Daenerys Targaryen's hubris in 'Game of Thrones' a reminder that Westeros hates happy endings

  
Via:  perrie-halpern  •  2 months ago  •  57 comments

Daenerys Targaryen's hubris in 'Game of Thrones' a reminder that Westeros hates happy endings
What happens after good vanquishes evil? The world keeps turning, people keep dying and not everyone is guaranteed everything they think they deserve.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


By Ani Bundel

From the onset, “A Song of Ice and Fire” was a fantasy series bent of challenging the tropes that have often defined the genre. What if the hero dies? What happens when being on the side of good isn’t enough? Over in the world of “Harry Potter,” Professor Dumbledorechallenged his charges to pick between what was right and what was easy. In Westeros, author George R.R. Martin countered that given the choice, most people would pick what was easy every time.

With this kind of track record, it should surprise no one the final season of “Game of Thrones” is pushing these themes even further, asking, “What happens after good conquers evil?” The answer isn’t a happy ending.

Last week’s Battle of Winterfell was controversial among the fandombecause it concluded too tidily. The Army of the Dead did not prove insurmountable, as one might expect for a mid-season episode, but were defeated with a triumphant bang. The Night King, the stand in for everything that was inarguably evil, was vanquished. The side of the living, the heroes, conquered. (In fact, a surprising number of them survived.) But with three feature-length episodes to go, this seemed a little premature.

In this latest episode, “The Last of the Starks,” “Game of Thrones” reminded fans that Winterfell is not a place where everyone gets everything they want. Gendry, for instance, finds himself awarded a lordship. Not just any title either, but the Lord of Storm’s End, one of the “Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.” It is the standard fantasy ending trope of the heroic bastard recognized, inheriting the seat of power he would have been born to had his parents been married. Thrilled to have jumped the class divide, he runs to Arya, his highborn Stark lover he never thought it possible to court and asks for her hand in marriage. But instead of the expected engagement, she summarily rejects him.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the castle, Jaime Lannister falls into bed with Brienne of Tarth after knighting, fighting and celebrating together. It’s a moment that many fans have waited years for. But will this fan-fiction romance work in real life? Jaime’s face as he lies awake suggests he’s having second thoughts, and by the end of the episode, has left her to return to his sister’s side.

However, the real mistake is believing that defeating the biggest source of evil will make the eradication of lesser evil elsewhere simple. This is the same error we’ve seen characters make before. Jon Snow, for example, after surviving Hardhome and his first showdown with the Night King, assumed handling those in the Night’s Watch protesting his anti-White Walker policy would be easy. Instead, he found himself betrayed and stabbed.

High on the removal of the Night King from the world, Daenerys Targaryen thinks storming King’s Landing and kicking Cersei out of her Iron Throne will be a cakewalk. Instead, she walks right into the same hubris trap, and an ambush that takes out not only her closest advisor Missandei, in a beheading scene that echoed the horror of Ned’s death in season one, but the second of her three dragons, Rhaegal.

It is hard to overstate the level of calamity this represents, not just for her cause, but for the series in general. “Game of Thrones” is a show about many things, from politics to climate change, to the evils of the patriarchy. But in the end, for most viewers, “Game of Thrones” is a show about dragons and magic. The show ended it’s first season with the birth of Daenerys’ dragons, and while it hasn’t always emphasized it, their return brings magic back into the world, and into the show. It was a shocking loss last season when the Night King took out Viserion, but reviving him as an ice dragon at least meant the show still had three dragons in some format. Now, in the space of two episodes, it is down to one.

These deaths are in keeping, however, with the show’s belief that the magic of this world helps those who help themselves. Having dragons isn’t an automatic deus ex machina, it’s just a tool to be wielded, either wisely and well or arrogantly and foolishly. This is the second time Daenerys has flown into danger without thinking, proving it isn’t only members of the Stark family who have trouble learning their lessons the first time.

Speaking of the Stark family, while Daenerys is once again learning the value of not assuming her lineage makes her infallible, the ground is shifting under her feet. Last Sunday's victories were great, but this is a country that’s never automatically accepted her divine right to rule as she supposed they would. Jon Snow will continue to insist he has no interest in the Iron Throne, but he’s still a valuable piece to be played against her by those ready to turn back to the political machinations already in process. So what happens after good vanquishes evil? The world keeps turning, and happily ever after isn’t necessarily in the cards.

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TᵢG
1  TᵢG    2 months ago

One thing that really bugs me about season 8 are the new dragon killing (and ship killing) projectiles.   Cersei seems to have them everywhere, able to move in any direction, fire dragon-piercing metal and at a remarkable velocity even going against gravity.   

