Daenerys Targaryen acts increasingly like her father, the Mad King. While audience perception of her brutality ranges from glee to horror, Game of Thrones’ seventh season is forcing many to question the fruit of Dany’s entitlement. While one could rationalize her motivations to catch the Lannister’s rear army unawares and incinerate them in an open field, her ruthless actions in “Eastwatch” are harder to swallow. Indeed, even Tyrion and Varys must take a moment to accept the fact that their dear leader has no problem turning unarmed men into sweet-and-sour Targaryen barbecue.
To be clear, Randyll Tarly had it coming. He treated his son, Sam, like scum under his boot and set himself up for a death equal to his spiteful life. Even then, despite all of Randyll’s bad parenting, arrogance, and bloodlust, few among us would pick death-by-Drogon as an appropriate punishment. That’s the stuff of savages, not Queen’s to be.
If only Daenerys stopped there. After incinerating Randall, she focuses her fire-breathing beast’s attention on poor Dickon, who clearly has a difficult time establishing his identity away from the auspices of his father. Even Jaime and Bronn know Dickon is of a different breed than his father, waiting for Randyll to trot away on his horse before asking for his true thoughts on the overthrow of Highgarden. Really, what kind of warped parent would name their son Dickon?
None of this matters anymore, because Daenerys Targaryen roasted both men as punishment for refusing to bend the knee. The son is essentially punished for the sins of his father, and the Tarly-two are reduced to a heaping pile of ash. Ladies and gentlemen, please give the Mother of Dragons a warm welcome to Westeros!
How will this barbarism play in Dany’s court? While her budding affection for Jon Snow is palpable, the King of the North would be none too pleased to hear how she treated her prisoners from the Loot Train Battle. She knows it, and she wisely concealed the truth of the matter from him. Jon specifically cautioned her to not become “like all the others” by burning down Westeros with her army of dragons. Not only did Dany reject his advice (which she solicited), but she continued to use fire as a means of execution to men who had already been captured. Yes, Randyll was a fool to reject her offer, but leave Dickon out of it. If the Geneva Convention existed in Westeros, Dany would need to lawyer up.
While fans of Game of Thrones are invested in her meteoric rise to power, the Mother of Dragons is ultimately nothing more than an invader from the east. She has never been to Westeros before, most people don’t even know she exists, and the ones that do would never have dreamt of the day she would arrive with a Dothraki army and a pack of dragons.
She claims to be the benevolent “Breaker of Chains,” but upon her dragon-born arrival at the Blackwater Rush, she expects everyone to fall prostrate before her like the Princess That Was Promised. Unfortunately, the burden of proof requires more of her than shouting “dracarys.” The survivors of the Lannister army are clearly humbled before her, but rather than show her captives the kindness of her true character, she offers them a despotic ultimatum: follow me blindly or die by fire. Dany’s entitlement is so unrestrained that she sees no fault in her actions. She is (remarkably) slow to trust Jon Snow, but quick to scorch anyone who hesitates to trust her.
It’s difficult to watch Daenerys become such a vicious and unrelenting ruler. While a strong and brave commander through the first six seasons, the most recent episodes have been the first to show Dany playing at leadership without actually succeeding in it. Though she showed patience in her visions in the House of the Undying and didn’t rush to touch the Iron Throne, reality has shown her becoming increasingly hasty with each of her actions.
“Bend the knee” is her go-to catchphrase, and she repeats it to Jon Snow in the throne room, on the beach, in the cave, and everywhere she can. She throws Tyrion’s family-ties in his face, barks at Ser Davos Seaworth, and threatens to burn Varys alive should he double-cross her. With this casual aside earlier in the season, no one should be surprised that she sees death-by-fire as a commonplace means of coercion. If scorched earth is her approach to building commonality, eventually there will be nothing left on which to stand.
For Daenerys Targaryen, this heated approach runs in the family.