“You’ve changed.” A phrase that’s often loaded with negativity. But in the case of Game of Thrones‘ Daenerys Targaryen, she’s changed beyond recognition – and it’s largely for the better.
When Game of Thrones viewers were first introduced to Daenerys, she was a meek and mild slip of a thing who was very much in the thrall of her brother, Viserys. Given in marriage to Khal Drogo by way of persuading the Dothraki to furnish her brother with an army of 40,000 soldiers, as viewers we looked on horrified. Especially when we saw how Drogo’s people treated women. Let’s just say that equality didn’t really figure in their world.
Actually, let’s not just say that. Let’s also say that the Dothraki were treating their women like pieces of meat. We feared for the ethereal innocent at the hands of this would-be rapist. But it would be an experience that Daenerys would resourcefully turn to her benefit. It was the making of her.
The Daenerys Targaryen going into Season 7 is almost unrecognisable from the one we met in Season 1 – and not just in appearance. Here are seven ways in which Daenerys has changed:
Looks Aren’t Everything
Except in Daenerys’ case, they kind of are. The way she looks now reflects the changes she’s gone through. In her leadership role, she’s perfectly coiffed and groomed with a regal air, and commands the respect of her followers.
When she started out, she was all tumbling, wavy, unkempt locks and ragged, hippy-style clothing and floaty, diaphanous garms. She wouldn’t have looked out of place at a festival. In fact, her look spawned a gazillion copycats at music festivals around the world. REAL LIFE.
Now, she’ll even wear trousers and practical footwear under elegant, often structured dresses so that she’s prepared for fight or flight situations.
She’s In Charge of Her Sexuality
Starting out as a timid girl and would-be sex slave, we’ve seen Daenerys develop to take total control of her sexuality. First, we saw her determined to make sex with her new husband Khal Drogo a more pleasurable experience for not only her but also him, then we saw her teach him about love. Their once horrifying pairing became a touching love story. She’s also used her sexuality to get what she wants, and taken charge in other romantic situations – Daario Naharis springs to mind.
She Raised Dragons
Being Mother of Dragons can automatically bring you a lot of respect for obvious reasons. At the beginning of the show, Daenerys had no dragons and was sold into what was essentially slavery. When she acquired dragon eggs, and then those dragon eggs hatched, she started to grow exponentially in confidence. Knowing that she had the loyalty of her dragons – who we’ve seen grow to massive, fearsome beasts – meant she could, and can, do pretty much whatever the hell she wants. They’ve got her back.
She’s Aware of Her Powers
At the beginning, if she’d known what she was capable of, Daenerys would most likely have found another way to deal with her situation. And she certainly wouldn’t have let her brother Viserys abuse her the way he did. Once you know you can actually BE IN FIRE and not get burned, the world is your oyster. And the Dany we see now is one who is going out fishing for that oyster, in the firm belief that it’s hers.
It’s difficult to imagine that she could have killed anyone at the beginning of Game of Thrones. She wouldn’t even stand up to her brother. Fast forward to the moment that she crucifies the Masters of the Unsullied. Old Dany would have definitely shown them mercy – if she’d even managed to get into that situation in the first place. New Dany did it with conviction because she knew it had to be done. She doesn’t always make the best decisions, however. She can be quite stubborn and can press ahead with her own bidding even if she’s advised not to. In fact, she’s more likely to if somebody tells her not to. A touch of arrogance perhaps?
The more Game of Thrones presses on, the more Daenerys seems to feel the throne is her right, and the more determined she is to secure it. She doesn’t entertain the notion that somebody else could rightfully stake a claim. It often doesn’t feel like it’s a matter of installing the right person to lead in the position, it feels instead it’s more about seizing power. With Daenerys, it feels like it’s mainly a case of “It’s mine, I want it.”
She’s Jon Snow’s Auntie
Who would have thought that Daenerys would eventually be revealed to be the aunt of one of the show’s only other noble characters, Jon Snow? While it allies her in name with one of her rivals for the Iron Throne, we don’t yet know what will this mean for either character, and the outcome of the series.
Game of Thrones returns to screens on July 16 in the US and airs simultaneously in the UK at 2am on July 17.