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They Bungled the Mad Queen Arc

This was season 5 Walter White showing up at the beginning of season 2.

Daenerys was always Messianic. It makes sense she's threatened by Snow, a brave, humble, natural leader of men who has a stronger claim to the throne and literally came back from the dead. This fuels some anxiety, but Messianic people do not suddenly have a full-blown crisis of confidence. So northerners love him more than they love her? They're northerners. She understands the insular culture and affection for a favorite son. She's managed to win over Western elites who were her enemies (Tyrion, Varys, Jorah). Cersei has the irrational confidence that's seen in dictators: her city is on fire, but she still feels her soldiers will turn it around.

This notion that Dany's curb-stomp was presaged is nonsense. People cite past dialog where she threatens to burn cities to the ground -- "that's her impulse" -- but then she never does and celebrates herself as a "breaker of chains." In the seventh season, there are at least two incidents where she says she's NOT going to reduce King's Landing to a pile of ash, yet these comments are also interpreted as "foreshadowing." So when she says she's going to burn a city (and doesn't) it shows her "real" state of mind. When she says she's not, it also somehow shows her state of mind. OK.

This idea that the violence was "always there" plays fast and loose. The same goes for the idea that people made excuses for her. The vast majority of characters in the series have blood on their hands, which is constantly rationalized. Varys, who in the latest episode says he doesn't know how the Targaryen girl's coin has landed, once tried to have her assassinated. He confesses to doing other fucked up things. Tyrion strangled a whore and murdered his defenseless father. He could've just left, but chose to kill (he also helped set thousands of young conscripts ablaze, and served the evil King Joffrey). Jorah Mormont took slaves, spied on Dany, and helped with the assassination attempt. Jaime pushed a kid out a tower. The Hound has slaughtered innocents. And so on.

One thing about GoT is that almost every character gets a chance for redemption, including people who have said and done evil things. Inasmuch as it's obvious Daenerys is going to break bad, everyone aligned with her is morally responsible for propping up a known monster.

But no, the signs for THIS massacre were not there. In terms of this universe, she was a relatively benevolent dictator. Her Messianic is constantly confirmed by fortune and magic. Her refusal to slaughter innocents fed her narcissism.

What has always been lurking in the background is that Targaryens often suffer from madness due to inbreeding. The Mad King was also relatively benevolent early life, but his descent into cruelty was comparatively slow. He had tongues cut out and committed atrocities before demanding "burn them all." Where was Dany's paranoia? Dictators believe in themselves, but they don't trust the people around them.

Tyrion told Varys of Jon's parentage before his Queen -- an admitted mistake. He's been awful at predicting what will happen. His brother tried to sneak past their supply lines. What was the consequence? "Your next mistake will be your last." Why not accuse him of putting his family ahead of his responsibilities as Hand and have him executed?

In some respects she resents and fears Jon Snow, but she's willing to put those feelings aside if he returns her affection. What the fuck? The story line easily could've gone the opposite way: He's still in love with her but she no longer cares for him because he's a threat to what she values more: unrivaled power.

With the bells ringing, the city had in effect bent the knee. Yet she flips her lid and goes off. It was just stupid and undercut any real moral ambiguity. Taking a city involves deaths of innocents. This was a war of choice, not necessity. Instead they gave her Hitler mustache and she just needlessly slaughtered people. She just went cartoonishly mad.

Hell, they could've had some townsboy throw a spear and stick her "child." She incinerates the kid, then gets a taste for it. He's a stand-in for the regular people who will always take shots at her because she's not properly feared.


and also the McQueen arc.




Yeah, you got it. This madness foreshadowing notion is nonsense. They point to a few things while ignoring so much more that doesn't fit. And most of them weren't making any early predictions about this thing they claim is so obvious after-the-fact.

I can't wait for Emilia Clarke to fully unload once the dust settles. Despite being more intimately connected with this character's drive than anyone, she seems to be shaking her head at this clunky turn that some are pretending had been baked in, and visible, from the start.


Yes, everything is "obvious" in retrospect.

One thing set up for her character is that she was relatively adept at seizing power, but not so good at the hard task of governing. With more time, they could have developed this angle.


