*mild spoiler warning in effect*
The 5th season finale of Game of Thrones was last night, and keeping in line with the rest of this particularly unsettling season it managed to deliver plenty of highs and lows. I won’t burden you with what I think of either, save for a short comment that I seriously hope Sansa’s story grows beyond its current role within Theon’s redemption arc, and that I’m confused as to how Ceresi might be tried for Regicide with an exhonorated Lancel as the key witness (you can’t kill the King and say “she told me to do it” without sharing in the punishment). But hey, I’m still confident Sansa will bounce back as the capable player we were introduced to at the end of Season 4, and no Lannister is safe forever.
Anyway, this year’s finale also made me notice a rather interesting pattern when it comes to wrapping up Daenerys arcs for each season; a pattern entirely native to the show due to being a visual medium. Possible this may be old news to some considering we’re already 5 years in, but I certainly didn’t notice it until this particular episode 10 as it was here the pattern emerged at its strongest.
So for a quick recap of Dany’s final scene (and a reminder of the spoiler warning above), she has been flown out of Mereen and finds herself somewhere in the wilds of Essos (to be honest, for a moment I thought she’d been flown all the way to the Vale where we last saw the Hound). She’s then spotted by some outriders and in a few minutes finds herself at the center of an entire Dothraki Khalasar with riders circling around her.
The circling I initially found somewhat bizarre (it was a bit overly dramatic to involve the entire Khalasar), almost forced as though it were part of some larger plan; and then I realized we’d seen something similar in the past back when Dany was swarmed by the freed people of Yunkai. That other scene was how Dany wrapped up in the finale of Season 3.
So I looked up the other season finales and sure enough, every season finale manages to squeeze in a dramatic shot of Daenerys appearing in the middle of a circle in some form or another during her final scene!
In season 1 (“Fire and Blood”) of course was Khal Drogo’s funeral pyre:
For season 2 (“Valar Morghulis”) we got a shot of her in front of Xaro Xhoan Daxos’s vault Door:
Season 3 (“Mhysa”) places Dani right in the middle of the Yunkish slaves reaching towards her:
Season 4 (“The Children”) forms a circle of natural light around Dany as she parts with her dragons Rhaegal and Viserion:
And finally in season 5 (“Mother’s Mercy”), we have the circling Khalasar:
So what could all these circles mean exactly? Well, for one thing it continuously ties Dany’s story back to the original circle from Season 1 where she became the Mother of Dragons; clearly an important moment in the development of her character. As a framing technique for a show with characters that come and go, it also lends credence to the assertion that Dany does have a larger (if not the largest) role to play in the events to come, whatever they may be. Dany’s kind of a big deal even though her story’s been relatively isolated from the rest of Westeros, and the show seems to be overriding its own scenery to keep that idea in the back of our heads; even when some of us would sooner see Ser Pounce on the Iron Throne.
One might also delve into the plethora of symbolic meanings attached to circles to rationalize this phenomenon involving Dany’s final scenes, although suffice it to say this is largely up for interpretation. For now, I’m content to believe there’s a connecting element to Dany’s story beyond the mere plot that not only ties her seasons together, but has likely been an intentional inclusion for all these years.
Or it’s all coincidence, and she’ll stand in front of a triangle next year.