Brow Beat

This Week’s Worst Person in Westeros: Daenerys Targaryen

Daenerys Targaryen, her face smudged with soot and a wild look in her eyes.
We didn’t start the fire. Helen Sloan/HBO

After each episode in Game of Thrones Season 8 , we’ll be answering a crucial question: Who is currently the worst person in Westeros? This week, editorial assistant Rachelle Hampton is joined by Slate IT admin Shasha Léonard.

Rachelle Hampton: Hi, Shasha, and thanks so much for joining me to decide who was the Worst on this penultimate episode! I am sorely tempted to crown that last scene—seriously, a white horse covered in blood? Is this a freshman English class?—but alas, that’s not how we do things around here.

“The Bells” starts off with Varys in his element, scribbling little notes for his little birds, spreading the truth of Jon’s kingly parentage far and wide. I can only assume that since this is the only scene in the entire series in which we can make out what a character is writing that this will end up being an important plot point in the final episode. Too bad Varys won’t be around to see it, since Daenerys torched him for treason. I lay the blame of his death squarely at the feet of one Jon Snow, whose foolhardy commitment to honor set off the chain of events this week. Dany told him repeatedly that it wasn’t a good idea to tell Sansa, he did anyway, and now everyone in the Seven Kingdoms knows. If there were a daily Westerosi newspaper, “Jon Snow Is a Targaryen” would be front page, and the unnamed source would be Jon himself. Is his inability to wait even a week before betraying Dany’s trust enough to name him the Worst?

Shasha Léonard: Rachelle, let’s not waste our time on Jon—he’s clearly boring and undeserving of our attention. There has never been a more worked-up “I told you so” moment in Game of Thrones than when Dany loses her shit, and so when it finally dawns on Jon that everyone needs to turn around and run away, it’s hard not to look at your watch.

The only pertinent and mildly entertaining thing about Jon this week was the look on his face when it all goes to hell after the bells rang. You can just see the cogs turning in his very, very dull brain when he realizes that, hmm, yeah, maybe he should be king after all. And thank God for that, because if he says “she is my queen” one more time I’ll go full-on Mountain. Jon cannot be the Worst this week, simply because he is too lame to be the Worst.

Speaking of lame, what about Jaime being the Worst? Not only does he abandon our beloved Brienne, we also learn he got caught before even getting to King’s Landing. All that bravado from the last episode, storming out, jumping on a horse, making his girlfriend cry before galloping off into the night? The dude doesn’t even think to take off his signature gold hand. Later, shackled, he even admits to being what Cersei always called him, “the stupidest Lannister,” and that’s compared to Lancel—yeesh, remember him?

Hampton: Remember when Cersei blew up the Sept of Baelor and this show still kind of made sense? Anyway, Jaime’s a great contender, and I will never forgive him for leaving my good sis Brienne like that. He went out like he came in: in love with his sister. As I’ve heard you say before, from the womb to the tomb. And in the end, his return to Cersei managed to tug at my heartstrings despite my general aversion to incest. Homie survived two stab wounds to get back to her! If that isn’t (very stupid) love, then I don’t know what is. But speaking of stab wounds, let’s talk about Euron, whom I described in my notes as “a useless fucking character.” His dying line alone should definitely earn him a nomination for the Worst, am I wrong?

Léonard: FROM THE WOMB TO THE TOMB, BABY! But yes, Euron, good lord, what an annoying wart. His very big, big gun having been destroyed, along with his fleet of ships, he still manages to swagger out of the ocean, quite literally, and proclaim himself a king. This man is half-drowned, wearing leather pants, and thinks that because he slept with Cersei he suddenly co-owns the throne. If anything, he’s just as delusional as Cersei overlooking the destruction of King’s Landing from the Red Keep.

However, Euron was funny, and his death satisfying. He was true to himself for the entirety of the show: He didn’t want to be fancy; he was never in need of redemption (RIP Theon); he just wanted to be annoying, shoot big guns, and be king. And as far as he’s concerned, he did all three. And for that reason, he’s not the Worst, he’s just some side piece no one will remember the name of.

