(Another GoT rant – spoilers)
I wanted Dany to go mad.
I rather liked her character in the beginning. She had some truly rousing moments in which she very much appeared to be a Chosen One, and I hoped that eventually that meant that we’d see her descend into Targaryen madness. For a character with so much charisma, potential and strength of will to rise so high, only to ultimately be brought low by a madness her royal house falls prey to felt like it would be a satisfying, if dark, conclusion to her story.
Benioff and Weiss managed to conclude her story in a way that technically gave me that, and yet, in a dreadfully unsatisfying way.
Let’s address how they handled it, shall we?
First, the Targaryen madness. This did not sound like a tendency for the Targaryen bloodline to go mad with power. Indeed, it sounded like The Mad King had started out as a good and decent ruler, as rulers went, then rather abruptly became a monster. That’s why it was called madness, and why it was feared. Because you couldn’t tell from the previous actions of any given Targaryen if they would be one of the ones to succumb. Because even genuinely good people could have their brains suddenly twist into something monstrous.
Dany doesn’t descend into madness this way. Instead, Benioff and Weiss attempt to show her getting pushed to the edge and then snapping. She loses a dragon, sees a friend and advisor beheaded, and finds out she’s not the only Targaryen heir to the throne, and that Jon is actually her nephew and that he has some scruples about banging his aunt. And that’s it. That’s what pushes her into murdering hundreds of thousands of people: men, women and children.
Dany, who was married off as a teenager for a political alliance. Who survived assassination attempts. Who lost her husband, whom she’d grown to love, and her child. Who’d been betrayed. Who’d brought dragons back into the world. Lost a dragon to the Night King. Who’d seen her oldest ally, Ser Jorah, die defending her against an overwhelming hoard of undead. All of these things and she’d only grown stronger and more determined, but now…
…now she somehow forgets that the Ironborn of the Iron Islands have boats. Loses a dragon. Loses Missandei. Has Jon turn her down for sex. Suddenly it’s all too much and she’s got to destroy a city and set some kids on fire.
That is not a satisfying descent into madness. That’s not terrifying. That’s not tragic. That’s just… pathetic. That just makes Dany look like a hormonal woman that can’t handle not getting her own way. The character deserved better writing than that.