Daenerys and The Savior Complex
So, I decided to give into my worst instincts and re-watch Game of Thrones. Yes, I know. I used to be the biggest Game of Thrones STAN. But, just like for everyone else, season 8 permanently ruined the re-watchability of the show for me. Or, so I thought. I just missed the early seasons so much and I needed to satisfy my nostalgia. I wanted to hear the theme song, see old characters, and watch the interesting and realistic plot lines the early seasons were famous for. Afterall, I needed something to keep me sane during this pandemic.
One thing I wanted to pay special attention to while re-watching, after the tragedy that was the season 8 ending, was Daenerys. After the last episode of season 8, many people (including me) were rightfully pissed at how rushed and unrealistic Danny's character arc was. Another group of people, however, were defending Danny's unusual turn to madness by saying "ThE sHow FoReShAdOwEd HeR dOwNfAlL." No ma'am, they did not. Despite what the writers say, Danny showed no signs of inherent madness; no more than any other characters at least. Her problem throughout the show was not inherited madness. Her problem was entitlement and naivety.
The season 8 ending tried to portray Danny as both an inevitably unhinged ruler and a sane one who was just pushed beyond her limits. First of all, they should have picked one of those. Was Danny always inherently mad? Or was she fed up with being pushed around? Pick one. But, where they really went wrong was trying to explain how and why Danny became a tyrant capable of committing unspeakable acts of mass murder. According to the writers, by the way Danny treated her enemies in the past, she enjoyed killing them to a suspicious degree. She apparently enjoyed it enough that her unusual level of satisfaction was considered "foreshadowing" for the events of season 8 episode 5. However, if that were true, Jon, Aria, Sansa, Jamie, Tyrion, and more would also be capable of murdering a city full of innocents. They all have killed people when they had to. Some of them even enjoyed it too (i.e.: Aria, Sansa).
So, what really should have been Danny's downfall? Her savior complex. From season one, her savior complex was always her problem and could have ultimately been her Achilles heal. Instead, the writers should have used how her naivety and entitlement led to her downfall, finalizing her character arc that way, for it would have made more sense than the ending we got.
For example, in season one, Danny's savior complex is the real reason Khal Drogo died. When the Dothraki were raiding a village, she saw a woman about to be r*ped by a member of the tribe. For context, the Dothraki have a tradition of "mounting" women after successfully taking a village. Danny intervened and demanded the man leave the woman alone (the woman is a witch, relevant detail). Danny then told the woman as payment for saving her life, the woman will be her servant. The man who was going to r*pe the woman then went to Drogo and told him what happened. Drogo said too bad, obey the Khaleesi. So, the man challenged Drogo to a fight. During that fight, Drogo gets a gaping gash on his chest that worsens because the witch put a curse on it when she told Danny she would help him. The infection starts to kill him, Danny asks the witch to save him, instead the witch tricks her and puts a spell on Danny and Drogo that results in Danny losing her baby and Khal Drogo dying.
See, the way the show used to work was actions had eventual consequences. One event/mistake could result in things permanently changing the direction of the plot (i.e.: Jon Arryn's death, Ned's death, Theon trying to take Winterfell, etc.). Was what Danny did in saving that woman from being assaulted the right thing to do? Given the context of the story, the morality behind her decision is up for question. What is obvious is how her need to save people kept getting her in trouble throughout the show, starting with losing her husband. The Dothraki had traditions set up long before Danny became Khaleesi. Despite her goodwill, her lack of knowledge of the traditions in the East makes her unfit to rule there. In Essos, Danny always disrupts the tradition of whatever society she's apart of at the time, trying to help people or improve people's lives. However, her need to do so mostly blows up in her face. This savior trait simultaneously illustrates Danny's entitlement and naivety. She's entitled to thinking she knows what's best for a city's or people's welfare even if that means dismantling systems or traditions cities like Astapor or Meereen have had for generations. This trait also doesn't make her a villain. It makes her an anti-hero. Throughout the show, Danny always tried to hold power with dignity and moral integrity; however, what she finds is there is no way to be entirely ethical and be as powerful as she wants. Especially when trying to dethrone people. Dethroning people means war and there is no good ethics in war.
The way Danny's character arc should have concluded in season 8:
While trying to take Kings Landing, and in turn dethroning Cersei, Danny should have been met with an almost impossible choice of morality. How her character would fall would be due to a decision she would have had to make, resulting in some war or disaster for the city. Rather than her intentionally burning the city with dragon fire, maybe the city could have been set on fire with wildfire on accident because of something she did. Or, because of her decision, the city turns on her so Drogon tries to protect her by burning people, thinking he's protecting her from her enemies. Like I said, anything would have been better than what we got. It's like the writers forgot their own story and characters. Anyway, I'm sure George RR Martin will give the finale of Game of Thrones the justice the fans deserved.