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Long-ass SPOILER-FILLED Game of Thrones thread on why Episode 805 is brilliant:

#GameofThrones #HBO #WritingCommunity
First, I agree with most of the criticism about Season 8. People are pissed and they have a right to be. GRRM’s flair for dialogue is missing, the pacing is breakneck and dizzying.
Why is Cersei just staring out a window all season? Euron’s fleet is just, like, hiding there and he shoots the dragon several times perfectly? So the Night King just dies and… that’s it?
It all comes back to the lack of source material, but the big problems could have been solved by a higher episode count. It baffles me that they didn’t want to do more. The characters’ motivations would feel less contrived. At times they did not feel like themselves.
But not Daenerys. She has acted perfectly in character. In fact, carpet bombing King’s Landing is a brilliant twist. How could it be a twist and also be in character?

The twist is that she’s been capable of this the whole time and we haven’t noticed.
I understand why people are upset. Sure, if she had gone crazy in a total of three episodes, that would be terrible writing. She didn’t. This was the furthest thing from a final three episode heel turn, this was hidden in plain sight the whole time.
GRRM was humanizing a warlord and getting us to sympathize with them. It’s the whole point of her character. It’s the show’s final message about the nature of war and the human heart’s capacity for good and evil.
Since the very beginning Daenerys has been telling us who she was. She always said how she’d burn cities to the ground and take back what was hers with fire and blood. We chose not to believe her. We took her at face value.
GRRM knew we would look the other way because he is a master of creating empathy. We didn’t believe the rhetoric because we like Daenerys and sympathize with her plight.
She has already killed hundreds, many of whom haven’t been soldiers in battle, many of whom were later shown to be innocent, and we justify these deaths for reasons that make sense to us.
But when she starts killing people we don’t want her to kill, suddenly she’s “never hurt anyone who didn’t deserve it.” What does that mean exactly? Who gets to say who deserves it?
This was the plan from season 1. They pulled the wool over our eyes. GRRM has proven that major plot points have been planted as early as the first book (Jon Snow’s true parentage & Hodor). His greatest feat of narrative legerdemain: convincing us Daenerys is a white knight.
Side note: totally cool to criticize a show’s writing, not cool to personally attack writers and cast aspersions on their career motives. That’s when you’re onboard the Schadenfreude hate train, and that shit runs on toxic fumes.
The core story comes courtesy of GRRM himself. He has confirmed in interviews that the fates of major characters are the same as in his books. This is the ending of a major character. It’s canon. Even some famous authors on Twitter seem to think the writers went off-script.
GRRM and the showrunners have been building to the same ending since day one. Throughout the show, Dany is constantly thwarted in her attempts to burn down cities with innocent people in them. These conversations are constantly repeated.
She has them with Jorah, Barristan Selmy, Tyrion, Olenna. They're a big chunk of her scenes. During the siege of Meereen, Tyrion and Daenerys have this conversation:

“Do we have a plan?” asks Tyrion.
“I will crucify the masters,” Daenerys says, “I will set their fleets afire, kill every last one of their soldiers, and return their cities to the dirt. That is my plan.”
In the scene, Tyrion slowly backs away from her as she advances on him. She is cold and unyielding. Tyrion then goes on to draw a parallel to the Mad King:
“He would’ve burned every one of his citizens,” Tyrion says, “the loyal ones and the traitors, every man, woman, and child. That’s why Jaime killed him.”
“This is entirely different.”
“You’re talking about destroying cities. It’s not entirely different.”
This is who she always was.
We were tricked because Daenerys pays lip service to peace. She says she doesn’t want to be the Queens of the Ashes. She wasn’t lying. She cares about people. She cares about those she loves. Yes, she does want peace.
But she cares about one thing most of all: the birthright she feels she entitled to, and she has shown time and again that anybody who crosses her is free game.

