I wasn’t planning on blogging about Game of Thrones again until I finished the third season, but at the exact one-third point, I had an epiphany. All these years, I couldn’t figure out the massive appeal of the show. A large part of that was simply due to not WATCHING the show, but the mass marketing just didn’t do it for me. And what exactly was that mass marketing? Outside of some grizzled guy with a sword and the slogan “Winter is Coming”, virtually all of it revolved around an incredibly attractive (dyed) platinum-blonde princess with a bunch of dragons. Now that I’m twenty four episodes deep, it’s become painfully apparent that this part of the story- if you can even call it a part of the story- is, by far, the weakest link in an otherwise captivating television series.
Don’t get me wrong- Danarerys “Khaleesi” Targaryen is the most visually appealing character, in a show filled with visually appealing characters. And Emilia Clarke’s charisma is unmistakably the reason why she was the face of the franchise for such a long period of time. But in a world of complex characters, doing complex maneuvering, with complex outcomes, Khaleesi’s story arc is more like a straight line, with every “Mary Sue” / “White Savior” checkbox filled out. So far, her whole story can pretty much be summed up in a few sentences…
Girl that has been oppressed throughout her life by a cruel, ignorant brother, is sold as a wife-slave (or slave-wife) to a handsome savage. Girl becomes a woman, learns to adapt to savage culture, discovering magical powers along the way. Her captor husband vanquishes brother, then dies protecting her from those who don’t believe in her power. Woman marches forth to build an army of primitives that she has liberated from the clutches of evildoers, who she destroys wherever she encounters them, on her way to becoming queen of all the land. Oh, and she has magical dragons that she refers to as “her children”, to help with all of this.
If anyone had isolated this part of the story from the rest of the show, I’d probably have turned it off somewhere in the first season. Compared to the rest of the series, it’s almost like watching a different television show. Where are Khaleesi’s tough choices? She points out how awful it is that so many people are enslaved (duh), but what about the trade-offs that the other characters have to face, when being gripped by their conscience? Look at the way Jamie Lannister’s protector ruined everything, when she didn’t have the heart to kill the man in the woods, who turned out to be an informant. Khaleesi has no such concerns, because she has MAGICAL POWERS! Think about the hard choices Jon Snow has had to make repeatedly throughout the series, not knowing which “family” he needs to fight for. Not Khaleesi, though. She fights decisively for HER family, the Targaryens- a family she’s never even known, outside of her wretched brother. Basically her family is a family of one, consisting of herself. Ergo, she fights for herself. And, like many power-hungry characters in the show, she is hellbent for the Iron Throne. Unlike any other character, however, the writers seem to indicate she is justified in this quest, because, you see, she will be a benevolent ruler, as National Geographic Guy assures her and the viewing audience. And speaking of National Geographic guy, the only hint at merging this story from “the edge of the world” with the rest of the GOT universe is a minor character from season one, washed along the shore to compete for prestigious role of Main Guy Who Explains Stuff To Khaleesi. Weak.