After weeks of feeling like Daenerys Targaryen is an unstoppable force in Westeros these days, even when she loses, Game of Thrones' latest episode “Beyond The Wall” served up a much-needed reality check for the dragon queen. Yes, she has dragons and the best assembled military force in the known Thrones world. But, that doesn’t mean Dany is invincible. As we saw, even dragons can die. After observing all the mayhem wrought by Daenerys and her supporters in “Beyond” — the Night King has an ice dragon because of Team Targaryen, and only because of Team Targaryen — I started wondering if the self-described “Last Targaryen” actually deserves to have the throne built by her ancestors. Slowly, Thrones is proving the answer is, “No,” despite Jon Snow’s recent pledge to the opposite.
The biggest problem with Dany’s race for the Iron Throne is the dissonance between her political platforms and her actual behavior in her homeland. Since her time breaking chains in Essos, Daenerys has tried to value bettering the lives of the downtrodden and the common folk over everything else. Yes, she did so with the Targaryen-approved modes of fire and blood, but there was a reason. She killed the slavers who created the Unsullied because, well, they were slavers who stole little boys, forced them into brutal military training, and turned them into eunuchs, all for massive profit. Even last season, while captured by the Dothraki, she set fire to a great khal gathering because the assembled men were sexist pigs who threatened her with gang rape.
Now that Dany has landed in Westeros; however, she has picked up some of her more murderous relatives’ bloody habits. After losing a few key players — the major Greyjoy fleet, the Sand Snakes, and the power of Highgarden — Dany ditches her more high-minded strategies for brute force and fire. Despite her claims to want to be more than the “Queen Of The Ashes,” that’s exactly what she reduced parts of Westeros to during her dragon-led battle in “Spoils Of War.” Was that battlefield originally farmland for the Seven Kingdom’s poorest residents? We’ll never know, since Drogon reduced it to crispy rubble, no questions asked. On top of that, Dany chose to eviscerate both Dickon (Tom Hopper) and Randyll Tarly (James Faulkner) following this battle in the cruelest way possible, with dragon fire. Yet, the Tarly men weren’t slavers or self-described rapists. No, they simply weren't prepared to bend the knee to Dany, who they had never met. Did the Tarlys deserve the same fate as villains who actually destroyed the lives of society’s weakest members? We didn’t hear any debate, since Daenerys made her snap murderous decision while ignoring her trusty — and long-game playing — hand Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage).
If Dany was more self-aware of her increasingly bloody behavior, it would be easy to feel more comfortable with her campaign for the Iron Throne. Yet, that’s not what is happening. When Tyrion attempts to prep his queen for her meeting with his sister, Queen Of Shade, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), Daenerys asks, “When have I lost my temper?” The answer is, of course, the time she burned the Tarlys down to bones because they wouldn’t call her “My Liege” the moment they met her. It’s hard to create a new, better, and more loving world when you’re executing people by dragon fire. As Tryion explains this, Dany doesn’t try to see his point. Instead, she accuses him of “taking his family’s side,” as if she could question his steadfast loyalty. These are the kinds of paranoid accusations her father, the Mad King Aerys Targaryen (David Rintoul), likely dabbled in before he descended into pure, “burn them all!” madness.
During Tyrion and Dany’s “Beyond” conversation, the Hand also brought up another big problem with the khaleesi's prospective reign: succession. This dynastic rule has set up huge problems in Westeros since the beginning of Thrones, as the death of Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) left a vacuum open for the continent’s current horrific state of affairs. Issues with succession are so terrible in Westeros, it allowed Cersei — who blew up the Sept Of Baelor, a crime so terrible the Mad King couldn’t pull it off — to ascend the throne. And all of this lunacy occurred when a clear line of succession was in place. Dany, who believes she can never give birth again, refuses to even consider what will happen after her death if she manages to win this war. Although that kind of conversation is obviously a difficult one, it’s exactly the kind of hard decision someone aiming to be queen should be able to have and plan for.
It’s likely the idea of Dany as queen would feel more applause-worthy if she stopped burning people alive and avoiding tough chats in favor of actually meeting the people of Westeros. Think about the end of season 3 finale “Mhysa,” when the dragon queen allowed herself to be enveloped by the freed slaves of Yunkai. Although the scene had a distinct and uncomfortable white savior feel, at least we saw Daenerys actually interact with the people she claims to care about so much. None of that behavior has been seen since Dany stepped foot on Westeros, only giving credence to some lords’ claim she is a “foreign” royal, despite her birth on Dragonstone. Instead of getting out and meeting her prospective subjects for a minute, Dany has spent season 7 either holed up in her castle with her advisors or riding her favorite dragon into battle. These are not the actions of someone determined to lift up the common folk.
Although I’m questioning whether Dany is fit for the Iron Throne, please don’t think I’m here for any of the other royals hanging around Westeros. Cersei literally committed domestic terrorism, killing hundreds, if not thousands, so she can’t be worthy of her crown. That is a simple fact. Jon Snow (Kit Harington) will never choose to sit on his family’s throne, so I’m not going to consider that idea. Anyone else would likely be corrupted by all the power, so sorry to the Sansa Starks of the world. If Dany really wants to “break the wheel” of violence of oppression, she would realize no one should sit upon the Iron Throne, and burn it down for good. Dracarys.
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