Let's Talk About Game of Thrones' Latest Big Death

The internet was not so thrilled with the loss at the end of season 8, episode 4.

By Lauren Piester May 06, 2019 9:44 PMTags
Game of Thrones, Missandei, DeathHBO

RIP Missandei of Naath (Nathalie Emmanuel). 

Daenerys' right hand lady lost her life at the end of the latest episode of Game of Thrones, and while on one hand, we'd like to congratulate this relatively minor character for making it all the way to the third to last episode ever, we're also over here scratching our heads with the rest of the internet. 

Here's how it went down, from what we saw. 

Dany and her fleet were on their way to King's Landing to finally deal with Cersei, but were ambushed on the way by Euron Greyjoy and the Golden Company. He used his gigantic spear machine to take down Rhaegal the dragon, and instead of using her other dragon to light them all on fire when she had a prime opportunity, Dany just kind of dodged the arrows as her ships got attacked as well. Most everyone washed up on a beach, but Missandei was nowhere to be found. 

We then found out that she had been captured by Cersei's fleet, and she was used as leverage. Dany had to surrender, or Missandei would die. Dany did not surrender, and Missandei had her head chopped off by the Mountain after one last word: "Dracarys." 

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We have a lot of questions about this. 

First of all, was capturing Missandei always the specific plan? Or did they just happen to capture Missandei and realize how convenient that was? Who among Cersei's people knew how significant Missandei was? 

If it was the plan they sailed out there with, it was a dumb one. If they knew enough about Daenerys to know that Missandei was significant to her, then they would know that there's not a soul on earth who Daenerys would surrender herself and the crown for, and all this does is give her an excuse to hit back as hard as Missandei's "Dracarys" seemed to be encouraging her to hit, while giving Grey Worm yet another reason to want to murder Cersei. 

If Missandei just happened to get captured, then the death just feels especially rude because of how unnecessary it was. We all know, again, Dany was never ever going to surrender to Cersei. Never in a million years, no matter who was up there about to get beheaded. She wouldn't even give it up to Jon, and we all know Jon would be just fine (and very boring) as King, as opposed to Actual Nightmare Cersei Lannister. 

The thing is, this war was always going to start, whether Missandei got beheaded or not. Everybody's lost enough and everybody's got a reason for this fight, especially Daenerys Targaryen, and everybody already knows what Cersei's capable of. Tyrion's appeals to her "humanity" were sorta laughable, and the whole thing felt like everyone was stalling before the final battle with one more unnecessary sacrifice. 

Not only have people been criticizing the show for killing a black woman to motivate a white woman, but when paired with Brienne crying over Jaime and Sansa crediting her rapist and abusers with making her strong, it just made the episode feel particularly icky, which multiple outlets have pointed out

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For her part, Nathalie Emmanuel loved Missandei's final scene. 

"I thought it was a fantastic scene," she told EW. "I've said in so many interviews that I don't mind if I die I'm just happy to be here and be a part of the show. ...It's going to be really emotional and she's so brave in it and shows her strength and fearlessness even though she doesn't wield a sword. She believes in her queen and believes in her cause. I'm so happy that she has that kind of exit. It's emotional. She said she was willing to lay down her life but we hoped she wouldn't have to. You can watch the end of a show and think the character is living on to do whatever. But there's a real sadness to the fact that the character won't. It seems likely to push Daenerys to a scary level." 

Hopefully, Missandei's death will go on to mean something incredible to whatever happens next in this game of thrones and doesn't go to waste, but by the look on Grey Worm's face as he watched her die, we doubt he'd let that happen. 

We can't know exactly what effect Missandei's death will have, but here's hoping it's massive. 

For where she ranks (currently) among the show's most important deaths, see below! 

25. Theon Greyjoy (Season 8)

Theon fought valiantly until the end, and essentially sacrificed himself for one last futile attempt to keep the Night King away from Bran. A good man indeed, though it's not like anyone thought Theon would make it out of this whole thing alive. 

24. Jorah Mormont (Season 8)

Jorah died as, let's face it, he was always going to: protecting Daenerys Targaryen. He made it through a whole bunch of stabbing, but died just after the Night King did in the Battle of Winterfell. How this death will affect Dany has yet to be seen, but this will be one of her biggest losses in a long time, up there with her dragon and her husband. 

23. Lyanna Mormont (Season 8)

Badass Lady Lyanna Mormont was never going to go out without a fight. She demanded to be on the battlefield in the battle against the army of the dead, and ended up being crushed to death by a giant wight. But before she was totally crushed, she also managed to stab the wight in the eye, taking him down with her. It was the first major casualty of the Battle of Winterfell, and it was a sad but fitting end for an incredible character. 

22. Margaery, The High Sparrow and More (Season 6)

With just a bit of wildfire, Cersei got rid of all her problems at once. Bye, High Sparrow. Bye, Queen Margaery. Bye, trial. Tommen even killed himself over it, so yeah she lost her son, but she got to be the queen. 

21. Jon Snow (Season 5)

Jon Snow is alive now and one of the most important characters on the show (though sometimes we question that), but once upon a time his death, due to the betrayal of his fellow Night's Watchmen, was all we could talk about. Then Melisandre brought him back to life with some of her wacky magic, and we're all still waiting for that to pay off. Jon's life? Important. Jon's death? Not all that important yet

20. Beric Dondarrion (Season 8)

Dying is Beric's whole thing, as he's done it multiple times and was always revived by Thoros. Then, Thoros died, leaving Beric one last chance to fulfill whatever his purpose was. It turned out that purpose was to save Arya Stark from wights so she could go on to kill the Night King. He died protecting her, and Melisandre even confirmed his job was done. 

