This story contains spoilers for Season 8, Episode 4 of Game of Thrones.[hhmc]

Missandei had six lines of dialogue on Game of Thrones this season. She said “hello” to a pair of white children who quickly scurried away from her; she told her lover, Grey Worm, that shed like to see the beaches of her home island of Naath again, and worried that her people were too peaceful to defend themselves; she defended her queen, Daenerys, to Sansa and Tyrion; she said “no!” to her captors; and then, finally, she uttered her last word: “dracarys.”

And now shes gone. Rest in peace, Missandei of Naath, first of her name. Presumably, at least; we still know little about Missandei, the slave translator whose unseen island was home to very pretty palm trees. We know that her old master used to play salacious games with her; we know that somehow, while enslaved, she developed the well-spoken, regal decorum that made her appealing to Daenerys back in Season 3.

Since then, Missandei has been visually essential to the show. Every season trailer has featured her and stoic, Unsullied Grey Worm, a pair of ever-longing lovers. Narratively however, her role has changed shockingly little over the years from her first appearance, when she was introduced as a calm exposition machine.

And what an end she met: “So much for the Breaker of Chains,” Cersei said snidely, as the only black female character on Game of Thrones shivered in bondage, moments before her public execution.

Before the show offed Missandei, it also stole away her freedom—the core component of Missandeis backstory. She died in chains in a spectacle not only for Daenerys, but also for the Game of Thrones audience—in a scene that invoked uncomfortably realistic imagery to heighten stakes without addressing what those stakes meant. For five seasons, Missandeis devotion to Daenerys has been blind, without shape or nuance—unlike that of most other characters on the show, who have wavered, re-assessed, or at the very least grown as theyve aligned with Daenerys, Jon Snow, or Cersei. Varys and Tyrion may now doubt the Dragon Queen, but Missandei never did; her only display of anger toward her monarch came when Sansa dared to voice ambivalence toward Daeneryss rule.

Last season, on Dragonstone, Jon Snow blankly asked Missandei if she was really free under Daeneryss employ. The question was interesting, and the answer less so: an adamant Missandei insisted that she and the legions of Unsullied who followed Daenerys did so willingly, and that she was certain Dany would happily let her leave should she tire of the Game of Thrones. Yet well never watch her and Daenerys have that conversation—leaving Missandeis true freedom an unseen fait accompli.

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To her gruesome last breath, Missandei was written as a passive, non-playable video-game character; a font of exposition, or a bit of (pardon the pun) local color. She was there to explain, to assure, to reaffirm and translate. And now shes been killed off in a dramatic cut-scene that will trigger the final boss battle. She is not really Missandei of Naath, a liberated slave woman who traveled across the world to champion the Targaryen cause; shes simply Daeneryss black best friend, and her death has been given the same story weight as the execution of Daeneryss second dragon. Both serve to light the dragon fire in Daeneryss heart, paving her journey from liberator to Mad Queen.

Its true that gruesome, untimely, vicious deaths have always been a cornerstone of Game of Thrones; Theon Greyjoy and Jorah Mormont suffered a similar fate just last week. Both of them also died in service of another, more important character.

Yet this show has also never been in danger of running out of battle-weary white men atoning for their past sins. And in its final throes, Thrones has made a concerted effort to give every character a final moment in the spotlight—yet it did not extend that courtesy to the only black woman in Westeros.

This choice doesnt seem to be the result of malice. Instead, it seems like Thrones just has a blind spot—a tremendous lack of effort when it comes to the arcs of its minority characters. Missandei remained flat as the people around her grew fat with dimension: Cersei Lannister is a phenomenally crafted villain, with enough hints of remaining humanity for true tension to linger. Daenerys is a liberator and, perhaps, also a despot in training. But Missandei has gotten no such grace. Her death was powerfully acted by Nathalie Emmanuel; the actress chose not to shed a single tear as she called for dragon fire to rain down on Kings Landing. Her performance was responsible for whatever depth the script never thought to give Missandei.

Representation is and always has been a hard matter to discuss on a show like Game of Thrones. Fans who dont find the issue important point out its medieval trappings—not to mention the dragons and ice zombies—as if these faux-historical and fantastical elements free one of the most popular TV series in history from fretting about the grievances or concerns of women and people of color. The fan base as a whole seems more concerned with a Read More – Source

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Vanity Fair

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