the person doing it into a cartoon supervillain. You know what would have made for a more interesting story? Not burning alive a million innocent people after already winning the battle but fans coming up with strained justifications for why it might have made rational sense for her to do it. Just keep doing what they already did. Show actual rational decisions that she herself provides a rationalization for but that we as a viewing audience and other characters can see are not good things. Crucifying the masters. Burning the Tarlys. Bringing the Dothraki to Westeros in the first place. Unleashing a dragon on the same humanized downtrodden people who don’t want to fight in the first place that we saw Arya encounter on her way to King’s Landing, showing her these weren’t really the enemy and they didn’t deserve horrible deaths just because they happened to be born in Lannisport.

      All they had to do was keep doing what they were already doing. They didn’t need to push it so over the top, but that is unfortunately all this show has become. No matter what they do, it has to be bigger than the last thing they did. Daenerys can’t just be the disputed character she has always been that half the fans love and half the fans think is a force of evil that needs to be stopped. They need to have her do the worst thing we’ve ever seen any character do and kill more people in 20 minutes than the Army of the Dead killed in 8 seasons, and no matter what you can come up with in the way of extra-textual reasons she may have done it, they left no doubt. She is no longer a character with any gray area. Look at the way Arya is glaring at her in that preview photo. Like it or not, that is the most justified interpretation of what Daenerys Targaryen is at this point: a mad dog that needs to be put down. Every named character left but Grey Worm will agree on this. There is no more conflict on what to do with her and whether to follow her. The only conflict left is can they kill her.

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    190. Patrick Sponaugle,

      The Medea complex is not only about killing/harming children and it basically goes to the achetype of an abused or neglected helper-maid going rogue. It’s just that in most stories, the helper-maid represents water or earth. One way or another, it’s funny that the subversion of the tropes that was promised ends up with such a popular trope and that a “strong female character” build up to rule the world turns out to be totally unfit to rule: GRRM and D&D just sent the woment back to spindles LOL.

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    191. At some point, writers need to just realize and be at peace with the reality that every possible plot direction that actually makes sense is a trope. That’s why they’re tropes. We’ve had several thousand years of written language to come up with just about anything a person can come up with. Live with that and tell your story in the most satisfying way possible even if that makes it a story that has already been told.

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    192. Adam: The most obvious problem with this line of thinking is we had a leader who did exactly what Daenerys did only a generation ago and it led to his doom.

      It’s especially odd for an Army War College professor to defend a strategy like this.

      Why are you assuming that the professor is defending the strategy?

      In my feature, I don’t defend Dany’s actions. I lay out a case that it might not be from a “she snapped” explanation.

      You also bring up Tywin (so did I) who was willing to engage in atrocity because he short sidedly felt it would secure his power.

      I don’t plan on arguing with you about if Dany’s actions are good. I’m not surprised it’s counter to your experience as a military man. As a civilian, I also know that killing civilians is a war crime.

      Daenerys’s rule might be a short one, or it might be a long one (that’s a question that might be definitively answered Sunday night, or not answered Sunday night.) It is not unreasonable for you and others to suggest that people will rise up in the face of her burning King’s Landing. That may or may not happen. It didn’t happen when Maegor did similar things, and he was taken down by another Targaryen. With a dragon.

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    193. Dyanna,

      It’s kind of disturbing that you would be so offended by how incest is or isn’t defined, as if children who were born of incest are somehow “lesser” than you. People are people. None is greater or lesser. Should we discriminate against children who are the product of rape because of the horrible way in which they were conceived? No. So chill out about these definitions. You’re a person and you’re not any better than anyone else.

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    194. Patrick Sponaugle: Why are you assuming that the professor is defending the strategy?

      In my feature, I don’t defend Dany’s actions. I lay out a case that it might not be from a “she snapped” explanation.

      I didn’t think either of you is trying to say her actions were justified in the sense of actually being just, but did seem to be saying they are justified in the sense that she could be doing it for good military reasons that she has good reason to believe will work.

