As we saw in this week's episode of 'Game of Thrones', the lines are now fully drawn between Daenerys and Cersei for a showdown that is all but certain to end in serious bloodshed.
After all, it's the final season. 'Game of Thrones' has been a series built on the reputation that anyone can die at any time for any reason. Death in the world of 'Game of Thrones' is often cruel, rarely just, and almost never comes with a sense of satisfaction. In fact, throughout the series, we've been consistently shown people who we initially believed to deserve a gruesome death then go on to redeem themselves to varying degrees. The Hound. Jamie Lannister. Theon Greyjoy.
They've all gone from villains to heroes to anti-heroes, all in the space of eight seasons. Yet, for all of these, one character has remained an out-and-out villain and it's Cersei Lannister. Not only did she give birth to King Joffrey and indulged his every whim, she could only see him for the cruel bastard he was at the very end. She manipulated Jamie Lannister at every turn, knowing that he would come running to help her at any given opportunity.
Not only this, but when she was stripped naked and walked through the streets of King's Landing by the High Sparrow, she ensured bloody revenge on them all by blowing the High Sept up with wildfyre. At every given opportunity, Cersei Lannister has proven herself to be vindictive and merciless. Whenever she has the opportunity to carry out bloody revenge, she takes it. As much as anyone on the series has shown themselves to be cruel, Cersei is all of them combined and more.
This week's episode, however, put all of her wanton malice to shame when she happily opened the gate of the Red Keep and allowed the people of King's Landing to come inside. As Tyrion points out to her at the gates, she's using the citizenry of King's Landing as a human shield. Think about that. An actual human shield. Only an out-and-out psychopath would dream up a plan like that. Put the people she's supposed to be ruling between herself and a dragon and an army bent on conquering the city.
For all the talk of the finale of this week's episode and it triggering Daenerys into full-on Mad Queen, could you blame her for going there? Her best friend was executed right in front of her, she's now down to one final dragon, and right when the Iron Throne is coming into focus, Jon Snow comes out of the woodwork as the supposedly rightful heir to it. Could anyone blame her for wanting to tear it all down and start over? She's talked about breaking the wheel. Next week's episode will see her do it, no doubt.
Cersei Lannister, on the other hand, was given every available opportunity to try and change things, yet happily stays in Mad Queen mode throughout. Sure, she couldn't very well help that Joffrey was as cruel and vicious as he was. That said, she didn't need to placate his every whim. She never once apologised for him, instead believing everyone else to be wrong and her son to be right. When Tommen came to the throne, she seized upon the opportunity to ensure that she ruled in his stead. As sweet and dull as Tommen might have been, there was every chance that he could have been a kind ruler. Cersei took that chance out of his hands by naming herself Queen Regent, thus proving that it wasn't about ensuring the Lannister legacy - it was about her own quest for power.
In the final episode of last season, Cersei fully admits to her own worst impulses. As she explains calmly to Tyrion, she "doesn't care about making the world a better place." Daenerys does - she just doesn't care about being nice when doing it anymore.