This post contains spoilers through Season 8, Episode 5 of Game of Thrones.
Daenerys Targaryen, first of her name, has spent more than seven seasons of Game of Thrones accumulating power aided by a quirk of biology and magic: Her children have doubled as weapons of mass destruction. In “The Bells,” the penultimate episode of the series, the ruler who would be queen of the Seven Kingdoms brought that fact to a horrifically literal conclusion. She chose the nuclear option. Riding—wielding—Drogon, Daenerys thoroughly dracarysed King’s Landing, burning noncombatants alive and ensuring that many others would be crushed under the toppled stones of buildings felled by dragon fire.
There are many ways to interpret that monstrous turn of events. You could read it, in a show that is deeply concerned with questions of nature and nurture, as the forces of genetic inheritance exerting their inevitable gravities: “The gods flip a coin,” Cersei observed of the Targaryens, and here is Dany’s, breaking mad. You could read Dany’s behavior as well, in a series that has often failed in its treatment of would-be queens, as an endorsement of tired and dangerous tropes about manipulative women, and emotional women, and ambitious women. You could read it as a person, reeling from rejection and grief, acting out on her heartbreak. You could read it as yet more evidence of pacing problems: the story the writers want to tell whittled down to the story they have time for, resulting in an arc that, for Dany, scans as a sharply jerking parabola.