Sport of Thrones season eight episode 4: the Missandei controversy defined


Hardly anybody anticipated that episode 4 of Sport of Thrones’ last season, “The Final of the Starks,” would maintain extra twists and turns than the dramatic episode that preceded it. However after the Battle of Winterfell, the collection’ shift to King’s Touchdown proved to carry numerous surprising moments that nobody noticed coming.

One of many greatest was the ugly loss of life of a major character, information of which leaked on-line earlier than the episode aired. A brief clip that circulated from the episode included the loss of life with none context, sparking confusion and outrage from many Sport of Thrones followers within the hours earlier than the episode’s launch. Then, after the episode aired, it grew to become clear that the loss of life was was in service of a bigger shift in the direction of a plot improvement for a special beloved character — and it’s one which many followers aren’t too proud of.

There are very legitimate causes for the followers’ outrage round this specific loss of life — each as a result of it’s a troubling instance of a recurring thematic drawback for Sport of Thrones, and due to the way it may have an effect on the search for the Iron Throne.

Naturally, there are spoilers forward!

spoiler, aquaman

“The Final of the Starks” launched a complete set of potential plot developments surrounding a major character loss of life

There have been two beautiful deaths on this episode. The primary was the loss of life of one in every of Daenerys’s two remaining dragons, Rhaegal, due to well-placed arrows fired by Euron Greyjoy as Dany’s entourage sailed towards King’s Touchdown.

However for as laborious as Rhaegal’s loss of life was for a lot of Sport of Thrones followers to take, the opposite one was a lot worse, and it carries dire implications for the course the collection may soak up its last two episodes. Throughout Euron’s ambush on Dany’s fleet, her greatest good friend and longtime servant Missandei is captured. She turns into Cersei’s prisoner, and within the episode’s last scene, Cersei orders the Mountain to behead her whereas Dany and Gray Worm are pressured to look at.

It’s not fairly. However much more considerably, proper earlier than she dies, Missandei shouts the phrase “dracarys” to Dany. Dracarys is the command that Dany makes use of when directing her dragons to put down fireplace and torch all the pieces in sight, and Missandei gave the impression to be advising Dany to burn Cersei’s palace to the bottom — and really doubtless many 1000’s of harmless King’s Touchdown civilians together with it.

Missandei’s loss of life is clearly meant to propel each Dany and Gray Worm into harmful grief spirals. It additionally appears to be setting the stage for a grim plot twist by which Dany primarily turns into her grandfather, the mad king Aerys II Targaryen, and reacts to her losses with a vengeful, unmitigated rage that threatens all of King’s Touchdown.

However that is an particularly sophisticated flip of occasions, on condition that Dany has persistently been lauded as a feminist icon — albeit one with a heavy emphasis on white feminism. Basically, regardless that Missandei’s loss of life ought to be about Missandei, it’s inevitably additionally about issues with Dany’s politics and Sport of Thrones’ typically contradictory presentation of Dany as a white savior queen who desires to be form however who’s typically ruthless and imperialistic.

The response to Missandei’s loss of life has largely been adverse, for numerous completely different causes

Many Sport of Thrones viewers have expressed anger and disgust over Missandei’s loss of life due to what it means for Dany. Specifically, after a complete episode dedicated to closely foreshadowing Dany’s turning into the “Mad Queen,” the loss of life appeared like a calculated plot machine to push Dany over the sting. However these similar viewers aren’t shopping for such a shift in Dany’s character; in spite of everything, she’s been framed as a noble and simply queen, if a flawed one, for a number of seasons now. Although some folks have began to query whether or not the thought of burning all the pieces down is definitely all that dangerous.

In the meantime, different followers are in mourning for Missandei — not simply because she was a stunning character, however as a result of her loss of life falls in step with Sport of Thrones’ ongoing problematic therapy of race.

Missandei was one in every of Sport of Thrones’ few characters of shade, to not point out one in every of its longest-running characters. After the Battle of Winterfell, she was one in every of solely two named characters of shade left on the present in any respect (along with Gray Worm). Her loss of life now brings that complete to at least one.

And so far as many followers are involved, with simply two episodes left, Sport of Thrones has already used up most of its goodwill on this entrance, particularly given what appears to be the problematic motivation behind Missandei’s demise.