Really?   

I am okay with suspending disbelief when it comes to magic.   But now we are talking physics (and, frankly, manufacturing time).    No way on the planet is a bow-spring loaded device going to launch such a heavy projectile (whose arrow head opens up in flight and spins) to hit a high flying dragon with deadly force.

Just bugs me.   

 
 
 
Ender
1.1  Ender  replied to  TᵢG @1    2 months ago

It reminds me of them setting the ocean on fire to burn a fleet of ships. Though I guess that is kind of possible.

 
 
 
TᵢG
1.1.1  TᵢG  replied to  Ender @1.1    2 months ago

I was actually okay with wildfire.   That to me is believable chemistry.   It is a combustible substance that floats on water - not unlike gasoline in this regard.

 
 
 
1stwarrior
1.1.2  1stwarrior  replied to  TᵢG @1.1.1    2 months ago

One of the first things I thought of.  When in the CG, one of our training exercises was to have to dive into a flaming pool of water, with oil/gas on the surface, and then use our cupped hands to create "dead zones" for us to swim through to get out of the hazardous area.

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
1.2  Transyferous Rex  replied to  TᵢG @1    2 months ago

Don't forget the amazing reload speed! Greyjoy had another bolt, ready to rock, almost immediately after missing Dany. Enough energy stored in those limbs to fire 8' bolts, hundreds of yards, on a flat trajectory. I'm guessing well in excess of 4200f/s to achieve the flight path. Yet so easy to reset. Yes folks, that's right, one finger is all it takes to reset this miracle of modern technology. 

Truth be told, I find myself nitpicking everything this season.

 
 
 
TᵢG
1.2.1  TᵢG  replied to  Transyferous Rex @1.2    2 months ago
Truth be told, I find myself nitpicking everything this season.

Yes, unfortunately I find myself doing the same thing.   That is my biggest disappointment with season 8 - they seem to be cutting corners on believability.

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
1.2.2  Transyferous Rex  replied to  TᵢG @1.2.1    2 months ago

Yeah, it's a shame. Such a good series, and it seems they are rushing to be done with it. 

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
1.2.3  Trout Giggles  replied to  Transyferous Rex @1.2.2    2 months ago

Well, they finished the series before Martin even finished the books.

Now I don't know if I want to read the last books in the series.

...yeah I do

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
1.2.4  Transyferous Rex  replied to  Trout Giggles @1.2.3    2 months ago
...yeah I do

Right? I haven't read for leisure in a long time. I have to know the rest of Martin's story. 

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
1.2.5  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Transyferous Rex @1.2.4    2 months ago

You all did hear that in one of the scenes there was a Starbucks cup there, right?

 
 
 
lady in black
1.2.6  lady in black  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1.2.5    2 months ago

Yes, saw it yesterday

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
1.2.7  Transyferous Rex  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1.2.5    2 months ago

Yeah, I've been nitpicking, but I missed that. I guess I'll have to start looking for sunglasses, cell phones, etc. 

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
1.3  Trout Giggles  replied to  TᵢG @1    2 months ago

LOL!

When I watched "Total Recall" the first time, I had a major problem with people walking thru a full body x-ray every day twice a day. They also weren't using hearing protection while using those jackhammers.

Mr Giggles told me to let it go, it's just a damn movie.

Jes' sayin'.....

 
 
 
Dulay
1.4  Dulay  replied to  TᵢG @1    2 months ago

Yep, that's when I yelled "Bullshit!".

That's when my wife says: It's a MOVIE just enjoy it. 

 
 
 
lady in black
2  lady in black    2 months ago

Disappointed in the way Jon just let Ghost go and didn't even pet him :(

Pissed that Rhaegel was killed.

Sansa and her big mouth.  Ned died keeping the secret, she spills it in 5 minutes.

Supposed leaks for the last 2 episodes.....want to look but don't want to look...

 
 
 
Ender
2.1  Ender  replied to  lady in black @2    2 months ago
the way Jon just let Ghost go

There has been several articles about that. People are pissed. I never read the books but they are saying (in the books) that Ghost had a bigger role to play.

They say the show has kind of diminished the Direwolves. Jon could 'warg' into Ghost.

Kind of pissed about the dragon. I think they wanted to even out the playing field, so to speak. Make it so Daenerys could not just ride up with the dragons and take over Kings Landing.