      The fact remains we were not shown that. She has had war councils leading up to this battle. In none of them did she advocate total war. When presented with the option to accept surrender if given, she clearly didn’t believe it would be given, but she never rejected the possibility. Unfortunately, the writers have consciously decided to keep us increasingly in the dark regarding what the characters are thinking and simply show us what they’re doing instead and so we’re left to come up with our own reasons why. If you truly honestly believe this was a considered strategy on her part she had good reason to believe would work and was the right thing to do, so be it. I have trouble believing that. It seems much more like you want to believe that because it makes for a more interesting story, not because anything about the story really leads to that conclusion.

      I suppose we may or may not find out in another day. If asked why, I don’t exactly expect her to say “oh, no reason, I just snapped because I was having a bad week.” But that is the way her arc was portrayed. She wasn’t shown coming to some horrible conclusion about what had to be done after seeing nothing else would work. She was shown having hardship after hardship piled on until she decided to lock herself in her room, stop eating, and stop doing her hair and makeup. Whether or not that is interesting, that is what we were shown.

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    195. RobertL,

      Wow. Are you for real? What a vile, ignorant comment.

      Don’t bother replying, I won’t be looking at this thread again, or posting anywhere on this forum.

      Can the Admins please delete my comments on this topic?

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    196. Dyanna:
      RobertL,

      Wow. Are you for real? What a vile, ignorant comment.

      Don’t bother replying, I won’t be looking at this thread again, or posting anywhere on this forum.

      Can the Admins please delete my comments on this topic?

      Dyanna, I know that you are likely not going to see this based on your stated intention, but I completely support you. You certainly didn’t deserve being talked to in this manner.

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    197. I find myself torn at this point when I consider this saying ” An enemy of my enemy is my friend.” What are you when your mutual enemy is dead?

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    198. Dyanna:
      Patrick Sponaugle,

      Thank you Patrick, your reply is very much appreciated. I came back to see if my comments were still here, I confess.

      I’m glad you came back, if only to see my comment. Best regards to you, Dyanna.

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    199. Patrick Sponaugle: LL thank you so much for the comment! I think you are good at this, my lurker friend

      🙂

      ( Is it okay to squee a little bit here? )

      Anyway, having tried to read through all of these comments and catch up – not the easiest thing to do on a cell phone; why do I not receive notifications anymore – I feel a little better about my original thoughts.

      I will say I thought it was interesting that Conleth Hill’s reaction to Varys (RIP) being touched by Tyrion took Miguel Sapochnik by surprise – therefore not every knows how each character might be acting/reacting in the way the parts are written. Ya know, for example.

      I suppose we’ll all know more, likes and dislikes, questions answered or not, in a few more hours.

      I am not yet ready, nor do I think I ever will be.

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    200. ygritte:
      Tenesmus,
      Dany was always going to be the Mad Fire Breathing Queen

      If most people realized this most likely was to be the case about Dany, why did I get so much push back when I speculated on it years ago here? Even had to start making myself only see the good in her and twisting some of the controversial things she did into positives just to get along and not make some people jump all over me on here. I know going forward I won’t let another fandom tear down my faith in my own interpretations.

      Book readers that are “ Mad Queen Theorists” who think Dany will eventually “Break Bad” in the books are not the majority, but they’ve been around since the first book came out.

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    201. RG,

      D

      o I wish there’d been more of a transition between her fighting an enemy we all hate and just straight up decimating an already sacked city of civilians who’d begged to surrender to her?
      Yes.
      Honestly I also wish the people of KL had risen up against Cersei after she blew up the Sept, because why didn’t they do that?!

      That is just one example where the ball was dropped in the show. Several times something inexplicable happens, and there is no reaction, no follow through. Why didn’t they rise up, with Dany fanning the flames (sorry) of their resistance?

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    202. Excellent article. Despite predicting it for many years I never saw the Mad Queen label as going completely crazy more so she willl snap and do evil deeds. I never saw Cersei as evil either for the record.

      For both ladies are consumed by power and will do anything to achieve/retain it, not through pleasure but desperation. Stannis was the same to a similar extent.

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    203. Thank you for writing this explanation. It’s what I’ve been saying to those I know. Dany hardened her heart and did what was difficult and cruel because she knew anything less would be insufficient to solidify her power. She didn’t expect it to be that way, nor did she want it. But when she saw the writing on the wall she had to choose between shock and awe or ultimately giving up her claim. If not immediately, she knew it would be slowly undermined with plotting and disloyalty spreading all around her. Few will dare be disloyal to her now. She wanted to be a different kind of ruler, but she was being childishly naive. She has now made a choice to set down childish things.