Can we talk about Euron’s bae Cersei, though? Not only do the people have to ring the bell for her, she also labors under the illusion that everything is fine for way too long, even as her own guards are laying down their swords in surrender. I know it’s her worst fear, to lose her throne and power, but can you honestly say you gave a single shit about the tears she shed? Also, how dare she be happy to see Jaime when she sent Bronn to kill him not even two episodes ago. Can she be the Worst? Or does no one care about her anymore? I know I don’t.

Hampton: I thought Cersei’s delusional so many times during this episode. She held out hope that Dany hadn’t already torched the Iron Fleet after seeing the edges of her city aflame. She thought the Red Keep was the safest place to be despite it being in easy dragon-firing range. And the waterworks about her baby at the end didn’t move me. If she had just not killed Missandei last week—the arguable trigger for Dany’s descent into madness—she could’ve avoided the leveling of her city and her imminent death. It wasn’t even Cersei’s casual disregard for life that truly drove me mad, it was that all the cunning she previously displayed seemingly vanished into thin air. Tywin would be so disappointed.

Léonard: Ugh, I so agree with you being completely unmoved by her despair and realization that it’s over for her, especially when she’s like “Not like this” at the end. How else, though? I mean except for maybe a million other more violent and cruel deaths I could have been into. It’s not like I patiently waited eight seasons for her demise.

Hampton: Still, I don’t think we can name Cersei the Worst, and not just because she won last week. Against all odds, she seemingly chose to ring the bell to signal surrender before the fighting reached all the civilians in King’s Landing. I didn’t think my wine-aunt had it in her. And to be quite honest, she had one of the only laugh-out-loud moments of the episode when she scurried wordlessly past the Hound and his reanimated corpse of a brother when she saw them preparing for a fraternal duel to the death … or whatever happens to the Mountain. Speaking of which, CleganeBowl was an utter disappointment.

Shasha, can we name either of the Clegane brothers the Worst? Sure, the Mountain is technically not a person (or at least not an alive one) and Sandor sacrificed himself for the greater good, but was that fight really worth it? After that huge conversation with Arya about the perils of seeking revenge, it seems rather hypocritical for Sandor to die for the sake of revenge.

Léonard: I think it would be unfair to name either of the big boys as the Worst. This fight was a long time coming, and yet it still felt like the showrunners were like, “Well, it’s Episode 5 of Season 8, and we can’t do this in Episode 6, so let’s just get it over with now.” That’s not the Hound or the Mountain’s fault, as ugly as they both are. (Very grateful we finally got to see what walking necrotizing fasciitis looks like! Full zombie torso action, too!) Poor Sandor, though—I don’t understand why he didn’t just run away like he always has before. The man was clearly not built for vengeance, but I suppose taking out your abomination of a brother kamikaze-style is one way to tie up a loose end.

I think this entire episode was madness, so it only makes sense we address the queen of madness herself. O, sweet Dany, you came so far. I cheered when you ate the horse heart and told your hubby to melt your rude, gropey brother’s face off. Now look at you, melting faces off all by yourself with your big dragon child. Innocent faces, though, tsk tsk. That, a queen does not make.

Disappointing that she becomes the very thing she opposed for seven seasons, and somehow can’t see that.

Hampton: Listen, after my girl Missandei died last week, I was all ready for Dany to go Mad Queen and burn some shit down. I didn’t even think her killing Varys was that wild. Through the first part of the battle, when she was destroying the fleet and those physics-defying scorpions, everything seemed great. Then those bells rang and the swords dropped and we still had 40 minutes left. We’ve watched Dany brand herself as the Breaker of Chains, a literal savior, and then a light switched and she decided to burn King’s Landing to the ground.

Léonard: Dany’s come a long way since Season 1. I’m not sure where the switch between benevolent ruler and Machiavellian tyrant happened. but I think somewhere along the way she realized holding on to power is much harder than winning it. She’s made a lot of sacrifices and lost almost all of her loved ones—if I were her, I might have snapped too. While she is obviously the Worst this episode, it is sad to see her fulfill the “mad king” prophecy when no one else has fought harder to be on the Iron Throne than her. It’s a shame, but ya can’t raze a city and not be the Worst, right, Rachelle?

Hampton: Even in the Game of Thrones, that doesn’t fly.