 
 
 
lady in black
2.1.1  lady in black  replied to  Ender @2.1    2 months ago

Dragons and Direwolves = CGI budget buster

 
 
 
1stwarrior
2.2  1stwarrior  replied to  lady in black @2    2 months ago

Sansa has always had a big mouth - and, compared to Little Finger, she is an evil person.  I'm expecting a sorta battle between the two "Hands" - and I believe Sansa's Hand is gonna lose.

Jon - well, I kinda expect he and Ghost to be reunited because it would tie the first series together where he found Ghost and Ned told Jon that he was destined for great things with Ghost by his side.

Still pizzed me off that he just turned and walked away - poor Ghost was devastated as was I.  Azzhole.

The face that Daenerys puts on during the last minute or two of Sunday's show tells me very plainly that she's getting ready to do something massively stupid - something she is known for but on a much bigger scale.

Cersai, I think, is actually going to be killed by one of her two brothers and I think Jaime might be the one.

 
 
 
TᵢG
2.2.1  TᵢG  replied to  1stwarrior @2.2    2 months ago

Arya is out to avenge her father's murder.   Of all the participants in Ned Stark's murder, only Cersei remains.   Arya, it would seem, is heading to King's Landing to kill Cersei and her riding companion (the Hound) is going to kill his brother (the Mountain).   But now Grey Worm is also out to kill the Mountain who just killed Missandei - the woman who was his entire life.   My guess is that Grey Worm will be killed by the Mountain but the Hound will wind up killing the Mountain.

 
 
 
1stwarrior
2.2.2  1stwarrior  replied to  TᵢG @2.2.1    2 months ago

Totally forgot Arya's goal.  Now the phrase that she had to repeat over and over and over "I am no one" is going to play really well 'cause she will be able to blend in and get to Cersei while no one else can.

The Hound???  A sure winner.  His anger is always directed at something.  Grey Worm's anger is against everything so he will lose his channeling chance.  But the Mountain is soon gonna realize his mistake of not busting his little brothers chops a little more often when they were kids.

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
2.2.3  Transyferous Rex  replied to  TᵢG @2.2.1    2 months ago

I don't think Arya is the one killing Cersei. Too much "I pushed Bran out the window for love" B.S. from Jaimie. He's not headed South for a night of romance, but for a mercy killing.

If anyone but Sandor kills the Mountain...it's Arya. Mountain deals what could be a fatal blow to the Hound. Arya, in contradiction to the last time she saw the Hound in such a state, saves the Hound, and vanquishes the Mountain. That, or she takes his face, then kills the Mountain. Don't forget, Ser Gregor is on her list too. I'd as soon she kill Varys, take his face, and drop Dany with the catspaw. 

Qyburn is the shifty wild card to me. 

I have been reading the books again, and, oddly enough, during week 2 of this season, I was on the Arya chapter, where Beric and Thoros are talking to the dwarf woman at High Heart, who tells them that she dreamed of a maid at a feast with venom in her hair (Sansa), and later the same maid slayed a savage giant in a castle built of snow. I say odd, because her payment is the song Pod sings. Anyway..

Hmmm. Easy to think she is referring to the Others, or Ramsey Bolton. Both ended at Winterfell. I don't think either is the "savage giant" in a "castle built of snow" though. I think Jon is the castle, or the one who responsible for the taking of the same. Who is the giant? Dany? The Mountain? I don't know. 

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
2.2.4  Trout Giggles  replied to  TᵢG @2.2.1    2 months ago

Arya will kill Cersei. Remember the Red Woman told her that she the eyes of death in Arya? Brown eyes (Walder Frey), blue eyes (the Night King) and green eyes (if you've read the books or been paying attention to the show, you should know Cersei has green eyes).

Then Arya is slain by the Mountain and the Mountain is slayed by the Hound..

And Sansa is not pure evil. She just isn't a scared little girl anymore.

 
 
 
TᵢG
2.2.5  TᵢG  replied to  Trout Giggles @2.2.4    2 months ago

I do not think Sansa is evil at all, Cersei is the evil one.

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
2.2.6  Transyferous Rex  replied to  Trout Giggles @2.2.4    2 months ago
And Sansa is not pure evil. She just isn't a scared little girl anymore.

Yes. Sansa is a character that grew on me. Wasn't a fan of the swooning, naive girl. However, of all of the Starks, she is the one that threw family under the bus. Room for more family feud in the remaining episodes?

 
 
 
1stwarrior
2.2.7  1stwarrior  replied to  Transyferous Rex @2.2.3    2 months ago

I don't remember Castle Black having a giant.  The Wildings did as did the Ice King.  Were there others?