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    204. Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.

      Dany learned from her history, the wrong lessons. She dispensed her own form of justice without mercy, or understanding what could be from the consequences of her action. She saw the cruelty of the Masters and dispatched them, but in a way which made her rule no better than theirs. She approached Westeros not as a friend, but as a conqueror. She made no real attempt to befriend the Stark sisters or any nobles of the North. Sure, she gave Gendry his title, but would he really go against Arya over Dany if push came to shove? She saw the results of her actions and saw she had come out on top.

      She did not pay attention to the aftermath after each conquest and change her approach to suit the immediate situation. She treated the North like she treated anyone else. She did not build alliances but demanded them. She didn’t care about their history or their suffering at the hands of the Lannisters.

      She isn’t going to stop either. She will go back to conquer Pike, Dorne and the North. Then she will have to go back to Mereen because in the absence of their conqueror, the people will revolt and she’ll have to go back to quell the rebellion. One bloodbath after another. Endless war.

      That’s why she has to die.

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    205. Hermie:
      She saw the cruelty of the Masters and dispatched them, but in a way which made her rule no better than theirs.

      The idea that Dany’s rule was no better than the masters, who ran a slave empire, is entirely unsupportable.

      She approached Westeros not as a friend, but as a conqueror.

      Also untrue. She made every effort to recruit allies. But she also has to actually, y’know, conquer it to rule. She’s not going to be made queen without defeating her enemies.

      She made no real attempt to befriend the Stark sisters or any nobles of the North.

      Also untrue. She made multiple approaches to Sansa, but was rebuffed, and the sisters make clear that they have no interest in ever getting to know her because she’s an outside.

      Then she will have to go back to Mereen because in the absence of their conqueror, the people will revolt and she’ll have to go back to quell the rebellion.

      The people will revolt against what, exactly? Dany doesn’t rule Meereen; she gave it over to the people.

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    206. For the record, Sean C. is completely right. When Daenerys leaves Meereen, her instructions to Daario are to use the Second Sons to keep the peace while the people of the Bay of Dragons are to elect their own leaders. She clearly takes no further part in it and hasn’t so much as sent a message since leaving. Missandei even drops “Queen of Meereen” from her list of titles when reciting them to Jon and Davos when they meet on Dragonstone.

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    207. Steel_Wind:
      The Reign of The Mad Queen will last one day +/- a day.

      Aegon Targaryen had allies. Daenerys no longer does. She has Grey Worm (an employee, so not really an ally) whatever the diminished number of the Unsullied are (this week!) and perhaps some of the Dothraki (only some, she has lost a lot of her 60k “blood riders”).

      The rest? Enemies all. They can’t wait to kill her. If the final episode is 80 minutes, what’s the over under on how far into the episode until she is assassinated? I’ll give her 34 minutes.

      Pretty Short reign for the Queen Across the Water. You win or you die. She didn’t win.She was never going to win.

      So now, she’ll die. The Queen of Thorns lost, too, if you are keeping score. The Tyrell rose was pulled out root and stem as well.

      So much for how wise it is to ignore your “clever advisors”.

      I would like to think she will be killed in the first hour so we can see what happens next. Before she dies she may yet kill Tyrion I fear.

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    208. Jon Snowed: I would like to think she will be killed in the first hour so we can see what happens next. Before she dies she may yet kill Tyrion I fear.

      Varys may yet have belated success with his poison! Would be great if he offed her from beyond the grave.
      (not that he even has a grave, but ykwim)

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    209. Varys was ultimately a hero in this story and I’d love some retribution for his murder however it wouldn’t work for the larger story for Dany to die of poison, the more I think about it then it had to be Jon.

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    210. Patrick Sponaugle: This is exactly how I am feeling. 🙂

      And so… Our watch has ended….

      Was wondering after the final episode if you still feel as if the decimation of Kings Landing by Daenerys was premeditated?

      After hearing Grey Worm tell Jon that the order from the Queen included killing all that followed Cersei? Did it seem she had previously ordered this whether the bells rang or not?

