Game Of Thrones Season 5 Episode 2: The Good and Bad of Daenerys’ Big Decision

game of thrones drogon and daenerys

Game Of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 2 “The House Of Black And White”

This week’s Game Of Thrones did not have an epic death like the 2nd episode “The Lion and The Rose” of last season but it was certainly eventful. We saw the introduction of Prince Doran who will be featured prominently this season. For some interesting tidbits about Prince Doran and Dorne, including how the Dornish resisted the Targaryen dragon invasion, take a look at “What You Need To Know About Dorne” post.

Moving on to Bravos … Arya is back! I’ll be putting up an exciting Arya related post later in the week, so don’t worry if I don’t talk much about her here. 😉

The focus of this post is on Daenery’s decision at the end of the episode. Is Daenerys’ act of blind justice a political blunder? Game Of Thrones is great at creating scenarios that force our characters to make tough decisions which have significant consequences. These are often thought provoking scenarios, leaving us with lots of different angles to consider. In defense of Daenerys, I want to add to the conversation about why she made her decision, as well as why this could bite her in the ass. There will be full spoilers from here on.

got-daenarys-house of black and white

Let me start first by saying that while there have been issues with the way Daenerys is portrayed and how her story lines are handled at times, overall her journey of empowerment and learning to be a good ruler is a compelling, worthwhile arc for me.

As you know, Dany’s big decision of this episode is on executing Mossador, who’s not only a former slave but is the spokesperson for all the slaves she set free in Meereen. Against Dany’s orders, Mossador put to death a Son Of The Harpy prisoner without a fair trial. It’s a little bit more nuanced than that as Mossador’s motive was for his Mhysa, because her hands were tied as he put it. But Mossador’s intention does not absolve him from his actions.

If Dany wished, she could have given Mossador a lesser sentence or executed him behind closed doors. The fact that she made a spectacle of Mossador’s execution in front of all the city to witness is Dany’s way of making a statement.

So what exactly is her statement that she wants to get across? For me, it’s more than Dany taking a hard stand that the “law is the law”. As Mhysa, she’s teaching her children on the importance of justice. Mossador mentioned earlier in the episode that the slaves previously learned from what their masters taught them. As harsh as it is, she’s showing them another way. This is her way of conveying an impartial value that she believes in the long run will be better for her people. Not to make light of the situation, but it’s sort of like a parent who makes a tough decision, knowing that their child might despise them in the short term but hopefully will one day grow up to respect where the decision is coming from and will be better off for it.

Game Of Thrones Mossador

The other message is that while the previous masters may have done as they pleased, Dany as their current ruler is not above the law herself. Otherwise, the line between slave master and ruler becomes increasingly blurry. Plus, she wouldn’t be much a “breaker of chains” if she did not act fairly and equally to all whether they are a former slave or master.

Another possible angle, and this is just me rambling, is the implication of Dany’s decision won’t be lost on the Sons Of The Harpy or the former masters who are against her occupation. Like Mossador mentioned, mercy means nothing to the masters, all they understand is blood. Beheading a person who was in her own council, says a lot about who she is, what she stands for and that she’s not going to crumble under the weight of these Harpy attacks. If this is the justice she serves to the people she set free, these Harpies should think about what’s coming to them.

The immediate consequence is that the former slaves are hissing at Dany (a few snake references in this episode by the way) and starting a riot. As if it wasn’t already tough enough dealing with The Sons Of The Harpy, there’s no faction left in Meereen that supports her rule at the moment. She’s really painted herself into a corner. Dany’s needs to pick her battles and learn to know where and when to make certain concessions.

Is the damage irreversible or will justice prevail? It will be interesting to see if by setting this precedent, it will work to her advantage down the line. She could have but didn’t go down the road of political expediency. Maybe I am wrong, but the comparisons to how Ned’s warped sense of honor led to his demise doesn’t exactly line up with what Daenerys is doing. She’s seems to have her head on her shoulders … for now.

What do you think? Did Daenerys make a terrible decision or is there is an upside to doing what is just?

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Posted on April 21, 2015, in Game of Thrones, Television and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Good points about Dany’s decision. I’m thinking it’s a partial mistake yet an understandable choice. How can she claim to offer justice if her own inner circle is above the law? The way she hesitated before giving the final Okay, I thought she may have changed her mind. And to the former slave point – he thought there was no other choice than to kill the Son of the Harpy for the discretion. Though Mossador thought he was justified in his actions, he was too blind to realize that Dany does not play favorites. Will be interesting to see how things play out after this.
    The return of Dorgon! He was huge – time away has done him some good. Dany needs to let the other two dragons go and not be afraid of them. How can she use them to fight for her when she does exactly what she has been trying to banish in her city – chain them up?
    I loved the Arya scenes and think they could almost spend a whole episode on just what happens to her (but there aren’t enough episodes for that to really happen).
    More Dorne! Really – they need more scenes from Dorne. The brief glimpse was great but, more!
    Brienne – “grab the horses” Pod – “we only have one” – Brienne – “find more” (or something along those lines). Perfectly acted and too funny. If there’s one person I don’t want dying it’s Pod. He’s so lovable and fun. Jamie and Bronn should be an interesting combo. Don’t think it’ll be as natural as Bronn and Tyrion, but Jamie seems to be slightly redeemed from his time with Brienne.
    Sigh – only eight more episodes left. 😦 Martin found another way to torture his fans, albeit via HBO/Benioff and Weiss – not enough episodes!

