Warning: This post contains spoilers for season 8 of Game Of Thrones.
Last week, Emilia Clarke cryptically teased that episode 5 of Game Of Thrones's eighth season will be the most intense, and now the ending of episode 4, "The Last of the Starks" suggests why. Not only does the final shot of the episode, which shows Daenerys's (Clarke) face after Cersei (Lena Headey) executed Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), prove the Last War is coming, it also may prove a long-suspected theory that Daenerys will follow in her father's footsteps and become the Mad Queen.
Her father Aerys Targaryen has always been referred to as the "Mad King" after he was corrupted by power and likely also mental illness caused by the Targaryen's close bloodlines. Aerys's final act involved the burning of innocent citizens of King's Landing, and he was stopped only by the betrayal of his kingsguard member, Jaime Lannister. Jaime killed Aerys, earning him the nickname "kingslayer."
Last night's episode was the latest in a long line of parallels between Daenerys and her father. Daenerys's whole ethos was founded on justice, fighting for the people, and sparing innocent lives. However, last night she appears to have decided to destroy the Red Keep to stop Cersei, even though this would mean killing hundreds of the people the dragon queen is supposed to be rescuing. Specifically, Dany may burn them, and the city along with it. Sound familiar?
Back in season 5, there was already worry that Daenerys was becoming too much like her father.
"When the people rose in revolt against him, your father set their towns and castles aflame," Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinney) told the queen. "He murdered sons in front of their fathers. He burned men alive with wildfire, and laughed as they screamed. And his efforts to stamp out dissent led to a rebellion that killed every Targaryen. Except two."
"I'm not my father," she replied.
"No, your Grace. Thank the Gods," he said. "But the Mad King gave his enemies the justice he thought they deserved, and each time, it made him feel powerful and right. Until the very end."
Now, Dany has only one dragon, her claim to the throne is significantly threatened, and everything she's been working towards the past eight seasons could be for nothing.
“She’s really back where she was at the very beginning,” co-creator D.B. Weiss explained, according to Variety. “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.”
“I think what’s echoing in Daenerys’ head in those final moments would be Missandei’s final words,” co-creator David Benioff added. “Dracarys is clearly meant for Dany. Missandei knows that her life is over and she’s saying, you know, light them up.”
And what were Aerys Targaryen's last words, according to Jaime? "Burn them all."
Now the question is: if Daenerys is the Mad Queen, will she suffer a similar fate to her father and be killed before she can cause any more destruction, possibly at hands of her, uh, hand, Tyrion Lannister? Or will she be successful and sit upon the Iron Throne while the rest of Westeros is in flames?
In the words of Clarke, we're gonna need to "find the biggest TV [we] can" and see if history repeats itself in Game Of Thrones' final two episodes.