“Book of the Stranger,” the most recent Game of Thrones episode, featured Daenerys emerging from a firey inferno naked and unburnt, just as she did at the end of Season 1. Clearly, this was supposed to be a triumphant moment for her character: The Dothraki all bowed and recognized her as their queen while the two men who loved her looked on in awe. But in terms of its place in the narrative, the scene might have been a veer off the rails.
Most of what lies ahead in Season 6 is the showrunner’s invention, as George R.R. Martin is nowhere near having his act together for the next book. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have stated that their end result will be more or less the same as George R.R. Martin’s, even if the path is different. And while they’re certainly free to make their own decisions, it’s odd to deliberately counter what Martin has established — which is that Daenerys’s Season 1 fire walk was a one-time incident. Here’s an exchange he had with a fan many years ago:
George R.R. Martin: TARGARYENS ARE NOT IMMUNE TO FIRE! The birth of Dany’s dragons was unique, magical, wonderous, a miracle. She is called The Unburnt because she walked into the flames and lived. But her brother sure as hell wasn’t immune to that molten gold.
Fan: So she won’t be able to do it again?
Martin: Probably not.
Okay, so it goes against what he said. But it’s not like the show hasn’t done it before, right? But previously when it’s gone against Martin, it’s for the sake of conflating his complicated world, i.e., cutting the bullshit out of Tyrion’s journey to Meereen, giving Sansa an extraneous character’s plot line in Season 5, cutting out another resurrected character in order to give Jon’s return more of an impact.
Daenerys The Unburnt 2.0 is different, because this is the first time the show’s narrative is actively clashing with the novels without having a greater purpose of condensing plot lines.
Is this an ominous sign for the future? It’s too soon to tell, the show is certainly handling Jon and Sansa’s story well. But it is a major pivot for Game of Thrones and a sign that the gloves are coming off.
Whatever you think is an established rule of the world, the show is prepared to shove it out the window like it’s Jaime Lannister pushing Bran.