Game of Thrones Director Sheds New Light on Controversial Daenerys Targaryen Scene

Viewers took issue with the character's actions in the penultimate episode of the hit series

By Chris Harnick Jun 19, 2019 6:36 PMTags
Game of Thrones, Season 8, Episode 5HBO

It's been weeks, and here we are still talking about Game of Thrones and the decisions Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) made in the penultimate episode of the fantasy series. In "The Bells," Dany destroyed King's Landing, killing innocents while atop her dragon, Drogon.

Many viewers took issue with Daenerys' actions as for years she was an advocate for saving innocents and ending slavery.

"The way she has treated humans, and the conviction she has, means that conviction is eventually going to fall afoul," director Miguel Sapochnik told IndieWire.

At the start of the episode, Daenerys was dealing with the death of her trusted adviser and friend Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel). Sapochnik  said he wanted to make it clear that she was no longer doubting her decision-making ability.

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"She's not questioning herself anymore, which is the difference between somebody who, I think, has kind of lost their mind," Sapochnik said. "That's part of what makes us human, is we question whether we've made the right decisions or not."

Once she decided to destroy the city, Sapochnik said they made it a point not to show the character again.

"At that point, you don't need to see her," the director said about the scenes of total destruction. "We decided not to cut back to her. When she makes that decision, she and the dragon become one."

In a behind-the-scenes video, Clarke said it was always about Dany being alone.

"Every single thing that's led her to this point, and there she is, alone. We've all got this part of us, that part that goes, 'I'm gonna put that chocolate cake down.' [Laughs.] 'And I'm going to walk away.' We can't be getting into these moral conundrums all the time. I'm not saying chocolate cake is a moral conundrum—eat as much f--king cake as you want—but those things that you wrestle with in yourself," Clarke explained.

Game of Thrones co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss said the character had been tested countless times.

"And if circumstances had been different, I don't think this side of Dany ever would've come out. If Cersei hadn't betrayed her, if Cersei hadn't executed Missandei, if Jon hadn't told her the truth," Benioff said. "Like, if all of these things had happened in any different way, then I don't think we'd be seeing this side of Daenerys Targaryen."
Weiss said looking at the Red Keep was also triggering.

"It's in that moment, on the walls of King's Landing, where she's looking at that symbol of everything that was taken from her when she makes the decision to make this personal. We wanted her to be just death from above as seen from the perspective of the people who are on the business end of that dragon," he said. "In most large stories like this, it seems like there is a tendency to focus on the heroic figures and not pay much attention to the people who may be suffering from the repercussions of the decisions made by those heroic people and we really wanted to keep our perspective and our sympathies on the ground at this moment ‘cause those are the people who are really paying the price for the decisions that she's making."