Game of Thrones might not be done showing the evolution of Daenerys Targaryen as she fights, burns, and plots her way to the Iron Throne in Season 8. Is it possible that Daenerys has to go in a previously unthinkable direction in order to ensure she gets what she wants? An epic new fan theory posted to Medium claims Daenerys is about to channel an aspect of herself we’ve never seen before.
Spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8 (and maybe the series finale) ahead.
Game of Thrones fans have seen the show slowly pushing Daenerys further towards madness, just like what happened to her father, the Mad King Aerys II Targaryen. Season 7 showed minor fractures in her relationship with her Hand, Tyrion, as well as Varys. Further frustration arrived with a failed invasion on Casterly Rock and the devastating loss of one of her dragons, Viserion.
Season 8 has pushed Dany into even more dire straits, with nearly all of her army killed during the Battle of Winterfell; a serious threat to her Iron Throne claim in the form of her nephew-lover Jon Snow; a slowly worsening relationship with Tyrion; and the deaths of Jorah, Missandei, Rhaegal, and most of the Dothraki. If ever there was a time for Dany to crack under the weight of these losses or regenerate herself into someone (or something) stronger, more durable, and more capable of wiping out any threat that stands in her way, now would be the time.
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Enter Ryan Caldwell, whose recent Medium post entertains the idea that Dany is literally a dragon and that Game of Thrones has been hinting at it since Season 1. Caldwell argues it’s no accident Daenerys is one of the few Targaryens who has a preternatural connection with dragons and has shown dragon-like abilities, including withstanding fire. As a counter-example, Dany’s ancestor, Aerion Targaryen, attempted to drink wildfire and transform into a dragon; it didn’t go the way he thought. Dany, on the other hand, has proven herself a capable handler of her dragons and fire, so she’ll probably fare better if Cersei tries to unleash wildfire on her during the Battle of King’s Landing.
The most convincing evidence Caldwell points to are two life-altering events in Dany’s past: the stillbirth of her son with Khal Drogo and Missandei’s final words to her in Episode 4. These events represent key turning points in Dany’s life, where all of the terrible shit that’s happened to her climaxes with these awful losses, ultimately pushing her closer towards acting like the ruthless, fearless leader that she is.
In Season 1, we know that Dany has been living in exile and under the protection of her creepy AF brother, Viserys. She is married off to Khal Drogo and, after a pretty awful honeymoon period, she eventually gets pregnant and gives birth to a son. Except that son is stillborn and, according to the witch, Mirri Maz Duur, grotesque and almost inhuman.
Upon waking up from a tough birthing experience, Dany learns from Mirri that the stillborn baby was “monstrous. Twisted. I pulled him out myself. He was scaled like a lizard. Blind, with leather wings, like the wings of a bat. When I touched him, his skin fell from his bones. Inside, he was full of graveworms.”
Mirri attributes Dany’s son’s deformities as the price paid for the blood magic performed to save Drogo’s life. Instead, Caldwell argues that Dany’s son’s appearance is the first sign of Dany-as-dragon, with her body literally creating a baby dragon albeit one unable to survive past birth.
At the end of the series, after losing her closest allies and advisors, Dany has to watch her dearest friend be beheaded at the order of her enemy. Season 8, Episode 4 ends with Missandei’s death, but before she is killed, her final words are simply “Dracarys.” It’s a message meant for Dany: “Burn it all to the ground.”
It’s a dark message for Dany, considering her father was obsessed with fulfilling the messages only he could hear by planting caches of wildfire through King’s Landing. Will Dany succumb to her dragon nature (either metaphorically or literally) and reveal her true self, burning everything — including the throne she’s fought so hard for — to the ground?
She’s burned and plundered prominent cities before (see Astapor and Meereen), so it’s not entirely impossible. Dany’s Season 2 vision in the House of the Undying also indicates the Iron Throne and the Red Keep are likely meant to be destroyed, and she’s the only person to do it. With Drogon still alive, Daenerys has the ability to burn it all to the ground, just as Missandei told her to do.
But what sticks out in my mind is the implication in Caldwell’s theory that Dany could possibly be shown to be a literal dragon. The existence of Melisandre and Arya’s face-wearing abilities has proven shape-shifting is a possibility on Game of Thrones. But humans turning into actual dragons? Sounds a little far-fetched. It would also be a major Deus Ex Machina-esque narrative leap to reveal Dany is suddenly able to transform into a dragon without any previous hints that she can physically transform.
Then again, Dany’s Valyrian ancestors were known obsessives and practitioners of blood magic, something she also engaged in when she worked with Mirri. Is it possible blood magic could have been used to transform Dany and set her on the path to show her true colors? Or is this wild Dany theory just a way to contemplate her journey through the show and possibly predict how everything will end for her?
In Season 7, Olenna Tyrell encouraged Daenerys to go with her primal instincts in her quest to reclaim the throne, telling her, “You’re a dragon. Be a dragon.” It’s doubtful Olenna would have guessed Dany to be a dragon in human form, but the Tyrell matriarch was always perceptive. Perhaps she guessed something that Dany has known all along and we are just finding out now.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays on HBO at 9 p.m. Eastern.