Does Game of Thrones’s queen/genocidal maniac Daenerys Targaryen really still deserve to be put on a pedestal?
At the start of Game Of Thrones, Daenerys seemed like the number one draft pick for the Iron Throne. The mother of dragons represented all that was just against a backdrop of corruption. She was the source of truth and innocence we needed in order to be optimistic about Game Of Thrones. Not to mention, she was by all accounts a total badass. In the past few weeks, however, she’s made a major shift. Daenerys’s façade has cracked. She’s genocidal and an incapable ruler. Audiences want more of the old Dany – beautiful, strong, and in charge of her dragons. But now, there’s a dichotomy between the problems and questions she is supposed to pose and an audience’s misinterpretation of that and overvaluing of her.
Daenerys represents historical imperialism and whiteness…she destroys everything in her path, and feels entitled to do so
Daenerys Targaryen exists to complicate the popular notion of the white saviour. She represents historical imperialism and whiteness – that her royal bloodline should go unquestioned, that she should be able to bend nations to her will, and that they should welcome her as their liberator. Dany has always destroyed everything in her path, from the Dothraki tribe she tore apart, to the cities she’s invaded. Worse yet, she feels a sense of entitlement to do so. Hopefully, audiences are sophisticated enough to interpret this as character development, rather than dismiss it as boring.
In the last two Game of Thrones episodes, The Laws of Gods and Men, and Mockingbird, Daenerys didn’t get much screen time. Her tale is more disconnected from Westeros than ever before, as she’s decided to further delay her quest for the iron throne and to instead rule over Mereen, the latest city she’s conquered. By conquered, of course, it means that she’s wiped out massive segments of the population. Her tactics have not been questioned by her followers or by adoring television audiences until now. Her famous war cry, “I will take what is mine with fire and blood”, should be interpreted less as girl power rallying cry and more like something a war criminal would scream from their jail cell.
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Daenerys reveals that she’s ill-equipped to rule. Her character nuances force the viewer to think about whether or not we really want her on the Iron Throne. It throws the series into calamity when we question who the Throne rightfully belongs to, which is really what this show is all about. Gone are the fiery conquests of each city Daenerys travels to. She must instead listen to the hundreds of complaints from citizens, Leslie Knope-style, and ponder what she got herself into.
In the The Laws of Gods and Men, the show finally directly addressed Daenerys’s lack of responsibility for the lands and the people she’s conquered in her time across the Narrow Sea. The writers are spelling it out for us at this point – we were all so busy adoring her and her dragons that we seemed to have missed the fact that’s she’s a fascist. In Mockingbird, Jorah Mormont reminded Khaleesi of her greenness and inexperience. He, her most trusted advisor, had been a slaver. Yet, she doesn’t crucify him as she does all the other slavers and masters. She finally realises her hypocrisy. He tells her “It’s tempting to see your enemies as evil, but there is good and evil on both sides of every war ever fought.” He probably meant to say “THAT MEANS YOU.”
Daenerys will obviously find challenges rebuilding all the cities she’s destroyed, but can she reconstruct herself as a fair ruler?
Audiences seem to prefer a Daenerys who takes no prisoners and faces no consequences, but Jorah is holding her face to the fire. We were all under the impression that she could handle her dragons, but as the first few episodes of this season, and one unprecedented goat roasting revealed, Dany doesn’t have much control anymore. So, like all the social orders and societies that Daenerys Targaryen has demolished, she has also deconstructed herself. Daenerys dances on the razor thin line between queen and genocidal maniac. She’ll obviously find challenges rebuilding all the cities she’s destroyed, but can she reconstruct herself as a fair ruler?
If Game Of Thrones has taught us anything, Dany will most likely slip further down the slippery slope of tyranny until she fully destroys herself. Daenerys Targaryen, once a symbol of empowerment and what was right, has developed into an emblem of greed and ignorance. It’s a smart move on the parts of George R R Martin and the Game of Thrones show runners. The question is whether viewers will continue to hold her on a pedestal or realise the monster she’s become.
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