To say I have a complicated relationship with the pairing of Jon Snow/Daenerys Targaryen (aka Jonerys) from Game of Thrones is an understatement. The pairing had a lot of potential that could’ve made me a proud Jonerys shipper.
Yes, my One True Pairing (OTP) of Game of Thrones will always be Jorah Mormont/Daenerys Targaryen (aka Jorleesi). But I’m also a multi-shipper that doesn’t have many ships I just can’t stand. In short I don’t care how my many ships conflict with one another.
While I can admit that Jonerys had potential, I can also admit that potential was wasted on the show. There were so many problems that made it fail but there were still Jonerys shippers that liked what Game of Thrones gave them.
There are many things I loathe about how the show portrayed Jonerys and I’ve ranted about it many times on this blog. Today my rant will be contained to three things that could’ve been changed to make this popular pairing actually good.
Have an Actual Sex Scene
Now I know what many of you are thinking: Didn’t Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen have a sex scene in the final moments of the seventh season of Game of Thrones? Didn’t everyone go crazy over #boatsex as the most popular ship in the fandom was about to become canon?
While Jon and Daenerys did solidify their relationship through sex, the scene was not framed as a sex scene. A sex scene is more than two or more characters having sex after all.
The most simple definition of a sex scene is that it has to arouse the viewer in some form. This is the same definition no matter how descriptive or vague the sex scene is. It’s the same principal no matter if your audience is young adults or adults.
Twilight is not the height of romance. Edward Cullen is an abusive stalker while Bella Swan is a victim who allows her ‘true love’ to take over her life. I’m not bringing that series up to say it’s a better love story than Jonerys, but it does have a good example of a sex scene aimed at young adults.
In Breaking Dawn, Bella and Edward finally have sex. This moment had been built over the course of four books. Before this book they couldn’t have sex because they weren’t married. As it is a young adult series none of the sex could be shown in detail, but it was still arousing to their intended audience.
The feelings Bella had for Edward were the focus. She loved him so the sex scene was full of raw emotion before it faded to black. After the sex was over there were moments to give more detail into how each viewed having sex.
So when I’m talking about ‘arousal’ as it pertains to sex scenes, I’m not referring to just how detailed said sex scene is.
HBO can show very explicit scenes in their shows and movies. So an important ship like Jon Snow/Daenerys Targaryen shouldn’t have cut corners with how much sexual content they showed. Game of Thrones could’ve done so much more with the physical aspects of the sex scene.
Now even if the Jonerys sex scene was extremely detailed, it wouldn’t have automatically saved the scene. As I said previously, throwing two or more people together to have sex isn’t enough to make a sex scene. In some cases said sex scene won’t be good if all you do is put two or more people together.
Even extremely dirty erotica makes sure to frame their sex scenes a certain way to make sure readers don’t go away disappointed. I read one book where a woman lands on a deserted island and gets passed from man to man. Eventually she forms a romantic and sexual relationship with each man. This book is only arousing because it fulfills a certain kind of kink. A certain kind of kink the author is well aware of and so can give their readers what they want.
So what is the purpose of the boat ‘sex scene’ between Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen? It was not merely meant as a sex scene between two very good looking characters. It was supposed to show viewers how much the relationship between the two had evolved since they first met.
Jon Snow had been so caught up in the war against the Night King that he didn’t want to think about anything else. Who could blame him as the fate of all humanity is an extremely important matter. He also loved Ygritte and his heart was still shattered from how that relationship had ended. But now he had found it in him to open his heart again to Daenerys. A woman who by all rights he should keep at a distance purely for political reasons.
Daenerys Targaryen also had her issues with love. Ever since she had to kill Khal Drogo, her husband and first love, her heart was broken in a million pieces. Instead of pursuing Jorah Mormont who would be another serious relationship, she decided to bed Daario Naharis. Because, hey, she is still a woman with needs. She also was caught up with her obsession to reclaim the Iron Throne for her House. But now her heart was strong enough to pursue something just as serious as her pursuit of the Iron Throne.
So suffice it to say that there needed to be a large emotional element to the scene. Viewers needed to be able to connect the emotional relationship to the sexual relationship. There couldn’t be any doubt what the sex meant on a deeper level.
