Spoiler Warning: If you haven’t watched Episode 5 “The Bells”, you really should before continuing
If you’re a casual fan of GAME OF THRONES, last Sunday nights episode “The Bells” was a shocker.
The line I cribbed from Tyrion who is typically a comic relief character, but just as much Lannister as his siblings, as sinister and cutting as Cersei or Jamie.-
“A day will come when you think yourself safe and happy, and suddenly your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth, and you’ll know the debt is paid.”
I think I know why everyone is pissed. I partially blame the producers for condensing this season into six episodes. Here’s my “Sinatra Analogy” –
Frank Sinatra was one of the most gifted crooners of his day, but, he never wrote a note of music. The songs he’s most remembered for were written by others. This is the dilemma the show runners faced. The minute they ran out of George RR Martin’s words, (about mid season 7 or earlier) they were Frank Sinatra writing music.
Not their strong suit.
It was difficult for show watchers only, (the majority of viewers) to wrap their heads around her decision for genocide.
Typically that kind of character arc change would happen over a few seasons.
But, it did. Long ago.
And no one was paying attention.
Since season 1-
She watched her husband murder her brother at their wedding. “He was no Dragon pass the mares milk.” Was her reaction.
She tied a woman to a steak to burn,
She burned the Good Masters, ruling elite of the city of Astapor, one of the three cities on the eastern shore of Slaver’s Bay, composed of slave-traders.
An Astapori slave-trader, Kraznys mo Nakloz, sold Daenerys Targaryen 8,000 Unsullied in exchange for her Drogon. And got his face burned off for his trouble.
Hundreds of Wise Masters of Merreen were crucified along the road to the city for children who were killed
She burned every Dothraki Khal at Dosh Kallen and took their Khalasars as her own.
She burned hundreds of troops and Sam Tarleys Father and Brother for remaining loyal to their Monarch, after they surrendered.
She burned Lord Vary’s like she was asking Alexa for a weather report.
Razing a City?
Kings Landing wasn’t even her first. My takeaway from the fan reaction?
Burn a town with brown and black people, “We’re rooting for you!” Burn up white folks? Everybody loses their minds.
Where’s the lie?
I’m a fan of the novels. I wasn’t surprised one bit. Plain and simple, they woke the dragon.-
After all that Dany went through, the capper, Cersei’s beheading of Missandri at their parlay. The final word, of her loyalest adviser ONLY friend was a defiant, “Dracarys” You don’t need to be the Three-Eyed Raven to see Dany lighting them up!
Despite the sloppy writing and breakneck pacing. Her actions ring true. Denarys is textbook Tragic Villain.
She’s completely aware she’s evil, but takes no pleasure from it. Rather, she engages in evil due to circumstances beyond her control.
I’ll go into this at length later.
I think the visceral blindside fan reaction comes from two things:
First, a shared cultural bias that a beautiful, blonde woman can’t possibly be a powerful and monstrous despot.
Even when you’ve watched her do monstrous things.
And why not?
If anything, Martin has in the books and series demonstrated that beauty can conceal a dark heart, perfect example being the overreaching Cersei Lannister.
Conversely, nobility can be found where you least expect it, like the on point Lord Varys Master of Whisperers.
(Oh and Tyrion doesn’t qualify for nobility for strangling his ex in bed. #TeamShea)
The second is, if we root for a monster, what does this say about us?
As I listed above, she’s done terrible things across the Narrow Sea. Which everyone forgave her for.
People do love that white savior paradigm, many felt she was a feminist icon, which she still is, to be sure.
She’s just never been a good person.
“But she ended slavery”
But did she though? She freed the Unsullied she paid for, she freed anyone held in bondage, but what happened to Astapori left in Astapor once she left?
What about Merreen? She lept onto Drogon to save her royal ass when the Sons of the Harpy were coming knives drawn.
What happened to those societies she abandoned?
She loved being “Mhysa” but she took off as soon as she could. Leaving the populace to the mercy of The Masters.
Any altruism in your own self-interest isn’t altruism. It’s self-interest. You don’t get a cookie for being a good person Dany.
Less, if you smash a predatory society and abandon vulnerable people without any governance nor way for the newly freed population to sustain themselves.
The dilemma everyone left in Dany’s inner circle must come to terms with is how to support her post Razing of Kings Landing?
And, if you are crestfallen. (Or named your daughter after her,) you must come to terms with that too.
Dany is the “Final Boss” and how the story must end in my opinion…
First, let’s get a handle on Dany.
Queen Daenerys Targaryen, also known as Dany and Daenerys Stormborn, is the younger sister of Rhaegar Targaryen and Viserys Targaryen and only daughter of King Aerys II Targaryen and Queen Rhaella Targaryen, who were both ousted from the Iron Throne during Robert Baratheon‘s rebellion.
Her fondest memory was of the house with a red door of a Tyroshi Merchant. She was enslaved and sold to a Horse Lord to secure an Army for her brother Viserys.
