Okay, right out of the way, let’s make clear that what follows is full of spoilers from last night’s episode. That being said, let’s F$#^## talk.
The Mad Queen: It has been suspected since the beginning of the season; Daenerys Targaryan would spiral and become the mad queen. Last night after the bells rung for surrender, Daenerys, still raw in rage, made her choice. She chose revenge over justice and burned thousands of innocents alive in Kings Landing.
This is not just the biggest reveal of the season but probably the biggest reveal of the series! We have followed this character from being the insecure wife of Khal Drogo to a just liberator to the deadliest character of the show.
Feelings about this are obviously mixed. For myself, I have been keeping an eye on her to see where she could cross the line and cease to be redeemable. Obviously the burning of Kings Landing is the clear point of no return. However, I think the moment really came at the beginning of the episode with the killing of Varys.
Her promise was always to be fair and good to those who could not protect themselves. Yes, she has grown more and more isolated which can create insecurity to say the least but her choice to kill Varys was the moment she surrendered her purpose.
Someone called out that she was not the true heir to the Iron Throne and her reaction was to kill. What is her intention for Jon? What is her intention for Tyrion and Sansa? By killing Varys, though might seem small, it’s enough of a step in the wrong direction that it would trigger similar if not worse choices.
Power corrupts. Period. Sooner or later it will always do this. Was there ever a time that Dany could escape this law of nature?
Always Meant to Happen: Attacks online have focused around statements that the writers have no creativity, that they betrayed the character, they cheapened her, and they betrayed her arc.
But, we have to remember- just because the books aren’t done doesn’t mean they (Weiss and Benioff) have not been following the guide of George R.R. Martin. He has stated repeatedly that the show-runners KNOW what the fate is of each character. Meaning, Dany was always meant to go down this path. Rage should be reserved for the creator of the character instead of the staff of the show…just saying.
We must also remember that this very episode has been a part of prophecies mentioned! At the end of the second season Dany walks through a destroyed Red Keep which I THOUGHT was covered in snow. No, it was ash. This has ALWAYS been a part of the character’s path.
We should also remember visions that Bran had in earlier seasons. One of the images was the shadow of a massive dragon flying over Kings Landing. We knew she would one day make her way to Westeros in attempts to conquer it, but what we didn’t know was the context of that vision. Now we do.
Fair to the Character?: Do I think it was fair for this character to go down this way? Not at all. I know they say we’ve had “hints” that she could fall from grace but I never saw enough red flags.
I think the trouble here is also the rushed format we’ve been given to get to the end. Perhaps if the show was still at the same pace we had until season 6 this moment would have been more developed. Sadly, there was just not enough time to draw this out.
I was rooting for her! We were ALL rooting for her! (Tyra voice).So yes, to see this be her fate is a tough pill to swallow. However, despite the poor mapping to get to this moment and as cheap as it feels, there is still poetic truth to it all.
Deserve and Justice: This is the city that supported the death of Ned Stark. The place that has been mentioned throughout the show to be filled with liars, cheaters, killers, and the corrupt.
Does this mean that the city DESERVED to violently burn? No, of course not.
But it teaches a powerful lesson. We want to simplify humanity and the world and say that things are divided into good vs. evil. That is never the case. Everyone believes they are the hero to their own story and everyone has a line. EVERYONE. What can we compromise and what can we not? Where is our true weakness and if it is found, what are we capable of doing if it is exploited?
So many people do not commit horrible or evil acts for the sake of evil. They do it because they feel they have no choice, they must protect what matters to them, it is the cheaper price to pay, or the pain of what others have caused them is so consuming that revenge is the only cure.
Cersei found Dany’s weakness and she pressed hard. As a a tragedy it is certainly powerful. For a character that has grown and risen the way Dany has over eight seasons, it is disappointing.
Death of the Twins: Now, Jaime and Cersei’s deaths. Jaime I felt died last week when he decided to go back to her. He killed his own redemption and by doing so killed himself as a character. There were no emotions from me to see him go.
When it comes to Cersei, we have WAITED for a confrontation. Arya, Sansa, and even Dany after last week. It wasn’t just her death that we needed it was the chance to see at least ONE of our characters that have been wronged by her to have the chance to confront her even if it didn’t mean killing her.
Jaime and Cersei dying together by the collapse of the castle felt extremely anticlimactic. There was so much there to use! Yet, alas, nothing. Again.
The thing about so many of these season 8 deaths is that they have felt cheap for the most part. These are the people that have made it to the END, folks! They deserved more. We deserved more!
What are we Fighting For?: Something after last weeks episode that got me thinking, and has continued here is, just what is this all for?
Arya has said no to Gendry, Jon will obviously have to kill Dany. Missandei and Greyworm will never have their life together, Cersei and Jamie are done, and Brienne doesn’t get her happy ending. Sure, these are all romantic examples of love but love is in short supply as we reach the end overall!
Yes, this is the world of Game of Thrones and ‘happily ever after’ has never been on the menu. Yet, all the fighting and all the death feels masochistic and gratuitous if there is no hope for something at the end of all of it.
There is one love that has survived all of this though; Gilly and Sam. It is curious that they should be the only ones that will get to see the sunrise.
They are born from abuse, unfair treatment, have experienced extreme disrespect, and loss. Sam had his family burned alive by Dany but in that pain he swallows it and does what he must to make peace with it. Revenge is not an option for him nor do I think it was what he would want.
These two are humble people and in the midst of all this ego, revenge, power lust, and obsession over birthrights they have always remained in the same frame; wanting to live at peace and surrender control over the things they cannot control.
Perhaps they are the biggest lesson of the series? Surrender is not a weakness but the means to true freedom and happiness.
One episode left! Can they land this dragon? Of course not! But let’s say our goodbyes properly anyway.