      Would very much like to read your thoughts on this after… well, after.

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    211. Patrick Sponaugle: This is exactly how I am feeling. 🙂

      So… Our watch has ended….

      Was wondering after the final episode if you still feel as if the decimation of Kings Landing by Daenerys was premeditated?

      After hearing Grey Worm tell Jon that the order from the Queen included killing all that followed Cersei? Did it seem she had previously ordered this whether the bells rang or not?

      Would very much like to read your thoughts on this after… well, after.

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    212. LL of Darkwater: So… Our watch has ended….

      Was wondering after the final episode if you still feel as if the decimation of Kings Landing by Daenerys was premeditated?

      After hearing Grey Worm tell Jon that the order from the Queen included killing all that followed Cersei? Did it seem she had previously ordered this whether the bells rang or not?

      Would very much like to read your thoughts on this after… well, after.

      I was wondering the same thing.

      That line of dialog really added to the argument it was a pre-attack plan. Plus, when I watched episode 5 again, there were at least two moments between GW and Dany where it felt they had a secret, especially when Tyrion was pleading with Dany to stop any attack if the city surrenders. Finally, when she was with Jon and she calmly, deliberately says “let it be fear” she knew the choice she was making before the battle.

      Dany’s speech to the gathered Unsullied and Dothraki about liberating the rest of Westeros would give weight to the argument that she was using the burning of KL to intimidate the other regions into submitting, quickly.

      Well, that is my two cents!

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    213. onefromaway: I was wondering the same thing.

      That line of dialog really added to the argument it was a pre-attack plan. Plus, when I watched episode 5 again, there were at least two moments between GW and Dany where it felt they had a secret, especially when Tyrion was pleading with Dany to stop any attack if the city surrenders. Finally, when she was with Jon and she calmly, deliberately says “let it be fear” she knew the choice she was making before the battle.

      Dany’s speech to the gathered Unsullied and Dothraki about liberating the rest of Westeros would give weight to the argument that she was using the burning of KL to intimidate the other regions into submitting, quickly.

      Well, that is my two cents!

      I very much like your take on things and believe it to be worth more than only two cents. I’ll see your two pennies and raise you one, though.

      It does seem as if lot of fans are still bemoaning the ‘Suddenly Snapped’ scenario, or the ‘Snow Spurned Sex’ scenario.

      As a longtime book reader, I’ve loved reading about Dany; as a show watcher, I’ve enjoyed watching her journey. I’ve sympathized with her, feared for her and cheered her on.

      That having been stated, through the books and all the television seasons, I’ve never quite trusted her. She made decisions at times that were frightening and some that just seemed cruel. She seemed to lack insight and a difficulty learning lessons. Of course it wasn’t always the case, but often enough to raise questions in my mind about the state of her mind. Not simply the state of her mental health, but also her propensity to be swayed in her convictions, her degree of ambition, knowledge of self, of right and wrong, and the levels of vengeance to which she might rise. Pre-meditated Fire and Blood seemed completely reasonable to me for Dany. (Pre-snapped, as it were.)

      I’m far from what might be considered a casual viewer; I can name (some) chapters and or seasons (more) wherein specific events occurred better than most of my real life friends can (who are also book readers and regular show watchers). I know (many) character names and sigils and words pretty quickly; I’ve been known to go down a rabbit hole (or three) and my tinfoil hat shows (a bit much) at times.

      I do sometimes wonder; however, if my friends are watching the same show that I watched. (I also question whether or not I make up stuff to make sense of events and plot lines, too.)

      My rambling point in this comment – yes, lots of non-casual viewers are unhappy with recent seasons and the finale, I get that. I can even relate with some of the cause for unhappiness (I don’t understand the rage and toxicity). I can understand that a few posters (okay, quite a few) might be part of subcultures just being ugly and posting ugly comments, simply for the sake of ugliness.

      I have recently begun to believe that many unhappy viewers are disappointed (and downright angry) because they weren’t led specifically down a path of presumption and can’t believe their favorite character would behave a certain way, or that a plot line concluded other than they believed it would.

