game-of-thrones

“You weren’t made to sit on a chair in a palace. You’re a conquerer Daenerys Stormborn”

-Daario Naharis

When Daenerys Targaryen immolated her way to the top of the Dothraki Horde a few episodes back, a tinfoil theory gained steam that the Mother of Dragons may ultimately serve as Game of Thrones’ primary antagonist rather than the hero we have come to expect. Those who subscribe to this line of thinking draw parallels between Daenerys’ conflagration of the Khals and the Mad King’s tendency to burn his enemies alive.

While the subversiveness of this potential plot twist is strangely compelling, it seems unlikely to actually unfold on the show.1 Daenerys has already been made aware of the destructiveness of her father’s madness in the past. Furthermore, while her occasional forays into murderous pyrotechnics is troubling, we have plenty of evidence that Khaleesi’s heart is ultimately in the right place. She is fiercely anti-slavery, she is willing to listen to and heed the counsel of others, and has mostly forsaken revenge for forgiveness. To suddenly devolve into an unhinged madwoman in the mold of Aerys Targaryen would require a rather massive heel turn for the Mother of Dragons

Yet, even if Daenerys never breaks bad, her current trajectory seems unlikely to land her on the Iron Throne when all is said and done. Yes, the Khaleesi has her Khalasar and thanks to some heavy handed foreshadowing will likely soon acquire the ships to ferry her army back to Westeros courtesy of Euron Trump Greyjoy.2 Combined with three fully armed and operational dragons, that seems like more than enough for her to conquer a fractured Westeros still reeling from the War of the Five Kings.

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But as Tywin Lannister once said, there is a difference between winning and ruling. While her army is formidable it’s composition seems detrimental establishing a long lasting reign. The Dothraki are a foreign horde known for raping, pillaging and enslaving. Even if Daenerys’ abolitionist streak rubs off on her Khalasar, culturally the Dothraki don’t really fit into the Westerosi feudal paradigm. Likewise, the Ironborn are the perpetual thorn in the side of the other Houses of Westeros, even if they have never truly been a threat to seize control of the realm. Aligning herself with a people whose core ideology emphasizes murder over economics — “The Iron Price” — seems a curious move for Daenerys and unlikely to earn her a warm reception from the remainder of the Seven Kingdoms.

Given the way Varys has advocated Daenerys as “good for the realm” and her own memorable speech about breaking “the wheel” crushing the common folk of Westeros, there seems to be a fundamental disconnect between her idealized reign and her current plan for taking the Iron Throne. Even as queen, it’s implausible that Daenerys could transform the Ironborn and Dothraki into peaceful, loyal subjects. The people of Westeros would almost certainly unite and rebel against a rule who had won the throne with an army of rapers and reavers.

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Of course an alternate means of conquest also exists for the Mother of Dragons . Daenerys’s ancestor Aegon Targaryen conquered and united the Seven Kingdoms with only a few thousand men… and three big Dragons. Daenerys own trio of fire breathers — Drogon, Viserion, and Rheagal — could prove the more lasting route to reestablishing the Targaryen dynasty in Westeros. It just so happens a seemingly unstoppable supernatural army of White Walkers and undead wights is about to descend on the mostly unsuspecting Seven Kingdoms. While Valyrian Steel blades and dragonglass daggers may prove effective, the dragons will likely prove the ultimate path to victory against the White Walkers.3

Riding in on dragons to defeat supernatural ice zombies and save the day is a much better look for Daenerys. But how does she get to that point from here? This is where things start to get muddied/confusing. One possible solution is for her army to land in Westeros, only to get mostly wiped out by White Walkers. Perhaps Tyrion will provide crucial counsel, alerting Daenerys to the folly of trying to win Westeros with an army of Dothraki and Ironborn. Hell, maybe her Dragons will prevent her armies from ever setting foot in Westeros by setting her fleet full of would-be conquerors aflame. Either way if at the end of Game of Thrones Daenerys is Queen, she will likely have had to change strategies considerably to have risen to that role.

Or maybe Daario was right and Daenerys was truly never meant to sit the Iron Throne of Westeros.

  1. But hey it makes great clickbait!
  2. “I’m gonna built a fleet. It’s gonna be YUUUGE. And we’ll make the North pay for it”
  3. However, given the way George RR Martin likes to draw on history and the era in which he grew up, I wouldn’t be shocked if Ice WMDs versus Fire WMDs is actually a giant red herring that never actually comes to fruition.
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