Game of Thrones is such a lavish production that it’s easy for something as simple as a single line from a main character to slip through the cracks. Yes, the HBO fantasy series boasts rampaging ice zombie armies, fire-breathing dragons and a reanimated eight-foot knight who can tear a man’s head off his shoulders without breaking a sweat, but it’s the simplest of details that can often strike the chord that resonates strongest.
The season 6 finale had no shortage of ‘big’ moments, from the Cersei’s pyromania-fuelled moment of triumph at King’s Landing to the reveal of Jon’s parentage at the Tower of Joy flashback, but it was one scene between Daenerys and Tyrion that really stands out. Their exchange in the solitude of the Great Meereen Pyramid is one that offers an almost unprecedented insight into the Mother of Dragons’ true colours.
Reddit may be a place riddled with rampant speculation and outlandish theories, but every now and then comes a post of serious character or story analysis. The following one comes courtesy of the savvy-minded Anathena, who found the Daenerys/Tyrion exchange —during which she makes him the Hand of the Queen— was more elucidating than any other previous Dany scene.
“Tyrion says to her, “How about the fact that this is actually happening? You have your armies. You have your ships. You have your dragons. Everything you’ve ever wanted since you were old enough to want anything. It’s all yours for the taking.” And finally, he asks her, “Are you afraid?”
“She replies positively and Tyrion seems to interpret this as though Daenerys is afraid of what’s to come of her conquest. He thinks that she’s afraid of the politics of the Seven Kingdoms and leading her followers to defeat, hence the following line, “Good, you’re in the great game now, and the great game is terrifying.” But this isn’t what she’s afraid of at all. In a display of pretty damn impressive acting, Emilia’s voice quivers as she replies,“Do you know frightens me? I said farewell to a man who loves me. A man I thought I cared for. And I felt nothing. Just impatient to get on with it.”
That was the recap of the exchange, but the following analysis is, for our money, absolutely on point.
Anathena writes: “Watch the scene again and it’s clear as Dawn that this is as brutally honest of a Daenerys as we’ve ever seen. Almost throughout the entire series of the television show, we never really see her break down. In this season specifically, we see her regurgitating her titles, assuring others of her own grand status, that she is the Mother of Dragons, the Queen of the world, the saviour of Slaver’s Bay. The Red Priests call her Azor Ahai and no doubt she’s aware of such rumours and worship as well. Her citizens, her Doth’Raki and her followers literally believe she’s a God. Yet, in the face of such an enormity of ordinance, of meaning and value and the cosmic importance of who and what she is–we find that in her heart of hearts, she’s wracked with the most fearsome thing of all, nihilism.”
Here we see Daenerys as vulnerable as she’s ever been, and Tyrion can’t quite understand why. Daenerys is racked with guilt over feeling nothing about Daario. Dany is having a crisis of conscience, not knowing what she truly cares for.
Anathena continues: “This fear that she’s fighting with is the fear that once the throne is won, this feeling of emptiness will return–that despite all the posturing and destiny that fate and the world itself is driving into her, there nevertheless remains the hollowness of her being. She’s afraid that once she’s queen, the only thing that will remain is the impatience to “get on with it.” We’ve criticised Emilia’s acting for being rather bland for a long time with this show, but what if it isn’t her acting; but rather the actual fact that Daenerys as a character has, since the beginning, had very little regard for what she’s doing? What if all that posturing and title regurgitation isn’t to convince others of how great she is, but to convince herself?”
This, according to the post, is well-timed because it complicates Dany’s long-awaited arrival in Westeros, where she is expected to challenge the newly-crowned Cersei for the Iron Throne. However, this sudden self-realisation has left her mission feeling less purposeful and driven as it once was but, of course, it’s much too late to go back at this point.