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Is Daenerys Targaryen the underdog of Game of Thrones? Here’s tracking her journey so far

With just a week to go to the season finale of Game of Thrones, we are looking back at the journeys of the seven main characters on the show and we begin with the Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen.

tv Updated: Aug 22, 2017 12:31 IST
Rohan Naahar
Rohan Naahar
Hindustan Times
Daenerys Targaryen,Game of Thrones,HBO
Over the course of six seasons, we’ve grown up with these characters, but there is a reason we share a different bond with Dany.

In a show that thrives on the strength of its ensemble of characters, there is just one – perhaps two – who can safely be called the hero.

Every story needs a hero, especially one as old-fashioned as Game of Thrones – a story about good vs evil in which very few characters actually embody these extremes. Instead, they struggle knee-deep in a quagmire of grey. There are reasons to despise even the show’s purest characters, just as there are redeeming qualities to be found in those who appear to have been crafted by pure evil.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Season 1.

But amid all of them is Daenerys Targaryen, veiled by a mysterious aura. There is something elemental about her. Like the thousands of men and women who’ve pledged their allegiance to her in the show, there is another army that she has amassed, an army that follows her from the other side of the screen – us. Over the course of six seasons, we’ve grown up with these characters, but there is a reason we share a different bond with Dany.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Season 2.

What most of us don’t realise is that she is, despite the power she now wields, an underdog. She always has been. From the moment we first saw her, back in season 1 – when she was an abused young girl, married off in a business deal to a fearsome king – to now, when the mere mention of her name sends shivers down her enemies’ spines. She has never been seen as the rightful heir to the throne, but rather as a challenger – the girl who wants to play with the big boys but is told to stick to her dolls.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Season 3.

Some of it, of course, is due to the fact that she’s a woman – a girl, really. But a lot of it is because someone like Jon Snow fits the hero’s mould perfectly. He’s the king, the bastard son – but a son, nonetheless – of the man we first assumed to be the show’s hero, Ned Stark. So on a purely subconscious level, we’ve replaced Ned with Jon. He is, with good reason, the audience favourite – a consensus made abundantly clear when he was thought to have been killed at the end of season 4 and brought back in the beginning of season 5.

But Daenerys had never been a real contender – mostly because she never thought of herself as one until recently. She kinda snuck up on everyone, a continent away from Westeros, where the real action was happening – again, something we’ve been subconsciously led to believe, since that’s where most of the characters live.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Season 4.

However, the truth is that Daenerys has had quite the journey in Essos. She has, for instance, amassed an army more powerful than that of any of her adversaries. In the ultimate battle against the White Walkers, with Jon and Tyrion by her side (hopefully), and two dragons in the skies above her, she will have at her disposal hundreds of thousands of men – the Unsullied, whom she liberated from a life of slavery in Slaver’s Bay, to the Dothraki, her slain husband’s tribesmen.

They’ve all proven themselves in smaller battles, but the war looms large.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Season 5.

But unlike her primary nemesis, Cersei Lannister, Daenerys doesn’t rule through intimidation. She doesn’t trample her subjects under her boot-heels, and she doesn’t burn them with her dragons’ fire. She is seen as a liberator and a bringer of change who will protect her people when winter comes. What’s better than a huge army? A loyal army.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Season 6.

Her journey – from being bullied by bigger, stronger men, to controlling the same men wordlessly, with a simple look in her eye – is often overlooked. Now, she is seen as Daenerys of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Realm, Lady Regnant of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Season 7.

But once, she was just a child, and then, a slave, a piece of meat passed from one man to another. But now, on the verge of victory, she is a Queen.

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First Published: Aug 22, 2017 12:19 IST