Well, it finally happened.
On Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, First of Her Name and Perpetrator of Plot Twists broke bad and roasted more peasants than a medeival insult comic.
Like many, many others, we long ago predicted that the Khaleesi would make a heel turn and be revealed as the show’s final villain, but if Twitter is any indication, the events of "The Bell" came as a complete shock to many viewers.
In one sense, this is hard to understand, as the show has been hinting at a darker side to Dany ever since her very first rants about "laying waste to armies" and taking what’s hers "with fire and blood" way back when her dragons were about the size of pet iguanas.
But at the same time, the surprise is quite understandable.
After all, prior to this week’s episode, the Khaleesi was arguably the show’s best-loved character, and many considered her ascendancy to the Iron Throne to he a foregone conclusion.
As a result, creator’s D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have been accused of prioritizing shock value over organic character development with their decision to have Dany embrace her family’s mercurial nature and unleash unspeakable violence on innocenr civilians and soldiers who had already surrendered.
If that were the case — if a character who had been built up as the savior of a people and an incorruptible force for good suddenly embracec wickedness out of nowhere — then these critics would be right to complain.
But Dany’s turn was hinted at so often that many speculate it would never happen simply because it would be too predictable for a show that’s always trafficked in surprises.
So yes, you have one camp griping that the character’s shift came out of nowhere, and another complaining that it was entirely too obvious.
And in that sense, the clash over Dany’s true nature highlights the biggest challenge facing the Game of Thrones as we approach the show’s wildly anticipated finale:
It’s nearly impossible for any show to conclude in a way that will leave an audience of millions universally satisfied — and that task is even harder for a series that revels in moral ambiguity and long ago raised the bar in terms of gut-punch surprises.
Don’t get us wrong, there were legitimate complaints to be made about "The Bells":
Several major figures behaved in ways that flew in the face of eight seasons’ worth of character development.
Some combatants seemed to be shrouded in impenetrable plot armor (We’re looking at you, Arya!) while others met frustratingly anti-climactic fates. (Evil genius Cersei Lannister is felled by freakin’ falling rocks? Really?)
But the main issue that many fans seem worried about is the climactic battle for the Iron Throne will likely be fought between Daenerys Targaryen and her conflicted neph-boo Jon Snow.
This is a baffling concern, not only becsause the show has been foreshadowing such a conflict for quite some time, but also because Weiss and Benioff insist that they’re staying true to the "broadstrokes" of the ending mapped out by George R.R. Martin’s several years ago.
Yes, they’ve made some missteps along the way (The less said about the lighting for the Battle of Winterfell, the better.), but we’ll continue to place our faith that the kings who led us this far will be wise and just in wrapping up TV’s most ambitious story.