Isn't that the way it works in real life with people who suddenly snap and kill a bunch of people? In retrospect the signs may be there but nobody paid attention.


But this isn't real life. It's a swords and castles drama. If those are signs, what should we say about Stannis, Joffrey, Cersei or Tywin? Or the leaders that Dany removed? That 40 list conflates a desire to rule with insanity. There was no foreshadowing (until immediately before) that she might ignore a clear sign of surrender then proceed to torch innocent civilians like ants on the ground.

And I have no problem with the writers taking that route (or any other), but it has to be earned. We needed to be given so much more so much sooner regarding her mental state rather than being filled with so much other material that suggests the opposite for so long. But it's not just her, other final season misfires are intertwined with this as well.


GMMR based it on history. It's also a study of different types of leaders and the way they gain power, maintain it or finally lose it.

I believe it's a combination of things going on with Dany. I still believe she's a sociopath, narcissist, cruel and ruthless like her brother. But, she was also very angry. And it was strategic since she knew people loved Jon, not her. She needed to have them fear her.

Her destroying the city was not about helping the future generations be safe from tyranny like she said. It was about securing her own future as queen.

I think it'll back fire since the people of Westeros will call her the "Mad Queen" for what she did and want her killed.

I agree with you and most people who complain that the show has been rushed these two last seasons. We needed 10 episodes per season. I'm sure the books will be better.


Martin might have based things on history but it's still a stylized tv show.

And of course there will be consequences. It's been written now to have her pay the ultimate price for the decision she made. The problem is the light speed and logic that brought things here so quickly.


Maybe we're taking her "madness" too literally. She could have done it to create fear so people wouldn't dare oppose her rule. That makes her strategic. And cruel.

"pay the ultimate price"
That depends. Will GMMR give us a happy or unhappy ending? Dany could kill Tyrion for his betrayal and Jon and Sansa for being a threat. The final scene could be her sitting on the throne.

Who knows? I'm expecting the unexpected.


I'm not expecting the unexpected anymore. It all seems telegraphed now.


Yes she does...I can't wait until it's all over and these actors can really talk about how they feel about this ending. She's already been quoted as saying "best season ever..." but she was being sarcastic for sure. Hell even Kit Harrington said it was disappointing. I'd wager that many of these actors are not happy with how things turned out.


She's just barely playing the good soldier for the sake of the show right now. And she's already said "I'll have a lot to say". It must be an awkward mix of feelings when you consider all the show did for her career.


Signs of Dany's madness in past episodes:

Her father wasn't mad at first either. A person could be perfectly healthy but then deal with one major crisis and it sends them over the edge. Dany is dealing with more than one and it doesn't help that her family is predisposed towards insanity.


Again, I'm not disputing the arc -- just the rapid onset. She massacred tens of thousands of random people, which is not in keeping with previous behavior, and explicitly contrary to stated intentions in the previous season.

And you're talking out of both sides of your mouth. If a person is "perfectly healthy," then they wouldn't've exhibited all of these signs of madness. You're also cherry-picking. One can identify twice as many moments where reason consistently prevailed and she behaved in relatively benevolent manner.

Dany could've seized King's Landing, but she fought the army of the undead. Defended the realm. Cersei, meanwhile, lied and conspired, imperiled humanity in order to improve her position.

As for being plunged into insanity. She lost her dragon second dragon and Missandei earlier. These did not occur in the moment. Where was the erratic behavior immediately after those events leading up to the battle? It's as though she can behave in any manner at any time and it's perfectly acceptable just because.


You nailed it. The attempts to force retrofit the "Dany was always a mad sociopath" narrative by some is just nonsensical.

She was clearly the most enlightened ruler and best candidate for the throne until Jon became aware of his claim. In the past she had inspired the right balance of fear and love you'd expect from an enlightened monarch of the "benevolent despot" archetype. If she didn't hold that potential, Tyrion would not have stuck by her till now.


Tyrion has become stupid and Jon always was. Sansa had it right.

Benevolent despot? Dany enjoys setting people on fire. Sansa would be the best ruler since Jon obviously has poor judgement .


Agree. Jon is an idiot. Sansa, while not very lovable, is relatively shrewd.

