WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the finale of Game of Thrones, "The Iron Throne," which aired Sunday on HBO.
Like it or not, Game of Thrones remained true to its unpredictable nature as it wrapped its eight-season run last Sunday by giving Bran the Broken the rule of Westeros. There was no Iron Throne, however, for him to sit on because in the highly-polarizing finale, Drogon decided to melt it down right after he found Jon Snow cradling the body of a dead Daenerys Targaryen.
But in a show where Jon knew nothing and did everything, Bran knew everything but did almost nothing, and a swath of questionable -- and at times, dumb -- decisions led the Seven Kingdoms to the brink of collapse, it turns out this decision by Drogon, as well as what he did after incinerating the king's seat, truly paints him as the smartest character in the entire series.
Before you ask, yes, we're very serious, because Drogon shows an awareness of something a lot of folks just weren't cognizant of, which is that the Iron Throne represented lust, greed and corruption, all of which tore Westeros apart and repeatedly led it to the brink of collapse. Even the Mother of Dragons lost sight of this in her scheme to liberate the realm, falling prey to the superficial and cosmetic nature of leadership. She didn't view rulership as a philosophy but as an object, one made from a thousand swords of her ancestor's enemies, and so, finally grasping this chair as a material blight and the very thing that doomed his family, Drogon decided not to break the wheel, but burn it.
This intuition and foresight wasn't lacked by just Dany, but also by the likes of Tyrion and company, who only entertained the idea of democracy late in the finale, and briefly at that when they all laughed off Sam Tarly's suggestion the people should elect their representatives. They didn't see the throne as pure evil like Drogon did, and while you may think he's just a fire-breathing beast to command, the creature proves to be the hero who knows what's best for the future of the Six Kingdoms because the end of the throne inevitably means a resetting, a recalibration and a new map towards tomorrow.
Many assumed the usually impetuous Drogon was going to burn Jon to ash, but it's understandable he accepted how the throne drove his mother mad, as he seemingly had a mental bond with Dany. Remember, he was the instrument of destruction in razing King's Landing, killing thousands of innocents, so it's easy to believe Drogon finally matured and empathized with what Jon was trying to tell the new Queen. The sudden display of intelligence shows growth from when he ignited anything and everything on Dany's command or was a petulant monster killing livestock in Meereen like some wild animal. Drogon stood side by side with her on this journey, and he knew that the throne was nothing more than corruption of the soul.
Sure, his meltdown could be seen as an act of rage or grief, and him sparing Jon may be because he sensed a connection to Aegon Targaryen, but let's not downplay Drogon knowing how the world operates. This war on King's Landing didn't just cost him Dany, but his siblings as well, as Euron speared Rhaegal and Viserion was turned into a zombie by the Night King. He's suffered just as much and, while it may be a form of hamfisted symbolism, focusing his dragonfire on the item so many died for over the past eight seasons is his way of not just letting his frustration out, but doing what Dany couldn't do -- let go.
As he picks her pale, limp body up and departs for the East, presumably home to either Valyria (where their ancestors made their mark), Pentos (where Dany became the Khaleesi of Khal Drogo) or Meereen (where she truly began liberating slaves), whether you want to question his decision or the overall writing of this arc, you can't argue the dragon did the right thing. His sudden awareness of politics and all the literary tropes and cliches resonates with what we all know deep down, that the throne is indeed poison and the world needs a fresh start without it.
Drogon getting the hell out of Westeros afterwards is also the mark of a genius. It's been nothing but trouble for him, the weather's terrible and it makes him miserable. Not to mention he'll always be hunted in a land that represents nothing but loss and tragedy. Leaving at the first opportunity was his way of opening a new chapter for the free world, and the gift of a melted throne ended up being the catalyst for change. That's the sort of blunt advice and fearless action you can't buy or seek out, not even from a Hand as wise as Tyrion Lannister.
Game of Thrones stars Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister, Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, Maisie Williams as Arya Stark and Kit Harington as Jon Snow.