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The last season of Game of Thrones does not deserve Daenerys Targaryen.

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.

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Daenerys Targaryen Game of Thrones
Daenerys Targaryen has gone from a conquering Queen to a vapid mean girl. Image via HBO.

Instead, during her final scenes on the iconic drama Daenerys of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons has been reduced to nothing more than a jealous girlfriend, a glowering mean girl and an unfit and hysterical ruler whose future is being determined by men much less successful than herself.

And, in a final crucial blow, she has been reduced to nothing more than a 'Mad Queen'.

We are now supposed to be content with the idea that the woman who proved to be such a powerful leader that she was able to convince a Dothraki army to cross the sea for the first time in history has ultimately become the Regina George of Winterfell.

A character who has recently alternated between passively aggressively cooing at Sansa Stark in order to coerce her over to her side to spending every meeting and feast shooting her looks of loathing, akin to that of a Kardashian who has had their Instagram password taken away.

A character who has taken to alternating to sulking over and then begging favours from her lover/nephew Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and a character who has somehow gone from an all-conquering ruler to an overly emotional woman who is dubbed 'The Mad Queen' at any moment she appears to step out of line.

Honestly, the woman did not endure years of hell and uncomfortable looking hairstyles to then be treated with the same eye-rolling disdain as a tantrum-throwing toddler, a view the audience can now take of her as they look at her through the eyes of other characters.

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It is almost as if the Game of Thrones showrunners are prompting us to root for Jon over Daenerys and positioning him as the better leader, fuelling her with a dangerous vengeance and cloaking him with reluctant heroism.

It appears to be a sad state of affairs that the show has decided to practically abolish the character legacy they so meticulously built up over numerous seasons and to strip away her learnings and replace them with the cookie-cutter motives of a children's cartoon villain. A woman who, instead of planning her next step of attack, pouts in a corner because her boyfriend is getting more attention than her, as she did during the celebratory feast that followed the Battle of Winterfell.

Even the woman who portrays her, 32-year-old actress Emilia Clarke, is unhappy with how her trailblazing character's story will come to an end, telling Vanity Fair that filming the final episodes of the series “fucked me up. Knowing that is going to be a lasting flavor in someone’s mouth of what Daenerys is.”

Of course, Emilia's dark prediction of fan revulsion came to pass this week with Daenerys' actions in Game of Thrones second to last episode, The Bells, where she destroyed King's Landing and killed hundreds of innocent people instead of accepting their surrender.

Now, Game of Thrones showrunners D. B. Weiss and David Benioff have defended the show's decision to have Daenerys flip the switch from brutal but fair and effective leader to 'token crazy female character' by stating that this is who she has been all along.

The issue that fans are finding with this character twist, however, is that while it was shocking and cinematic it also felt rushed and unearned from a show that prides itself on such momentous and longterm story build-up.

The show may have foreshadowed Daenerys' descent into madness, but they didn't put the necessary framework into the character development to make it feel like a true part of the narrative, which is why her fiery crusade fell flat with fans.

Daenerys Targaryen should have been remembered as a complex female character, a deeply flawed heroine and leader whose story arc was allowed to come full circle.

Instead, her legacy now resembles that of King's Landing, a broken pile of ash that could have been spared.

For more stories like this, you can follow Mamamia Entertainment Editor Laura Brodnik on Facebook.  You can also visit our newsletter page and sign up to “TV and Movies”  for a backstage pass to the best movies, TV shows and celebrity interviews (see one of her newsletters here). 

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