WARNING: This story contains major spoilers
There was the Mad Queen rampant, swooping above King’s Landing on her dragon, killing whatever she saw.
She looked a natural, but viewers of Monday’s Game of Thrones episode The Bells, didn’t buy it.
Their complaints? That Daenerys’s transition from once and future queen to Maleficent on steroids was too abrupt and out of character. The writers, fans claimed, had made her over as a goddess to machine to end the series with a spectacular flourish.
Perhaps it’s a fair cop. But more so, perhaps it’s not. And perhaps HBO gave a major hint via a November Instagram post.
On close inspection, GoT writers have not been ungenerous in posting clues Daenerys had potential to explode into fury and follow in the footsteps of her father, Aerys ‘The Mad King’ Targaryen.
Whether character is determined by nature or nurture, Daenerys is caught in a pincer movement.
Producing heirs through incest may be relatively new to the Lannisters, but the Targaryens have a 300-year history of marrying brothers to sisters.
The law of averages would have them as strong contenders for insanity.
Just ask Cersei, who in discussing the excesses of her incestuous offspring, Joffrey, noted, “Half the Targaryens went mad, didn’t they? What’s the saying? ‘Every time a Targaryen is born the gods flip a coin’.”
The coin landed on either side with Daenerys’s brothers. Rhaegar, Jon’s father, was just and good. Viserys was a vainglorious creep and rotten brother. The way he leered at Daenerys and ‘inspected’ her demonstrated his potential to do worse.
It was Viserys’s grisly death that provided the first major clue to Daenerys’ evolution as mad.
When Khal Drogo rewarded his brother-in-law with a fatal crown of molten gold, the visible satisfaction Daenerys took from her brother’s suffering spoke volumes.
Then there’s the ‘nurturing’ Khaleesi has experienced. From being sold by her brother and forced into nightly sex by her husband, Daenerys lost her unborn son and her newly-beloved husband through the betrayal of a sorceress.
Already desolated by these losses, it’s not too far a leap to see how the losses of Jorah, Rhaegal and Missandei would unleash Daenerys’ inner dragon.
The potential for this transformation went largely unheeded because Khaleesi’s vengeful behaviour was reserved, initially, for those who absolutely had it coming.
The liberation of Slavers’ Bay is a case in point. Daenerys agreed with the Masters to trade one of her dragons for command over the Unsullied.
With the deal concluded, she ordered the Unsullied to slaughter the Masters and free the slaves, commanding Drogon to incinerate Kraznys, who had insulted her repeatedly since her arrival.
Viewers had no problem with this betrayal. These were slavers after all, and Kraznys was appalling.
But it demonstrated that as a leader Daenerys was prepared to negotiate in bad faith, just as when she went back on her ‘agreement’ with Tyrion to end her assault on King’s Landing once she heard bells of surrender.
The decision to have Drogon roast the defeated Randyll and Dickon Tarly alive would have more severe consequences.
Yes, Daenerys gave them a chance to bend the knee and live. But when it came to dealing out dragon fire, she didn’t hesitate.
Tyrion’s pleas for mercy worked as well on that occasion as they did before King’s Landing.
Which leads us to where we are now.
In retaliation for the execution of his relatives, Samwell Tarly told Jon he is Rhaegar’s son. Jon told Daenerys at Winterfell, heightening her feelings of isolation at a time when she was losing faith in his love and loyalty.
But Jon also confided in Sansa and Arya. The rest is flammable history.
Is it too much to suspect that when the Mad Queen wielded Drogon as a weapon of mass destruction she didn’t also hope Jon could be caught up in the conflagration – her rival dealt with as a victim of friendly dragon fire?
After The Bells screened, reports outlined the quandary of thousands of parents in the US. Since GoT debuted in 2011, about 3500 girls have been named Daenerys or Khaleesi.
The key lesson is that before naming your child after a genocidal despot, do your homework. It appears that the clues were there.