There is plenty to criticize about the last season of Game of Thrones. The claim that Daenerys’s descent into madness happened only over the course of two episodes is not a criticism; it’s just plain wrong. Most of her heinous acts were directed at people that we agreed should probably die, but that doesn’t make them any less heinous. Her chosen forms of execution were burning people alive or crucifying them, as opposed to the nice swift beheading of enemies in Westeros. All of the signs of madness are there. Let’s take a look at the clues – season by season.
For the majority of the season, Daenerys is an innocent girl sold into an unwanted marriage. But then at the end of the season, she marches into a fire based on a dream that she had. Just because she happens to survive the fire doesn’t change the fact that walking into a bunch of flames is kinda crazy.
Daenerys attempts to gain ships from the many merchants in Qarth. When the Spice King, quite logically explains why he won’t give her any ships, even if he’s kind of a jerk about it, elicits a passionate response.
I am Daenerys Stormborn of the blood of old Valyria and I will take what is mine! With fire and blood, I will take it!
Angry mad or crazy mad? Probably a bit of both.
When meeting with Grazdan mo Eraz from Yunkai she immediately ignores him, and instead tosses a large piece of meat in order to intimidate him with her dragons. When he (quite rightly) says, “You are mad,” Drogon howls at him and he brings up the fact that she swore him safe conduct. She replies:
I did. My dragons made no such promise.
This is not the last time she uses her dragons to intimidate people. Remember how she complained this season about just having fear and not love? I wonder why.
Upon taking Mereen, Daenerys crucifies the noblemen. Hizdahr zo Loraq later points out that one of the men she crucified was his father who had spoken against crucifying the children leading up to the city. How many more of those noblemen had actually objected to that act? We don’t know because she never bothered to ask or give them a trial.
After Ser Barristan Selmy is murdered by the Sons of the Harpy, she brings all of the leaders of the great families of Mereen and takes them down to meet Viserion and Rhaegal. One of them becomes dinner. Was he guilty of helping the Sons of the Harpy? Who knows? She didn’t ask.
Upon returning to Mereen after burning the Khals in Vaes Dothrak she isn’t happy with the siege and vocalizes her plans to Tyrion.
I will crucify the masters. I will set their fleets afire, kill every last one of their soldiers and return their cities to the dirt.
I’m pretty sure “returning cities to the dirt” involves killing a bunch of innocent people in the process.
After a decisive victory over the Lannister and Tarly armies on the Blackwater Rush, she addresses the captured soldiers and claims she not there to murder, however…
I offer you a choice. Bend the knee and join me. Together we will leave the world a better place than we found it. Or refuse and die.
Not very many people kneel. Until Drogon roars at them. (Using dragons to intimidate again.) After this, she goes on to burn Randyll and Dickon Tarly alive with not much thought.
And now we come to Season 8 where she uses her dragons to intimidate the people of the North before laying waste to King’s Landing. This should not be a surprise. As Ramsay Bolton (then Snow) told Theon:
If you think this has a happy ending you haven’t been paying attention.