Six years ago today, Game of Thrones fans watched in horror as Daenerys’ ‘Mad King’ lineage was on full display as she scorched the Tarly’s.

This time six years ago, millions of Game of Thrones fans around the world were settling down to watch season 7 episode 5 ‘Eastwatch’ and the first crack in Daenerys’ mental fortitude as the Mad King’s influence was demonstrated with fiery intent.

Randall Tarly begs Daenerys not to kill Dickon
Game of Thrones/HBO Entertainment/GameofThrones Official YouTube channel

Game of Thrones season 7 ‘Eastwatch’ aired six years ago today

On August 13, 2017, Game of Thrones season 7 episode 5 ‘Eastwatch’ premiered around the world, with one of the most dramatic scenes arriving at a pivotal ‘crossroad moment’ for Daenerys Targaryen.

In the previous episode, the combined Lannister and Tarly armies were decimated by Daenerys’ forces at the Battle of the Goldroad; with the power of her dragons resulting in hordes of soldiers being incinerated, and even more taken prisoner.

Daenerys initially offered the captives a choice: Bend the knee and join her cause or refuse and die by her hand. The majority of the prisoners side with the young Targaryen, but a handful of men turn down the offer including Randyll Tarly, the head of House Tarly, and his eldest son Dickon, older brother to Samwell.

House Tarly had previously been the bannerman of House Tyrell, whom Daenerys had considered allies, but Randall had recently switched sides after Kevan Lannister made him the new Master of Laws.

This is when the first inclination of a Mad King-esque trait in Daenerys’ judgment takes hold. Up until this point, she had only executed those who were actively plotting against her, and certainly not a House Lord directly. Furthermore, this was the first time of note that soldiers had allied with her out of fear, rather than out of love and loyalty to her cause.

Tyrion desperately tried to reason with Randall and Daenerys equally that since the Tarly allegiances have been ‘flexible’ before, they can be flexible again considering the recent battle. Going further, he offers multiple alternative options for both that would not only be in line with Westeros’ traditions but would allow them to retain their respective honor – including joining the Night’s Watch and staying the rest of the war imprisoned.

Unfortunately, the Tarly’s refused to be sent to The Wall and Daenerys claimed that she could not garner a reputation of putting traitors in chains as other parties would take advantage of her – consequently, both Randall and Dickon are brutally executed by dragonfire.

Interestingly, this episode was the first time that Tyrion purposefully draws similarities between Daenerys’ actions to those of the Mad King in a conversation later with Varys, a tragic foreshadowing of the destruction of King’s Landing carried about by Daenerys in the series finale.

Randall and Dickon Tarly watch Daenerys
Game of Thrones/HBO Entertainment/GameofThrones Official YouTube channel

The episode when the White Walker threat became ‘real’

Season 7 episode 5 was a landmark moment for the Game of Thrones series and storyline, not just because of Daenerys’ Mad King-esque action, but also the official arrival of the White Walker army.

Bran, using the power of the three-eyed raven, spots the army approaching The Wall and sends ravens throughout the Seven Kingdoms warning of the incoming threat; received in this episode by Sam at the Citadel, and Jon at Dragonstone.

Season 7 episode 5 was also the episode in which Cersei tells Jaime that she is pregnant with his child and the first time that Jon was able to get close enough to Drogon to pet the dragon.

Production-wise, ‘Eastwatch’ achieved over 10.72 million viewers in the United States, which was the highest domestic audience rating for the entire series so far on HBO – the record was stolen by the season 7 finale ‘The Dragon and The Wolf’ which earned 12.07 million viewers.

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