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Character-Defining Scenes: Daenerys Targaryen

Each of the remaining major characters in Game of Thrones has a pivotal scene that has changed them from who they were at the beginning of the show to who they are leading into the final season. This scene for Daenerys is the ending scene of episode 4 of season 3.

The Lead Up

Season 3 sees Daenerys arrive in Astapor after leaving Qarth at the end of season 2. Astapor is home to the largest and most respected army known as the Unsullied. She has dragons and a bit of gold, so the next item on her list is securing an army.

The only problem with the Unsullied is at they are slaves and became soldiers under horrifying circumstances. Taken and castrated as young boys, they train for years in the most extreme conditions a soldier is ever likely to encounter.

Daenerys detests slavery. We see evidence of this early on in season 1 and it continues throughout the show. As much as she hates dealing with people who would do such things to young boys, she finds herself faced with the necessity of meeting with Master Kraznys mo Nakloz in order to purchase the Unsullied.

She negotiates with Master Kraznys through his slave translator Missandei. Master Kraznys speaks Valyrian and Daenerys speaks what is known as the “Common Tongue,” in the Game of Thrones world, but is simply English to the viewers.

The Deal

Master Kraznys, as you might imagine, is not a very pleasant man. He calls Daenerys names and makes lewd references to her during these negotiations. Missandei leaves out these translations, of course. After a bit of back and forth, Daenerys promises to pay for the Unsullied with one of her dragons. (She purchases Missandei on the spot as well but soon frees her.)

This decision leads Ser Jorah Mormont and Ser Barristan Selmy, Daenerys’s advisers, to question her actions. They think she’s still young and naive, but have no idea that she’s carefully thought out this negotiation, even if she hasn’t shared it with them. As first-time viewers, we don’t know what her plans are either.

The Scene

In watching the scene, we see her master plan (it really is pretty masterful) play out. After handing over Drogon to Master Kraznys, she addresses the Unsullied in Valyrian, which comes as a shock to everyone. The fact that she can speak the language means she understood every lewd comment that he ever said. But that’s not where the surprises end. After taking control of the Unsullied, she orders them to kill all of the masters and free any slaves remaining. She also orders Drogon unleash dragon fire on Master Kraznys.

Those actions are surprising enough, but she then frees the Unsullied. She gives them the opportunity to leave but asks them to stay and fight for her as free men. They enthusiastically agree.

So why is this scene the most important one for Daenerys? It’s the first time we see her take really take a stance as a queen. We see that she’s not only capable of making her own decisions, but also of making well-thought out and strategic ones, even when her advisers try to convince her otherwise. Missandei puts this into words in Season 5.

I have seen you ignore your counselors because there was a better choice. One that only you could see.

This scene shows us for the first time the Daenerys that we see throughout the rest of the series.

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