Her arc: being torn between winning the throne through love or fear.
In Essos, she largely conquers through love. Slaves are happy to be freed. But she still tried to choose fear several times and was only stifled by advisors like Tyrion. This moral tug of war in her is shown throughout the series, like in the scenes on Dragonstone in S7.
She repeatedly brings up the idea of attacking King’s Landing with her dragons. They warn her thousands of innocents will die. She is only held back by Tyrion and other advisors, who ostensibly offer a better plan.
But Olenna warns Daenerys that the plans of clever men will one day fail her and that she should “be a dragon.” Olenna outright tells Daenerys to use fear against the masses, unlike Margaery Tyrell, who practiced love.
Margaery gave the common people food and rubbed elbows with the homeless in season 4— but still died anyway. Then, like prophecy, the plans of clever men crumble for Daenerys. That only leaves fear.
The writers planted red flag after red flag that Daenerys isn’t the stable, peace-loving conquerer we believed her to be. Many episodes center around or end on beats where Daenerys is killing someone for morally questionable reasons.
This isn’t lazy writing, it’s one of the most well-seeded twists in television history.
But wait! There are all those moments of genuine kindness and empathy. She chains up her dragons when they kill children, she stops rapes, frees slaves, etc.
There is a two-part explanation for this. One, GRRM is again showing us that because someone can have genuine empathy, that doesn’t preclude acts of evil. He has said time and again the human heart is capable of good and evil, none more so than a leader who wields absolute power.
The conqueror who shoots canons at a city would also likely stop to help a wounded stranger in the street. That’s the point. Any cursory examination of history will reveal a thousand examples of conquerers who were the same.
Genghis Khan abolished slavery, championed religious tolerance, and banned torture. And he’s estimated to have killed 40 million people and raped thousands upon thousands.
Harry Truman killed 90,000–146,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki because of the utilitarian reason that it would bring about greater peace in the end. Is Harry Truman a monster? Some might argue yes, but I think he’s a complex figure.
Truman was ultimately someone with a human heart exalted to extraordinary power. We’re complex beings capable of great hypocrisy and moral contradictions. GRRM is a student of history and it shows.
Second, these acts of kindness are red herrings to throw you off the track and distract you from all the other evidence she’s now Making A Mass Murderer. The story wouldn’t be entertaining if we didn’t sympathize with Daenerys and we weren’t surprised when she torched everyone.
Critics who denounce the episode would instead call it predictable. You need to walk a fine line between giving enough bread crumbs for us to see the truth, but not making it so obvious that it won’t be a surprise. But in hindsight it makes sense. Surprising yet inevitable.
And those dragons she chained up? She lets them out again when it suits her. Have the dragons learned to stop eating children? Nope. In fact she later tells Sansa that dragons “eat anything they want.” She knows Timmy McPeasant is still on the menu. Subtle character development.
But King’s Landing had surrendered. She won. There was no need to keep killing.
Consider recent developments. She loses her claim to the Iron Throne, which is what her entire identity is based on. She realizes that love won’t get her the throne even if she did have the best claim because the people love Jon way more than her.
Coupled with this, she’s often shown to be impulsive: dive-bombing Euron’s fleet or executing anybody who betrays her. So she goes the only other way she can to secure the throne— fear, a tactic she has already shown herself quite willing to use if her advisors aren't around.
And there aren’t any ones who haven’t failed her left. Jorah and Missandei’s deaths are no accidents.
It’s not about shock value or subverting expectations for the sake of it. It’s the entire message of the series. Far from cynical and cheap, it’s extraordinary. It’s true to life. This is what war is and continues to be around the world.
This is America in the middle east, “liberating it” by killing thousands of innocents. This is human history in any age. It also takes the myth of the true king trope to task by questioning the real cost of supposed divine right to rule. GoT is about demythologizing heroes.
We are all complicit in turning a blind eye. We vicariously pillage and cheer on Daenerys when she kills, assured of our moral superiority.
Ramsey Bolton told us early on: “If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.”
Critics and internet commenters are doing the show a disservice by dismissing it as badly written without going back and decoding the subtext that was prevalent in many of the earlier seasons.
The showrunners may have had a hard time sticking the landing and there is ample valid criticism to level against the show, but they are capable of much more subtlety than they are being given credit for. It isn’t superficial writing, it’s superficial viewing.
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