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
2.2.8  Trout Giggles  replied to  TᵢG @2.2.5    2 months ago

Exactly! You didn't say Sansa was evil, somebody else did, but I'm being a spoiled brat today

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
2.2.9  Trout Giggles  replied to  Transyferous Rex @2.2.6    2 months ago

Between who? Arya and Sansa? Jon and Sansa? Brandon and Sansa (now that's just laugh out loud funny)

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
2.2.10  Transyferous Rex  replied to  1stwarrior @2.2.7    2 months ago

Well, I've thought about this more today than I ever had. The song Pod sings at the end of episode 2 is the song Tom O' Seven Strings sings to the dwarf at High Heart, in return for her recitation of her dreams. Arya listens to the dreams, one of which describes the maid, Sansa, with the poison in her hair, and the same maid (Sansa) slaying a savage giant in the castle built of snow. All from the book. I don't remember this from the show. In the show, during the same course of events, i.e., Arya held by Beric and the brotherhood, Milesandre tells Arya she'll close many eyes...Crossing prophecy here, but go with me. 

The dwarf is really bothered by Arya's presence. Calls her dark heart, chastises her for coming to her hill, claims she smells of death, etc. This is all before she goes to Braavos, to the House of Black and White. Guarding over Braavos is the Titan of Braavos, blah, blah, blah. Could the reference to "giant" be a reference to someone of Braavos? Savage Giant? Arya is savage, studied at the House of Black and White in Braavos. Could it be her? (I'm doubting that) Also wondering if it could be reference to the Golden Company. We've only seen them en route from Essos. I assume the Golden Company is standing at the city walls in the teaser for Episode 5. Who knows? Two shows left. Questions answered, and I'm anticipating more off-putting unexplainable happenings, like a battle for Kingslanding that lasts half of Ep. 5. What a season. Thousands of years of death and fear defeated in a single episode, after years of build-up, followed by the real battle, that ends in similar fashion, cue price is right loser bump. 

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
2.2.11  Transyferous Rex  replied to  Trout Giggles @2.2.9    2 months ago

Frankly, I wouldn't be shocked at this point. Bitter sweet ending, we've been told. But yes, that would be a LOL moment, IMO. Too much attempt to insinuate mistrust amongst Arya, Sansa, and Jon, not to be misdirection. 

Wow. I've spent more time on this show, which will end in two weeks, than I have on any other topic here. What a waste. But, I must know who the savage giant in the house built of snow is...

 
 
 
Dulay
2.2.12  Dulay  replied to  TᵢG @2.2.5    2 months ago
I do not think Sansa is evil at all, Cersei is the evil one.

One thing that pissed me off about Sansa is that they made a big deal about 'every man, boy, woman and girl' training to fight but she still doesn't know how to use a dagger. Hell, Lady Lyanna kill a freaking giant and even Dany picked up a sword and fought. 

 
 
 
Ender
3  Ender    2 months ago

I had thought Gendry was always hinted at to be Robert Baratheon's son, which hinted at him being in the running for the crown.

 
 
 
TᵢG
3.1  TᵢG  replied to  Ender @3    2 months ago

Yup, Gendry is one of Baratheon's bastards.   That is why the Red Woman wanted to sacrifice him to her god; the power of royal blood that runs in his veins.   But, of course, being a bastard makes him ineligible as an heir to the throne.

 
 
 
†hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh
4  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh    2 months ago

Why did the cute dragons have to die? I don't know if i can finish the series now.

Not to mention my wife makes me dress up as John Snow every Sunday. I'm tired of the physical abuse with her role playing. The velyarian steel is extremely painful.

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
4.1  Transyferous Rex  replied to  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh @4    2 months ago

Jon Snow the crow come down? What's more painful, the steel, or the non-stop affirmations that you know nothing?

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
4.1.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  Transyferous Rex @4.1    2 months ago

His wife is named Ygritte and she constantly reminds him "he knows nothing"

 
 
 
†hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh
4.1.2  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh  replied to  Transyferous Rex @4.1    2 months ago

I know everything, she's jealous.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
5  Sean Treacy    2 months ago

It's interesting seeing Daenerys go down the familiar path of the messianic leader who starts equating what's good for themselves with what's good for the people. She started out with the best of intentions to end tyranny and become the perfect ruler evolving into the very tyrant she supposedly abhors. She obviously feels personally entitled to the Iron Throne and doesn't seem particularly bothered that her claim is a lie.  It becomes really easy to justify terrible actions once you've decided your destiny is to save civilization. 

