Too bad Stannis and Melisandre aren’t still around throwing leaches into fires, because there’s another name for them to utter: the usurper Daenerys Targaryen.
On tonight’s top-notch episode of Game of Throne—the best in years, and a welcome return to form after “The Long Night,” which was technically impressive but drowning in excessive fan service and Arya ex machina—paranoia overtook Daeny, who showed her true character: a power mad Targaryen, neither destined by birth nor temperamentally fit to rule the Seven Kingdoms.
This is a fact that several characters—including Daeny’s own advisors—contemplate at length. Jon knows the Iron Throne is his by rights, and now Sansa, Arya, Tyrion, and Varys know it as well. But more importantly, each of them understands, implicitly or explicitly, that Jon would make a better ruler. Daeny is the superior conqueror, but Jon is the better consensus builder. Not only has he been willing to die for the greater good—he has already done so. And unlike Daeny, he has not actively sought power. He even gave up his crown for the sake of peace.
This is something the preternaturally enlightened Varys notes when he asks Tyrion, “Have you considered that the best ruler might be someone who doesn’t want to rule?” R’hllor be praised, Game of Thrones‘ most politically astute characters are openly musing about whether libertarianism is the answer!
Needless to say, this was an episode that offered plenty for libertarians, especially this libertarian. As everyone who listened to the Reason Game of Thrones podcast episode knows, I am not a fan of the dragon queen, and have always suspected—hoped?—she was being set up for some kind of epic fall. With two of her three dragons dead, her best friend murdered, her fleet destroyed, her armies cut in half, and her most trusted advisors contemplating whether to abandon her—Varys seems poised to take even more drastic measures—my prediction seems likely. (Oh, and did I mention Arya is headed her way?)
Of course, Jon may ultimately be just as doomed as Daenerys, which could clear the path for Sansa to sit the throne—an ending that is starting to feel slightly inevitable, given how many moments of superior competence the writers are sending her way.
But I’m getting ahead of myself: Neither Daeny nor Jon nor Sansa can take the Iron Throne until Cersei Lannister is destroyed. But the Mad Queen has gained the upper hand once again, and in a maneuver reminiscent of terrorist groups, has packed King’s Landing with innocent villains to deter outside attack. Cersei’s demeanor puts to rest once and for all the idea that the Night King was ever intended as the big bad: For most of the episode, she stands on her parapets, every bit as menacing as any White Walker. The scene at the end, where Qyburn emerges from the city to negotiate with Tyrion, was ripped straight from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King—and if Qyburn is the Mouth of Sauron, than Cersei is, well, the Dark Lord himself.
But Arya is headed her way, too—as is Jamie, who once murdered the king he’d sworn to serve in order to forestall the fiery destruction of King’s Landing. It’s looking like he might get a second opportunity to do so.
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