I think she will end up on the Throne, married to Tyrion since there does seem to be a spark between them.


"Dany enjoys setting people on fire"

After last episode yes.

Before the last episode, that's pure fantasy projection on your part. At no point did we witness Dany derive joy from burning people via execution. Acting as judge, jury, and executioner is an unavoidable component of ruling as a monarch with absolute power.


I agree with that. While I do believe the Mad Queen arc fits Dany's character they needed another episode to get her there.

Its like they laid seeds for it for years but those seeds remained largely beneath the soil. Then the next day its a Mad Queen tree.


Yeah I don't mind a Mad Queen trope so long as it's properly set up. They really destroyed this final season by deciding to skimp on episodes and much needed character development. What a waste.

This series will surely be reboot some decades in the future because at some point someone is going to want to stick the ending instead of settling for this totally unsatisfying and unbelievable tripe.


I've never seen her looked troubled about killing anyone. Ned and Jon showed taking a life wasn't an easy task for them. Dany never appears bothered by it.

You're not differentiating between a good ruler and a tyrant.
Dany will be a tyrant.

She and Sansa have played the game of thrones the best though. Maybe Tyrion, but he's been making stupid mistakes recently.


"You're not differentiating between a good ruler and a tyrant."

You're not understanding that dictators are tyrants by nature. Aristotle wrote about this 2000 years ago; it's an unavoidable part of the job description of holding absolute power. Apparently you're unfamiliar with the concept of a "benevolent despot" or "benevolent dictator" cited in the OP, so I urge you to look it up, but that's about the best we can hope for in a feudal society with a monarch holding absolute power. Dany had shown every indication of being the most enlightened "benevolent dictator" Westeros had seen next to Jon until this past episode.

As for Dany's "look", I chalk that up to Emilia Clarke's limitations as an actress. The range she has in expressing emotions through her facial expressions is distinctly limited. A more talented actress could have killed in this role.

FWIW, I wouldn't have had any problem burning the slavers in slaver's bay either. For you to cite that as proof that she was always a "sociopathic narcissist" is just weird and lacking in coherency.


A king or queen by definition isn't a dictator. Royalty never had absolute power. Their actions were modified by religious leaders and nobility whose support they needed.

Dany is a tyrant at this point whether she meant to be or not. She decided to rule through fear even before she cracked. Slaughtering innocents is unforgivable.

Burning someone alive is a very sadistic way to kill someone. There are quicker less painful ways to execute someone which she never chooses. And there are options like imprisonment or banishment.

Benevolent despot is an oxymoron. It's not possible to be a nice tyrant.

Tommen and Margaery would've probably been benevolent rulers. Margaery was loved by the people because she was kind and generous towards them. She was also molding a young Tommen to be that way.


"A king or queen by definition isn't a dictator. Royalty never had absolute power. "

You're just factually wrong. It depends on the period but a monarch ruling by the doctrine of the Divine Rights of Kings during the Protestant Reformation and late Renaissance, the period from which Westeros is based, absolutely were dictators with a fully complicit church.

You're also just splitting hairs. You don't think modern dictators also have to take religious and political considerations into account to maintain their rule? Of course they do. That doesn't make them any less dictators that hold absolute secular power in their countries just like it doesn't make kings any less 'dictators' in their fiefdoms. The only difference between a king and dictator is the pomp and circumstance of institutionalized monarchy that provides the built-in formality of passing their claim to the throne onto their progeny.

"Burning someone alive is a very sadistic way to kill someone."

Again, you're just wrong on this because it's entirely dependent on how hot the heat gets. We witnessed dragonfire at the end of season 6 melting bone. Bone melts at 2,517F.

So think about it. Death would be near instantaneous at a heat equal to about a quarter of the temperature of the sun. Regardless of how excruciating you think it'd be, it couldn't be that bad if it's over in a split second. To call it 'sadistic' is totally oblivious to the reality of the empirical science. It's also just disingenuous in a world ruled by real sadists like Joffrey, Roose, and Ramsay Bolton. She's just not the closet sadist you're reaching for.