 
 
 
1stwarrior
5.1  1stwarrior  replied to  Sean Treacy @5    2 months ago

Viserys, her brother, had a lot to do with that and his constant screaming that he was the Dragon and he would rule.  So, he dies, Dany gets in the fire with the 3 "stones" and comes out with 3 baby dragons and the implant in her head now sez - SHE is the Dragon's Mother and SHE will rule.

 
 
 
1stwarrior
6  1stwarrior    2 months ago

So, where is book Six?

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
7  Trout Giggles    2 months ago

Well, there goes Jaimie's redemption! He walked away from a good woman to embrace the Embodiment of Evil.

 
 
 
TᵢG
7.1  TᵢG  replied to  Trout Giggles @7    2 months ago

Knowingly even.   He is going back to Cersei knowing she hired Bronn to kill him.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
7.1.1  Sean Treacy  replied to  TᵢG @7.1    2 months ago

I think he either kills her or helps Arya do so. 

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
7.1.2  Trout Giggles  replied to  TᵢG @7.1    2 months ago

I totally forgot about that! Thanks for the reminder

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
7.2  Transyferous Rex  replied to  Trout Giggles @7    2 months ago

Nah. Too much set-up. He's not going to embrace her or save her. If that were the case, he'd have left when Dany rolled out to begin with, and beat her there. He's going now, on hopes that he can keep her from one of the cruel deaths he witnessed the mad king put people to. Mercy for Cersei. Didn't strike him until he had learned that Dany had lost a dragon and Missandie. Still think Jamie kills her, fulfilling the prophecy. Sure, someone more beautiful and younger is coming to cast her down, but the prophecy doesn't say that person kills her. 

The thing that bugs me is that she didn't fill Tyrion full of arrows at the wall. She hates him, believes that he is the valonqar of prophecy, and had the chance. You know she is thinking of the prophecy with Tyrion at the wall, and Dany standing in the background. The little brother and the young beauty, there to take what she holds most dear, all in the same company.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
7.2.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  Transyferous Rex @7.2    2 months ago

Maybe she just couldn't do it. She's had ample opportunities to put him in his grave and he's still kicking

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
7.2.2  Transyferous Rex  replied to  Trout Giggles @7.2.1    2 months ago

That appears to be the case. She has let him walk before. Now, the dead are defeated, and beauty and the valonqar are there to take what she holds dear, not under the peace banner. Surely she realizes that there are only 2 episodes left?

What a character, btw. Headey is fantastic, is she not? Personally, I'd like to see Cersei beat Dany, in single combat. 

 
 
 
JohnRussell
8  JohnRussell    2 months ago

90% of Americans have never seen Game Of Thrones

 
 
 
TᵢG
8.1  TᵢG  replied to  JohnRussell @8    2 months ago

They are missing out on an awesome series.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
8.1.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  TᵢG @8.1    2 months ago

The books are better

I just had to throw in another snobbish comment.

(but they really are)

 
 
 
1stwarrior
8.2  1stwarrior  replied to  JohnRussell @8    2 months ago

And you must be the 89% jrSmiley_10_smiley_image.gif- that's a joke John - that's a joke.

 
 
 
†hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh
8.2.1  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh  replied to  1stwarrior @8.2    2 months ago

Holy cranky today!

 
 
 
JohnRussell
8.3  JohnRussell  replied to  JohnRussell @8    2 months ago

There is no doubt that GOT has an impressive sized audience, for cable. 

But I would just point out that the highest rated episode of Game Of Thrones had roughly the same number of viewers that a show like MASH averaged over 256 episodes. 

 
 
 
†hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh
8.3.1  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh  replied to  JohnRussell @8.3    2 months ago

Do you have a color tv?

jrSmiley_10_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
TᵢG
8.3.2  TᵢG  replied to  JohnRussell @8.3    2 months ago

Why does this matter?   

 
 
 
Ender
8.3.3  Ender  replied to  JohnRussell @8.3    2 months ago

GOT was also one of the most hacked, downloaded shows from a subscription site.

 
 
 
r.t..b...
9  r.t..b...    2 months ago

It's all well and good, but makes me appreciate 'Mad Men' all the more.

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
10  Transyferous Rex    2 months ago
What happens after good vanquishes evil?

Ha. Why, of course, you torch the village. 

I have to say, after bagging on the previous episodes, I allowed myself to enjoy this last one a little more. Arya's animal spirit is not a wolf though. It's a cockroach. You can't kill her. 

Varys' comments about the coin flip for Targaryens is a throw back to Barristan Selmy's comments to Dany, while he was pleading his case in the book. I thought that was cool. (May have been in the show too but I don't remember)

So. One left.  Dany = Savage Giant at castle built of snow?

 
 
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