Is 'Game of Thrones' Backlash Deserved for Daenerys' 'Star Wars' Twist?

Game of Thrones Daenerys Targaryen Emilia Clarke HBO
As a viewer, it was hard to reconcile all of the negativity that got heaped on “Game of Thrones” ahead of its final episode. Before Season 8 began, it seemed the most turbulent time would come after the show had finished airing. After all, it is a rare occasion when a series finale pleases everyone.

Spoilers for “Game of Thrones” Season 8 finale are detailed below.

Daenerys' actions in the last episode before the series finale incurred a massive backlash from fans. The issue being the “Star Wars” style twist that saw Daenerys become Darth Vader. In the penultimate episode, Daenerys embraced her inner Targaryen to its fullest. It is a theme she took with her through the last chapter and to her grave.

Even though the citizens of King’s Landing rang the bell to declare their surrender, it was not enough. Daenerys swooped down on her dragon and began burning everything in sight. The result was mass murder and a “Star Wars” style twist that meant Daenerys/Anakin turning into the Mad Queen/Darth Vader.

In the series finale, two of Daenerys’ one-timebiggest fans, Jon Snow and Tyrion, walked through the carnage of King’s Landing following the inferno. Little children, their parents, and other innocents caught in the literal crossfire. Daenerys came into the final episode with her moral status completely bankrupt in my eyes.

Her blood lust knew no bounds, and as the “Game of Thrones” finale;unraveled, it became clear she was unrepentant and far from done. Once against her, always against her. Hence, even if an enemy laid down their sword and surrendered to her, she would still kill them.

Why? Because they dared to defy her in the first place. In the end, Daenerys embraced the legacy of her father and turned into his successor -- The Mad Queen.

Criticism of Daenerys' descent has been abundant and “Game of Thrones” will probably continue taking heat for it. As social media ramped up with criticism of the finale, it was hard to know if those fans were upset because of how everything ended. Or solely because they did not like the way Daenerys' story turned out.

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In Tyrion's talk with Jon during the finale, “Game of Thrones” addressed everything that had led to Daenerys' decimation of King's Landing. As Tyrion pointed out to Jon and the audience, it has been a long time coming. Daenerys’ descent into madness was not a single episode development. It took eight seasons to get to it.

Along the way, Daenerys has done numerous acts that have foreshadowed her actions in the series' penultimate hour. She has executed people by burning them alive and watched coldly as her brother's head got melted.

That she had never shown any humility regarding her House's history or her designs on the Iron Throne had also been revealing. She did not even flinch or offer Jon Snow the throne when she learned the truth.

The Mother of Dragons never showed any doubt that she believed she was entitled to the Iron Throne. Daenerys was a character whose morality had always had a question mark beside it. In the series finale, she explained her thinking.

Daenerys thought she was justified to murder civilians because they had accepted the rule of a leader, they were hard-pressed to overthrow. To say it was a maniacal assessment would be putting it mildly.

It was one formed by someone who had no compassion or sense of the people she wanted to rule. Varys always knew what the people were up against. Daenerys' lack of empathy was simply staggering. However, it was in-character.

If you take a hard look back, Daenerys’ downfall is no more surprising than Anakin Skywalker’s in “Star Wars.” In the second two prequel films, viewers follow Anakin Skywalker as a young, cocky, and seemingly good-hearted person.

He falls in love, fears losing his wife goes rogue and commits a horrible act of reprehensible violence. Thus, his turn to the "dark side" of the force. Anakin did not start out as the villain of the story. Regardless, his destiny was to become it.

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As was the case with Anakin, viewers got to look over Daenerys’ shoulder through the years. That proximity and first impression of her as a hero became lodged in many minds.

Daenerys was not always a bad person. She just always had the makings to become one. That's what makes her fall so cruel and understandably upsetting to fans of the character.

First impressions, as the saying goes, are hard to overcome. Even in the face of mounting evidence that Daenerys’ thirst for power was unquenchable and her sense of compassion non-existent. Her actions in the penultimate were not those of fear.

She felt justified to kill people despite their surrender because they did not bend in the first place. Her actions are no different than all of the other times she has done the same. As Tyrion pointed out in the series finale, her previous behavior was simply obscured because of who she was doing it too. She was a tyrant from the get-go.

Daenerys is Darth Vader. No one complained when Anakin arrived at his endgame. Even if it did feel a tad rushed in the final prequel film. It was where we all knew he was headed. Daenerys' arc was far more challenging to predict because “Game of Thrones” is a sequential story.

When it comes to a character that viewers have come to care about, there is never enough lead-up time that can be devoted to setting up their downfall. Denial is a powerful thing.

However, “Game of Thrones” had given viewers 72 episodes of Daenerys’ journey to set the stage for what transpired. All of which foretold the inevitable climax. The evidence was all there. There have been fans that acknowledged Daenerys’ descent long before it actually came to fruition. Her actions gave them a reason to suspect it.

If you cannot get mad at “Star Wars” for making Anakin into Darth Vader, can you get mad at “Game of Thrones” for Daenerys turning into the Mad Queen? I don’t think so.

The difference between the two mythologies is that all-important first impression. “Star Wars” already told you Anakin was ill-fated to become a villain. Hence, viewers could accept it. Like in real life, Daenerys' villainy was told chronologically. Making the chance for denial and a lack of acceptance easier to access.

In the end, Anakin turned from the dark side in “Star Wars” and attempted redemption. Daenerys did not. In her final moments during the series finale of “Game of Thrones,” she showed no sense she had any redemption to seek. Hers and Anakin's cases are not identical. However, the similarities are personally fascinating to contemplate.

[Featured Image by Helen Sloan / HBO]