Dany’s Choice

How our interpretations of villainy reveal something about ourselves

I love when my favorite entertainment also gets me to think. Like great literature, poetry, and mythology, great entertainment is like a supersaturated solution full of potential meanings. It absorbs, integrates, and reflects back humanity’s deepest longings, fears, and ideas.

Before I jump in, here’s your obligatory SPOILER WARNING for Game of Thrones, “The Bells” Season 8, Episode 5.

The choice Daenerys makes in this episode carried the most devastating consequences of any decision made by any character to date — not only in sheer body-count and destruction of property but in broken hearts for most, if not all, fans on “Team Dany”. It’s her choice to become the Mad Queen around which my entire exploration revolves.

Does she break bad by succumbing to madness or is it from an inexorable calculation in service of a greater good?

It comes down to what you believe is going on in her mind in those crucial moments just after the bells of King’s Landing peel their signal of surrender to the queen invader, sitting atop her most faithful and powerful dragon, perched on a city wall.

“Maybe her decision is the result of madness … or maybe … [she] has answered a Westerosi version of the trolley problem, deciding that some innocents must die in the present so that many more can live peacefully in the future.“

These lines of debate often wind around themselves, as we argue from confirmation bias to rationalize something that turns out to be more about ourselves, than about any facts (whatever that even could mean) about a fictional tale.

Kneel Before Your Queen

So here’s your personality test

If Danearys the Vengeful, the “Mad Queen”, is your queen, then you prefer to think she snapped, lost her mind, and flew into a genocidal rage in a moment of desperation born of loss and betrayal.

Facilitator, coach, speaker, writer on social technology — Authentic Relating, decentralization, Holacracy, Teal Organization https://www.themichaelporcelli.com

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