The Game of Thrones TV series is ending this weekend and I still want to be hopeful for a good ending. The music and cinematography of the show has been phenomenal this last season, but the writing has had flaws that are hard to overlook. The blatant disregard for the rules set by the world building and character development through earlier seasons was constant in the later ones.
The penultimate episode seems to have received the most criticism for the writing’s treatment of Daenerys’ character, and while I also believe that the book version of Dany was to end in tragedy, I think the execution and pacing of getting there wasn’t handled well in the show. I say that assuming what was apparent in last episode was indeed what actually happened: that Dany “made things personal” and took it out on the population of King’s Landing.
“Out of character” is what I’ve heard others say and what I’ve seen written online about the act, but I can’t help but think, what if things did not really play out how they made it seem?
What could have explained Dany’s actions yet keep her “in character”?
Varys was actively attempting to poison Dany as implied in the beginning of the episode, and if she ingested poison it may have affected her already unbalanced mind. I say “unbalanced” not in a “mad queen” or “crazy” sense, but simply that she was troubled and upset by all the loss and betrayals (real or perceived) that she has been through.
The type of poison could have been a factor. Within the world of Westeros, there exists a poison known as Basilisk’s blood, where its taste is enough to have a “mouse attack a lion.” But this poison is only ever mentioned in the books.
If we take our sources strictly from the TV show, introducing a poison with that specific effect this late seems like lazy writing.
I don’t think poison could explain away what happened, but an unbalanced mind could. Not that she snapped and went crazy on the populace, but her loss of confidence in her ability to secure the throne, even after the bells of surrender were ringing, made her lose control. Specifically, she lost control of her dragon…
There is precedence for this in the show. When Dany was trying to secure her position and rule in Mereen, it was constantly challenged by the Sons of the Harpy. The constant undermining of the insurgency and unrest it was causing seemed to unsettle her, and she seemed to feel like she was losing control. After the insurgency started to surface, Dany, who had already locked Rhaegal and Viserion away, admitted to losing control of her dragons. There was also the time where she was stranded on the island in the Dothraki Sea and Drogon would not fly her back to Mereen when she asked him to. This was immediately after the Sons of the Harpy attacked her in the fighting pits.
It seems that confidence in herself and in her rule correlates with her ability to keep control of her dragons. It would stand to reason then, that when she was in line of sight of the Red Keep while the bells of surrender were ringing, she could have intended to fly directly to Cersei for the kill. But on the way, the overwhelming emotions and the uncertainty of what happens afterwards may have been enough for her to lose control of Drogon, who just started to do whatever he wanted… like when he scorched the child in season 4.
Dany may have been fighting for him to stop the whole time. After all that, however, to admit that she lost control of Drogon would not be acceptable by anyone. She also can’t risk having the sole thing that gives her any real power — not the dragon itself, but her ability to control it — questioned.
The real tragedy would be that she meant to accept the city’s surrender, lost control of her dragon, and has to just go along with the fact that she now just has to own the consequences as if she meant to do it all.
That would be an explanation I could accept. It also serves as a lesson to those who rely too heavily on their ability to control what truly isn’t in their control. The mother of dragons is nothing without her dragons, and so, the mother of dragons is who she has to be… as long as it means she won’t have to give up her last child, she willingly plays the role of the “mad queen”.