WARNING: This post contains spoilers for Game of Thrones' latest episode, "The Bells."
There are a lot of things Game of Thrones fans might disagree about right now, but the fact that the final season has been rushed to the point of being unrecognizable is not one of them.
No matter whether you're on board with the idea of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) transforming into a ruthless Mad Queen or not, the fact that she was a war hero just two weeks ago makes this part of her arc feel forced, incomplete, and unearned. Sure, we've heard many times how people were afraid she might one day become her father throughout the series, but this season began with her sacrificing almost everything to save people from certain doom, so her heel turn to slaughter innocents has been far too sudden and unexplored to feel authentic. The dizzying pace of her descent is a disservice to the character and the show, and the explanation she's just lonely now because her besties have all died doesn't help matters much at all.
After watching Daenerys' about-face unfold on "The Bells," social media erupted in a blaze of disdain for the whiplash-inducing character shift. Chief among the complaints is the fact that the Mad Queen premise might've actually worked and made sense for the character's end, had it been given the requisite time to percolate after the threat of the Night King was eliminated.
The messed up thing is that with ten episodes, I bet GoT could've pulled off at least some of its heel turns— Jacob Oller (@JacobOller) May 13, 2019
For like the 87th time, it's not where the plot went, it's HOW THEY GOT THERE. Dany can go crazy! Arya can give up revenge! But my god let these plotlines BREATHE.— Louis Peitzman (@LouisPeitzman) May 13, 2019
I mean but also tossing Jaime's entire redemption arc out the window was not great. OK, OK, I'm done now!
like i don't mind a heel turn for Dany, but god, LET US INTO HER INTERIOR AS WE MAKE THAT PIVOT? A few unhinged looks and hacking off all her friends isn't enough for me after 8 seasons.— katherine speller (@Kathriller) May 13, 2019
Lots of people are like "Dany's actions didn't come out of nowhere! They were hinted at for years!" They 100% were. To the point that it felt like there had to be some extra level to it. Instead, it played out in the most simplistic/silly way possible. #gameofthrones— Eric Goldman @ Endgame Again Probably (@TheEricGoldman) May 13, 2019
Game of Thrones' co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have made it very clear that HBO gave them the option to have as many episodes as they needed for the eighth and final season and that they made the decision to trim the show's final bow to just six episodes. Considering all that had to be accomplished in the final season, that decision has proven to be unwise.
Imagine a few additional character-exploring episodes like "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms," wherein Daenerys' inner turmoils could've been fleshed out, letting her sit with the deaths of Ser Jorah (Iain Glen) and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) and reflect upon the hostility of her new homefront. Instead of having her break bad on account of some surrender bells ringing in King's Landing (??), she'd get more time to really explore the depths of despair she feels about her so-called destiny feeling like a farce in the face of the ingratitude she's received and the distance growing between herself and Jon Snow (Kit Harington).
But all we get is her burning Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) just like she'd warned him she would, feeling dejected about a strained kiss from Jon, and, of course, the bells. Those dumb, dumb bells. A few more episodes could've really helped to sell this end, and instead here we are barreling into it without much regard for Dany's many redeeming qualities past.
Of course, there are some who would still take issue with the concept of this strong female lead becoming the kind of tyrant she always claimed to hate and believe it has a tacit tone of misogyny.
here's the thing. making a woman character "mad" with zero development is not only incredibly lazy, it's inherently misogynistic. reducing a woman to her crazy impulses with zero development is a cruel message to send to the world. it feeds the worst rhetoric.— lindsey romain (@lindseyromain) May 13, 2019
Others believe that perhaps the showrunners shouldn't have taken instruction from George R.R. Martin's ending plans at all, since the show's version of Daenerys has been different than what was on the page for the past seven and a half seasons.
Dany's actions felt like the working out of an idea of what the show is supposed to be about, rather than an organic evolution of character, or even a genuine response to what happened in the battle.— James Surowiecki (@JamesSurowiecki) May 13, 2019
However, almost everyone can get on board with the idea that if this had been a 10-episode season, with a few more hours devoted to watching Danaerys Targaryen slowly descend into the Mad Queen, this might have worked.
We'll see if next week's finale manages to piece this wreckage of a final season back together in any meaningful way.
The Game of Thrones series finale airs Sunday, May 19 at 9/8c on HBO.