‘Game of Thrones’: Who will take out Mad Queen Daenerys?
Let’s venture deep into the wildest, darkest theories
When was it that the rot first set in? With the brutal flaming of Randall and Dickon Tarly last season? With the passive-aggressive niceties to Sansa? With the lonesome glowering while the rest of depleted, bereaved Winterfell finds happiness in the bottom of an ale pitcher?
Whenever Daenerys started to tip into the dark side, it’s now clear the Mother of Dragons is going bad, and mad – and her downward spiral will amount to a dramatic ending to Game of Thrones.
After the successes and losses of The Long Night, season eight, episode four ended with Daenerys transforming from a war victor into a vengeful, grieving liability, capable of inspiring doubt and worry in even her most loyal subjects.
But as viewers await the last two episodes of Game of Thrones, let’s unpick how this unfolded – and what it means in the final tussle for the Iron Throne:
Is Daenerys going mad?
One of the reasons why Daenerys is so keen to sit on the Iron Throne is because it was wrenched from her father, Aerys “Mad King” Targaryen. Much of his history, written in George RR Martin’s books, is convoluted and twisting. But there are some key points to note: Aerys wasn’t always seen as mad. If anything, he was initially considered generous and wise.
However, as his reign continued, he became erratic and jealous, spiteful about the power enjoyed by his councillors and, notably, Tywin Lannister (father of Tyrion). If that doesn’t sound familiar enough, Aerys was killed minutes before he tried to deploy a fiery killing spree across Kings Landing.
Daenerys, then, has always stood in the shadow of this legacy. She may have gained power and reputation as the Breaker of Chains and the Protector of the Seven Kingdoms, but, as evidenced by heated discussions with Tyrion and Varys in episode four, Daenerys is prepared to sacrifice the innocent people of Kings Landing if it means she can knock Cersei off what she believes is the Targaryen throne. There was considerable meaning attached to Varys’s assertion that he has served many tyrants and all of them speak of destiny.
Even leaving that inherent madness aside, we’ve seen other concerning changes to Daenerys’s behaviour. She has become draconian towards Jon, (who, let’s not forget, has a greater claim to the throne than Daenerys does), trying to separate him from the other Starks and becoming visibly envious over the support and power he seemingly attracts effortlessly.
Even if her hunger for power wasn’t enough to motivate Daenerys’s determination for the throne, the death of her second dragon, Rheagon, and her right-hand woman Missandei, in episode four were determined moves from Game of Thrones showrunners to tip her over the edge.
“She’s really back where she was at the very beginning. Emotionally, she’s alone in the world and she can’t really trust anybody. Unlike then, she’s extremely powerful and unlike then she’s filled with a rage that’s aimed at one person specifically,” Daniel Benioff told HBO. “People have underestimated Dany’s strength many times before and no one’s really done very well underestimating her strength.” Carnage, we are led to believe, awaits.
What were Missandei’s last words?
Missandei and Grey Worm’s doomed romance has been one of the most heartstring-tugging romances of the whole of Game of Thrones – two young and valiant do-gooders simply falling in stars-aligned love. But it would be disappointing if Missandei was to waste her last words on anything as soppy as a declaration of love. Instead, Missandei roared: “Dracarys”.
It’s the High Valryian (the Targaryens’, and therefore Daenerys’s mother tongue) word for dragon fire – more commonly used by Dany while she’s in battle with the dragons/using them to flame people. It may just be the command that contributed to Daenerys’s nostril-flared, eye-widened fury.
However, back in Daenerys’s slave-freeing days, “dracarys” became synonymous with freedom, when it was the slave-owners and tyrants who became victims of lethal dragon breath.
“Dracarys is clearly meant for Dany,” Weiss told HBO. “Missandei’s life is over and she’s saying, ‘Light them up’.”
We won’t know the intention with which Missandei was using it: a lifelong commitment to freedom and bravery, or a demand that her queen’s dragons take down Kings Landing. Either way, though, it’s a sign of how loyal some of Daenerys’s subjects really are – and how they are falling by the day.
Will Jon Snow kill Daenerys?
It was interesting how much attention was paid to the increasingly green eyes of Daenerys and Cersei in the final moments of episode four. After Melisandre’s prophecy to Arya (“brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes. Eyes you’ll shut forever”) proved to be the end of the Night King; many viewers couldn’t help but think that Needle might be headed Daenerys’s way, too.
But that would defy the rumour mill that has been churning for far longer – and with Jon Snow at its centre. Much of the speculation has come from unconfirmed “leaks” appearing on Reddit from varying sources, but a considerable amount of it checks out.
The general consensus is that Missandei’s execution is enough to inspire rage and madness in both Daenerys and Grey Worm. The latter leads his depleted, but still potent, army of the Unsullied to rampage their way through Kings Landing’s strategically open gates, whereupon they massacre hordes of innocents.
Daenerys, meanwhile, goes on her own execution spree. Only episodes five and six will confirm the details, but Lannister brothers Tyrion and Jaime find themselves in allegiance after Tyrion, disgusted by Daenerys’s vitriolic actions, frees Jaime, whom the Mother of Dragons had recaptured.
One of the few people left standing is Jon (Tyrion, it is said, will be subjected to a trial overseen by Ser Davos for treason – whether for defying the Queen in the show’s last moments or being a mole for the Lannisters ever since he turned up in Essos; Cersei and Jaime both die, possibly together, possibly at the hand of Arya, possibly by dragonfire). And Jon, as one of the few undeniably moral cores of Game of Thrones, kills Daenerys after seeing the tyrant she has become – or after being persuaded by Tyrion that she will endanger the Starks.
What’s the evidence beyond the rumours?
Even if the stars of Game of Thrones did know the full details of the plot (much has been said about limited scripts being released to prevent actors knowing enough to accidentally let on vital plot points), they’re under so many non-disclosure agreements we can only ever be told so much.
Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys, has long been ramping up anticipation over the forthcoming fifth episode, advising viewers to “find the biggest TV you can” for the second half of season eight while on Jimmy Kimmel Live! last week, saying episode five was “bigger than episode three”.
Adding that to Clarke’s previous comments on what happens to her character (that Daenerys “starts feeling pretty cocksure and confident, and then stuff happens”), and we can expect “the mother of all releases” next week. In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Clarke said of her character’s ending: “It was just the metaphorical undoing of the bra, except it’s like a 10-year experience.”
Having said that, back in 2016 Thrones creators David Benioff and DB Weiss ruled out Daenerys going too rogue: “She’s not her father and she’s not insane and she’s not a sadist, but there’s a Targaryen ruthlessness that comes with even the good Targaryens.”
Such claims give greater credence to another intriguing theory: that Tyrion has remained on the side of his family all along. Remember how he once said: “I never bet against my family”? The notion that Tyrion will feel compelled to support his sister and protect his home has been lingering for a while and has been backed up by those treasonous thoughts he admitted to having in episode four.
Now a theory is emerging that Tyrion, along with Cersei, is puppet-mastering the whole affair, bringing Daenerys down to Kings Landing, infuriating her with the death of Missandei and then setting her up as the heir of her mad father by starting fires all around the city. Faced with the devastation and goaded by Tyrion, Jon is compelled to kill his aunt/lover/queen. In just two weeks, we’ll finally know the truth.
– © Telegraph Media Group Limited (2019)