There are easy ways to turn the Jonerys ‘sex scene’ into something emotional. Before the actual act Jon and Daenerys could’ve confirmed their relationship through dialogue. How they talked during this scene would be much different than how they would speak in front of others. Thus confirming to viewers that they’re not lying to each other and they do love each other deeply.
After that it would be good to have some foreplay. Though since the added dialogue would have added an emotional element, it’d be equally acceptable to have them just skip straight to sex. Showing that they are equally attracted to each other both physically and emotionally.
Another good part to add to the scene would be cuddling post-coitus. To me cuddling is so much more intimate than sex could ever hope to be. So my personal preference would be Jon and Daenerys cuddling and talking after sex. It would also end the scene on something emotional instead of pure lust. Thus highlighting the emotional element of the scene.
Game of Thrones fails at giving Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen an actual sex scene as there are no major emotional or sexual elements. Thus the scene is not framed as a sex scene. Don’t believe me?
We see Jon walk and knock on Daenerys’ door. She opens it and the show cuts away from the moment. Did Jon and Daenerys meet up purely to do the nasty? Was there a political element to their joint decision? If it wasn’t planned why does her face look surprised? If it was a spur of the moment decision why did Jon make it? Is their relationship actually about love or is it Daenerys’ want to control him and both are confusing it for love?
Well with no dialogue or foreplay there is nothing in canon that confirms or denies any of those theories. I am extremely strict with what I consider canon when examining pieces of media. Fanfiction is pure ‘I make my own reality’.
When the show cuts back to the sex scene Jon and Daenerys are in the middle of sex. There is only a brief moment of sex shown. Game of Thrones is on HBO which means they could’ve done a little more in the sex department. But, nope, one of the biggest ships on the show only gets an extremely brief moment of sex. This moment is made worse for me as someone said they thought it looked like Jon was taking a dump and now…I just can’t see anything else.
After that…basically nothing else. There is no post-coital scene where they talk which would’ve added an emotional element to the scene.
The only way I can make sense of the ‘sex scene’ between Jon and Daenerys is to redefine the scene. Instead of thinking of it as a sex scene I consider it an exposition scene with some sex to spice things up.
So what scene is shown before Jon Snow goes to Daenerys Targaryen’s cabin?
Samwell Tarly just arrived in Winterfell and decided to talk with Bran Stark (aka The Three-Eyed Raven) about a reality shattering revelation about Jon. The two discuss the fact that the supposed bastard is actually the secret legitimate child of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Thus he is the true heir of the Iron Throne and could contest Daenerys for the most powerful seat of political power in Westeros.
The only thing that makes this revelation nonthreatening is the fact Jon loathes power and would never pursue the Iron Throne. Unless, of course, Daenerys went mad and he had to keep peace in Westeros.
Throughout Sam and Bran’s discussion about Jon the show flashes back to Jon and Daenerys. Besides taking away any romance in the supposed sex scene, hearing that Jon and Daenerys are committing incest is just hilarious. It becomes a huge comedic moment instead of a touching one.
Obviously Game of Thrones aimed to make Jonerys a big part of the show. They decided on the couple getting together through very cliched ways. At first Jon and Daenerys hated each other which suddenly changed to them loving each other. Because if the romantic pairing hates each other in the beginning they must fall deeply in love with each other by the ending.
But I won’t get into pacing issues here or else I’ll go on a long tangent that has nothing at all to do about Jonerys. Long story short: the pacing of Seasons 7 and 8 left a lot to be desired. Such as with the pacing fans got, it makes it extremely hard to figure out where canon ends and headcanons begin.
If the show wanted Jon and Daenerys’ moment of solidifying their relationship to be through sex, they should have gotten an actual sex scene. However, the show decided to throw this important moment in the middle of an exposition scene.
I can understand that Game of Thrones had a shortened season and that could have affected the disappointing ‘sex scene’ between Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen. However, Grey Worm and Missandei were able to have a very intimate sex scene. Not just physically but emotionally. Since they were secondary characters, they had even less screen time than Jon and Daenerys.
Grey Worm was about to go off fighting for Daenerys and would have to leave Missandei for some time. In past seasons the love between the pair had been growing slowly. Due to Grey Worm being raised as an Unsullied, he was not good at forming emotional connections with others. So he had not admitted out loud that he loved Missandei with every inch of his being.
