Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) was one of the most beautiful women in Westeros and Essos, and – after the death of her brother Viserys III (Harry Lloyd) – she officially became the heir to the Iron Throne, which also made her very attractive. In addition, she commanded armies and had three dragons, and fought for the end of slavery and abuse against women. Even so, she ended her days with only a single living dragon and was murdered by her nephew-lover, Aegon VI (Jon Snow) (Kit Harington), even before assuming the Crown for which she fought all her life. In other words: Daenerys threw it all away when she fell in love with the wrong man. And it wasn’t for lack of warning or choice. Perhaps this mistake, which makes her so human and feminine, is one of the secrets that, even six years after the end of Game of Thrones, her worldwide following still defends her fiercely.
The princess’s sentimental life did not have a very smooth map, which we can recognize. First, by Targaryen lore, she probably would have married her obnoxious older brother, Viserys, the same one who said he’d give her up to be raped by armies and horses if they helped him regain the Iron Throne, and also who sold her to Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa).
Loveless marriage was an alternative to getting out of Viserys’ domain, but Drogo, a brute, has been raping her since their honeymoon until Daenerys learns to literally control him in bed. From then on, she sees him as her ‘first love’, the result of a union that had everything to go wrong, but which surprisingly became genuine. Perhaps today the narrative would be different, but in 2010, this erroneous and sexist fantasy that a woman falls in love with her tormentor and the first man she has sex with (one of the most backward and erroneous fantasies about the female soul) prevailed. Daenerys, inexperienced, may even have convinced herself that she ‘loved Drogo’, but he symbolized much more than “love”: security, power, submission (he began to obey her), and prestige. As Khaleesi, Daenerys had subjects for the first time and quickly (and justifiably) became intoxicated with the possibility of command, something she might never have even considered if she were just a Targaryen princess.
Astute, Dany gets rid of Viserys via Drogo without many problems, after all her brother was an idiot, arrogant and weak. From then on, as the ‘last Targaryen’, she gained a purpose and made a plan that involved her husband to be able to retake the iron throne in the name of her family.
Unfortunately, destiny signaled early on that it would not be easy: Drogo dies and Daenerys is forced to go alone, something that makes her even more powerful and incredible. Daenerys could have any man she wanted, but she also knows that more than being happy, she must use marriage as a political alliance, as was her union with Khal Drogo. Daenerys was warned in Qarth that she would be betrayed “three times”: “once for blood, once for gold, and once for love“.
When informed of the prophecy, Dany had already survived her first betrayal, which was when she trusted the sorceress Mirri Maz Duur and discovered that she had killed Drogo out of revenge (blood). The second came soon after.
Daenerys had in her small and select advisory group one of the nobles of Westeros, Ser Jorah Mormont (Ian Glenn), who entered her life when she married Drogo. The relationship with Jorah quickly became complex thanks to his past.
Jorah had sided with the nobles who overthrew Danny’s father and killed his brother, Rhaegar, but at the time he found himself exiled and officially a supporter of the Targaryens. What made him switch sides twice was his marriage to Lynnese Hightower. Lynesse disliked the North and demanded luxuries that bankrupted him. To make money, he sold prisoners to slave traders, being discovered and sentenced to death for it. Jorah left Westeros to avoid being executed by Ned Stark (Sean Bean) and, to make matters worse, Lynnese abandoned him and left him for another lover. In order to return, he agreed to spy on Viserys and Daenerys in exchange for a pardon from King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy). It is the second betrayal reported to her (gold).
What nobody counted on, least of all himself, was that Jorah would fall in love with Daenerys and start to believe in her cause. Jorah’s love was the most sincere and genuine of all the passions she aroused. He watched her grow into a woman, into a Khaleesi, into a leader, conqueror, and Queen, always with the right words and balanced advice. Without him, Daenerys crumbled and exposed herself to the men she should have kept her distance from, including Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage). After his deal with the Baratheons is revealed, Jorah is exiled by Daenerys, but he is never far from her, proving more than once that he has changed and deserves her trust. Jorah’s love is so true that he lives with Dany’s other lovers without judging her, just wanting her to be happy. By the way, he “gifted” Tyrion to Daenerys not to turn him into her Hand, I suppose he expected Dany to execute the Lannister traitor and forgive Jorah, but his plan went wrong.