      Game of Thrones is complicated, it is subtle and vague. It has red herrings and subplots and subversion and moves slowly as well as quickly. The show has made plenty of mistakes – Starbucks Cups and Water Bottles aside – but on the whole it has remained on course for eight seasons, in my view, anyway. It’s unique to television in scope and has moved people to needing therapy to reconcile their emotions – casual and non-casual viewers alike.

      I do wonder, would it have been better to take some viewers by the hand and better ‘seed’ plot lines and character arcs – not that it would have made my experience better, that’d be a hard ‘no’ for my part. But the thought that in general, this genre is new to so many and GRRM is a special kind of story teller, I wonder if the ‘Inside the Episode’ pieces were enough for many of the unhappy viewers.

      I’m not suggesting that in future shows of this calibre (or GoT prequels and sequels) dumb anything down, per se, but simply go about ‘seeding’ in more than one ‘seed’ and perhaps doing so farther ahead than later in the episodes, thereby allowing more time for those ‘seeds’ to germinate.

      I wonder, because, ya know, I’m not ready for the wondering it to be over.

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    214. LL of Darkwater,

      Thanks and I enjoyed reading your post. I have not read the books yet but have the first one ready to go! I am interested to see how Martin handles things.

      On the series, I agree, the bits and pieces of information were there from the first season to her death for Dany’s extreme actions. Whether it was nature or nurture or magic, she was a different being in a negative way. I think you are right she lacked insight and the ability to learn from her mistakes. But viewers see what they want to see and, in some cases, what the director forces us to look at. And that is alright because if the storyteller really wants to make sure we are all on the same page, they would spell it out from A – Z (uppercase and lowercase!). Since they didn’t, we go with our own interpretations and hope for civil discussions and the classic “let’s agree to disagree” when there is no common ground.

      That question of just how much information should the writers give the reader or viewer is a great one! Too much and it gets boring, too little and people are frustrated. I don’t mind having to think about what is going on in a story, it is a way to get the reader/watcher involved and invested. But it does leave plenty to wonder about. So with GOT we can wonder about story lines or how HBO or other producers can come up with related tales to tell. You know there are people already doing the Arya’s Adventures stories in their head! But keep on wondering…this material is rich and more can come from it.

      It’s been a great series both for story but also production. People will be talking about it for years. I’m so glad I was on the ride. Now…on to the books!

        Quote  Reply

    215. onefromaway,

      Thanks for such a well written reply; I’m glad you enjoyed reading my comment, and that you got through it! (I tend to get started and not know when to stop!)

      I read the books long before the show was announced it was in production, (other than Dance, of course). There is so much within those pages to absorb. I hope you find them to be as wonderous as so many have!

        Quote  Reply

    216. Dyanna,

      Call it inbreeding if you like, but from genetic point of view, it is pulling the devil’s tail. And your feeling offended by descriptors of facts will never change the facts.

        Quote  Reply

    217. “Morally there is nothing incestuous about it.”

      So you insist that we all hush-hush that you are offspring of consanguineous marriage, while you reserve for yourself the right to look down on people who are “incestuous” “morally” (???).

        Quote  Reply

    218. So Dany is spurning the “self-centered” advice of males who ask her to spare innocents, but succumbing to the advice of Olenna Tyrell, knowing that the latter’s super-clever scheming, power-hunger and ruthlessness got her house extinct.
      Not very intelligent of Dany, but when has she been very intelligent?

        Quote  Reply

    219. Sean C.,

      Xenophobia is not “childish”. In our world, invasion by foreigners has destroyed more societies than any other known factor. In Westeros, they have had the invasions of Andals, Rhoynar (euphemized as “refugees”), Ironborn, and the Targaryens with their dragons.

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    220. Marianne,

      Marianne,
      Do we need hour-long conversations to suggest that Sansa and Arya disliked Dany because they saw the power-hungry psychopath in her? The ability to recognize such people can be a life-saving skill. And both Sansa and Arya have been around such pdople before.

        Quote  Reply

    221. Patrick Sponaugle,

      She brought this upon herself. She kept talking to others in a worse manner. I’d say she hijacked this thread. She called Robert’s comment names, but did not try to answer in a meaningful way. Why not? Because Robert was right.

        Quote  Reply

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