With the final episodes of Game of Thrones fast approaching, the battle for the iron throne is heating up. However, did Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) just make a political move that could blow her contender, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), out of the water?
SPOILER ALERT: This article discusses Episode 4 (titled “The Last of the Starks”) of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Please proceed with caution if you have not yet viewed this episode and wish to avoid spoilers.
In Episode 4 of the final season of Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen focused in on Gendry (Joe Dempsie) during festivities after the Battle of Winterfell. At first, viewers looked on anxiously — along with Gendry — as the intentions of the queen were unclear. As she spoke of King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) it appeared that she was pointing out that Gendry, as a bastard son of Robert, was considered to be in direct conflict with her.
However, it soon became apparent that Daenerys was actually legitimizing Gendry’s birth and recognizing him as the rightful heir to the Baratheon stronghold, Storm’s End.
“You are Lord Gendry Baratheon of Storm’s End, the lawful son of Robert Baratheon because that is what I have made you,” Daenerys said in Episode 4 of Game of Thrones Season 8.
As Dany points out, because she is recognized as a queen, she has the right to legitimize a bastard child if the father cannot do it. And, as Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) also points out, it is a smart move to make as now Gendry will be indebted to Daenerys and less likely to contend her claim for the iron throne.
The Baratheon stronghold of Storm’s End has not come into play yet in Game of Thrones. However, as Newsweek points out, its position could make it a “tactical stronghold for Daenerys’ reign, in part because it’s an important buffer between King’s Landing and Dorne, which might stand against Daenerys, even if she successfully defeats Cersei.”
However, could there have been another reason for Daenerys to legitimize Gendry’s birth?
As Daenerys heads into negotiations with Cersei, the potential is there that she could use Gendry as a pawn in her manipulations. If Gendry is now a Baratheon, it also means that he has more of a claim to the iron throne than Cersei Lannister since succession laws go from father to son.
If this is the case and Daenerys tries this maneuver, Cersei has every right to say that Gendry has not been legitimized since she refuses to acknowledge Daenerys’ claim to the iron throne. However, Daenerys could still use it to her advantage by appealing to the people of King’s Landing. If she can get them to listen to her, then they might revolt against Cersei after the rumors of her incestuous relationship with her brother, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), and her commitment to killing Robert’s bastard children comes to light, both of which have been whispered about in King’s Landing previously.
While Daenerys may use Gendry to usurp Cersei, it seems unlikely that she will then allow Gendry to stay seated upon the iron throne. After all, her claim is something she has held dear since she was a child and her family was slaughtered. However, by using him to remove Cersei, it then opens her up to negotiate with Gendry whose claim is actually lower than her own.
Of course, viewers will have to turn into future episodes of Game of Thrones to find out if this theory comes true or not.
Season 8 of Game of Thrones returns to HBO with Episode 5 on Sunday, May 12, at 9 p.m. ET.