Throughout the six seasons of Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen has progressed from being a powerless political tool to being a conqueror with dragons and armies at her disposal. Her journey has had ups and downs, with notable ups being emerging dramatically from fire twice and downs being kidnapped and having an entire city rebel against her rule. As the show moves into its final stretch — just two abbreviated seasons remain — it’s time for the Mother of Dragons to reach her full potential. And that’s as the story’s ultimate villain. Here’s why.
1. For the Story
Game of Thrones is a fantasy narrative that deconstructs traditional fantasy narratives. One stereotypical, handsome, chivalrous knight secretly fucks his sister, while the other was gay (R.I.P. Loras Tyrell). The two characters who most closely embody knightly chivalry are a misfit woman (Brienne) and a violent, uncouth, and physically imperfect man (Sandor Clegane). The stalwart heroes (Ned, Robb, and Catelyn Stark) die in the middle of their journeys. The underdog on a revenge quest fails (Oberyn Martell). The princess in the tower (Sansa) isn’t rescued by a handsome prince — she’s rescued by a disgraced, dickless family friend and proceeds to rescue herself through political savvy and ruthlessness. The stalwart hero dies and turns bitter (Jon Snow).
Part of what makes Game of Thrones compelling is the way it takes fantasy tropes and subverts them. But if Daenerys were to proceed to rule Westeros as a beloved ruler and a lost queen reclaiming her throne, that would simply be a fantasy trope. It wouldn’t fit the established story.
2. She’s Actually a Conqueror and a Tyrant
Daenerys Targaryen is not actually a very good ruler. She has a consistent pattern of invading cities, imposing her rule on them while disregarding their customs, and peacing out, leaving regions in chaos. She’s basically the fantasy version of the Bush-era Iraq War policy. And now that she’s heading for Westeros, its citizens are not exactly going to jump for joy at the sight of a Targaryen flag. Her father went nuts and burned his own people alive! Daenerys enters Westeros not as a virtuous queen but as a fearsome conqueror. She wants to break the wheel — but do her people want it broken?
3. Her Claim to the Throne Doesn’t Have a Good Track Record
As previously mentioned, Daenerys’s claim to the throne is that the Targaryens have ruled in the past. But half of them have been insane and literally caused the majority of the problems and deaths in Westeros. Her father, the Mad King, murdered his own subjects and had to be slayed by his own Kingsguard. Her brother, Rhaegar, might have been more virtuous, with flute skills and an affinity for his people, but because of his inability to keep it in his pants he caused a war that led to countless death and the terrible state of present-day Westeros. He already had a wife when he decided to make Lyanna Stark his. His actions led to Ned’s brother’s death, Lyanna’s death, Jon’s miserable life, Ser Arthur Dayne’s death, Robert Baratheon and Cersei’s unhappy marriage, and countless other events. The moral of the story? The Targaryen name is not exactly a good claim to rule.
4. Because It’s Unexpected But Not Out of the Blue
If Daenerys was portrayed as an active adversary to Jon Snow and most of the current main characters, it would be unexpected. But there’s also narrative precedent for it. The story has toyed with depicting her conquering methods in unfavorable lights, but it typically moves on before lingering. For Daenerys to truly be the villain would not require an adjustment to her personality — rather, the narrative would merely adjust how it depicts the aftermath of her actions.
5. For the Human Villain Element
The White Walkers are an intriguing threat, but Game of Thrones villains are truly memorable for their human qualities. Joffrey and Ramsay were both characters the audience loved to hate because they were petulant man-boys with too much power. Cersei is deliciously complicated, concocting diabolical schemes in order to advance her children and overcome the fact that she wasn’t born a man. If Daenerys, a girl the audience is intimately familiar with, is the main adversary, it would also be complex and layered instead of a black-and-white battle of good versus evil.
Game of Thrones Season 7 premieres on July 16 on HBO.Photos via HBO, HBO/Youtube