Wild Ways

The Game of Dragons: Drogon realised the futility of war when people couldn't

Drogon not avenging his mother's murder, and obliterating the cycle of violence is a fantastic glimpse into a more-than-human point of view.

 |  Wild Ways  |  5-minute read |   22-05-2019
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Spoilers Ahead.

The world watched the last episode of Game of Thrones with mixed feelings. Despite its violence and chauvinistic characters, the series gave us fantastic women. The suave survivor Sansa Stark, the erudite assassin-explorer Arya Stark, the unapologetic and woman-loving Yara, the icy Cersei who wished she was born a boy, and the fiery, passionate Daenerys Targaryen. Yet two of the most wonderful, horrid and complex women characters were squandered. The greatest queens of the eight-year-long show — Cersei Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen — both went down with a whimper, whipped into endings that did their characters no justice. Cersei died sobbing in the arms of her lover; Daenerys died a mass murderer, stabbed by her lover. It’s almost as if these strong women could not be sustained, and so they needed to be minimised to what women are often reduced to in pop culture — to hysterical tears or madness. Fans felt cheated. Many stated that the last season, which had just six episodes (as opposed to ten), was wrapped up far too hastily, favouring closure over the narrative.

And yet, the very last episode does justice to a very special kind of character — a non-human, giant, fire-breathing dragon.

Drogon, son of Daenerys, finally got the character arc and decision-making power he deserved. The series ends with Drogon doing what no human could — choosing to melt the seat of power, the Iron Throne, and symbolically ending the madness and power-lust it stood for. Through his fire, he gave closure to the books, which are called The Song of Ice and Fire. In the end, he becomes the embodiment of his mother’s desire of ‘breaking the wheel’ or transforming the world. Though Daenerys ultimately dies because of the Iron Throne, Drogon destroying the Throne is also his acerbic comment on human politics. Most importantly, though he rages at the death of his mother, he does not become the dead-eyed killer she became. He knows Jon Snow has murdered the only human he loved. But he spares Jon, flying off after tenderly lifting his mother’s tiny, cold body.

Thus, not only is a symbol of violence obliterated, another cycle of violence is broken.

Before this, the three dragons — Drogon and his two siblings — were reduced to military weapons by Daenerys. I have argued in this column earlier that the way the TV show characterised the dragons have done them a disservice. In the books, the wild animal’s points of view have more importance, adding richness and complexity. Bran and some of the Stark siblings can ‘warg’ (fuse consciousness with) animals, Rickon Stark is feral like his direwolf. The dragons are the most important fantasy beasts in both the book and TV series, but they have been streamlined in the TV show. Wild and unknowable in the books, they are perfectly obedient weapons for the fire-loving Daenerys on screen. And despite the fact that Daenerys’ chief advisor Tyrion Lannister said dragons are wiser than men, I waited to experience the point of view of the dragons in the show. It almost took eight years, but finally, we now see what the dragon thinks. That he does not think too highly of war and political thrones is telling.

main_drogon-grieving_052119034344.jpgIn grieving his mother Daenerys' death, Drogon establishes that he is a more evolved being than the human characters. He exercised judgment even in blinding anger and grief. (Photo: HBO)

In his other fiction, George RR Martin, author of the Game of Thrones source material, characterises his dragons with great care. In his story, ‘The Ice Dragon’, part of a collection called Dreamsongs, Martin creates a world of an Ice dragon and its choices, and how those choices help a little girl. The dragon’s actions are as important as the girl’s — both are a true match for each other. And this is the true gambit of high fantasy — establishing worlds in different timelines, with fantastic locations — perhaps different planets — and with a set of terrifying creatures with high abilities. In science-fiction, you may get ‘creature features’ with gigantic monsters: marauding Godzillas, or blonde-woman-loving King Kong primates. But high fantasy offers us more than just a giant or monster. It gives us creatures with a conscience that can offer us an alternative view of the world. Some speak plainly like Smaug, JRR Tolkein’s dragon in The Hobbit, others speak telepathically like Saphira, Christopher Paolini’s dragon in The Inheritance Cycle books.

At the end of eight years of watching the world’s most popular and frequently tragic show, I have reached closure with one image: Drogon knowing his mother has died without seeing her, and Drogon screaming his grief while discovering her body. He is all alone in the universe now — the only known dragon left in the world, mourning for the only human he loved. In a sense, him not taking easy revenge on the human world is a fantastic glimpse into a more-than-human point of view.

He is non-human; at that moment, he also seems better than humans.

And these are alternative narratives and preternatural points of views — isn’t that truly what fantasy is all about?

Also read: Why Game of Thrones does a disservice to dragons

Writer

Neha Sinha Neha Sinha @nehaa_sinha

Neha Sinha is a wildlife conservationist, and lover of the weird, wonderful, wordy and wild. She works with the Bombay Natural History Society and her views are personal.

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