Many years ago on The Office, a question was posed to Michael Scott: Would you rather be loved or feared?
“Easy. Both,” he replied. “I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.”
On Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5, however, it was finally made frustratingly and painfully clear: Daenerys Targaryen is no Michael Scott.
In the most telling scene of the penultimate installment, Dany is pissed that Jon Snow spilled his all his heritage tea to his siblings, telling her nephew and lover after burning Varys alive for his betrayal:
“This is a victory for [Sansa]. Now she knows what happens when people hear the truth about you. Far more people in Westeros love you than love me. I don’t have love here. I only have fear.”
Jon says he loves her. He assures Dany that she is, and always will be, his Queen.
“Is that all I am to you? Your queen?” Dany responds, leaning in for an incestuous makeout session that gets rebuffed.
“Alright then,” she says. “Let it be fear.”
This is when it’s made clear just what will happen to King’s Landing … and also where Game of Thrones decides to destroy Dany’s character once and for all.
First of Her Name? The Unburnt? Queen of Meereen? Queen of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men? Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea? Breaker of Chains? Mother of Dragons?
Dany can now add Stereotypical and Sexist Portrayer of What the Writers Apparently Think Happens When a Woman Isn’t Love by a Man Exactly How She Wants To Be.
Is that all she is to Jon? His Queen? That’s all Dany has wanted to be to anyone since Season 1.
The Dany that has been presented to viewers for seven-plus seasons was never about love. She was never driven by this concept or emotion.
She was ruthless, she was calculating and she was focused on her self-proclaimed destiny of sitting on the Iron Throne — but she was also about fighting for the innocent.
What happened to the woman who freed slaves? Who talked about breaking the wheel?
She was replaced on this final season by someone who claimed to Sansa weeks ago that she only chose to fight the White Walkers because she was just so smitten with Jon Snow — and who chose to go completely, totally and utterly off the rails on this episode because she was just so unloved.
The abrupt character change has been more brutal to watch than any beheading.
As you must know by now if you’re reading this, Team Winterfell successfully defeated the Golden Army and Cersei’s soldiers, largely thanks to Dany finally remembering that her dragon can shoot fire at enemies.
The other side had given up. The bell signaling as much had been rung.
But Dany needed to make her future peons fear her. She needed to kill thousands of innocents now so that thousands more could grow up without a tyrants rule down the line, according to her own warped logic from earlier in the episode.
So The Mad Queen finally embraced this nickname and went all Dracarys on the men, women and children of King’s Landing.
It made no sense. It turned an admirably strong and powerful woman into someone so scorned by her boyfriend that she decided to go crazy.
Viewers can argue all they want about whether this has been teased since the beginning; since all that talk about Dany’s father, “The Mad King,” and how Targaryen blood is basically tainted with violence and instability.
But Dany knew this about her family, vowed to remain above it all and continually followed through, staying rational and in control while doing what she felt necessary to achieve her dream.
Then George R.R. Martin failed to finish his last book, the creators were forced to come up with their own ending and have dropped the ball here with not just Daenerys, but with Jamie as well.
Talk about an even more abrupt and ridiculous character change!
We spent season upon season watching Jamie Lannister evolve.
One of the show’s most impressive accomplishments was turning Jamie from a renowned King Slayer and Attempted Child Killer into someone who knighted Brienne, realized the many errors of his evil sister-banging ways and was not dedicated to fighting for what is good and right.
Until, that is, Sansa stated the obvious last week about how Cersei would be killed and then Jamie simply chose to be “hateful” again, breaking the heart of Brienne (another character ruined this season) and returning home to try and save Cersi.
The siblings ended up dying together when the Red Keep crashed down upon them toward the end of Dany’s attack — but our hope for Jamie’s previously-well-earned redemption died long before that.
What a mess.
Did Martin explain his planned ending to producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and they were forced to reverse-engineer their own finale as a result?
It seems very possible.
There’s no way these two writers thought they’d have to come up with their own ending when they started working on the project.
We can therefore understand the corner the show was perhaps backed into, but that doesn’t make the actul viewing of an episode such as this any more entertaining or any less frustrating.
Dany has been a compassionate and harsh aspiring ruler; those two adjectives do not need to be in conflict with each other.
Jamie has been a flawed, but developing and remorseful soldier; he had come the farthest of anyone on the show.
And then, over the course of 80 minutes, the writers set fire to all that had been accomplished between these two fan favorites, setting up a finale that feels predictable (Jon is clearly going to kill Dany, right?), anticlimactic and, worst, of all, unearned.
Check out the official trailer here: