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Bear42

The Mad Queen recipe needed more Aegon, less Aerys II

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By now everyone is well aware of the criticisms and defenses of Dany's turn to the dark side and in my opinion there was an easy solution.  Dany's actions needed to be inspired more by Aegon the Conqueror and less by the Mad King.  None of the foreshadowing pointed to as evidence of her cruelty suggests that Dany is mad like her father, every awful thing she does is done in a cold, calculated, and pragmatic way.  Her actions against the Tarlys, or MMD, or the masters of Mereen were not done out of rage in the heat of the moment but in a calm matter-of-fact approach (even more chilling).  She always had a reason for her actions and we always understood what it was.

 

When Dany burns king landing it is portrayed as her "going mad" which wasn't necessary.  She didn't need to snap to be capable of doing what she did and that's why it feels so unsatisfying in my opinion.  Dany is a conqueror not a sadist (according to D&D).  Aegon wasn't one to cry over spilled milk or show restraint in the face of opposition.  Torrhen Stark didn't bend the knee because of what he thought Aegon could do, he did it because of what he knew Aegon had already done.  Dany would know this story well and it lines up pretty well with the situation she was facing on Dragonstone.  The North (now Sansa) is determined to remain independent even though the conqueror (now Dany) could melt them in their castles.  If Aegon hadn't burned thousands of men by then perhaps the North would've fought him tooth and nail instead of pledging fealty before any blood was shed.

 

We needed to see Dany rationalize that Aegon didn't unite the seven kingdoms by holding his dragons back, and perhaps an example needed to be made of King's Landing to ensure the cooperation of the other kingdoms.  After all they'd cheer to see Drogon killed or her head on a spike.  Kingdom after kingdom would take their shot at fighting back only to surrender as soon as they might lose... unless surrender wasn't an option.  The wolf wouldn't dare provoke the dragon then.  She could've had this dialogue with Tyrion , Jon, Grey Worm, or Selmy (RIP) so that we would have a chance to see that the same sense of riotousness and detached pragmatism that we cheered earlier in the show has manifested into something truly horrifying.  They could leave us with a hope that she'll show restraint when the battle finally comes (our Dany wouldn't really do that she's just giving another one of those famous "burn their cities to the ground" speeches) and then pull the rug out as she torches the city.

 

She didn't need to become the Mad Queen, she's already Daenerys the Conqueror.  Only now we'd see what that really means for the conquered.

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She didn't need to, but they wanted her to be mad so it would be easy to go after her. Everything in this show is simple, the Night King is bad, so it's logical everyone should fight him. Cersei is bad, so they should fight her. Daenerys is mad so she needs to be put down. No nuance, no nothing. They want it simple.

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Precisely. Ever since the show outran the books, it had been operating on a white-and-black morality so popular in Hollywood. In fact, there were traces of that approach even earlier: look at D&D's character assassination of Stannis, for example.

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I've been thinking back to Stannis and how his burning of Shireen in the show really mirrors Dany's senseless torching of Kings Landing. Both are events I could imagine playing out in some form or another in keeping with the characters' motivations, but instead of exploring those in the show they were used as hyperdrives for the characters to cross the moral event horizon. Both events were so clearly aimed at the viewers' moral sensibilities rather than rooted in the world that it shatters our suspension of disbelief. Back with Stannis I reasoned it was just D&D's dislike for that particular character, but they have truly applied the same formula to Dany now.

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Precisely. It is lazy writing: they had been going for shock value instead of character motivations and personality. It seems obvious now that D&D had never really cared to try and understand character motivations and personalities. Stannis is portrayed as a power-hungry warlord in his quest for the Throne, when that couldn't be further from truth. Jon Snow gets portrayed as a shallow yes-man. All characters had had their personalities and motivations dumbed down. And it is not a new problem: it had been happening since Season 1, but it became much worse once show outran the books.

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An excellent post, and I agree completely with responses that the show has taken complex characters and turned them into simple black-and-white or good-vs-evil people. Ugh. 

I like the idea of Dany burning KL strategically, channeling Aegon's fire & blood. This would also have connected her KL attack to the rest of Westeros, and her goal to rule all of the 7 kingdoms. And I agree that all it would have taken is a fair bit of dialogue to set all of this up.

But, you know, that would have required the readers to actually think through this major left turn before just grabbing the wheel and pulling it blindly......

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