As compelling as it is to watch, Game of Thrones has a long and illustrious history of treating dragons and direwolves better than any of its female characters.
Like the time the scriptwriters resorted to penning the brutal rape and torture of Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) in order to provide her with a catalyst for character development, therefore transforming her from a ‘little bird’ into the fierce Lady of Winterfell she is today.
In one of the show’s final episodes, The Last of the Starks, female characters were clumsily failed once again when Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), the only woman of colour who was currently appearing on the whitewashed show, was beheaded in order to push the narrative ahead and add a last-minute hit of cheap shock value.
It was not a good look for the series and frankly, the Game of Thrones writers should have done a slightly better job of reading the room before adding her name to their disposable character kill list.
Clare Stephens and Holly Wainwright debrief on the latest episode of Game of Thrones on the Mamamia Recaps podcast. Post continues after audio…
But where they have done female characters a true disservice is with one of the leading ladies of the show who, for eight seasons, has commandeered an expansive amount of screentime, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke).
Just like other female characters on the show, Daenerys’ character development was often driven by rape and brutality at the hands of male characters but as the series progressed, she grew into a truly complex and compelling character in her own right.
She was single-minded in her determination to reclaim the Iron Throne and we watched as she grew more cunning, more calculated and more regal with each new piece of land she conquered and with each legion of new followers she added to her army.
Daenerys conquered, she failed and she made truly terrible and impulsive decisions at times along with more thoughtful and compassionate ones, but the strongest element of her character came from the fact that her actions were always in line with where she had been in the story and the lessons she’d learned.
It appeared for some time that Game of Thrones was allowing her to walk a line between many different character traits, as she slipped easily from vulnerable young women to resolute conqueror, a character that could be harsh or soft (but always smart) in equal measure.
In a perfect storm of plot build-up and character progression, Daenerys Targaryen was strongly shaping up to be the one character to watch in Game of Thrones’ final season. She was either going to overcome tremendous odds with cheer-worthy leadership and cunning battle strategy or equally her failure would play out in spectacular fashion, her demise a bittersweet culmination of eight years worth of careful storytelling.