***Spoiler warning!

Game of Thrones thrives on manipulating and deconstructing fantasy tropes. This is partly what makes the story arc of Daenerys Targaryen so fascinating to analyze. Daenerys is one of the only characters whose arc has followed a common fantasy trope of the unordinary character who has nothing becoming a powerful, benevolent figure. In this trope the character becomes so powerful to the point of being indestructible and always finding a way to succeed.

One theory that will ultimately deconstruct this trope is for Daenerys to become the Mad Queen. She will descend into total madness and become a ruthless dictator. Many have proposed this theory. Check out YouTube user The Last Harpy’s video to further understand this theory through an excellent choice of clips.

Brilliant!

Daenerys has been a fan-favorite from the beginning. We may not always agree with her decisions but we’ve always rooted for her and reveled in her triumphs. Thus, Daenerys descending into madness and becoming a psychotic dictator would brilliantly deconstruct the trope. It would make audiences reevaluate everything, wondering how they got behind this terrible person. This would be a more long-term and mind-blowing version of what we experienced towards the end of season 5 and all throughout season 6 with Cersei Lannister. Despite the atrocities she committed and influenced, we started to feel bad for Cersei and even rooted for her as the High Sparrow seized control of King’s Landing and her only remaining child Tommen. When Cersei crafted and executed a plan that murdered all her opponents in King’s Landing, we wondered how we possibly could have rooted for this woman calmly sipping wine as she watches her foes explode in a magnificent blast of wildfire. Now imagine a similar turn of events on the scale of our beloved Daenerys.

The plot twist would furthermore be brilliant because Daenerys has almost always sought to do the right thing and help others. She’s freed countless slaves, liberated a few cities by ending slavery in those locations, outlawed barbaric practices such as the fighting pits. Moreover, she constantly provides voice to her subjects and advisors. Yet it seems like these triumphs rarely last and the more permanent triumphs result from violent domination. She seems to thrive at conquering as opposed to ruling. We’ve seen this more and more, and it leads to thought-provoking questions about what happens when you attempt to rule through empathy, idealism, and humane intentions. In short, the savior becomes the villain.

Problematic

Game of Thrones constantly contradicts itself when it comes to feminism. Within a misogynist society where all individuals are expected to live within constrained social and gender roles, we’ve seen many incredible, complex women shatter these roles and become the most formidable figures in their universe. Cersei Lannister sits on the Iron Throne. Daenerys commands three dragons and the most impressive array of forces in existence. Brienne of Tarth is arguably the best warrior in Westeros and Arya Stark is one of the most dangerous assassins in all the lands. Olenna Tyrell and Ellaria Sand command their respective kingdoms. Many of the Ironborn refute Euron Greyjoy’s leadership and follow Yara instead. Most importantly, these characters are not just depicted as cunning and accomplished. Their vulnerabilities, human desires like love, and values are just as integral to their character development and depictions.

On the other hand, the show far too often portrays rape in a disgustingly casual manner or only to further the development of a male character. For example, Ramsay raping Sansa ended up being too much about Theon’s call to action in order to shed his Reek identity and reclaim agency by choosing to help Sansa. Jaime raping Cersei next to Joffrey’s corpse ends up not serving practically no purpose. Sure, there’s continued enmity between the incestuous siblings for a few more episodes but the show keeps making the enmity about Joffrey’s death and Tyrion’s fate based on the events of the Purple Wedding. The story even places an emphasis on continuing to redeem Jaime even though he’s a rapist.

Such problematic approaches would only increase with the Mad Queen twist in which one of the most powerful and complex female characters is ultimately defined by her psychotic nature. It is dangerous to show that one of your most iconic, beloved, empathetic characters, a survivor of sexual assault, one of the most powerful and charming women in the story, ends up becoming the primary human villain in the story. Why turn her into her father when she’s already so much more? Why rob her of nuanced character development only to see her become the latest tyrant?

What do you think? Would Daenerys becoming the Mad Queen plot twist be more brilliant or problematic?

If you enjoyed this blog post be sure to check out my novels as well!

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