SPOILERS for Game of Thrones.
As I said in my recap of Game of Thrones Ep. 8.6 “The Bells,” I wasn’t “mad” that Daenerys burned the f–k out of Kings Landing. I’m mad that the “Mad Queen” narrative has been so poorly written and ham-fisted, but I feel like the general character arc for Dany is true and authentic. Would Dany have burned everything if Cersei hadn’t murdered Missandei? Would Dany have been so “kill them all” if she had gotten more credit for bringing her armies and her dragons to the North to fight for the living? Would Dany have stayed the Breaker of Chains if she hadn’t lost Drogo and Jorah and Viserion and Rhaegal, or if Jon had simply wanted to be with her, just as she is? I don’t know – but she was a sum of everything that happened to her, plus her Targaryen genes, plus her own faulty decision making.
What bugs me so much is the same thing that’s bugged me this whole season – the But Her Dragon Emails vibe, that Dany is being second-guessed and nitpicked to a ridiculous level because she’s a woman. People act as if there’s some magic code she just couldn’t access (because of her lady parts) which would have solved everything bloodlessly and everyone would have loved her. There was no code. There was no plot or strategy which didn’t involve killing many, many people, Cersei made sure of that when she surrounded herself with a human wall of civilians. Cersei was the one inviting Dany to kill everybody and Cersei expected Dany to be less bloodthirsty. What would have happened if Dany had accepted the surrender of the Lannister forces? She still would have needed to kill Cersei. And Cersei wasn’t going to leave the Red Keep until she saw the end, so Dany showed her the end.
Anyway, like they’ve been doing all season, HBO released a long behind-the-scenes video. David Benioff and Dan Weiss basically mansplain how crazy bitches are crazy and now I’m like… ugh. Weiss says: “I don’t think she decided ahead of time that she was going to do what she did. 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 this 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 make this personal.” IT WAS ALWAYS PERSONAL, THE LANNISTERS AND BARATHEONS KILLED HER FAMILY. It didn’t suddenly become personal!!! Benioff says: “If circumstances had been different, I don’t think this side of Dany ever would have come out. If Cersei hadn’t betrayed her, if Cersei hadn’t executed Missandei, if Jon hadn’t told her the truth… if any of these things happened in a different way, then I don’t think we’d be seeing this side of Daenerys Targaryen.” Which is similar to what I said: Dany was pushed to her breaking point.
Here’s another HBO video where they talk more about how they shot the episode, which was very well-directed, honestly.
Anyway, I don’t have high hopes that the writers share my interpretation of Dany’s mindset at this point. They’ll point to her dragon emails and how “emotional” she was when Good Queen Cersei murdered her BFF and how Jon Snow should totally have the Iron Throne because he’s a dude. And here’s the preview for the last episode.
Photos courtesy of HBO.