The Corner

Culture

Daenerys’s Fall from Grace

In response to K Street: Bingo

I agree with David that Game of Thrones’ new “The Fellowship of the Wight” plotline is pretty inexplicable, dumb, and unnecessary (even if, yes, it might provide us with a couple of good action scenes in the next few episodes and even though it united a few of my favorite characters, i.e., the Hound, Tormund Giantsbane, Jon Snow, and Thoros of Myr), but what really bothered me about last night’s episode was everyone skipping over the fact that Daenerys Targaryen’s character is now totally implausible.

Why?

Because for seven seasons now, Daenerys has been followed around by flocks of flacks who love her, adore her, would do anything for her, and are firmly convinced that she’s destined to be a worthy priestess-queen: wise and all-knowing, tough and persistent, but kind, meek, and merciful of heart. “She’s the queen we chose” and all that.

Well . . . this might be a bit awkward to bring up . . . but the Khaleesi, the Mother of Dragons, is now nothing more than a murderer. Her moral case, if she had any at all, to the Iron Throne is now void.

Look, I get that this is a cold and brutal world, and that the only rule — famously — of Game of Thrones is “you win, or you die.” But Daenerys Targaryen took a father and son who had been captured in battle and then summarily executed them by dragon fire because they would not “bend the knee.” What’s more, Daenerys refused to even hold the two men as her prisoners, pending the resolution of the war, or fair trial — breaking the letter and spirit of the laws of war, both modern and feudal. “I didn’t come here to put men in chains,” Daenerys huffed at Tyrion when he suggested the compromise — before having Dickon and Randyll Tarly incinerated so she wouldn’t lose face. This — this — is her righteous claim to the throne?

What were the Tarlys’ great crimes? Well, they wouldn’t submit to a foreign invader who had brought a Dothraki horde, an army of mercenary eunuchs, and three fire-breathing dragons to lay waste to their homeland, and whose father had murdered tens of thousands (also by burning them to death). Oh. Solomonic justice this was not.

I’ve always found people’s love for and fascination with Daenerys a little odd. I’ve thought her deus ex machina survival of the flames of Khal Drogo’s burial pyre lame and unbelievable. And I’ve always thought her dragons to be the weakest plot device this side of the latest Marvel comic-book movie. But at least she freed some slaves and made a couple of good strategic decisions in earlier seasons. After this last episode, however, if Daenerys is our idea of an enlightened monarch, then maybe it’s better that the ice zombies on the far side of the wall actually do win the game of thrones. GoT has always been interesting because its universe was morally fallen — it showed men as they are, not as we wish they were. We see people do horrible things for greed, or lust, or cruelty. Fine. Understood. But don’t tell me that Cersei is unworthy to rule because she murdered her enemies in the Great Sept and is a conniving, scheming witch, and then brush off Daenery’s mad blood lust as only the breaking of a few eggs while making the omelet of glory. Ends do not justify the means. Knowing that is the beginning of virtue.

May it be that someone — anyone — worthier than the Mad Queen sits on the Iron Throne. I wish all her opponents good fortune in the wars to come.

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