The paradox of the benevolent dictator proves my point that Aristotle's observation on the tyrannical nature of monarchs 2000 years ago is just as relevant in Westeros as it is today. Your idea that an absolute ruler can escape the charge of tyranny is pure fantasy fiction.


A monarchy and dictatorship aren't considered the same thing by standard definition. God himself has chosen a monarch to rule and is an inherited power. Monarchs are considered divine rule so will have support of most people. A dictator takes power through force.

Dictators suppress dissent and surround themselves with sycophants. Monarchs still need financial support from their nobility who create wealth through their serfs and collect taxes for the realm. The nobles may also provide military support.

Are we watching the same show? Haven't you watched any of the people screaming in agony as they burned to death? She could have easily imprisoned Varys or chopped his head off.

"It's also just disingenuous in a world ruled by real sadists like Joffrey, Roose, and Ramsay Bolton. She's just not the closet sadist you're reaching for."

You made my point. She was supposed to break the wheel instead of being a sadist like these horrible people you named. Ned, Robert, the Dorne prince, Jon and Sansa don't rule by terrorizing people.

Queen Elizabeth wasn't considered a tyrannical leader. She was a huge step up from "Blood Mary".

"Your idea that an absolute ruler can escape the charge of tyranny is pure fantasy fiction."

You're missing the point of the entire series which shows different types of leaders. Some are tyrannical, but others are not. Dany just showed she is the former. Jon and Sansa wouldn't kill innocent people because it's not in their nature.


"A monarchy and dictatorship aren't considered the same thing by standard definition"

I never said they were. Please re-read for comprehension. You keep chasing irrelevant tangents while my point keeps flying over your head: Aristotle was talking about the absolute power of monarchs and his philosophy of political power is just as relevant in Westeros. Your idea that an absolute ruler can escape the charge of tyranny is pure fantasy fiction. An absolute ruler will always be considered a tyrant by their enemies, the charge didn't escape Elizabeth by her Catholic adversaries. Much like Dany, she was brutally efficient in eliminating her enemies. But I'm glad to see you're making progress in coming to grips with the 'benevolent despot' paradox. Elizabeth is considered one of England's most enlightened monarchs, more enlightened and less tyrannical than Mary certainly, but still a tyrant by modern standards. Elizabeth exemplifies the 'benevolent despot', the best that can be hoped for under authoritarian monarchy. Until snapping last episode, Dany appeared to have the potential to be the 'benevolent despot' in the Elizabethan mold. That's what Tyrion saw in her and it's why he chose to stay loyal to her.

"Are we watching the same show? Haven't you watched any of the people screaming in agony as they burned to death?"

Listen to the sound of Varys execution. Can you hear his cries of agony? Nope. That's because he was instantly incinerated, which proves my point. As a form of execution from a direct blast that melts bone, it happens in a split second. As a method of warfare where people might be subjected to lesser degrees of heat, they may burn without incineration. My point was to reveal how your assumption as it being an excruciating form of execution is all wrong.

"She was supposed to break the wheel instead of being a sadist like these horrible people you named."

Again, you have zero evidence she was a sadist. Just saying so doesn't make her one. For that you need evidence. The show had not portrayed Dany as a sadist like they clearly did with Roose, Ramsay, Joffrey. At no point did we ever witness her derive joy from performing executions. That would be the needed evidence to prove sadism. For that you have none. If you're honest you'd admit how much you're grasping at straws in your attempts to characterize her as a sadist. And again, no one is saying she didn't go full mad last episode and she could very well be a vengeful sadist now. The point is that your theory that she had always been a sadist is really quite preposterous if you objectively think about it.


I've never seen her looked troubled about killing anyone.

She does look on intensely when people die. However, I have not seen her delight in killing, like the sadistic Mad King. The absence of sadism is notable. Sansa smiled with satisfaction when the hounds tore Ramsay apart. Now, I'm sure people will say that was perfectly understandable -- just like Arya feeding people PEOPLE. So it's OK to delight in the death of Ramsay, but Daenerys is particularly evil because she crucified slave-masters?

Daenerys was consistently better than alternative rulers. We thought she'd meet her match with the pure and wise Jon Snow, but instead, the writers now showed her (without proper setup) to be worse than worst: the former Queen Bitch, Cersei Lannister. Hell, Daenerys is now worse than the Mad King.

