- Warning: Spoilers ahead for the series finale of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
- Daenerys Targaryen went to the House of the Undying on the second season finale and was shown a vision of the destroyed Red Keep and snow falling on the Iron Throne.
- In this vision, Daenerys never touched the throne and instead turned toward a symbol of death.
- Though the showrunners didn’t know how the series would end when that scene was written, it still managed to fit the theme of Dany’s downfall.
- George R.R. Martin’s version of the vision in the book also has key pieces of foreshadowing about Jon Snow’s role in Daenerys’ death.
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HBO’s “Game of Thrones” came to a dramatic close on Sunday, after Jon Snow killed Daenerys Targaryen as they stood before the Iron Throne. This deadly end for the Mother of Dragons was foretold both in a prophecy about Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa in the books and in a vision Daenerys had on the second season of the show.
On the second season finale, “Valar Morghulis,” Daenerys went to the House of the Undying to retrieve her dragons. It was there that she saw the Iron Throne for the first time, and the series finale on Sunday re-created this sequence.
Keep reading to learn how this vision wound up accidentally foreshadowing Daenerys Targaryen’s death on “Game of Thrones.”
The show’s version of the House of the Undying sequence
“Game of Thrones” changed many of the details surrounding Daenerys’ trip to the House of the Undying. For starters, all three of her dragons were taken from her, instead of just Rhaegal and Viserion. So she walks through a series of rooms, following their cries.
The first big room she enters is none other than the Red Keep’s main hall, where the Iron Throne sits. But it isn’t the Red Keep as we’d seen on the show thus far. The version Daenerys walks into is in ruins, with the ceiling caved in and snow falling to the floor.
The seven-pointed star is in the background, as it would be for King Joffrey’s reign.
And though the events of season eight, episode five, “The Bells,” made some people believe that Daenerys had seen ash instead of snow inside the Red Keep, a copy of the season two’s episode script reviewed by INSIDER at the Writers Guild Foundation library in Los Angeles said it was definitely snow.
This is the first time in her life Daenerys sees the Iron Throne, despite hearing so much about the seat of power in Westeros for her whole life.
She places her torch on the ground and ascends the steps to the throne she coveted. Daenerys reaches for the throne, but then hears the cries of her dragons.
Daenerys never touches the throne. She turns and follows the sounds of her dragons, and the vision shifts. She’s suddenly beyond the Wall, just past the gate of Castle Black we’d seen men of the Night’s Watch depart from. Daenerys sees a tent amid the snow and enters it.
Khal Drogo is inside, holding a small child. It’s their son, Rhaego, who would have been born to Daenerys and Drogo if the maegi Mirri Maz Duur hadn’t performed her blood magic curse.
Daenerys tells Drogo she’s seeing him because of a dark magic.
“Maybe I am dead and I just don’t know it yet,” Daenerys says. “Maybe I am with you in the Night Lands.”
The vision version of Drogo tells her maybe he simply didn’t want to go to the Night Lands – the afterlife the Dothraki believe in – without her. Daenerys sits with them for a bit and is overcome with emotion as she experiences the family that was ripped from her. But she eventually stands and leaves, walking out of the tent and into yet another room.
Only then does Daenerys see her three small dragons chained to a table. Pyat Pree appears, and Daenerys is magically bound to the table as well. But then she gives the now iconic command “dracarys,” and Pyat Pree is burned alive by the dragons.
George R.R. Martin’s version of this vision in the books
In the books, Pyat Pree is the person who leads Daenerys to the House of the Undying, but he’s not her main adversary once she gets inside. The warlock tells Daenerys she will see “many things that will disturb” once she ventures into the building.
“Visions of loveliness and visions of horror, wonder, and terrors,” Pyat Pree says. “Sights and sounds of days gone by and days to come and days that never were.”
He gives her Shade of the Evening, a blue wine the warlocks drink that stains their lips, and says it will help her “hear and see the truths that will be laid before” her inside the House of the Undying. Daenerys enters the building and eventually finds herself in a long corridor with doorways and rooms lining the wall.
Inside these rooms is a series of tableaus, some of which foretold things like the Red Wedding. Daenerys sees “a feast of corpses,” the bloodied bodies laid out over tables.
“In a throne above them sat a dead man with the head of a wolf,” the chapter reads. This scene takes place in Martin’s second “A Song of Ice and Fire” book, “A Clash of Kings,” well before King Robb Stark and his army are slaughtered at the Red Wedding in “A Storm of Swords.”
She also sees her father, the Mad King (though she doesn’t recognise him, since he died before she was born), sitting on the Iron Throne shortly before his death at Jaime Lannister’s hands. The next tableau shows Daenerys’ older brother, Rhaegar, speaking about his newborn son, Aegon, and calling him “the prince that was promised” and saying that “his is the song of ice and fire.”
Daenerys eventually makes her way to another chamber, where she finds the Undying, a group of seemingly rotting figures seated around a pulsing blue heart. They all speak to her at the same time through a shared whisper and give her a set of prophecies.