But on Dragonstone, Missandei’s distress caused the pair to admit their intense feelings for each other. That emotional element was front and center of their short sex scene. The relationship between Grey Worm and Missandei is extremely emotional so it’s good the showrunners remembered that for their sex scene.
Soon after a sexual element was added when they both got naked. Instead of pure titillation, this sexual element was there to help strengthen the emotional element. Grey Worm was embarrassed about his manhood being removed so didn’t want to be naked around Missandei. But when she undressed to tell him he had nothing to be embarrassed about, he finally found the strength to be naked around her.
If the showrunners could give Grey Worm and Missandei a sex scene full of physical and emotional intimacy, why couldn’t they do the same for Jon and Daenerys? Why give secondary characters such a well done sex scene and give the main characters nothing but an exposition scene with a little bit of sex thrown in?
Jon and Daenerys’ sex scene should’ve followed the format of Grey Worm and Missandei’s. Jonerys’ sex scene should have had a strong emotional core that was only strengthened by physical intimacy.
Have More of the Chemistry Shown in the Dragonpit Scene
One problem Game of Thrones had since it was a television series was making sure its leads had chemistry. This was something that was lacking between Kit Harrington (Jon Snow) and Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen). Though they appear to be friends in real life, they weren’t able to play convincing lovers in the show.
To me they were like two dead fish that someone was pointing a camera at. All the emotions that needed to be there between Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen weren’t. If Jon and Daenerys weren’t such a large part of the show, I would have recommended recasting so that sexual tension would have been caught on camera.
Even if Game of Thrones Seasons 7 and 8 were written well, the fact Kit and Emilia lack the needed chemistry means a believable Jonerys is not possible. Viewers can’t believe a once in a lifetime romance is happening if Jon and Daenerys act like they’re just friends at most.
The lack of chemistry could have been the result of there hardly being a moment for the pair to act like actual people in love. The majority of Season 7 Jon and Daenerys didn’t outwardly express their love for each other. Because with shortened Seasons, the showrunners decided to run with the cliched ‘they loathe each other and by the end are madly in love with each other’.
While I don’t like that cliche, there is a right and a wrong way to use it. Such as The Terminator did a half-way decent job but Halloween III Season of the Witch just…what the heck?
Season 8 was not much better and there were only a few moments where Jon and Daenerys were in love. For the majority of the Season, Jon and Daenerys had ended their relationship due to the former finding out that they are actually related. But both still had feelings for the other that they couldn’t act on. The Targaryen queen still tried to get Jon to restore their relationship time and time again.
What would have greatly improved the relationship between Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen are slow scenes. The pair moved both too slow and quickly for viewers to fall in love with Jonerys. Something that shouldn’t happen for such an important relationship.
And the Jonerys moments shouldn’t be like the majority the show gave us. I’m not asking for scenes that shove the romance into my face. Instead I’m asking for moments where the romance is organic and doesn’t feel like a romantic comedy.
There weren’t many moments I felt any chemistry between Jon and Daenerys. One scene, though, I saw why people liked Jonerys. The scene was a slow moment where the romance wasn’t shoved down my throat. A scene where the couple could act like actual people in love.
That scene was the Dragonpit scene in Season 7. Everyone was waiting for Queen Cersei Lannister to return. Jon and Daenerys took the time to go somewhere there weren’t eyes on them. They did this so they could just talk with each other.
Though simple, the scene was more than powerful. Daenerys talked to Jon about her worries on the future of House Targaryen. Her House used to be powerful because of their dragons but eventually the majestic creatures became small due to being holed up in the Dragonpit. She also reveals to him that she believes she is barren and so her House’s lineage will end with her.
Jon shows how much he cares about her by attempting to calm her fears. He says that since the person who told Daenerys she was barren hated her, that the woman was not to be trusted. He didn’t like Daenerys being upset and did his best to calm her down.
This touching scene between Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen is not one of overblown romance. Instead the scene kept things extremely slowed down which allowed actual romance to blossom. Daenerys dares to bare her soul to a man she is beginning to love and Jon is right there for her emotional needs.
Game of Thrones made the odd decision of having the majority of Jonerys scenes be of overblown romance. With the majority of Jonerys scenes the show made sure to push the ship without letting the relationship feel real. If the show had been full of scenes like Jon and Daenerys in the Dragonpit, their relationship would be worthy of the praises it receives.
