When Game of Thrones first aired on HBO in April 2011, the first season alone was nominated for thirteen Emmy awards, of which two were won: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Peter Dinklage) and Outstanding Main Title Design. In that first season we met the shy, timid, and beautiful Daenerys Targaryen. We, as viewers, were drawn in by her beauty and sweet nature. This ethereal creature quickly stole our hearts and was endeared to us when her brute of a brother forced her into marriage with the formidable looking Dothraki war lord- Khal Drogo. Unfortunately for Viserys, her brother, this act would start the young woman on a path that would lead her to becoming the Mother of Dragons. A title that only grows as time passes.
Across the eight seasons that Game of Thrones lasts, Daenerys went from strength to strength and so did the shows rating and popularity. By season 8, the main characters cast were reportedly earning up to and over $1 million per show. Game of Thrones spin offs were being discussed left right and centre, merchandise sales were through the roof, GoT cosplays were everywhere and there was even a Game of Thrones slot game released. Suffering the loss of her unborn child, and having to smother the love of her life, her sun and stars, Daenerys led the Dothraki to new lands, doing her best as their Khaleesi, to keep them together and safe. Throughout the eight seasons, we see her gain a number of titles, and by the end, her full name and titles becomes Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons. And they are all titles Daenerys has earned.
But then the final season came, season eight, and we watched with horror as our beloved heroine went from the strong, courageous, fierce but caring woman we love, to a demented, unhinged, and insane harbinger of death. From the woman who used her dragon children to save others, she now uses Dragon, her last child dragon, to barbecue every man, woman and child in King’s Landing, along with surrendered Lannister prisoners.
The world first had to watch as Missandei, the freed slave and close friend of Daenerys, be chained by Cersei then beheaded by The Mountain. And we were dealt a second low blow when Daenerys lost her mind. But the thing that confused viewers most was that Daenerys did not kill all of King’s Landing because of Missandei’s death, but for seemingly no reason at all.
There are the bells of King’s Landing sounding, and for us, this has no ties to Daenerys at all. There would have been no reason at all for the bells ringing to have sent the Queen of Andals and the First Men down the fiery path she took. And of course, with that act, poor Jon Snow was left realising that she wouldn’t stop, and was forced to end the life of Daenerys.
The Big Why
So, why did she go insane? Why were we all left feeling angry and confused? Because unfortunately, the director of the episode didn’t make it clear what Daenerys Stormborn was feeling, why she would decide to reign fiery death on the innocents of King’s Landing. The bells are ringing, the city has declared surrender, the war was over. But in later interviews, the episode director, Miguel Sapochnik, explained that Daenerys had lost everyone, and everything she loved. She had come to battle and was feeling angered after she had set out to take vengeance against Cersei Lannister and when there was not enough bloodshed, she felt empty, like there wasn’t enough.
Viewers were supposed to be able to understand that Daenerys hears the bells of surrender and is enraged to see the Red Keep perfectly intact and the city of King’s Landing virtually unscathed. The Breaker of Chains had been determined to win the war against Cersei, but when the end is all too easy, Daenerys decides to rain fire and blood upon the unsuspecting inhabitants of King’s Landing. Being one of the people who felt let down and like it wasn’t good enough, I fully understand why viewers have cried out against the ending that we received. Our Mother of Dragons is dead, our King of the North has gone beyond The Wall, and poor Drogon took his mother’s dead body off to an unknown location- though not before torching the Iron Throne to the ground. And our Big Bad, the cold-hearted Cersei, died a death that was both poor and stupid.
What was supposed to amount to an exceptional final season, unfortunately ended in confusion and misery. We were left unsatisfied, empty, and downright peeved to know that years of build-up and story arcs were reduced to ashes. Quite literally.