[Warning: This post contains major spoilers for Game of Thrones' series finale. Read at your own risk!]
The Mother of Dragons has broken the wheel — just not in the way she expected to.
In Game of Thrones' series finale, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) finally got to touch the Iron Throne, which called back to one of the series' earliest moments when she entered the House of the Undying in Qarth and saw, but didn't quite reach, her family's fabled chair. However, she'd been absolutely corrupted by the power of her sense of destiny, and the forceful fulfillment of the same, and hungered for more city liberations that could not be allowed to happen. As a result, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) put on his reluctant killer cap one last time to stop her before any more madness could wreak havoc on the realms of men, and now there's a new king (Bran) in town to take her place — chosen not by birthright or conquering, but by the election of the Lords and Ladies of Westeros.
If that wasn't the end you'd been expecting for Daenerys, you're in good company because the actress herself was taken aback by what she read on the script pages as well.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly from the set of the finale, Emilia Clarke spoke about her initial reaction to seeing Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen (and three dozen other titles) turn into a Mad Queen who had to be eliminated for the good of mankind, and it was a lot like many of us who've complained about the breakneck pacing of her character's descent.
"What, what, what, WHAT!?" she said of her reaction. "Because it comes out of f--king nowhere. I'm flabbergasted. Absolutely never saw that coming."
Clarke then added that when she first read the script and found out what would become of her character, she cried and then had to leave the house to think on it. "I went for a walk. I walked out of the house and took my keys and phone and walked back with blisters on my feet. I didn't come back for five hours. I'm like, 'How am I going to do this?'" she thought.
For the actress, she can empathize with Dany's choice. "She genuinely starts with the best intentions and truly hopes there isn't going to be something scuttling her greatest plans. The problem is [the Starks] don't like her and she sees it. She goes, 'Okay, one chance.' She gives them that chance and it doesn't work and she's too far to turn around. She's made her bed, she's laying in it. It's done. And that's the thing. I don't think she realizes until it happens — the real effect of their reactions on her is: 'I don't give a s--t.' This is my whole existence."
Clarke also said she believes that Daenerys' "biggest break" was the loss of Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) but also admitted that she still struggled to accept the outcome for Daenerys, even if she understood it. "I have my own feelings , and it's peppered with my feelings about myself," she said.
In the end, Clarke is on board for Daenerys' conclusion and said she feels that it's a "beautiful and touching ending" for her. "Hopefully, what you'll see in that last moment as she's dying is: There's the vulnerability — there's the little girl you met in Season 1. See? She's right there," she explained. However, like many fans, the events of Season 8 won't stop her from being Team Targaryen. "I stand by Daenerys. I stand by her! I can't not," Clarke concluded.
Game of Thrones is streaming on HBO Go and HBO Now.