Daenerys has some dark family history to account for and it’s likely going to haunt her for a long time. In fact, the shadow of her father is still following her in Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 4, The Last of the Starks. Is she turning into the Mad King (aka the Mad Queen)? This post has major spoilers for Season 8 Episode 4.
The Mad King’s History
I personally don’t believe that Dany is turning into her dad, although I understand why those theories are cropping up (and why Varys is concerned.) Her father, Mad King Aerys, lost his mind at the end of his life. He wanted to kill pretty much all the people of King’s Landing, screaming BURN THEM ALL! Ultimately, Jaime had to kill him before he killed everyone.
Jamie had to kill King Aerys (aka The Mad King) because he wanted to unleash the Wildfire caches hidden under King’s Landing and burn everyone. He planned to burn the entire capital city to the ground rather than let rebels take over, and he didn’t care about who died in the process. When he was planning to destroy King’s Landing, the Mad King had pyromancers hide Wildfire under the Great Sept, under Flea Bottom, under houses, and under the Red Keep. The Mad King thought that everyone would die, but he would be turned into a dragon in the flames. (Similarly to how Prince Aerion Targaryen died after drinking Wildfire, thinking it would turn him into a dragon.) Jamie had to kill The Mad King to stop him.
There are a few theories about why Aerys went mad. One is that it has to do with inbreeding, since Tagaryens prefer to marry and have children within their own bloodline, believing they have magical dragon blood.
Another theory is that Bran somehow caused him to go crazy. Aerys was hearing whispers, and we saw that Bran was able to speak into the past at the Tower of Joy and young Ned heard him. Bran was also able to affect Hodor and essentially cause him to lose his mind. Did Bran do the same to the Mad King?
Whatever the cause of his madness, Dany carries that shadow with her.
Is Daenerys Turning Mad?
Her discomfort at the party made Varys worried. When she spoke to Jon Snow later, she admitted it was because she saw people wanting him to be King. Knowing what she did about Jon’s lineage and that he has a better claim to the throne than she does, she was worried that she would be forcefully pushed aside, whether Jon wanted it or not.
One might say that Daenerys is overly eager to be Queen. But her fears are also warranted. As Sansa later indicated, there’s simply no way northerners would accept Dany’s rule if they knew the truth about Jon being Aegon Targaryen.
Dany will be livid when she finds out that Jon broke his oath not to tell his sisters about his lineage. She read his sisters better than he did.
Later, Daenerys’ anger comes out even more after Rhaegal is killed by Euron. She is determined to burn down King’s Landing, including innocents if she must, in order to stop Cersei.
Varys begs Dany not to destroy the city she came to save. I don’t blame Dany for being angry. “I’m here to free the world from tyrants,” Dany says. “That is my destiny and I will serve it no matter the cost.”
Tyrion says it could be a fortnight before Jon reaches King’s Landing. Tyrion wants Dany to speak to Cersei first before destroying the city. Dany thinks it will do nothing, but the people need to know Cersei was to blame, not her, “when the sky falls down upon them.”
I still can’t blame Dany here or think that her attitudes indicate madness. Her child was just killed. She knows how dangerous Cersei is, and we all know that Cersei doesn’t care about her own people at all (as Tyrion later told Cersei.) We can assume Tyrion has told Dany about Cersei and what she has done. For Dany, killing innocents might be a terrible but necessary action to stop a tyrant from killing far more in the future. It’s a terrible decision to make, but it’s war and it requires a strong leader to make such decisions.
Varys later insists in a private talk with Tyrion that all tyrants talk about destiny, but Tyrion says that Dany might legitimately have a destiny here, considering her dragons and the miracle of their birth and all that she has accomplished. “How do you know she wasn’t (sent her to save us all)?” Tyrion says.
So the seeds of doubt about Daenerys have been planted. Is she a Mad Queen, taking after her father? And yet I can’t help but think that Cersei is truly the Mad Queen. (The books even hinted she might be Targaryen herself.) And Sansa could be a runner up for one.
Consider that the Mad King wanted to kill everyone to prevent the rebels from taking over AND he thought he would become a dragon in the fire. This isn’t Dany. She wants to stop a tyrant in order to ultimately save more people than might be killed in the process.
In my opinion, Dany’s a red herring. Perhaps Sansa is a bit Mad King like herself, since her thirst for power is enough to try to keep Dany from taking the throne instead of Jon. And of course, Cersei is the true Mad King/Queen. She was willing to kill her own people in Wildfire to stop her enemies. Cersei is taking after Mad King Aerys more than his daughter Daenerys is.