The fourth episode of the final season of HBO’s Game Of Thrones brought the twists and the deaths the series is infamous for. Another dragon has been killed, leaving only Drogon alive. Missandei, one of Daenerys Targaryen’s most trusted advisers and closest friends, has been executed. And both of these deaths were on the orders of Cersei Lannister, who currently sits on the Iron Throne.
At the end of the show’s sixth season, Cersei was dubbed the Mad Queen by both audiences and characters alike. Using wildfire, she destroyed the Sept of Baelor and everyone in it, including the High Sparrow, countless courtiers, and almost everyone in House Tyrell. Upon hearing the news of Margaery’s death, Cersei’s last surviving child, Tommen, committed suicide, throwing himself out of the tallest tower in the Red Keep.
Cersei knew how deeply her son loved Margaery, and must have known that killing her would’ve caused him to end his life. Yet still, she did it anyway. She must have finally gone mad. But maybe, just maybe, it was all part of a bigger plan.
Cersei’s much more intelligent than we give her credit for, and she’s proven that more than ever this season. She lied to both Daenerys and Jon in the Season 7 finale, promising to send troops to fight the army of the dead. Instead, she brought the Golden Company, 20 thousand strong, to King’s Landing, and sat back and drank as the army of the dead killed half of Dany’s forces. She had the right idea all along! And she’s not stopping there.
She then proceeded to kill one of Dany’s dragons, capturing her adviser, Missandei, and executing her before her eyes. Each betrayal, each death led Daenerys into more and more of a vengeful rage. But it was Missandei’s death that truly seemed to break Daenerys.
Now, there’s no telling for certain that Dany has officially become the Mad Queen. But a terrifying amount of evidence suggests that in the next episode, she’ll fully embrace the title. She has made it clear that she intends to kill tens of thousands of innocents, just to get to Cersei. She has a habit of making impulsive decisions, killing people who don’t deserve to die. And this season she has had a certain greed that we’ve never seen in her before. A lust for power that is not as pure as it once was. And both Varys and Tyrion worry about her state of mind.
Missandei’s last word before she was executed was ‘Dracarys’, the High Valyrian word for Dragonfire. And it feels all too reminiscent of the Mad King, Dany’s father, who uttered the phrase ‘Burn them all’ over and over again until he died. Daenerys, it seems, might be destined for the same fate. And Cersei Lannister is doing everything in her power to make that a reality.
Cersei knows that the odds are not in her favor. Even with Daenerys’ army severely depleted, she still has a dragon. And Daenerys will do everything in her power to get Cersei off the throne, no matter the cost. So, why is Cersei fighting so hard, rather than surrendering and sparing the life of her unborn child? Partly, yes, because she wants to win the war. But this is more than sheer determination to keep her crown. This is stubbornness. This is an unyielding will to not only see her enemy destroyed, but to see her enemy destroy herself.
Every decision Cersei has made in this final season has been specifically to antagonize and alienate the Mother of Dragons. To push Daenerys to the point where she no longer cares about the people of the Seven Kingdoms, but only cares about defeating the woman who killed her friend and child. To push her to a point where she will do everything in her power, including killing the people she swore to protect, all to get her revenge. And at this point, we’re not entirely sure Cersei is trying to avoid death. But if she is to die, she wants to ensure that her enemy will not be able to take the throne so easily. Cersei will be seen as the Queen who tried to save them from the savage Dragon Queen, and Daenerys will be seen as the conqueror who burned their homes and killed their families.
Cersei learned many lessons from her father, but she’s more dangerous than Tywin ever was. Tywin wanted to ensure the survival of their house. Cersei wants to watch her enemies destroy themselves, even if it means her own death. Perhaps she is mad, but she’s determined to make Dany even less sane than she is. And from the looks of things, it’s working.
With only 2 episodes left, things are reaching their boiling point. This is a make or break moment for Daenerys. She could either win and rule the Seven Kingdoms, or become the greatest villain and threat that Westeros has ever seen. And if it’s the latter, we wouldn’t be surprised if Jon kills her himself.
The Final Season Of Game Of Thrones Airs Sundays At 9 On HBO.