SPOILERS! Discussion of Game of Thrones Episode 5, “The Bells”




Just kidding. *This* battle scene is actually perfectly well lit!


Many unexpectedly stupid comments have been posted on fine sites like AV Club about Season 8, Episode 5 of Game of Thrones, aka Episode 72 or the Penultimate Episode.  Most of these are whinging about Dany going “Mad Queen.”  They make a faulty presumption: that Dany actually WENT “Mad Queen.”  I rise to her defense.


(1) She did not go “Mad Queen because” Jon the Unwitting Nephew wouldn’t continue getting jiggy with her once he found out their relation.

And for R’hilllor’s sake, she was not being hormonal!  (Stupid male commenters!)  Nor was her attack simply an emotional reaction to Cersei’s murder of Missendai.

She was completely clear about her options. When Jon said that he loved her as his Queen, not not as his incestuous lover, she realized that that was not going to be enough for her to retain his loyalty — especially when people kept on preferring him to her despite her better preparation and such.

She had hoped that she could rule Westeros by love, using Jon’s love for her as an example and benefiting from some of the lose for him accruing in her own account. Without that, she was going to have to rule by fear. (Essentially, she moves from a Jimmy Carter or Barack Obama view of leadership to a Dick Cheney or John Bolton one.) If you want to rule through fear, then of course you provide your best and clearest demonstration of why you *should* be feared. And so she did. (Note how Jon’s choice to reject incest recapitulates Ned’s choosing honor over realpolitik. Would it really have killed you, Jon?)

She flat out SAID “fear it is, then.” Why would we be surprised, then?

(2) She couldn’t do a direct blind-of-any-threat Dothraki charge at the Tower where Cersei was because she didn’t know how many scorpion bolts they had left.

Last week people were complaining about her not doing some fancy tactics and zooming in on Drogon to incinerate the Iron Fleet (East). She didn’t do that because she’s not an idiot — she had to think through what had happened (which was “unthinkable”) and come up with tactics to counter the threat — which it looked to me like she did.

She wasn’t going to get too close to the tower because it was reasonable to expect that they would have their best fortifications — including scorpions — there to protect against such a charge. Lose Drogon and she loses her means to defeat Cersei. So again, she was just being not-dumb and avoiding any situation where she could fall into yet another trap. WE knew that the scorpions were destroyed. She did not.

(3) Militarily, she had to make sure to destroy enough to make absolutely sure that Cersei was definitely dead. 

Dany’s main concern was with ensuring Cersei’s downfall — and she didn’t get it without exerting this near-maximum level of destruction. It’s hard to think of how she COULD have gotten it. OBVIOUSLY, hearing the bells was not enough: we heard the bells, but we never heard Cersei give up her right to rule.

We know that she was right to look out for tricks by which Cersei could escape — because there WAS a plan, devised by her own Hand, for Cersei TO escape. (Tyrion really *does* deserve to die, by GoT standards, for such an act of treason.) The only way to give Dany the security she needed to end the war was for someone whom she KNEW to be Cersei to either die or surrender. But frankly — and let’s remember how many “doubles” there are in the series (especially in the books) — she wasn’t even safe there. The smart thing for Cersei to do would be to have Jamie show up with a Cersei lookalike and execute her right where Missandei died — but even then Dany would have good reason to suspect that it was a trick and continue fire (so to speak.)

(4) Dany didn’t have to worry overly much about King’s Landing

If (as I suspect will be the case) she planned to rule from Dragonstone. Better there than at a wrecked castle — so why not wreck the castle? By the way, there’s no way that a half million people died in the Red Keep, so there’s plenty of King’s Landing left anyway.

(5) But Dany is not as clever as she imagines. She may still lose.

Dany’s big problem is that (a) she’s likely to be murdered and (b) if someone figures out how to kill her dragon — or (more easily) at least blind it — then she can no longer instill fear. My bet would be that Jon and Arya (possibly planning with Bran and Sansa, and maybe Tyrion if he’s still alive) blind Drogon with archers — remember the first episode and the one where we saw how great a shot Arya is? and the Oberyn & Wight Giant & Hound/Mountain foreshadowing? — and that Dany turns out to be a paper dragon, perhaps allowed to rule Dragonstone while the rest of the Seven Kingdoms all become independent.

The problem with that bet is that it’s not bittersweet enough. So maybe Jon and Dany and someone else die in the process too. Even a blind Drogon can still burn people. Then again, the bittersweet part may come when the rest of the Dothraki and Unsullied join forces, after Dany and/or Drogon die, and just slaughter people willy nilly. Maybe the Iron Bank can send elephants to stop that.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)