'Game of Thrones' Finale: Charting Daenerys Targaryen's Path Toward Victory

As the Mother of Dragons storms toward Westeros, can anything stand in her way?
Courtesy of HBO

[Warning: This story contains spoilers for the season six finale of HBO's Game of Thrones, "The Winds of Winter."]

Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) said it best: "This is actually happening."

The newly minted Hand of the Queen spoke for millions of viewers when Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) finally pulled up anchor in Essos and set sail for Westeros, ending a lifetime of exile away from her rightful home, and putting Game of Thrones on the path toward the finish line.

Indeed, with only 10 to 15 episodes of the series remaining, Dany's journey to the Seven Kingdoms is and was always destined to be endgame material. Had she arrived earlier in the series, Thrones would have wrapped up a long time ago. Really, given everything on her side, what's to stop her from securing the Iron Throne within minutes of season seven launching? 

As a recap, here's everything in the Dragon Queen's corner at the moment:

— The Dothraki, fiercely loyal to Daenerys following their liberation from an oppressive regime.

— The Unsullied, even more loyal ever since Dany freed them from the Masters at Astapor back in season three.

— The Greyjoys, their ships committed to Dany's cause, hinging on the promise of liberation for the Iron Islands as its own independent nation.

— The Targaryen Fleet, in the form of the countless ships Dany won from the Masters during the short-lived battle at the Bay of Dragons, previously known as Slaver's Bay.

— Dorne, under the rule of Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) and her Sand Snakes, their cause bound to Dany's as they seek revenge against House Lannister.

— Highgarden, or what's left of it after Cersei (Lena Headey) murdered Margaery (Natalie Dormer) and Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones) in a hail of wildfire; only the vengeful Queen of Thorns (Dianna Rigg) and her house's wealth remain.

— Tyrion, who knows a thing or two about navigating political waters, and knows even more about the psychology of the enemy: his sweet sister and the Seven Kingdoms' new Mad Queen.

— Drogon, Viserion and Rhaegal, the three flying and fire-breathing beasts who report only to Daenerys, incinerating enemies at her beck and call.

Stack all of these assets against Cersei Lannister's resources, and it's an absolute blowout. There's little love lost between the common folk and the crown, and perhaps a sense of nostalgia for the good days of the Targaryen regime. The deck is stacked in Dany's favor.

But that's not to say there aren't obstacles in her path. Up first: Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbaek), the official king of the Iron Islands, at least for now. In the books, Euron boasts a great horn called Dragonbinder, which he swears can control dragons. Physical evidence of its use suggests that it's not all hot air, and there's an actual magic property to the horn. The show has not hinted at the Dragonbinder's existence, so for now, consider it an unlikely outcome. But some sort of showdown between the warring Greyjoy clans is inevitable, and the use of a dragon-manipulating magical device is not completely out of the question.

Another obstacle: Cersei's insanity. She already proved her willingness to decimate one of the most historic landmarks in King's Landing, and the hundreds if not thousands of people in the surrounding area, for the sole purpose of destroying her enemies. Who's to say that a backed-in-the-corner Cersei can't pull the wildfire trick again, razing King's Landing to the ground in a large-scale version of a child taking their ball and going home? Dany has the numbers and allies, but if wildfire still exists beneath the city's surface (and based on Tyrion's description of the Mad King's resources during "Battle of the Bastards," there's reason to assume it does), Cersei might have her finger on the trigger of a veritable nuclear warhead that could level King's Landing in an instant, for no other reason than spite. That's a crisis situation a large army and a few dragons can't negotiate without some finesse.

Then there's Jon Snow (Kit Harington)… or is it Jon Targaryen? The season finale revealed Jon's true heritage for viewers, if not for the new King in the North himself. If he's Rhaegar Targaryen's legitimate son, then Jon boasts the strongest claim for the Iron Throne out there. Even if he's not interested in that much power, Jon's strong-headed goals might not mesh well with Daenerys, at least not until they both come to learn the truth about their shared bloodline.

Finally, there's the White Walkers, a force inevitably crossing over into Westeros, and one that will demand the combined effort of several parties working together. Dany's dragons and Jon's frozen nemeses can't exist in the same story without an eventual collision, but perhaps it's not a foregone conclusion that Drogon et al can roast the White Walkers in a single breath. Underestimating the Night King is never advisable, and it's even more dangerous to assume he doesn't have a workaround against the dragons.

All in all, while Dany's forces are so well fortified, there are still obstacles standing between her and the ultimate goal of winning the Iron Throne. Will she get what she wants in the end? It is not known, despite what the Dothraki would have you believe — but it looks promising.

Watch the video for more on the season finale's highlights:

Follow THR's Game of Thrones coverage for more deep dives, interviews and news.

comments powered by Disqus