    • The backlash to Dany’s decision was instant, I would think she would have anticipated it. At this point in the story it’s probably more bad than good decision, but tides could turn. Like you said, we can understand her choice. I liked that look on her face before the execution, it was a difficult decision for her. Maybe her heart wanted to save him but perhaps her mind went back and forth, eventually deciding to stick to her guns. That’s a good point that the former slave didn’t realize Dany is impartial and doesn’t play favorites, it cost him his life. I loved the season 4 finale and the irony of having to chain up her dragons. My guess is that those two dragons will be set free by the end of the season, I mean for the sake of story progress there needs to be some development there. I liked the moment that Drogon and Dany shared, especially since her other two dragons are angry with her.

      If we take all of Arya’s scenes in a season, it would probably be an episode’s worth or just over an hour. I guess that’s what happens when there are so many story lines going on in only 10 episodes a season. I’m really liking Prince Doran, I’m curious how viewers will take him since he’s different from what made his brother a fan favorite.

      I’m a huge fan of Pod and Brienne, their chemistry is great and funny. It’s interesting that Pod here is a little bit feeble, ie throwing a rock that totally misses and just stands there when a mounted horse is attacking him. At the Battle of Blackwater in Season 2 he seemed to hold his own. But I guess saving Tyrion by killing a guy from behind doesn’t necessarily make him a badass fighter. He still a lot of training to do before he becomes a knight.

      Jamie and Bronn will probably be another favorite pairing. I love how this show mixes and matches up the characters. It’s great writing how Jamie is now mostly liked by fans when in the first two seasons there was nothing to like about him.

      I think at one point G.R.R. Martin hoped there’d be 13 episodes a season. I guess the show is so expensive. I know right, only 8 more! :(. This show is so awesome!

  2. As you know I am a big Dany fan, but I didn’t love the way this went down. But at the same time I think making mistakes like this is part why the Meereen arc is important. It is like training wheels for Westeros (sorry Meereen, she needs to practice somewhere). You actually make some good points here on her side which I hadn’t thought of which I appreciate because I was having a hard time defending the way this went myself… haha. Another good blog! Looking forward to the Arya one.

    • I would love to see Dany get to Westeros sooner than later! I know some fans can’t stand her but I’m one of her supporters :). Yeah, she is certainly making mistakes but better to do them in Meereen than when she’s in Westeros. This is another reason why I’m excited if Tyrion joins Dany because she could use his advice. It was tough defending Dany but I guess somebody had to try haha. Hope you like the Arya one, it’ll be something different. Thanks Matthew!

  3. brendantbewley

    I really liked reading this. Some consider what Dany is doing to be obviously right/badass or obviously wrong, but what I think is so compelling about the Mereen arc is how nuanced each of these decisions are, and you really appreciate the nuance here. I think you’re right about each of her motivations (hadn’t even thought of the Sons of the Harpy angle but I think you’re right.) And I do think it’s short term loss but long time gain, especially for establishing some kind of rule of law in Mereen. But did it need to be public? I’m already morally opposed to making a display of someone’s death, and maybe she would not have such a violent, immediate reaction to the execution if it was done more quietly…but once he disobeyed her orders, he had to go

    • Firstly, welcome to the blog! Feel free to always share your thoughts and opinions here. The nuance of Dany’s decision kept me thinking long after watching, a sign of solid writing by the show runners. Since equality and justice go hand in hand, I can see why Dany would want to impart these to her people. I like that the show delves into this. I come from a country that doesn’t have capitol punishment, so maybe that’s why I also question why they need to execute prisoners let alone in public, but I guess this is a different culture with different values. I appreciate your comments. I didn’t initially plan on doing this post, nice to know you liked reading it.

  4. I really didn’t like Dany’s decision at all. Of course I thought he should have been punished but making a spectacle of it was a huge mistake. The crowd chanting mercy reminded me of that scene from Gladiator where the Cesar had to hold his hand from killing Maximus. The mob is power it was said and is true.

    I want to see more of Dorne and it’s women! I bet they are the best lay on the show. Can I say that? Is this a pg13 site lol

    • Dany’s decision wasn’t popular but it could be slippery slope to rule by popular opinion. I don’t know about this site but GOT isn’t a pg13 show so you’ll pretty much guaranteed to be seeing a lot more of Dorne ladies. 😉

  5. You can’t be a leader and everyone’s friend. Just be decisive and avoid going insane. Be better most world leaders we currently have 😀

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