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The wild GoT episode 5 twist explained

Contains spoilers for Game of Thrones season 8, episode 5 "The Bells"

Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) is known by many titles: the First of Her Name, the Queen of the Andals and the First Men, the Protector of the Seven Kingdoms, the Mother of Dragons, the Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, and the Breaker of Chains. On the latest episode of Game of Thrones, Dany gained yet another name — one she insisted she would never take on, as long as she could help it. Here's how the twist went down and what it all means. 

We're about to enter spoiler territory, so turn back now if you have yet to watch the fifth episode of Game of Thrones' eighth and final season. 

As Daenerys admits during the episode, she has only known fear in Westeros — not the love that her nephew-slash-boyfriend Jon Snow (Kit Harington), the true heir to the Iron Throne, has felt for years. This realization, combined with her newfound knowledge that her Master of Whisperers Varys (Conleth Hill) committed treason against her in shifting his loyalty to Jon and the recent death of her trusted adviser Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), pushed Dany past her breaking point, — and down she tumbled into the madness that her father, King Aerys II Targaryen, had suffered when he sat on the Iron Throne amidst Robert's Rebellion. 

She added the name "the Mad Queen" to her string of titles on episode 5, burning King's Landing and thousands of innocent men, women, and children on her mission to unseat Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) and take the Iron Throne herself. 

Dany time and again stated that she was not a carbon copy of her father, she wouldn't make the same mistakes he did, and she had no intention of becoming the "Queen of the Ashes" in pursuit of the Throne. But that's exactly what wound up happening during this latest episode, in a flip-switch moment many viewers felt was a wild twist. However, in the eyes of Game of Thrones showrunners, Daenerys going mad wasn't quite a twist.

David Benioff and Dan Weiss explained during the "Inside the Episode" featurette for season 8, episode 5 that Thrones had long foreshadowed Dany's spiraling into instability, and that there are plenty of clues sprinkled throughout past seasons that signaled this would happen eventually. 

One such clue is the death of Daenerys' brother, Viserys, during season 1 of Game of Thrones. Benioff cited this as a perfect moment that demonstrates how terrifying she becomes when her enemies die: Dany didn't second-guess her decision to have Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) pour molten gold over Viserys' head, and refused to look away when the deed was carried out, wanting to watch him suffer through the pain. Viserys begged and pleaded for her to call off the order, but Daenerys was unflinching. "He was no dragon," she said after Viserys fell to the ground and died. "Fire cannot kill a dragon."

Benioff said of Daenerys' haunting actions in that scene, "There is something chilling about the way Dany has responded to the death of her enemies. Even when you look back to season one when Khal Drogo gives the golden crown to Viserys, and her reaction of watching her brother's head melted off."

And Benioff is right: Daenerys has a documented history of killing, or ordering others to kill on her behalf, and exhibiting no signs of hesitancy. Sure, it can be argued that some of her victims deserved their just desserts, but Dany's reaction across the board has been largely the same. She burnt the Lhazareen maegi Mirri Maz Duur (Mia Soteriou) alive and almost relished in her cries, then sentenced Xaro Xhoan Daxos (Nonso Anozie) and a Dothraki handmaiden named Doreah (Roxanne McKee) to die in a vault and didn't think twice. Daenerys also burnt the Astapori slave-owner Kraznys mo Nakloz (Dan Hildebrand) alive (fire is clearly her preferred instrument of terror), and was thrilled to do it. The Mother of Dragons gave a chilling speech about how she deserved to rule just before she burnt a horde of Dothraki warlords, including Khal Moro (Joe Naufahu), to death. And who could forget her ruthless flaming of Samwell Tarly's (John Bradley) brother and father — plus her execution of Varys that came at the top of this episode? 

The series has shown that Daenerys isn't afraid of doling out death sentences, and she once even said that she and her forces would "burn cities to the ground," but that attitude contrasts harshly to the other side of her personality — the side that frees wrongfully enslaved people, liberates cities, and promises to "break the wheel" instead of simply stopping it. Dany turning into the person she said she would never become — the woman who strikes fear into the hearts of the Westerosi people, the Queen of the Ashes, the spitting image of her father — was shocking even if there were breadcrumbs leading up to the snapping point. 

From Weiss' perspective, he doesn't feel that Daenerys always intended to burn King's Landing and its citizens to a crisp, though there was a lot of build-up that would show cause for her doing so. Rather, Weiss noted that Dany decided to take that course of action the moment she arrived in the capital city, when she was affronted with the place and the people who took everything away from her. 

"I don't think she decided ahead of time that she was going to do what she did. Then she sees the Red Keep, which is to her the home that her family built when they first came over to this country 300 years ago," said Weiss. "It's in this moment on the walls of King's Landing where she's looking at that symbol of everything that was taken from her, when she makes the decision to make this personal."

Benioff added that Daenerys may never have become the Mad Queen if her journey to the Iron Throne had played out differently. He believes that if certain events hadn't occurred, she may have taken King's Landing and dethroned Cersei without killing innocents or burning the entire city to ashes. 

"If circumstances had been different, I don't think this side of Dany ever would have come out. If Cersei hadn't betrayed her [in the agreement to fight the White Walkers], if Cersei hadn't executed Missandei, if Jon hadn't told her the truth… if any of these things happened in a different way, then I don't think we'd be seeing this side of Daenerys Targaryen," he said. 

Unfortunately, this side of Daenerys Targaryen did come out, and it will probably be her undoing. It's tough to imagine the people of Westeros rallying behind Daenerys after she needlessly murdered thousands of people via dragon fire (and a bit of Wildfire, too) and decimated the country's capital. Now that she's gone full Mad Queen, Dany likely can't go back to the person she used to be. Her dream to sit on the Iron Throne may never come true — despite her greatest enemy, Cersei, dying in the chaos of the siege and Jon constantly saying he will always support Dany. 

At this point, anyone can make a run to become the new king or queen of Westeros, but one thing is for certain: it will be an intense fight to the finish during the final episode of Game of Thrones. As Dany actress Emilia Clarke once said of the concluding season, "It's the car crash of every emotion you can possibly imagine. It's like a nuclear bomb." 

If this most recent episode of Thrones was that bomb, the consequences come next episode, the last-ever installment of the series, will be greater than anyone could have imagined.