Since Game of Thrones began, we have not seen Daenerys Targaryen in Westeros. She and her brother Viserys were both exiled in Essos and a lot of viewers only gradually warmed to her character, as it was so disconnected from the events back in King’s Landing and Winterfell and the complicated relationships there. Plot-wise, it’s a momentous occasion to see her with exactly what she wanted: army, navy, dragons. The season ends as it has before, with the dragons sweeping and screeching at the camera similar to the finale of Season 3.
The White Savior narrative that was so flagrant in the Season three finale deflated the impact of that scene, but putting that aside and focusing on where we are in the plot now, it’s an interesting contrast. Daenerys was just arriving in Yunkai with her Unsullied army and gets the welcome she was hoping for. After the Red Wedding, it felt like a ray of hope. But the illusion of peace was quick to fade, as the slave masters proved to be far from conquered. Dany only puts an end to them once and for all in season 6, episode 9.
Fortunes turn very quickly in Game of Thrones and only the most capable figures have survived. Those who act without scruple have certainly outlived those who live by a moral code but do not act with enough strength and resolve (E.g. Doran Martell, Ray the Septon in this season). But even the most unscrupulous eventually dig their own graves.
Things are looking good for Daenerys right now: She has a Dothraki Horde and the Unsullied sailing on ships, courtesy of Yara and Theon Greyjoy, Ellaria Sand and Olenna Tyrell. As the Martell and Tyrell lines are essentially finished, both Olenna and Ellaria have nothing to lose if Daenerys takes the Iron Throne. They want only to see Cersei Lannister crushed. The Greyjoys have everything to gain; Yara will rule the Iron Islands and get rid of her murderous uncle Euron. The Ironborn will have their sovereignty, provided they stop raping and pillaging.
Something tells me that Euron will be the Ramsay Bolton of the final seasons…a more brutish version of him, violent and more knowledgeable of the world thanks to years of piracy. In his bid to rule, Euron could sabotage a united effort to push back against the Night King. He may end up crippling Dany’s fleet before she even crosses The Narrow Sea. In the world of the show, months have passed since Yara and Theon escaped from Pyke. It has been long enough for them to reach Meereen, for Varys to sail to Dorne, and for Highgarden and Dorne’s fleets to assemble in Meereen. That’s long enough for Euron to expand his own fleet considerably.
But let’s say that Daenerys and company reach King’s Landing intact. There’s still the question of how that battle will proceed when Tyrion knows that the whole city is booby-trapped with Wildfire reserves (which he sampled to obliterate Stannis Baratheon‘s fleet), and now everyone knows that his dear sister Queen Cersei has no qualms about using them to obliterate her opposition.
Or do they? Has she taken full credit for those events, or will she frame Tyrion? I have speculated that she would, and the episode doesn’t go into it, though among her enemies it’s clear enough that she is the perpetrator. But Cersei has a knack for living in denial and punishing those that try to speak the truth.
Will there be more religious division? With the church of R’hllor in Essos backing Daenerys and the Sept of Baelor just obliterated by Wildfire, will there be more distrust between sects? The fanatical Sparrows were led by a man who was playing his own personal game for power. It seems like the Red Priests are all for a major cleansing by fire. Who knows if Team Targaryen can actually prevent that from spilling into real mayhem?
And what of the Drowned God? If Euron is a major player, can we expect something monstrous from below, too?
It’s too early to predict, but for the moment it is quite something to see all of these disparate and humbled forces unite under a Targaryen…including Varys, who for years was tasked with tracking Daenerys to have her assassinated. In reality, he was using his position to negotiate her ascension. It’s all falling into place…
Which is precisely why we can expect it to fall apart again very quickly.
Read my take on the antics of those Starks up north and the coming family reunion.
Read my take on Cersei’s coronation as the Mad Queen.