Now that the dust has settled on the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones, many changes have taken place: not only is the Night King dead but so is Cersei Lannister. This leaves the path to the Iron Throne relatively clear for Daenerys Targaryen except for one obstacle: her former romantic love interest (and nephew) Jon Snow.
While Jon has repeatedly made it clear he does not want the throne, the people in the North are on his side and Daenerys’ recent violence is likely not going to make her more popular. The question must once again arise: Is Daenerys going to kill Jon Snow in her vengeful quest for the Iron Throne?
We don’t have long to find out, but that fate is starting to look increasingly likely now that Daenerys has transformed into what some viewers have called “the mad queen.” Mad queens historically are not very forgiving, even of former lovers and current nephews.
So will Jon Snow again have to face death, as he did once before? And will it stick this time considering there is only one episode left and there won’t be the opportunity to revive him?
Where do Daenerys and Jon Snow stand?
Spoilers ahead if you have not seen season 8 episode 5, titled “The Bells.”
When the episode ended, King’s Landing was a smoldering ruin, primarily due to Daenerys’ relentless dragon attack. Cersei and Jamie Lannister have apparently perished after being crushed under the rubble of the Red Keep. Jon Snow looked on aghast as Daenerys attacked, disregarding the tolling of church bells to signal surrender.
Even before the attack, Jon reiterated his love for Daenerys as she became increasingly grim, sober and sullen, but it was of no avail to her. She saw it as a choice between love and fear, and if there was no love (despite Jon’s protestations), then fear it would be.
As Vox put it in their recap, one of the biggest losers of this episode was any viewer who named their child Khaleesi. Suddenly, it’s not a good look.
The case for and against the ‘Mad Queen’
Many people have criticized the dark turn Daenerys has taken, arguing that the show has not laid the proper groundwork for it.
“The idea that she’s suddenly scorching everything in sight because she’s trapped by her father’s DNA, by the mental illness in her genetic code …that’s an idea Game of Thrones simply can’t pull off,” Vox wrote.
Maureen Ryan of the Hollywood Reporter minced no words, writing: “They not only gave Daenerys the least-earned character turn in the show’s history — maybe in television history — they rubbed our faces in this colossal mistake for what felt like an eternity. To say the show befouled the bed in its penultimate episode, ‘The Bells, is putting it mildly.”
However, Emilia Clarke and the showrunners have defended the choices, Clarke maintained that Dany felt super alone at the moment: “Every single thing (has) led her to this point, and there she is, alone.”
Co-creator David Benioff, another show creator, weighed in as well. “Ultimately, she is who she is, and that’s a Targaryen,” he said. “She has said repeatedly throughout the show, ‘I will take what is mine with fire and blood,’ and in this episode, she does it.”
Will Jon Snow die?
Jon may have followed in the footsteps of Mr. Spock and cheated death once before, but a reprise is unlikely, and not just because the last show is coming up. Jon told Melisandre that he doesn’t want her to bring him back if he ends up dying again.
Besides all that, there have been a number of visual cues that point to his demise, including a promo showing his sword laying alone in the snow. Viewers have also noted that Jon, Sansa, and Arya found their own statues in the Stark family crypt. That’s nothing if not foreboding.
Although some see Jon as wishy-washy and unworthy of being a king, there’s no doubt he is loved by the people he would rule if he were to take his direct claim to the Iron Throne. And Game of Thrones loves tragic characters. As critic Drew McWeeny pointed out on Twitter: “Disappointment is baked into this show’s DNA.”
In other words, brace yourselves.
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