The possibility of Game of Thrones heroine Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) fully breaking bad has been a threat since we first met her. Dany’s dad Aerys Targaryen (David Rintoul) was overthrown in a bloody rebellion because of the violent activity that won him the moniker “The Mad King.” Aerys nearly razed all of King’s Landing with wildfire. Dany has burned many a building and once crucified nearly 200 slave masters upon the walls of Meereen. The question of whether Daenerys would become the Mad Queen hovered over her most savage actions.
At the close of season 8’s “The Last of the Starks,” the rise of Mad Queen Dany felt promised. One of her two remaining dragons, Rhaegal, was murdered by Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk). Her closest friend, Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) was executed in front of her. Missandei’s last word — “Dracarys!” — urged Dany to burn the capital down.
But, the latest photo out of upcoming episode “Game of Thrones 72,” doesn’t give us a glimpse of Dragonstone’s Mad Queen setting fire to the world. No, Dany is the Sad Queen.
In the trailer for “Thrones 72,” we get a distant image of Daenerys slumped against a pillar in Dragonstone. In a new photo released by HBO, we get a close-up look at how poorly GoT’s dragon queen is faring. Her signature intricate braids are completely undone and spilling down her head. The plaits look almost identical to the placement of the braids she wore to King’s Landing on the day Missandei was murdered. That suggests Dany hasn't even bothered to touch her hair since her advisor died. What we’re seeing now is how these braids have fallen, unattended, since Daenerys entered her grieving period.
Even when Daenerys was kidnapped by a then-hostile Dothraki in season 6, she didn’t look this disheveled. In fact, her hair and outfit were impeccable in the face of relentless desert grit and threatened imprisonment in the Dosh Khaleen. Dany, a woman who has believed she was fated for greatness since birth, has never let herself look anything but perfect. That is, until now.
The queen’s downbeat look makes sense. Not only did her BFF and second child die, she is also now the loneliest woman in Westeros. Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), her OG protector, confidant, and cheerleader, is dead. Most of the Dothraki, who stood as her earliest supporters and family, were eliminated in the battle against the Night King. As were the Unsullied, a group Dany personally won to her side and watched grow past their slavery roots. Dragon-child Viserion, and the real-life brother (Harry Lloyd) he was named after, are both dead. The love of Dany's life, Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) died years ago, and she abandoned her boy toy Daario (Michiel Huisman) seasons ago. The one man Daenerys thought she could love, Jon Snow (Kit Harington), is her nephew and isn’t interested in incest.
And, between Jon/Aegon Targaryen’s better claim to the Iron Throne and Cersei Lannister’s (Lena Headey) superior army, the one thing Dany has been sure off all her life — her destiny to take back her family’s Iron Throne — is slipping away before her very eyes.
Of course Daenerys Targaryen is sad right now. If Dany were “mad,” as everyone is so worried she is becoming, she wouldn’t be moping around her castle. She would have immediately hopped on a dragon and drowned King’s Landing in fire and blood. The fact that Jon Snow, who was two weeks away from the capital in “Last of the Starks,” is now in front of the Red Keep in “72” photos proves that’s not at all what Daenerys did. Instead, she has seemingly just been holed up in Dragonstone letting her braids frizz for a fortnight. The concerned stares of Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) heavily suggest they're worried about their queen's emotional state — not terrified of it.
So before Varys (Conleth Hill) murderously deposes anyone for the “good of the Realm,” he should probably just give Daenerys a hug. She needs it.