GOT Jolts: The ‘Mad Queen’ And The Calls To Remake S8
“They say every time a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin and the world holds its breath.” Recall Danaerys Targaryen on the dragon over King’s Landing in episode 5. While the series never shied away from jolting us from time to time, keeping the toes curled made the series ‘the best’. The series is now being criticised for poor character development over the last two seasons, with petitions calling for remake of season 8.
Suddenly, Dany Has No Principles
Watching the episode 5, one sees: Dany is in mourning; she has lost her dragon and the closest aide, while she has just learned a dangerous truth. She is feeling betrayed and hated. When it came to choosing between love and fear, she saw she had no standing left in Westros, but the horrific memory of her cruel father – ‘the mad king’.
For understanding Dany’s action, one needs to observe her in the light of Machiavelli’s The Prince: “Every prince ought to desire to be considered compassionate and not cruel.”
Throughout the series, she is seen predisposed to building her reputation of a loving queen. She shows mercy and compassion on several occasions. However, compassion causes disruption and disorder in her young kingdom of Meereen. But it is only after she is betrayed that she realises that fear works best because you can’t trust people to always be loyal through affection alone.
Dany seems to have realised that it is “better to be feared than loved” and that would be her sole means to rise to the throne, her ultimate objective.
Iron Throne ought to be for someone who deserves it. Dany wants it as her birth right, yet she earns it as well through her compassionate actions. Jon Snow deserves it too, of course, and whoever learns the truth about him supports him to this end (that explains the betrayal to Dany).
The only problem is that Jon not only knows nothing, but also wants nothing. Season 8 has also put his character on the backburner.
What could be the plausible explanation behind turning Dany into evil and almost killing off Jon Snow’s character in the season 8?
Dany has a winning hand. But when it comes to the principles, she loses. She has been kind and merciful to her subjects but her primary motive, the Iron Throne, was all she essentially cared for. All her good deeds come to naught because the motive behind them was to gain power.
“There is nothing it is possible to think of anywhere in the world, or indeed anything at all outside it that can be held to be good without limitation, excepting only a good will” – (German philosopher Immanuel Kant).
It seems her will to gain power has corrupted her. When it comes to choosing between the people and the throne, her choice is clear.
The Remake Petitions
Game of Thrones the TV series is currently sitting on a pyre in the seven kingdoms of the internet following a mixed response to the events in episode 5 of the final season. With the series finale to be aired in a couple of days, the disgruntled fans signed a petition demanding a sensible remake of season 8. The fans signed a petition on Change.org, titled “Remake Game of Thrones Season 8 with competent writers.” So far, over 221,000 angry fans have signed the petition.
But why particularly after the episode 5 have the petitions emerged?
What Have The Writers Done?
As noted by various news agencies and reaction videos, many fans are enraged over the decision by Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) to destroy King’s Landing with her Dragon even though her adviser Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) had begged her to halt the attack if the bells were rung, taking it as a sign of city’s surrender. But, when the bells were rung, Daenerys decided to attack anyway, laying the city to waste, much to the shock and surprise of Tyrion and Jon Snow.
While this episode might have particularly triggered the exponential rise in petitions, there were other issues too. Ruining the character development does not do justice with ‘one of the greatest series of all times’, in Daenerys’ case, making her evil without an immediate cause, and dividing fans, did exactly that.
What of the inertia which is defined by connection and relatedness over the last eight years, or in Jon Snow’s case, almost killing off his character (we, as viewers, expected the news of him being Aegon Targaryen to mean something bigger and course defining)?
GOT Jolts And Good/Bad Characters
The Game of Thrones has been surprising its viewers and shaking them to the core for eight years now; sometimes giving cataclysmic jolts (The Red Wedding, for example). But as the writer George RR Martin said in an interview, such unexpected twists and intrusions on storylines and the good-bad duality are the hallmarks of the series. The series makes one question the fundamental separation of good and evil, the polar opposites.
There is a ‘will to power’ (Neitzhai) in all of us, and power corrupts. For instance, when Theon Greyjoy takes control of Winterfell, he is totally changed. His will to power has overshadowed his previous evil dispositions.
As one of the very few loved ‘villains’, The Joker, while hinting to why he became an evil sociopath, said: “All it takes is one bad day”.
That explains the imbalance of evil and good in the real world too i.e. evil is tempting. Interestingly, what the series also depicts is that it is possible to transition into good. That takes courage and consistency and does not await some mysteriously big occasion to kick-start the rediscovery of the good inside.
An incident as little as freeing a man in captivity, or saving a woman’s honour from a bunch of animalistic men or helping a woman to escape from the horrors of marriage etc – a small good act could go a long way, with an event-chain, and butterfly effect, that is experienced across the continents.
The Connection – Revisiting The Question On Dany
In addition, what made the series primarily outstanding and uniquely interesting was the transformation and transition that every major character underwent. This transition, which we are predisposed to perceiving as linear, does not exactly play out in this fashion.
Somehow, most of the characters walk linear paths in terms of becoming important and dearer to audience, or vice versa, while some characters keep our heads sandwiched in the duality. In some cases, we see all this happening in alternate sequences, playing out with our inclinations and aversions simultaneously.
Characters we hate, we end up liking at a later point (e.g. Jaime Lannister; Theon etc). That connection sticks. This happens because, as clinical psychologists explain, it can be harder to switch and sever the connection instantly when a character becomes dear to you. The feeling is sticky; a psychological barrier against dissonance arises. Even when the character does something terrible, one would look for some silver lining to keep the connection thriving.
Now, Dany is the character with whom we have a certain level of relatedness. Character of Danaerys is worth mentioning as its transition stands out. We see through her eyes a world, which mirrors majority of the world of ours in traps of poverty, helplessness, hunger, war etc.
We see her as a queen of Meereen riding on the full grown dragon, giving us goose bumps. But moments later, she is again in chains, enslaved and beaten, through the scorching desert, and eventually we seem to doubt her fate. Yet, she emerges from the ashes and rises again.
When Dany interacts with the common folks, she does what we believe we would do, or ought to do. That is the connection the fans have with her. Writers have tainted the sanctity of this connection.
Perhaps, an upcoming documentary on GOT would answer some of the questions or rectify key concerns of the fans.