Following the respective deaths of Viserys, and husband Khal Drogo, Daenerys builds up her own base of power in Essos, where she hatches three dragons, is joined by prominent advisers including Ser Jorah Mormont and Tyrion Lannister, liberates the slaves of Slaver’s Bay, gains the Unsullied, and unites the Dothraki. Daenerys begins her invasion of Westeros with her followers and allies shortly after the War of the Five Kings to take the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms from Cersei Lannister.
She formally styles herself as Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms, the Mother of Dragons, the Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, the Breaker of Chains.
During her campaign, Daenerys negotiates with Jon Snow, who seeks her help against the returned White Walkers. The two become allies after Daenerys’s allies in the Reach and Dorne are destroyed by the forces of Cersei and Euron Greyjoy. After Daenerys strikes back, she agrees to parley with Cersei in King’s Landing and allows Jon Snow to venture beyond the Wall to capture a wight. Daenerys rescues Jon and his men when they are encircled by the army of the dead, though one of her dragons is slain by the Night King. Jon pledges allegiance to Daenerys, and they present the wight before Cersei at the parley, who agrees to a truce. Daenerys then sails north with Jon, putting her quest for the Iron Throne on hold in order to fight in the Great War; the two give in to their love during the voyage, unknown that they are in fact related, as Jon is secretly Daenerys’s nephew: the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark.
In the real world there are no villains. No one actually sets out to do evil… Fiction mirrors life. Or, more accurately, fiction serves as a lens to focus on what they know in life and bring its realities into sharper, clearer understanding for us. There are no villains cackling and rubbing their hands in glee as they contemplate their evil deeds. There are only people with problems, struggling to solve them.
Having always flirted dangerously close to the famed “Targaryen Madness” of her ancestors, Danaerys is driven further to the brink by the terrible losses inflicted on her in the closing stages of the war; the deaths of two of her dragons, along with those of her closest friends and advisors further serve to shatter her already fragile sanity, and she embarks on a devastating campaign of revenge; laying waste to King’s Landing from atop Drogon, ordering her Unsullied army to massacre the city’s mostly innocent inhabitants, and executing allies and enemies alike.
(citation fan wiki)
“The Song of Ice and Fire”
Of course, the villain’s purpose is to serve as the opposition of the hero character and their motives or evil actions drive a plot along.
In contrast to the hero, who is defined by their feats of ingenuity and bravery and their pursuit of justice and the greater good, a villain is often defined by their acts of cruelty, cunning and displays immoral behavior that can oppose or perverse justice.
The antonym of a villain is a hero. Clearly, Jon Snow is the hero of this story.
He grew up the Bastard of Winterfell, and tracked close to Dany in many ways. He shares her Targaryen blood. But, he was raised in the comfort and stability of a great lords household. Loved by Ned Stark who was heroic to a fault and had the love of his siblings as well.
John is so stubbornly heroic he always does the honorable thing, which got him killed by his own brothers of the Nights Watch. The big lesson is playing the Game of Thrones is you win or you die. Ned Stark’s honor cost him his head and the realm bled.
Because Jon feels he must stand by his word to Dany, he gives up his claim to the Iron Throne. If he pressed his claim for the throne, King’s Landing most likely wouldn’t have burned.
So conversely, Dany MUST be the villain.
She longed to be admired and exhaulted as “the chosen one” (Meereen) and grew jealous and petty when she felt she was not (Westeros) Finally, she acts out in increasing violence until she gets a taste for casual killing.
She’s basically Anakin Skywalker. But as of Sunday? She’s all Vader.
She’s leveled up to Complete Monster. Magor the Cruel who built Magor’s Holdfast that she destroyed, was such a one.
A villain who is pure evil and devoid of humanizing qualities. Dany has embraced her darkness, lost her sympathetic traits her actions in Kings Landing attest to this.
The side of good will never take her back now…..there’s no turning back from where she is standing.
Instead of “Breaking the Wheel” Dany just “Changed the Tire”.
(The bad guy isn’t doing bad stuff so he can rub his hands together and snarl.) He may be driven by greed, neuroses, or the conviction that his cause is just, but he’s driven by something, not unlike the things that drive a hero. -David Lubbar
Compare Dany to a Byronic Hero, who is sympathetic but flawed and morally conflicted character.
Her destruction a result of the extreme mistreatment she’s endured.
Or “Love Makes You Evil”, acting out of villainous actions, due to losing the ones she love or lack of love thought her life.
Whatever helps you mourn her as a hero of this story.
What Dany did, heroes just don’t do.
Jon killed his own soldier to defend an innocent woman from being raped.
Dany roasted women and children alive after the city surrendered.
Jon is Azor Ahai, Millsandres’ Prince that was promised. And Longclaw is “Lightbringer” to be plunged into the heart of Azor Ahis true love. The Maji she burned Miram Mazdur said she will suffer a final betrayal “For Love”.
I think Jon, who truly loves her, won’t stand by and let her descend into madness. He came back from the dead to face the darkness, which ironically is the woman he loves.
If you’re still bummed, send suggestions for my Spotify “Episode 5 The Bells” playlist below!