Replace the ‘Romantic’ Dragon Flight Scene with an Actual Romantic Scene
Game of Thrones had a unique way of telling love stories. Such as between Robb Stark and Talisa. It was framed in the classical ‘royalty decides to forgo their duties and marries a commoner’. But instead of a happy ending like those love stories tend to get, their ending was one of the bloodiest moments of the show: the Red Wedding.
In short the show never sacrificed consequences just for a romantic love story. But that went right out the window with the relationship between Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen. Their scenes tended to be overly romantic to the point it felt like a completely different show. If the show’s version of Jonerys had happened in Pretty Little Liars it would’ve fit. Heck, I would’ve loved it in that setting.
One of the worst ‘romantic’ Jonerys scenes occurred in Season 7. Jon had just returned nearly dead from beyond the Wall. He was then situated in a cabin where Daenerys went to visit him. One of the few good things from the scene was the woman baring her soul to the bastard. She revealed herself to be able to feel extreme sadness. Something she doesn’t show to just anyone as people follow the strong.
But then the moment is ruined by the showrunners thinking they need to blare ‘Jon and Daenerys are in love’ instead of going for a quieter moment. What I mean by the show blaring is moments in the scene such as the couple nearly touching hands before Daenerys pulls away because the worst cliches have to be followed. Just like in horror movies cops are useless and cell phones don’t work.
One very illogical moment of the scene is the fact Jon bends the knee right after Daenerys says she will grant her help without him having to bend the knee. And because Jonerys wasn’t explained clearly enough in the show, everyone is correct in their various theories on why Jon bent the knee.
Not only was this Jonerys scene unneeded, which is a topic for another day, but it turned a romantic scene into something vomit worthy. Everything in the scene was turned up to eleven in an unneeded effort to be emotional. Romantic scenes, even deeply moving ones, can be calm and quiet. Scenes of romance need to feel organic.
Again, that Jonerys scene would have fit in perfectly in another show. Such as I would have felt so happy for the pairing if the scene had been in Pretty Little Liars aka the only really girly show I watched.
One thing I like about series is that there is room for improvement. There is always room to overcome a fault in the next season. However, the showrunners didn’t learn anything between Seasons 7 and 8 as it concerned the relationship between Jon and Daenerys. Which lead to the worst Jonerys scene that was so bad it ruined plot points and made characters appear really stupid.
So what was this damning scene?
Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow go to checkup on the two remaining dragons. The queen then decides that she will ride Drogon while Jon rides Rhaegal. After a short flight they go to a secluded spot and have a ‘romantic’ moment. The only thing that makes this scene bearable is knowing what happened to Kit Harrington behind the scenes when he first got onto ‘Rhaegal’.
The first problem of the scene is that there is no chemistry between Kit Harrington and Emilia Clarke. This has been a problem throughout the majority of times their characters have been romantic interests for each other. With a good script this problem wouldn’t be as large as it was. But the script for Game of Thrones Season 8 was not good.
So combine a bad script with no chemistry and you get a disaster. Maybe great actors with great chemistry could make lines like ‘keep your Southern Queen warm’ palpable. But that is a talent Harrington and Clarke don’t possess.
Now the lines in this scene I wouldn’t mind in one of the various romance books I read. However, I expect a higher quality of writing in shows like Game of Thrones.
The second problem is that the scene downplays how important Jon riding Rhaegal should have been. I have seen his fear of dragons as him being subconsciously afraid of his Targaryen heritage. So him riding a dragon would be him finally accepting both parts of his heritage. Plus Rhaegal is named after Rhaegar Targaryen who is Jon’s biological father. Not only is Jon riding a dragon, he is riding the dragon named after his father.
Jon riding Rhaegal for the first time should have been an extremely impactful moment. Yet this extremely important moment in the show was reduced to nothing more than a scene to give fans more Jonerys.
The third problem is that it makes Jon and Daenerys look like idiots when they don’t realize that he is a Targaryen after he rides Rhaegal. In the show it’s been confirmed that House Targaryen, as the only surviving House with dragons, have the easiest time riding dragons. Therefore if a person is able to randomly get on a dragon and fly, there is no doubt that person is a Targaryen.
