Last month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) took a public stand for a character on Game of Thrones. On Sunday night, it seems she made a huge — and perhaps revealing — mistake.
Spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5, “the Bells.”
Warren, an inveterate foe of the U.S. banking system and an advocate for bottom-up reform in the style of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), heartily praised the dragon queen, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), for Dany’s inspiring character arc and her ambition to “break the wheel.” In Sunday’s episode, Dany’s anger drove her to burn the capital city of King’s Landing, killing millions — even after the city had surrendered to her.
The episode felt like a nuclear apocalypse, with the dragon flying above everyday citizens, crisping them to ash and tearing down buildings with its fiery breath. Ashen corpses littered the streets, and Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) could not breathe for the ash in the air. Daenerys’s fire minimized most of the horrors of the previous seasons, showing that the true villain was the hero so many admired as the “breaker of chains.”
This meltdown came too fast in the show, but there were hints that it might happen in earlier seasons. Daenerys grew up in exile with her brother Viserys. At the beginning of the show, Viserys sells her to the savage warlord Khal Drogo in exchange for his army. She forms a relationship with Drogo, and when he is on the brink of death, she makes a deal with a witch to keep him alive — only to kill him herself when she realizes he’s still in a coma.
Daenerys inspires the audience by burning her dead husband, the witch, and herself in a fire — along with three stone dragon eggs — but rising the next day with three dragons. Hungry for power, she talks her way into the city of Qarth, empowering two schemers who destroy the city’s leadership and then killing them herself. She frees slaves in Slaver’s Bay, but her anger and hatred for the masters ends up dividing the city of Mereen, which rises against her.
Daenerys has noble intentions to “break the wheel,” freeing the oppressed people from the scheming cutthroats who rule them. But at each step, she pursues power and is willing to wipe people out in her pursuit for it. Her story may be inspiring, but even in the last season of the show, there are hints that her anger and ambition may destroy her goodwill.
“I will take what is mine, with fire and blood I will take it,” Dany says.
Like so many fans, Elizabeth Warren overlooked these warning signs, writing an article praising Dany as “my favorite from the moment she walked through fire.” Warren praised Dany’s rags-to-riches story and she seemed to see herself in Dany’s desire to “break the wheel.”
“Despite being the daughter of the Mad King and the last rightful Targaryen heir to the Iron Throne (until this week), Dany didn’t grow up in the lavish palace walls of the Red Keep. She was born during the chaos of her father’s overthrow, in the last great civil war between the rich and powerful family houses,” Warren wrote. “Dany might be a princess by birth, but she wasn’t dealt an easy hand.”
Warren also noted Dany’s mission, expressed at the beginning of Season 8: “I’m not here to murder. All I want to destroy is the wheel that has rolled over everyone both rich and poor, to the benefit of no one but the Cersei Lannisters of the world.”
Dany does risk her entire mission to help Jon Snow fight the army of the Dead, but her anger is simmering through the last few episodes of the season. Warren seemed to overlook these warning signs, praising Dany because she represents a revolution that Warren wants.
“This is a revolutionary idea, in Westeros or anywhere else. A queen who declares that she doesn’t serve the interests of the rich and powerful? A ruler who doesn’t want to control the political system but to break the system as it is known? It’s no wonder that the people she meets in Westeros are skeptical,” Warren wrote.
Warren contrasted Dany with Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), another villain in the show. Her description of Cersei echoed many Democrat attacks on Trump. She quoted Cersei’s statement, “I don’t care about checking my worst impulses. I don’t care about making the world a better place. Hang the world.” This is not actually Trump’s mindset, but it is how Democrats see him.
Cersei is the perfect villain for Elizabeth Warren, because Cersei puts her hope in the Iron Bank of Braavos — the banking system Warren so hates. “Rather than earn her army, Cersei’s pays for it,” Warren writes. “Cersei’s betting on the strength of the bank to get her through the biggest fight of her life. It never crosses the mind that the bank could fail, or betray her.”
Cersei does indeed lose in Game of Thrones, but Dany’s victory over her is a horrific tragedy. Dany burns down the city, even after it had surrendered. She could have flown her dragon directly to kill Cersei and only Cersei, but instead she killed millions of innocents, echoing the cruelty of her father, the Mad King Aerys II.
Dany turned in Season 8, and if Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) is to be believed, Warren is turning, too.
Warren doesn’t just want to “break the wheel” of the banking system — she also wants to break up Big Tech and social media companies like Facebook. On Sunday, Cory Booker warned that Warren’s zeal to break up these institutions echoes the spirit of the very man Warren wants to replace in the White House.
“I don’t think that a president should be running around pointing at companies and saying breaking them up without any kind of process here,” Booker said. “It’s not me and my own personal opinion about going after folks. That sounds more like a Donald Trump thing to say, ‘I’m going to break up you guys.”
Booker went on to stay Warren is his friend, and he wasn’t intending to compare her to Trump, but this seems mere back-pedaling after a smart political attack.
Democrats may fear that Warren, like Dany, would bring more damage than healing in her quest to remake the world.
Warren’s Game of Thrones article may have been intended as a way for the candidate to connect with millennials. After all, she claimed she was binge-watching the HBO show Ballers on election night and she released a cringe-worthy video of herself drinking beer as if she were “just one of the guys.” The Ballers story seems to have worked out for her — Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson thanked her for bringing attention to the show — but the beer video completely backfired.
It seems this Game of Thrones article hasn’t just backfired, but shined a light into Warren’s soul. Is Elizabeth Warren far more dangerous than she appears, just like her favorite Game of Thrones character? Let’s hope America never has to find out.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.