If Jorah hadn’t died in battle against the White Walkers defending Daenerys, a lot would have been different. It was Jorah who realized that the queen urgently needed to come to terms with Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), seeking a sorority. Before the dilemma was resolved, he died and the truth about Jon Snow came to light. I still believe that if he had survived, it would have minimized the conflict between the two women, something that neither Tyrion nor Jon was able to do and which was crucial to the hasty decisions that followed.
Another “missed” opportunity for Daenerys, who in this case followed the advice of a biased Tyrion, was not to bet on the relationship she had with Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman), the mercenary captain of the Stormcrows, who accompanied, protected, and satisfied her in bed. Like Jorah, Daario was undaunted by Dany, but he admired her and much more realistic advice came from him, not Tyrion. Tyrion – who fell in love with Daenerys like everyone else – coincidentally always chose to isolate the queen from suitors and defended unreachable diplomacy in the face of the aggressiveness of Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey). It was Daario who deciphered Daenerys: she was a conqueror, not a ruler, and as such, she would have to make unpopular and even bloody choices to maintain command. But following Tyrion’s guidance, she leaves Daario in Essos and travels without him to take the Iron Throne.
Without Daario or Jorah, both removed on Tyrion’s advice, the inexperienced Daenerys fell into the trap of ego and politics, making mistake after mistake. Including the biggest of all, falling in love with Jon Snow.
No one really understands how a woman who had everything could fall in love with the very bastard of the North, I mean the King of the North. Unfortunately, she fell for the cliché and became enchanted with what she interpreted to be her image in the mirror, where she saw Jon as a man who suffered, was upright, and shy, but popular. It helped that Jon didn’t seem to be in love with her (but he was). As King, he was an important political alliance as well. Jon, on paper, was perfect. Vulnerable and crazy about having the same acceptance, Daenerys got carried away, forgetting precisely the third betrayal warned so many years ago: the one that would be precisely for love.
With Tyrion’s poor strategic direction, the Queen quickly fell out of tune with her main adviser. When she was supposed to listen to him (not executing prisoners, for example), she ignored him. When he was supposed to do the opposite of what he said (not use dragons to dominate King’s Landing and remove Cersei from power), she respected him. Jon, like Tyrion, wanted a time of Peace impossible to achieve without bloodshed, Sansa warned Jon as much as Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg), and Daario warned Danny: by asking for a favor, she would not win. It would have to be by force.
The final problem came with unexpected news after several humiliating defeats: Jon was not a bastard chosen as King in the North. He was Aegon Targaryen VI, her own nephew and – in the rule of succession – the true heir to the Throne. Caught up in information that destroyed her purpose in life, Daenerys found herself at a crossroads. She could be Queen Consort if Jon got over his aversion to incest. She could leave Westeros to him and be Queen in Essos, after all, that would be resuming and even expanding the Targaryen Monarchy. In any scenario, she would not be Queen of the Seven Kingdoms.
Facing unanimous rejection, without Missandei, Daario, or Jorah, Daenerys was left at the mercy of Tyrion and Varys, who neither knew nor trusted her. In other words: when the boyfriend’s family and friends think you’re mean, stuck up, and reject you, what to do? Burn them all, right?
Jon’s lack of positioning accelerated Daenerys’ explosive and violent decision, which underestimated him. By covertly threatening his sisters, she crossed the tenuous boundary of their relationship. It wasn’t the choice between “right” and “wrong”. It was for love. And Jon didn’t love Daenerys above his family. The third betrayal would be and be for love.
The sum of Daenerys’ mistakes in the final stretch was the fact that her isolation was increasing. When she lost the first battles when she started to doubt Tyrion and Varys, it was a bit too late, but she could still have sent for Daario, and executed Tyrion (and even Jon) to keep her Crown. The final mistake was wanting to change the essence of Jon Snow, wanting the dream and not reality, thus losing everything, including her life. Worst of all, it definitely ended any hope to restore a Targaryen dynasty. With Jon being judged as a traitor (even having only obeyed everyone’s requests), the last living Targaryen ends Game of Thrones in exile and the Stark dynasty begins to dominate the seven kingdoms. All for a mistake caused by love.