Daenerys Targaryen is a well-liked feminist icon — however she’s additionally a troubling one, and Missandei’s loss of life underlines why

Once you consider the place we started in Sport of Thrones season one — with a terrified, naive Daenerys studying to respect the methods of the mighty and highly effective Dothraki — it’s simple to be confused about how we received right here. In spite of everything, Dany’s arc started as a compelling and optimistic one, by which she respectfully engaged with different cultures whereas constructing her military and her declare to the throne. This method to alliance-building, alongside together with her often willful management fashion, is how she initially amassed a considerable fandom amongst Sport of Thrones viewers who noticed her as a feminist character.

Nevertheless, after many seasons of uniting disparate teams beneath her banner (together with by releasing slaves and providing them an opportunity to affix her military), Dany’s dedication to bringing the seven kingdoms collectively has not too long ago began to look lower than honest. Nowadays, her motivation seems to virtually completely revolve round her private quest to revive her household to the throne, as an alternative of across the care and compassion she has beforehand proven to her followers, nonetheless briefly.

And notably, lots of these followers have not too long ago died in her title. Many of the Dothraki horde was decimated within the Battle of Winterfell, and the freed Unsullied slaves who fashioned her military suffered substantial losses. They had been all primarily rendered completely expendable, each to Dany herself and to Sport of Thrones’ plot as a complete.

The truth that Sport of Thrones has had ample time to provide you with a much less sloppy manner of weaving the cultures of its huge world extra completely into its narrative — and nonetheless failed — hasn’t earned it a lot acclaim from viewers who care about this kind of factor. Each the Dothraki and the Unsullied represented a complete tradition, but every was utilized by the present’s narrative as little greater than a tool to construct Dany’s energy on her path to the throne. Seasons 5 and 6 did try to make use of the conflict between the Unsullied and their former slave-owning masters as a manner of exhibiting the difficulties Dany confronted when it got here to truly ruling over a land as soon as she’d conquered it. However even that was a story totally constructed round Dany.

Though Sport of Thrones made a slight effort to provide Missandei and her lover, the Unsullied commander Gray Worm, a developed romantic arc of their very own — which resulted in one of many present’s solely tender love scenes — they had been by no means totally autonomous. In the end, Missandei’s total narrative objective was to additional Dany’s character arc. And that makes her loss of life a basic case of fridging.

“Fridging” is a time period that originated in comedian books. It’s often utilized to an expendable feminine character whose ugly loss of life is inserted right into a narrative, typically for shock worth, and virtually all the time to set off a person’s emotional spiral into violent, grief-stricken retribution. In different phrases, a fridged girl’s characterization, and her loss of life, are finally nothing greater than a plot level inside a person’s story. The idea of fridging often applies to ladies being killed off to serve a person’s plot, however it will probably additionally apply when a minority character is killed to additional the plot of a white or a straight cis character.

This fridging additionally inadvertently reveals simply how disposable the characters of shade on Sport of Thrones are: Missandei most likely had a complete group of Unsullied who will mourn her loss, however to date, we haven’t gotten to know any of them apart from Gray Worm — who’s, on the present, simply as remoted as Missandei is. (Relatedly, initially of “The Final of the Starks,” as every main [white] character loss of life from the Battle of Winterfell was revisited, we noticed nothing of the Unsullied troopers for whom Gray Worm was in mourning.)

Sport of Thrones has made these characters disposable not simply to its bigger narrative, however to Dany personally. She finally appears to be a classically Imperialist ruler: She conquered and exploited a number of colonies to achieve energy whereas struggling to construct a steady authorities in her wake, partly as a result of she didn’t need to stick round as soon as she’d conquered a area. She has persistently appeared to neglect concerning the folks she’s conquered past their capability to serve and obey her. And certain, Missandei is her greatest good friend, however she’s primarily a token on Sport of Thrones, meant to be a stand-in for the Unsullied as a complete, a relationship that convinces us Dany loves her folks. However this doesn’t actually align with the way in which Dany has handled all these different Unsullied.

All of because of this once we see Dany freaking out whereas Missandei dies, it rings greater than just a little hole; Dany’s greatest good friend could also be an individual of shade, however that doesn’t make her much less problematic as a white savior.

All of this has set the stage for a dramatic last two episodes of the present by which something may occur. But it surely appears extremely unlikely that Sport of Thrones, after seven and a half seasons of less-than-subtly marginalizing its characters of shade, will have the ability to redeem itself on this regard.

Particularly now that solely one in every of them remains to be alive.


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