It'll be interesting to see how she justifies her atrocities. It's possible that she's not mad in the Targaryen sense at all. She could appear in the next episode as clinical and calculating, which I'm sure some people would be perfectly happy to rationalize.


They've made her full bore mad now. Between the makeup change, the facial gyrations and the tipping point act, the turn is complete. I'm surprised they didnt frizz out her hair like she stuck her finger in a socket; that would complete the stereotype of the insane person. They'll make it so anything she says can now only be read one way: Mad Queen.


A sociopath lacks empathy. Sam realized that she had no empathy or compassion which is why he finally told Jon about his heritage.

Sansa has shown plenty of compassion and empathy in the pass. Apples and oranges.

Dany just destroyed a city with a million innocent people and you still think she would be a kind leader?

"she's not mad in the Targaryen sense at clinical and calculating"

Several things are going on with Dany. I still believe she's very similar to her cruel brother in personality. She already said she was going to rule through fear because she couldn't get the people's love so that would be "clinical and calulating". But at the same time, I believe she was angry about losing her dragon and best friend.

It doesn't help that mental illness runs in her family making her predisposed to it. I hope she cracked because I hate to think she would kill all those innocent people when she was sane which would make her purely evil.

"she justifies her atrocities."
All people who commit atrocities try to justify it including Hitler. The point is she committed them which disqualifies her from becoming a decent ruler.

BTW, I think she is playing the "game of thrones" the best and if she kills all the Starks and Tyrion she should win the throne. But she would be a cruel tyrant. I don't have a problem with an unhappy ending.


This is a reply to me. It quotes me. But it's bizarre. Please read for comprehension.


I was mainly addressing"
"However, I have not seen her delight in killing, like the sadistic Mad King. The absence of sadism is notable. "

The definition of sociopath isn't a sadist. It's someone who lacks empathy or who can switch it off.

Sansa isn't a sociopath. She didn't even stay to watch Ramsey be killed which could imply that she had no stomach for it even though she wanted him dead. Notice how Ramsey did stay to watch his stepmother and baby brother torn apart by his dogs, though.

"Daenerys is now worse than the Mad King."
The reason is because Jaimie killed the Mad King before he could carry out his plan to destroy the city.

"the writers now showed her (without proper setup) to be worse than worst"
I disagree there isn't any setup. Her motivation is to create fear in the people. She went overboard because she's had a mental breakdown. Most people who want a slow descent into madness have watched too many movies. It can happen very quickly like it does with Dany.


As she walked away, Sansa smiled to herself as she listened to him being torn apart. If we're using this realistic psychoanalysis that you and others are trying to apply to stylized drama, what should we conclude about Sansa? In real life, most victims toggle between tears and rage and when their abusers are brought to justice. They dont smile with delight at the sounds of a torturous death. She could've imprisoned him forever or beheaded him -- but she chose that. Is she "mad"?


You're cherry-picking. And getting basic facts wrong.

Has Daenerys demonstrated empathy in the past? Certainly. More so than Sansa, if only because she's a larger more consequential character. Even from an early age, we saw Sansa gravitate toward Joffrey and lie for him.

And while she eventually walked away from Ramsay being eaten alive, they made sure that we saw her initially lean in to watch. She didn't avert her gaze because it was too sick and brutal. I gauran-fucking-tee that if Daenerys did anything similar, it would be Exhibit A. Hell, one of the first things people mention is how she reacted to her brother.

Does Sansa's behavior reveal her as a would-be mass-murderer? No. I don't think we can get from the gruesome death of Ramsay Bolton to slaughtering innocents on the street.

It would have been interesting if Dany had the girl Martha executed. After all, the little girl was committing regicide. However, we also maintain, in the current age, that someone so young cannot be (fully) accountable for their actions. Interestingly, I doubt anyone has considered the now-noble Varys guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Still, it would've moved Dany's arc along. Now she's killing children. (This could stir discussion, as Jon Snow executed Olly.)


