As we near the end of Game of Thrones,it’s becoming more and more clear where the show is headed, and while there are no clues on who might end up sitting pretty on the Iron Throne, there’s one prophecy that’s slowly but very clearly fulfilling itself.
Throughout the series, in seasons past and present, Queen Daenerys, has repeatedly assured her followers, advisors and potential allies of one thing: She is not her father — Aerys II Targaryen, also known as the Mad King, who succumbed to madness despite an, initially, well-meaning rule over the Seven Kingdoms.
This week’s episode, “The Last of the Starks,” hints, or rather, insists otherwise. In not so subtle ways, the fourth episode in the final chapter of the series takes the possible twist straight to the gut and portrays Dany as a Queen on the edge.
In the opening, she is seen kneeling beside her dear friend Jorah Mormont, who died fighting her his Khaleesi in the battle against the Night King. Not off to a great start. Jorah, her loyal servant and one true friend, is the only one apart from Missandei who is there out of love. Her trusted advisors, Tyrion and Varys believe in her purpose, but only met her at her prime — the dragons were grown, she had an army, and wheels have been broken. Jorah was one of the few who saw her truly vulnerable, and defended her when she was on the losing side.
Next we are find Dany at the celebratory banquet. Where she randomly named Gendry Baratheon Lord of Storm’s End. Immediately after in a conversation with Tyrion, she reveals that it wasn’t random after all. Giving Gendry a title would benefit her. The Lord of Storm’s End would feel indebted to her, and the Northerners would see her as a kind and generous ruler. The look that Tyrion exchanges with Sansa soon after says it all — something’s not right with their queen.
Through the banquet, it becomes more and more obvious that the show is setting something up. Sansa and Jon are seen laughing and drinking. Tormund is singing Jon praises. Brienne, Jaime, Tyrion and Podrick are playing their version of Never Have I Ever. Everyone is connected. Everyone his celebrating their victory over the Night King. Everyone except Dany, who is sitting at the edge of the VIP table, alone (with nothing and no one but a latte, apparently.)
She has an interaction with Jon in their quarters. She asks him the unthinkable. She asks Jon, the man he supposedly loves and respects as a leader, to keep his identity — his real identity — a secret, and have Sam sworn to secrecy. The way she says it, the way she goes from lovestruck to desperate to cunning when she says, “I just told you how,” can only lead us to think that she has really lost it. We hear a sigh of relief across the Internet when Jon asks Bran to tell Sansa and Arya the truth anyway.
And then as they near King’s Landing, tragedies strike. Rheagal is unceremoniously killed. Stabbed with giant arrows from a giant crossbow. And her dearest friend, Missandei, is beheaded right in front of her by Gregor Clegane, upon Cersei’s orders.
Nothing is going right for Dany and we could see her shift from her usual strong willed expression to worried and then mad. Some fans of the show have become critical of Dany’s acting, perhaps exactly because of these shifts. Her fake-looking smile, in particular, has been distracting. But it’s occurred to us that she didn’t always smile this way. We’ve seen her smile before, with Drogo and Daario. Even with Jorah. This is a new smile and perhaps a sign of things to come.
The Mad Queen is really in the details. In another scene at King’s Landing, we got a good look at her expression, her eyes in particular, and lo and behold, THEY WERE GREEN. Have they been green all this time? Remember Melisandre’s prophecy: “Brown eyes. Green eyes. Blue eyes.” Could Arya be destined to kill yet another major character in the show that’s not Cersei? We shouldn’t be waiting long to find out. There are only two episodes left after all.