Of the characters in Game of Thrones, Daenerys has had the most purely upward trajectory. She began the series a naïve girl, abused by her brother, but morphed into the Dragon Queen, who confidently conquered lands and amassed faithful followers. But with that rise has come the hardest fall, and the penultimate installment of the series finds Daenerys Targaryen consumed by anger and paranoia, turning into the Mad Queen that her ancestry has foretold.
The "previously on" intro to "The Bells" laid the show's intentions on thick, as if to try and remind viewers that this had always been a possibility. As Emilia Clarke's grim face that ended Episode 4 fills the screen, a chorus of voices ring out.
"Every time a Targaryen is born, the gods flip a coin." "The Mad King gave his enemies the justice he thought they deserved." "Children are not their fathers." "Be a dragon." "You have a gentle heart." "Targaryen, alone in the world, is a terrible thing." "You don't want to wake the dragon, do you?"
The series of quotes from various characters ranging from Cersei Lannister to Aemon Targaryen speak to the binary that has defined the Targaryen name and will come to define Daenerys' trajectory. If you're a Targaryen you have two choices: You go insane, or you don't. Either seem to end in untimely death. By the first scenes of the episode, it seemed clear which path Daenerys was hurdling down. Not because it made narrative sense, necessarily, but because it seemed inevitable.