This week’s episode saw the Great Games go horribly awry in Meereen.
What should have been a controversial but politically stabilizing event turned into a massacre when the Sons of the Harpy donned their masks in the crowd and began slaughtering everyone. Shock led to confusion when the man initially thought responsible for the chaos was stabbed by the masked murderers, shortly before Daenerys Targaryen climbed onto her rogue dragon and flew away. What does all this mean for the Mother of Dragons and the city of Meereen?
With Daenerys gone, who will assume control over the city?
In the books, Barristan Selmy took over in Dany’s name and worked alongside Grey Worm and Missandei to bring down the Sons of the Harpy. But with the old knight dead, someone else will have to fill that role. Tyrion is the most logical choice. He and Dany have already established a bond over their similar worldview and disgust with the nobility. He may find himself serving as a sort of impromptu Hand to the Mother of Dragons. A task that could prove just what he needs to find purpose again.
With the assumption that Jorah would not live beyond this episode proven wrong, he may once again serve Dany’s regime. Daario is also a likely ally and perhaps even candidate for the new master of Meereen.
Whoever steps in on Dany’s behalf will find their position and the choices they face as unclear as Dany did. The chaos will be far from easy to squelch; the Sons of the Harpy are openly defiant, peace between the former slaves and masters is still highly unlikely, and the people are uncertain of Dany’s return or even if she is still alive. Tyrion has masterfully managed a panicked city before, and has more experience at this point. If anyone is suited to job, it’s him. The final taming of Meereen will likely be a major theme for season 6. Whether Daenerys will be present while the coming events unfold is uncertain.
Who is the Harpy? And why would the Sons kill Hizdahr?
If the harpy is indeed one person and not a collective identity assumed by the resistance faction, Hizdahr was a very likely candidate. The show even seemed to push us in this direction when the Meereenese noble said he was “just making sure everything is in order” and Tyrion stated “my father would have liked you.”
But suspicions were crushed when the Sons made no move to spare him and actually repeatedly stabbed Hizdahr. Why they would kill him is hard to say but they could have seen his willingness to work with Dany as a form of betrayal. He may have been a former Harpy who sought a more peaceful but ill-received solution, or he may have been uninvolved entirely and simply seen as too tolerant of the new order.
Where is Dany going?
If the show is to follow the same course as the books on this point, Daenerys will spend a brief time far away from civilization, with only Drogon for company. Before, as the HBO synopsis of next episode puts it, she is “surrounded by strangers.” Without giving too much away, it can be safely said that Dany will be encountering some unexpected acquaintances. The word strangers may be misleading, as it is very likely that she has spent time with them before.
The fact that Drogon (and perhaps Rhaegal and Viserion as well) is large enough to carry someone on his back certainly suggests that the dragon has reached a suitable age to be used militarily. That is, if Dany can actually control him. Aegon the Conquerer had only three dragons before he took Westeros; this detail may indeed prove prophetic.
What does all this mean for Dany’s hopes of claiming the Iron Throne?
Her family’s legacy is far from well-regarded, but the more recent burden of the Lannisters and Baratheons may cast the young Targaryen in a favorable light. Especially with the whispers of Stannis’s fanatical religion and Tommen’s illegitimate blood.
Assuming she can find her way back to Meereen, Dany still has huge obstacles in her way before she can cross the narrow sea, but with Tyrion, Drogon, and the Unsullied at her side, she is more well-equipped than ever to reclaim her birthright.