Game of Thrones Showrunners Explain Daenerys' Tragic Change

Last night, HBO aired Game of Thrones season eight, episode five, "The Bells," which is the penultimate episode of the fantasy drama. The episode included a dramatic turn as Daenerys Targaryen, who, on the precipice of victory, decided to raze King’s Landing.

The moment comes after Dany burns Varys alive for betraying her. It would seem to signal a point of no return for Dany and how she is viewed by her allies, including Jon Snow. Based on social media reactions, fans were not into Dany’s turn, but in the Inside the Episode featurette released by HBO (seen above), the showrunners say that this has been coming for some time.

"There is something chilling about the way Dany has responded to the death of her enemies," says David Benioff Benioff. "Even when you look back to season one when Khal Drogo gives the golden crown to Viserys and her reaction of watching her brother's head melted off. He was a terrible brother, so I don't think anyone was crying when Viserys died, but…"

DB Weiss says that he doesn’t see the destruction of King’s Landing as a pre-planned event in Dany’s mind, but something that boiled up to the surface from within her. "I don't think she decided ahead of time that she was going to do what she did. Then she sees the Red Keep, which is to her the home that her family built when they first came over to this country 300 years ago. It's in this moment on the walls of King's Landing where she's looking at that symbol of everything that was taken from her, when she makes the decision to make this personal."

Benioff adds, "If circumstances had been different, I don't think this side of Dany ever would have come out. If Cersei hadn't betrayed her, if Cersei hadn't executed Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), if Jon hadn't told her the truth… if any of these things happened in a different way, then I don't think we'd be seeing this side of Daenerys Targaryen."

These betrayals were chronicled through the show’s final season. Cersei failing to follow through on her promise to aid in the fight against the Night King thinned out Dany’s ranks. Dany’s confidante, Missandei, was captured and killed in front of Dany as a taunt. Jon chose family over Dany and it cost Varys his life. All of these betrayals and abuses built on one another to send Dany into her rage.

What did you think of Dany destroying King’s Landing? Let us know in the comments. The final episode of Game of Thrones airs Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.

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