WARNING: MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD!!!1
"I don't think she decided ahead of time that she was going to do what she did. And then she sees the Red Keep, which is, to her, the home that her family built when they first came over to this country 300 years ago. It's in that moment, on the walls of King's Landing, where she's looking at that symbol of everything that was taken away from her, when she makes the decision to-- to make this personal."
- Game of Thrones co-creator D.B. Weiss
Khaleesi has been through hell over the show's history: she's been bullied, beaten, raped, lied to, stolen from, sold into slavery, had attempts made on her life, and subjected to all sorts of torture, both mundane and magical. Throughout it all, she has seemingly not lost sight of her goal: to retake the throne that had been in her family's possession for generations, and establish herself as a benevolent monarch who has the people's best interest at heart. And I just don't buy that anything that happened to her up to this point in the current season would cause her to become so violently unhinged.
Granted, the Dragon Queen has been through some rough times in the previous two episodes: she's witnessed the deaths of two of her most trusted friends and advisors - Jorah Mormont (a.k.a. Ser Friend Zone, a.k.a. Jorah the Explorer*) and Missandei of Naath (who was probably the only one in Dany's retinue who knew all of her various honorifics). Not to mention, one of her two remaining dragons just got crossbowed out of the sky (in what had to have been the most boneheaded strategical maneuver of the whole show. I mean, had no one on her team ever heard of "reconnaissance?" Maybe just do one high altitude flyover on a dragon before sending the whole fleet into an enclosed bay. Or have Bran warg into a seagull and check the situation a couple days in advance, rather than just using his powers to spy on the Night King while he was brushing his teeth before the Battle of Winterfell). Oh, and she did just learn that her erstwhile lover is secretly her nephew, who has a stronger claim to the throne than she does, based on the antiquated medieval rules of succession.
* All credit to YouTuber Ozzy Man Reviews for the mint nicknames.
So yes, that is a lot to have gone through in a short span of time. But is it any worse than what she's suffered in Seasons 1 thru 7, none of which caused her to lose her cool and sacrifice all the goodwill that she's fought to achieve? GoT co-creator David Benioff starts off the post-episode dive into Daenerys's motivations by pointing out that, for the first time, she is operating without some of the close friends and advisors who have helped her make these tough decisions in the past. So, what, has Jorah been Dany's moral compass the whole time? The same guy who was originally hired to kill her, and basically changed his mind because she was pretty? Tyrion is at least twice as smart, and three times as persuasive, and he's been counseling her against mass slaughter from the start. And despite their newly-complicated family situation, Jon Snow seems pretty even-tempered as far as civilian-burning is concerned. It's not as though she's suddenly devoid of reasonable people to listen to.
But I keep going back to Weiss's phrase: "make this personal." What personal grudge did Khaleesi have against the random people that she decided to exterminate? As far as I can tell, there was exactly one (1) person in King's Landing who wronged Daenerys in the past, and she happened to be standing right next to a window in the most exposed tower in the city (at least from a flying dragon's perspective). If Dany was really taking things personally, she would have flown up to the Red Keep, blasted Cersei in the face with some dragonflames, and gone about the business of, you know, establishing herself as that benevolent monarch, which has been her goal for 71 of the 72 episodes of Game of Thrones so far. She did not "make things personal," she revealed herself as secretly insane.
Which brings us to the question of her lineage. Before he was deposed, Dany's father was known as "The Mad King," with a penchant for burning his enemies alive while he watched and cackled maniacally. Then you have lines like, "every time a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin and the world holds its breath." So I get it, she was genetically predisposed to mass murder, so when you think about it, they've actually been setting this up from the very beginning of the show. Because the nature-vs.-nurture debate has been solved, and nothing that happens in a person's life can temper or counteract the crazy they're born with. Benioff and Weiss might as well have explained it by saying, "What we didn't explicitly tell the viewers, is that Dany was on her period during the invasion of King's Landing, which caused her actions to become erratic and unpredictable." Frankly, that's the kind of explanation I would expect from showrunners who see serial rape as the equivalent of character development, and who write lines like, "Men decide where power resides, whether or not they know it." (Emphasis mine.)
So as we prepare for next week's series finale, I'll close with a sentiment I recently saw on twitter dot com:
We'll all sunk cost our way through this last episode together— Kimber Streams (@kimberstreams) May 13, 2019
Oh, also this one is really good too:
please this is so funny now pic.twitter.com/e7L1RWLUf0— ju (@wildtargaryen) May 7, 2019