That list of 40 is chock fully of reaches until you get to the top 5 when the direction the writers were going became clear. That's why no one mentioned the previous "signs of madness" in real time. And if things like that suggest deteriorating mental health, then nearly every leader in this show should be labeled as "mad".


Dany kinda forgot that she doesn't kill the innocents..


Right ON!

And yes, they've totally bungled the Mad Queen thing. They should have started her destabilizing back in Mereen, or during the invasion, and should have ramped it up when the first dragon died! She should have cracked up then, to the point where her people were terrified that she wouldn't be able to make it to the conference with Cersei and the jig would be up, that sort of thing.

Instead, they had her stay perfectly sane and reasonable until ONE episode before the crackup.


In 1-2 episodes, she lost her second "child", her best friend, another close friend & protector, her lover and her advisor.

And her two advisors and former lover betrayed her. Tyrion wouldn't need to repeatedly convince her not to kill innocent people if he didn't suspect that she would. Tyrion knew she would do it and was trying to talk her out of it.


Yes, but it just seemed to piss her off, not send her gaga. Of course nothing much registers on Emilia Clarke's face, which is part of the problem, but not a big part. This should have been the show's last "Sept of Baylor" or "Red Wedding" moment, the shocker that was the cumulation of months or years of tension, but they only gave us one episode of tension and worry about her mental state. Not well done.

It's all so slapdash. It's like Michael Bay brought in the people who make "Transformers" movies and took over the show.


Like you, I know from "inside the episode" that that's the writers' rationale here. But this same person was given to Drogo and raped. You couldn't be more alone than she was at that point. Her whole history is that of one who copes and makes the best of the worst situations. And she once shackled 2 of her "children" b/c the other killed an innocent --i.e., it needed to be done. What did that foreshadow?


Instead, they had her stay perfectly sane and reasonable until ONE episode before the crackup.

I’m not sure I can agree here.
Two years ago, when Season 7 was running, there actually were people who questioned her stability (see, for example or And no, I’m not talking of myself here. To me, she did not seem unstable back then, and yes, I’ve seen that you rejected the idea of "signs of madness" back then, too. But maybe we just didn’t see it or want to see it?
And your real-life experience with mentally ill people isn’t helpful here, because… well, the writers probably don’t have that experience, so they don’t write them as they are in real life.

Jeez, I’ve got the feeling that I’m not putting this right. Sorry, it’s sometimes hard for me to explain what I’m thinking in English (which is not my native language).
Let me try again. Two years ago, some people claimed to see signs of madness. We thought they were wrong. But maybe they weren’t wrong, maybe they were just better in interpreting what the writers THOUGHT to be good hints at Dany going slowly mad.

But I agree that it came too quickly now, which is just another example of D&D rushing things to get out and start working on Star Wars.


It's true that people on this forum have been seeing signs of "Targaryan Madness" since the dragons were eensy little things.

However, they were all people who didn't understand how rough the politics of Essos and Westeros are, and who saw her wanting to make war to claim her birthright or executing people who betrayed her as signs of madness, not as normal behavior for a royal personage from that culture. No, the writers really missed a trick, in not making her unstable earlier in the game, this could have been such great drama!


On one hand, I am OK with it. The one city that did not spill its own blood to protect the world gets razed in front of its queen. In a historic/biblical style, it works. Also, watching the dragon torch the place makes it easier to swallow. There is also the line: "Very well, fear it is." She had to stomp the shit out of the one city that defied her. She can't rely on the people loving her. They must fear.

On the other hand, not only does it fly in the face of the character but it also makes little sense when her own army is running around mixed with the citizenry. Though very fun to watch, it was tedious watching them push the whole those-poor-citizens, given the total lack of value of life the show has had for the entirety of its run. The writers decided to switch to socially responsible themes at the last minute. Varys changing personalities entirely is more evidence of this.

I can see merit in either approach but I have to say that overall I didn't like these last two episodes.


Here's an annoying Youtube video that distills what's wrong with so many of the arguments defending the writers: Foreshadowing is not character development.


I find the Anakin turn far more forgivable simply b/c of the difference between a movie and a tv series.


the shits gonna hit the fan this sunday


It certainly is.


Hit the fans more like. We deserve better.