So knowing only a Targaryen can just randomly decide to ride a dragon, why does Daenerys suggest Jon ride Rhaegal in the first place? Is it a way for her to kill Jon? Now while he was able to touch Drogon in Season 7, why would she then assume Rhaegal would be willing to have Jon as a rider? And even Jon touching Drogon in Season 7 didn’t alert her to the fact maybe he was a Targaryen. Or did she just forget about him touching Drogon?
Why did neither Jon or Daenerys realize he’s a Targaryen by this point? Besides being a nauseating ‘romantic’ scene, it makes both characters appear beyond stupid. There’s a phrase I want to use but I am going to remain polite.
This non-nonsensical scene that would feel more at home in a romantic comedy instead of Game of Thrones, should have been replaced with a scene that was actually romantic. A scene that is Game of Thrones’ own brand of romance. The scene I’m referring to is a deleted Season 8 scene that is my second favorite Jonerys moment.
When judging the final two seasons one must consider the fact that the showrunners had made the odd decision to make the final seasons of Game of Thrones short. So any suggestions need to consider that tight time frame even though longer seasons would have helped many problems. In all honesty more seasons would have helped the ending the showrunners wanted.
One of the problems caused by two shortened seasons was that there was less time for the showrunners to convince viewers to ship Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen. So it makes sense why the majority of Jonerys scenes were so horribly done.
The ‘romantic’ dragon riding scene between Jon and Daenerys was merely a clumsy attempt to convey the love both characters felt for each other. But all the scene did was feel out of place and made the pair look really stupid. There was another way to convey Jonerys in such a way that felt natural. The way is actually even shorter which leaves the show more time to cover other storylines.
The deleted scene I keep mentioning is extremely short and deeply impactful. Daenerys and Jon are walking around to observe the preparations for the Battle of Winterfell. The Northerners openly disrespect the Targaryen because that House is extremely disliked in the North. Jon laughs at Daenerys’ reaction. She, in turn, doesn’t react warmly to the bastard’s reaction.
While short, this deleted scene manages to pack a lot of information in. More importantly it shows Jon smiling. It allows Kit Harrington to act as more than a man looking unhappy. He really has a great smile and I wish the show allowed him more chances to show it.
Know what an important part of a relationship is? The ability to joke with your significant other. It shows that the two of you are willing to let down your barriers. It shows that the two of you aren’t self-conscious and have a sense of humor. If you can’t tease each other from time to time, you probably are not that comfortable with each other.
I can’t understand about trying to reclaim my family’s glory. I can’t understand about being involved in politics. I can’t understand about being a soldier who has to kill to survive. But what I can understand is the joy of gently teasing my significant other. So when Jon teases Daenerys, the relationship between the two becomes much more real. It becomes something tangible that I can buy into.
Jon Snow not defending Daenerys Targaryen gives viewers insight into how good he’d be as a political leader. While he can gather men to fight at his side and rise up from the title of bastard, he can’t understand the lies a life in politics would require. A good political leader would have defended Daenerys to show a united front.
I mean…Jon’s reasoning for the two of them sailing together was totally to show a united front and not at all an excuse for them to get it on after all.
Daenerys knew beforehand that the Northerners would not like her. She knows that the history of the North included King Torrhen Stark bending the knee to Aegon Targaryen so his lands wouldn’t be turned to ashes. She knows that the Northerners are always wary of outsiders. On top of that her coming to Winterfell indicated the North would lose their newly won independence. So she should’ve been able to prepare ahead of time to keep a calm demeanor on and be willing to see from their point of view.
Instead Daenerys takes the Northerner’s disrespect personally and doesn’t hide her dislike of the people. The deleted scene clearly shows that she demands respect and dislikes those who won’t give it to her. Since she didn’t hide her honest reaction, it also hints at her madness. A madness once fully grown would see her burn a city full of innocents.
Though, yes, her burning of King’s Landing should have been built up so much better. But I won’t be talking about my thoughts on that incident here as that would be a huge tangent.
It can’t be argued that the dragon flying Jonerys scene was anything less than visually spectacular, but it also lacked any real substance. While the Season 8 deleted Jonerys scene was less visually appealing in comparison, it had a lot of substance to it. It made the relationship between Jon and Daenerys feel natural and showed the faults of both characters. Jon’s faults as a political leader and Daenerys’ faults as a person.
Those are my opinions on what could’ve made Jonerys better on Game of Thrones. Comment below with your opinions on what you think could’ve been done to improve Jonerys.
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