Here’s the section of the prophecy most relevant to how Daenerys’ story ended on “Game of Thrones”:
“The whispers became a swirling song … three fires must you light … one for life and one for death and one to love …Her own heart was beating in unison to the one that floated before her, blue and corrupt … three mounts you must ride… one to bed and one to dread and one to love … The voices were growing louder, she realised, and it seemed her heart was slowing, and even her breath … three treasons will you know … once for blood and once for gold and once for love…”
This series of triplet fates do seem to come true for Daenerys, but more on that in a bit.
The Undying also call Daenerys “daughter of death,” “slayer of lies,” and “bride of fire” as they show her yet another series of visions, including Rhaegar whispering “a woman’s name” with his last breath. This name was likely Lyanna Stark, Jon Snow’s mother.
The connection between these visions and Jon Snow grows stronger when Daenerys is shown how “a blue flower grew from a chink in a wall of ice, and filled the air with sweetness.”
Blue roses, or winter roses, are associated again and again with Lyanna Stark in “A Song of Ice and Fire.” This part of the books sparked theories about how Daenerys and Jon’s stories might eventually intersect, possibly even in romance.
The show’s version of this vision was created before the writers knew how Daenerys’ story would end
The showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have said were relying on Martin’s published books as their guidelines for the show’s events for the first three seasons and that it wasn’t until 2013, ahead of the fourth season, that Martin met with them to discuss where things were going with the story.
“If you know the ending, then you can lay the groundwork for it,”Benioff told Vanity Fair in a 2014 interview. “And so we want to know how everything ends. We want to be able to set things up. So we just sat down with him and literally went through every character.”
The way this is phrased seemingly makes it clear that Benioff and Weiss didn’t know before that meeting “how everything ends” in Martin’s books, which means that fateful House of the Undying vision wasn’t designed as a clear foreshadowing of Daenerys’ death in the throne room.
Instead, Benioff and Weiss likely heard Martin’s broad-strokes plan for Daenerys’ downward spiral and retroactively saw the opportunity to use the House of the Undying vision as the symbolism for her death scene.
This is exactly what happened earlier on the eighth season with the choice to have Arya Stark kill the Night King. You can read our full explanation of that retcon (retroactive continuity) here.
As is the case with the death of the Night King, it’s technically not correct to call Dany’s vision a “foreshadowing” of her death. Instead, both the showrunners and Martin were driving at the tragic aspects of Daenerys’ journey and also knew her connection with Jon Snow would be important.
The one thing we know Benioff and Weiss did know ahead of working on “Game of Thrones” was Jon Snow’s true parentage. When they first met Martin for lunch in 2007 to discuss the possibility of adapting his books for a TV show, the author asked a tricky question: “Who is Jon Snow’s mother?”
At the time, this was one of the biggest mysteries discussed among readers of “A Song of Ice and Fire.” The correct answer, Lyanna Stark, wouldn’t be confirmed until the sixth season finale of “Game of Thrones” aired in 2016. But Benioff and Weiss told Martin the right answer, meaning they were able to sew true moments of foreshadowing into scenes as early as the second episode of the first season.
Benioff and Weiss’ choice to have snow falling on the Iron Throne in Daenerys’ vision in season two was likely their simple way of connecting Jon Snow’s Targaryen parentage to Dany’s dream of the Iron Throne. It was also a helpful analogy for the coming threat of the White Walkers and winter.
Now that we know Daenerys will die at the hands of Jon Snow, the book’s prophecy seems dead-on
Going back to the whispered prophecies Daenerys was told by the Undying – and if we assume “Daenerys is killed by Jon Snow” was one of the major character endings Martin gave the showrunners – we can see how Martin plotted this tragic death.
Daenerys was told she must ride three mounts: “one to bed and one to dread and one to love.”
“One to bed” could be Daario Naharis, the mercenary soldier she has a sexual relationship with both in the books and on the show. “One to love” would make sense as Khal Drogo, her first great love. And if Martin’s plan was to have Jon and Daenerys get romantically and physically involved before her tragic end, then Jon Snow might be the mount she rides “to dread.”
The Undying also tell her she will know three treasons: “once for blood and once for gold and once for love.”
Most readers believe the blood treason was Mirri Maz Duur and the gold treason was Ser Jorah Mormont. Again, Jon Snow fits the “once for love” treason.
Jon killed Daenerys just moments after she touched the Iron Throne for the first time. He made the choice once he realised she wanted to continue waging wars and would likely be a threat to Jon’s own blood: Sansa, Arya, and Bran Stark.
Jon kissed Daenerys after saying she would always be his queen, then quietly slid his dagger from its sheath and stabbed her in the heart. One final treason, this time for love.
And of course, the death of Daenerys Targaryen in the throne room is reminiscent of her father’s death at the hands of Jaime Lannister. Both rulers were killed by men who believed they were doing the right thing and would have to live with that choice forever.
For more “Game of Thrones” insights and analysis of all the best moments in the series, preorder “The Unofficial Guide to ‘Game of Thrones'” now.
- Read more:
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- Every character who survived the entirety of ‘Game of Thrones,’ including 11 you might have forgotten about
- How that devastating ‘Game of Thrones’ finale death was an imperfect fulfillment of the show’s biggest prophecy
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