Sunset on the Targaryen Empire
- By TefoWritesStuff
- On 21/05/2019
- 1 comments
An emotionally compromised, narcissistic ideologue with imperial ambitions who so believed in the nobility of her goals that she was willing to pave the road to their accomplishment in fire and blood. As much as this is about Daenerys Targaryen, it could also have been about any number of tyrants littered throughout our own history - as well as that of Westeros.
Just as in our own history, however, where genocidal demagogues like Alexander have been termed "The Great" or otherwise because of the betrayals of perspective latent in moral and nationalistic pride, there has been a betrayal in Game Of Thrones; the complete and unrepentant tarnishing of the character and legacy of Daenerys Targaryen. This betrayal ultimately is merely a portion of the systemic failures that have come to define the final season of the show, but it's hers that have impacted me the most.
I'm talking here, of course, about her "descent into madness" and the truly lazy and uninspired characterisation that accompanied it. It's not particularly terrible because it happened. The idea that power corrupts is older than either stories or histories can possible record, and its exploration and exhibition in a character we've followed from the time she was a meek, deposed princess being forced to marry a strange man of strange heritage by an older brother who perennially abused her, required more nuance than was granted.
A life of constant trials and triumph being thrust off the edge of reason because, like her father, she's "mad". Not because she had spent the better part of a decade suffering incalculable suffering, sexism, hatred, and treachery from trusted advisors & friends (Jorah, Tyrion, Jon et al). Not because she had thanklessly lost thousands of her own followers to fighting the war of her lover, and not her own. Not because she'd lost two of her dragons, which she considered to effectively be her children. Not because of the cumulative of effects of consistent and unfettered trauma and how they can mangle and warp the mind of even the most sound individuals. No, because of her genes; because "every time a Targaryen is born, the gods flip a coin". Lazy.
The real shame of this is that the narrative direction and symbolism actually make a ton of sense. The writing was just so ghastly and poor.
Perhaps the most powerful image of the whole season was Drogon melting the Iron Throne, thereby marking the end of the Targaryen age of Westeros and ushering in one of ridiculous and unearned quasi-democracy dreamed up by a treasonous prisoner & regicidal co-conspirator in a court seemingly unmoved by any of the events preceding the moment where they sat altogether in a semi-circle in front of the general of an army of a people that had lost the person they sailed the world in service of whom they'd sailed the world. Imagine how meaningful it would have been if the disappointment of the eighth season hadn't formed in our collective minds like molten ash by the fourth episode.
In many ways, the path of Daenerys mirrors that of the series for those of us who have been fans: an unexpected yet beautiful and much beloved narrative that, over time, swelled up in our hearts and occupied more and more emotional real estate on its way to its summit — where we were made not to love only the checkpoints, but the earth in between them and the many trees, distractions & intrigues it comes with — in the faith that we would be rewarded for seeing greatness in the journey, and just as we imagined it would be successful, it was stabbed to death in an empty room because of a conspiracy devised by men who claimed to love you but did not believe in you. Now what's left of you must be scurried away in a tearful fit of fury to preserve the memory of you as you were, and not how they imagined you to be.
Suddenly, and without warning, this is what it became. We had earned the right to distrust the custodians of this legacy, but we kept watching, just as she kept listening to Jon and Tyrion and Varys.
I'm not saying that she was right. I'm saying she deserved better. For in looking back, no matter which side you were on, the needed to be beauty and pain in seeing the sun finally set on the Targaryen empire.