So, you may have noticed that this isn’t a book review. And that’s only partly because I haven’t quite finished Machines Like Me yet. I say partly because I’m trying to convince myself that I haven’t been rubbish at reading this week. That’s not the reason. The real reason is that I needed to talk about this week’s episode of Game of Thrones. Or, more specifically, the reaction to it. Cause this season has divided opinion quite dramatically. And the last few episodes have left a particularly sour taste in people’s mouths. I’ll be honest with you, I’ve found the final series of Game of Thrones to be disappointing. The writing has gone downhill and the storylines are being rushed to fit into the shorter episode run. The focus has been on spectacle instead of the story. Character development has gone out of the window in favour of more CGI dragons. Now, it should go without saying but spoiler warning guys.
I think the last few episodes of Game of Thrones have been disappointing. It’s something that my friend and I regularly disagree on. He’s more of a “yeah, the writing is bad but I enjoy them” kind of person. Me? I’m a “the writing is bad. This is all so bad!” kind of person. There has been no development this season. There’s been no care taken. The first episode was good because it was pure fan-service. It gave us all those moments we’ve been waiting for, which made it seem really good. But was it? Well, in comparison to what came next, yeah. Cause the Battle for Winterfell was a joke. It was badly lit, there was too much time wasted on insignificant storylines, characters who should have died managed to survive. The only redeeming feature was the ending. But even that came too soon. We’ve been waiting on the Night King for 8 fucking years and he was killed off in a matter of minutes? What the fuck were we all so scared of?
But it happened and the next episode decided to slow it all down. I mean, I love a dramatic change of pace and there were some good one-on-ones in that episode. But, it feels like the time could have been spent more wisely. I mean we were only 2/3 episodes from the end at that point. Did we need to see the party in Winterfell in lieu of more threat from the undead? Or if it meant more development of the key character changes that were about to take place? Could the time not have been better spent on Cersei and giving the Golden Company a reason for being there?
But I’m getting away from the point of this post. Dany. I’ll be honest, I’ve always found Dany to be fucking annoying. She’s a stubborn and hot-headed teenager who has been brainwashed into thinking she’s the big I am. When, as I’ve already discussed, she isn’t. But, thanks to the writing and the charisma of Emilia Clarke, fans of the show fell in love with her. All of my friends who have not read the books bloody love her. Which is why so many people are up-in-arms after the most recent episode. Because the moment all of us book readers have been waiting for finally happened: Dany finally became the Mad Queen and burned them all. She took her remaining dragon and burnt everyone in King’s Landing. Even the people she was apparently so desperate to free from tyranny. Her dear father would have been proud.
Apparently, fans of the show weren’t prepared for this and think it’s a horribly sexist sentiment that shows all female leaders are evil bitches at heart. “There’s been nothing leading us up to this moment,” the internet cried. “Such was such a lover of innocent people and not at all evil,” they yelled. “She would never hurt innocent people because she was angry,” they shouted. Ah, but that’s bollocks. You see, though it’s not been as obvious in the show, there have been seeds of doubt sewn from the very beginning. Dany has never been one to shy away from violence. She gleefully watched on as her brother was killed before proclaiming he wasn’t a real dragon. I know I know. He was a dick but he was still her brother. If that’s not a little unhinged then I don’t know what is.
There have been plenty of occasions throughout the show that prove she has a propensity for violence that is beyond what it should be. The fact that she proudly looked on as her husband vowed to rape and kill everyone in Westeros to take the Iron Throne. She was literally smirking as he promised to rape her subjects. Pretty mad, no? She’s been burning people for her own pleasure since Mirri Maz Duur back in season. And we’ve let her get away with it because she’s supposedly acting for good. But doing bad things in the name of good doesn’t make a person wholly moral, does it? Yes, she was trying to stop tyranny but she took a lot of joy in killing the slavers. The viewers of the show seemed to find it okay simply because the people being burnt sold slaves. We all know slavery is bad but that wasn’t an eye for an eye. The slavers took away freedom from their slaves: Dany took away their lives. And she didn’t even blink an eye.
I could sit here for hours showing you proof that Dany was always meant to be the Mad Queen but what’s the point? (Especially when someone has handily done it already.) The reason that people are so annoyed by the twist is not that it’s some sort of anti-women sentiment. It’s simply because they’ve finally realised they’ve been backing the wrong horse. It’s been obvious for ages that, no matter how good Dany thought her actions, they were altogether dodgy. But the show was setting her up to be the hero. So that’s what people believed. But that’s the thing about George RR Martin. Being a hero doesn’t make you a good person. The people we want to like so often turn out to be the worst of us. But people wanted to like Dany because she was small, blonde, and really hated slavery. How could she be anything other than moral?
The only reason people should be annoyed about this “twist” is that it wasn’t given time this season. Dany, at least, deserved more time to do a King Lear and succumb to her thoughts. But that’s not the problem. The problem is all the people who named their children Khaleesi or Daenerys. Now they have a constant reminder that the fictional character they loved enough to brand their child with her name was actually not the person they thought she was. Dany’s change to the Mad Queen wasn’t well-handled but, we all have to agree, it was a long time coming. And if you don’t believe me, let’s just ask Samwell and his family, shall we?