With the emotional angles out of the way, are there any Game of Thrones fans wondering about the science behind one of the most shocking moments in the final season? Well, Neil DeGrasse Tyson has offered up an explanation for the penultimate episode of Season 8, in which Daenerys Targaryen claimed definitive victory against Cersei Lannister’s forces.
Sitting on her last surviving dragon, Daenerys decided to further her revenge by going on a wide-range rampage, ordering Drogon to blast King’s Landing to smithereens. Stone buildings exploded, and scores of people (including children) were murdered in the attack. How did dragon fire manage to blow up King’s Landing in the first place? Did Game of Thrones stretch science too far? Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson explained why the show likely did not, telling Insider:
If you have a pocket of air and you rapidly and instantly heat it, it's a bomb. That is what bombs are. They're rapidly expanding air creating a shockwave. If you have a dragon, it's not just layering flames. It has [aimed an] insertion of very hot air. That hot air will expand catastrophically and blow stuff down.
There you have it! For those who had conspiratorial doubts about the scientific probability of Daenerys’ Game of Thrones meltdown, Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s answer should resolve them. The key to the sequence being possible is that Drogon was not merely burning down the buildings in the way a fire usually ravages populated areas.
As Neil DeGrasse Tyson explained, it was a combustible action that took place, thus justifying what viewers saw and heard. Drogon blew a huge amount of fire and hot air into a large number of buildings with closed off rooms in them, leading to an array of explosions rocking King’s Landing as Arya and others on the ground tried to survive. Which is all the more difficult when hiding spots are blowing up left and right.
Daenerys’ attack inevitably led to the eventual demise of Cersei and Jaime Lannister. As Tyrion confirmed in the finale, the pair were crushed by the rubble when the Red Keep fell. Jaime's fate had been the subject of speculation heading into the series' ender, which might not have been the case had he exploded or burned alive.
Game of Thrones’ penultimate episode may have left many enraged for what some fans believed to be a rushed character arc. But whatever people think of the character's motivations, Daenerys and Drogon's ability to legitimately destroy King's Landing has been settled.
Daenerys’ actions marked one of the darkest moments of the series, in my opinion. Her rampage marked the forever fall of a character that many viewers perceived was a hero leading up to the mass destruction.
In the end, Daenerys’ crime sealed her own fate, as it also metaphorically signed her death warrant. Confronted in the finale with all the carnage she caused, Daenerys had no regrets for her actions. Following a talk with Tyrion, Jon Snow killed her as they stood in front of the Iron Throne, with her reign ending just as it began.
Game of Thrones fans have the summer to continue contemplating a penultimate episode that still has people talking. At least they will have some summer television premieres to keep them company while they do so.