The second episode of Game of Thrones‘ eighth season saw Jon reveal to Daenerys that he’s the trueborn son of her brother Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark, a truth that the Mother of Dragons wasn’t so eager to accept. Instead of keeping her focus on the coming battle against the dead, Daenerys immediately began worrying about the implications that Jon’s heritage may have on her claim to the Iron Throne.
“If it were true, it would make you the last male heir of House Targaryen,” she told him in the final moments of the episode. “You’d have a claim to the Iron Throne.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time that Daenerys has shown her hand in regards to winning the crown. Earlier in the episode, we saw Dany attempt to smooth over her differences with Sansa only to raise her hackles when Sansa suggested that the North would never bow to a southern ruler again.
Game of Thrones seems to have long been hinting that Daenerys has the potential to follow in the footsteps of her father, Aerys II “The Mad King” Targaryen, and turn into the Mad Queen. Thanks to the Targaryens’ long history of incest — the family spent over 300 years wedding brothers to sisters to keep their bloodline pure — they could be genetically predisposed to insanity.
In fact, when Cersei is discussing Joffrey’s sadistic nature with Tyrion during a rare moment of vulnerability in season 2, she notes that nearly half the Targaryens went mad.”What’s the saying?” she asks him. “‘Every time a Targaryen is born the gods flip a coin.'”
We know that of Daenerys’ two brothers, Rhaegar was good and Viserys was bad. But which way did the coin flip for Dany?
During her time in Slaver’s Bay, there were several instances when the only thing that kept Daenerys from enforcing her rule with “fire and blood” was her more level-headed advisors. It seems like her ruthless impulses weren’t tempered upon her arrival in Westeros. In season 7, we saw her burn Randyll and Dickon Tarly alive when they refused to bend the knee. She gave them the chance to bow to her rule, but didn’t seem to give her ultimate decision much thought despite Tyrion’s pleas for her to reconsider.
Daenerys has often claimed that she intends to break the wheel of power in Westeros, but if the latest developments are any indication, it seems like she may have lost sight of her mission to deliver the Seven Kingdoms from oppression.
“When the people rose in revolt against him, your father set their towns and castles aflame,” Ser Barristan Selmy told Daenerys back in season 5. “He murdered sons in front of their fathers. He burned men alive with wildfire and laughed as they screamed. And his efforts to stamp out dissent led to a rebellion that killed every Targaryen, except two.”
“I’m not my father,” Daenerys insisted.
“No, your Grace. Thank the gods,” Barristan responded. “But the Mad King gave his enemies the justice he thought they deserved, and each time, it made him feel powerful and right, until the very end.”
If Daenerys doesn’t ease up on insisting that everyone bend the knee or die, it could be the very thing that leads to her ruin.