Daenerys the villain?
"You are small men. None of you are fit to lead the Dothraki. But I am. So I will." — Daenerys Targaryen
This has been another momentous season for "Game of Thrones," perhaps its best yet through six episodes. In that, we've seen Daenerys take another big step forward. What at first seemed a dire situation — she was captured by the Dothraki, who threatened to imprison her or worse — turned into another win. She killed their leaders with ease and took command of another, even bigger, army.
As Daario said on Sunday night, she is a conquerer. And she's done so through some vicious means. It's easy to forget that, in freeing the slaves, she slaughtered plenty of masters. And in claiming the Dothraki throne, she slaughtered plenty of Khals.
So the question has been posed more than once, by many different pundits, is Daenerys the real villain of "Game of Thrones?" On the surface it seems absurd. She's a heroine we've been rooting for over the course of six years. But if you think about it long enough, it starts to make some sense.
After all, the world of "Game of Thrones" isn't black and white. George R.R. Martin set up the world to be complex in the books, and show runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have done the same with the series. And in a sense, this fits with where we're going on TV series in general.
The idea of traditional heroes and villains seems to have disappeared. We went through a phase of anti-hero worship — where the "heroes" of the series often were the criminals or deeply flawed. But now we seem to have entered a phase where no one has a defined role. I noted with the popular network series "How To Get Away With Murder" that all the characters had become unlikeable and deeply flawed. They all did despicable things, yet we were asked, as an audience, to root for them each week. Watching the second season of the Netflix series "Bloodline" over the weekend, I couldn't help but make the same observation. Kyle Chandler's character says, "We're not bad people, but we did a bad thing." But they keep doing those bad things and, it's hard to escape the feeling they are, indeed, bad people.
In the world of "Thones" we've seen the complexity of characters from the start. Those cast in the traditional hero role have had fatal flaws, literally. And those that might traditionally have been seen as villains have become complex. The fact I spent Sunday hoping that Cersei and Jamie Lannister would get a happy ending is proof that the writing and characters can pull you in unexpected directions.
So is Daenerys the villain? Let's consider her plan on its own. On Sunday she rallied her new army by promising to destroy the great houses of Westeros and wreak havoc on the lands and its people, all to claim the throne for herself. She rallied them with blood lust — hardly the traditional rallying cry of a hero.
Is Daenerys the hero? Is she a villain? Only time will tell but, if we've learned anything from "Thrones" thus far, she's probably a little bit of both. It just depends on your perspective.