Episode 5 of HBO’s Game of Thrones Season 8 saw Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) battle it out for the iron throne. Daenerys ended up razing King’s Landing even after the bells had tolled, indicating the city had surrendered. Why did Danerys do this?
SPOILER ALERT: This article discusses Episode 5, titled “The Bells,” of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Please proceed with caution if you have not yet viewed this episode and wish to avoid spoilers.
In the latest episode of the final season of Game of Thrones, Daenerys hit King’s Landing hard with her dragon, Drogon. First, she destroyed Euron Greyjoy’s (Pilou Asbæk) fleet, then she annihilated the remaining dragon-killing crossbows on the walls surrounding King’s Landing. In addition to this, she blew open the gates of King’s Landing and allowed her army to enter. At this point, the bells were rung and surrender was announced. However, Daenerys decided to destroy all of King’s Landing even though Cersei had admitted defeat.
As Marie Claire points out, while the act of Daenerys finally snapping and burning King’s Landing to the ground was shocking, it wasn’t actually unexpected. In fact, Daenerys has shown instability and the tendency to descend into the madness that has consumed a lot of her family line for many seasons now. Her family tree is rife with stories of crazy relatives and outrageous actions that are likely a result of the strict inbreeding the Targaryens preferred to keep their bloodline pure.
With her family history in mind, she has also recently seen the loss of two dragons, as well as her most trusted advisor, Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel). So, it comes as no surprise that Daenerys has finally snapped. In addition to these personal losses, she has also recently witnessed the loss of a large portion of her army, as well as the revelation that some of her advisors are conspiring against her due to the knowledge that Jon Snow (Kit Harington) has a better claim to the iron throne than she does.
While it seems most likely that Daenerys finally descended into madness, there is another reason or a contributing factor that saw Daenerys react in the way that she did. According to Variety, it may have been a long-held vendetta held by Danerys against the people that wiped out her family. Daenerys’ family was destroyed at the behest of Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) during Robert’s Rebellion. At this point in Westerosi history, the Targaryens were nearly wiped out and their stronghold was taken over. Which means it is really no surprise to see Daenerys, who grew up on these stories of destruction, holding a grudge against the family and place that was central to this event.
In addition, Daenerys was well aware that Cersei lies and was perhaps not ready to believe that the queen was honestly offering up her surrender. However, if this was the case, Daenerys would only have needed to burn the Red Keep, where Cersei was residing in the latest episode of Game of Thrones, and not all of King’s Landing.
Season 8 of Game of Thrones returns to HBO with Episode 6, the series finale, on Sunday, May 19, at 9 p.m. ET.