There might be an explanation to the logical dissonance a lot of viewers felt when Dany during episode 5 transitioned into madness. And this explanation starts with the firebombing of Dresden in 1945.
There have been some comparisons made between the real world firebombing of Dresden and the asoiaf burning of Kings Landing. The director of episode 5, Miguel Sapochnik have made the comparison at least once to my knowledge.
And the similarities are quite striking.
Both wars were “won” before the actual bombing started and neither the bombing of Dresden nor the burning of Kings Landing did serve a legitimate military purpose.
In the Dresden case it has been argued that the real reason for the bombing was to cause massive terror among the civilians and thus break the spirit of the German people in order to force an early German capitulation. This because the US and British feared that their ally Russia otherwise would grab to much of Germany before the war officially ended; which would secure a much better position in the negotiations in the aftermath of the war.
In the case of the Burning of Kings Landing Dany knows she is in a race for legitimacy to rule. Cersei was going to loose the “Last War”, everybody (except maybe Cersei) knew that. The question was rather who was going to rule the Iron Throne after Cersei was defeated.
Jon has the better ancestral claim and the love of the people. Dany has a weaker claim, but her claim is backed by dragon power. It could be argued that the indiscriminate burning of Kings Landing was a show of power by Dany in order to bolster her position. She might have wanted to drive home to the people opf Westeros that she alone defeated Cersei; and also what happens to those who oppose her.
The real-world reference of Dresden (if intended) becomes even more interesting when viewed in light of another asofai canon event, the sacking of Kings Landing during Roberts Rebellion.
Roberts Rebellion clearly had some real disturbing elements to it, but since the victor get to be the author - or at least the editor - of history, some dubious justifications for the rebellion (and the sacking of Kings Landing) were spun as undisputed facts of history. The abduction and raping of Lyanna Stark is a clear example, but perhaps there are more…. How about the Targaryen madness? Was the Mad King really mad, or just overthrown?
Maybe you can see where I’m going with this.
What if the last scene of game of Thrones is featuring old Sam (played by Martin himself of course) at his desk in the Citadel in Oldtown trying finish his masterpiece, The Song of Ice and Fire. What if Sam Tarly, the friend and confidant of House Stark, is the one delivering the story to us; with his spin and perspective.
Think about it.
Dany is obviously not going to win the game of thrones. She is clearly being portrayed as a mad regent, like her father before her.
What if the story we are told, the Song of Ice and Fire, is the winners spin of history in order to legitimize a new dynasty on the Iron Throne and the numerous atrocities committed to seize power. Dany might be vilified as part of an effort to consolidate power. Sam clearly doesn’t like Daenerys and is probably also an ally of the new ruling dynasty. He would likely have no problem with such a scheme. After all, it is for the good of the realm.
This might explain the slight logical dissonance felt at least by me in Danys transition into madness. The hints of her madness were clearly there – even long before season 8 - but the actual “snap” came very sudden and the actions committed after her transition into madness don’t rhyme well with the earlier hinted behavior towards “madness”.
These hints, the killing of the Slave Masters, the burning of the Tarlys and Danys often aired wish to burn and destroy her enemies are not the actions of a merciful ruler, but they are not outlandish in any shape, way or form when put in a historical or asoiaf canon context. They don’t really hint towards madness as much as they hint towards a disregard for human life. A disregard shared by many other characters in the show, who has clearly not been portrayed as on the verge of madness.
No-one is claiming that Ned Stark was descending into madness when he executed a young man who fled for his life due to the reappearance of the White Walkers.
No-one is claiming that Theon was descending into madness when he murdered two innocent boys in order to claim that the Bran and Rickon Stark were dead.
No-one is claiming that Tywin was descending into madness when he planned and executed the Red Wedding.
No-one is claiming that Arya Stark was descending into madness when she baked a pie of the remains of Lord Frey’s sons and then fed it to him.
The first time the show runners really did get out of their way to drive home a moral point and force an unambiguous opinion was with the burning of Kings Landing, why?
Might the explanation be found in the actual making of history. After all, history is written by the victors.