19. Robb Stark (Season 3)

Remember when it was Robb, and not Jon Snow, who was hailed as the King in the North? After the death of Ned, Robb was the man of the Winterfell house. After the death of Robb, the family fell into even more chaos for a few years. 

18. Lady Olenna Tyrell (Season 7)

"Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me." Jaime may have been there to poison her, but Lady Olenna got the last word as she informed him that it was she who poisoned his son Joffrey. Forever a badass. 

17. Lady Catelyn Stark (Season 3)

Catelyn died in the devastating Red Wedding, after watching her son Robb die right in front of her, and after committing one last stand of defiance by killing Walder Frey's young wife before her throat was slit. But at least Catelyn's determination to protect her family lived on long after she did, thanks mostly to Brienne of Tarth. 

16. Viserys Targaryen (Season 1)

Before she was the dragon-riding khaleesi we know her to be now, Daenerys was bossed around by her jerk of a brother, Viserys, who kept trying to sell her in exchange for power. He got real jealous of how popular Dany was among the Dothraki, and demanded that Khal Drogo give him an army so he can go take the throne in the Seven Kingdoms. Drogo gave him a "golden crown" by pouring molten gold over his head, freeing Dany and giving us the series' first major (and very satisfying) death. 


15. Robert Baratheon (Season 1)

In the grand scheme of things Robert was kinda whatever, but his death did start this whole thing. Plus, this was our first indication that Cersei's a true madwoman who's not averse to arranging her husband's death to protect the fact that she's been sleeping with and having multiple children with her own brother. This dude also started literally everything happening because he was in love with Lyanna Stark and she was not in love with him, so dang it, Robert! 


14. Ygritte (Season 4)

Jon Snow's first love, a wildling named Ygritte, changed his mind about just about everything. She died in a wildling vs. Night's Watch fight, and Jon was forever changed. (As was Kit Harington, who later married Rose Leslie.) 

13. The Three-Eyed Raven (Season 6)

This guy had to die, at the hand of the Night King, so Bran could become him and take over being the creepiest person in the Seven Kingdoms. 

12. Shireen Baratheon (Season 5)

Shireen was sacrificed to the Lord of Light by Melisandre, and even though she later brought Jon Snow back to life, she had lost all good will anyone might have been able to muster for her. 

11. Joffrey Baratheon (Season 4)

Joffrey was the first of the three Baratheon children (who were actually Lannisters, but whatevs) to die, and it was one of the most satisfying deaths the show has ever had. It started a bit of a war between the Lannisters and Tyrion, who was tried for Joffrey's murder. However, it turns out Joffrey's wine was poisoned by another meme-able foe by the name of Olenna Tyrell. 

10. Ramsay Bolton (Season 6)

Sansa got her revenge on her rapist and abuser when she fed him to his own hungry hounds, freeing her and beginning her transformation into one of the most unexpectedly formidable figures in Westeros. 

9. Melisandre (Season 8)

Melisandre didn't die in battle, but when the Battle of Winterfell was over, she took off the necklace keeping her alive and young and died on her own terms, apparently having fulfilled her calling. The fact that she so willingly died after what we can only assume is a thousand years or so hopefully means her services are no longer needed in these final few episodes. Whether that's a good or bad thing remains to be seen. 

8. Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish (Season 7)

Sansa finally teaming up with Arya at the end of season 7 to take down Littlefinger was one of the more satisfying arcs of the whole series, and another major moment in Sansa's transformation. And he really, really deserved that trial and execution after all the bulls--t he put her through! 

7. Tywin Lannister (Season 4)

We all knew Tywin Lannister was the real power in Westeros, but no one was expecting Tyrion to use his first moments after Jaime freed him from prison to get some revenge. First he killed his prostitute friend/love Shae, who he found waiting in Tywin's bed. Then, he pointed his crossbow right at Tywin, who was sitting on the toilet. Bye bye, most powerful man in town. Hello to the Tyrion we all now know and love (after a few years). 

6. Tommen Baratheon (Season 6)

Tommen took on the title of king after Joffrey's death, and also married Joffrey's wife Margaery. But when he learned that Margaery had died in an explosion (orchestrated by his own mother), he committed suicide by throwing himself out a window. Cersei's brutality killed her own son, and left her as the new queen. 

5. Missandei (Season 8)

It's unclear if Missandei's beheading (done after Dany refused to surrender to Cersei) was an opportune convenience or the plan that Euron had all along. Either way, her death (the death of the last prominent woman of color on the show) felt especially cruel and mostly pointless. Dany was never going to surrender no matter who was up on that ledge, and if Cersei's team knew enough about Dany to know who Missandei was, they would know that too. 

That said, Missandei's last word of "Dracarys" will hopefully be the push her queen needs to burn Cersei to the ground, and so we're giving her a high spot on this list for now. 

4. Khal Drogo (Season 1)

Without the death of her sun and stars, Daenerys Targaryen would likely never have become the ruthless dragon-riding queen she is today, and that would be a damn shame. Jon Snow could never. 


3. Hodor (Season 6)

This wasn't just the death of a beloved character. It was a shocking moment in the history of the show, and for once, not (just) because it was a brutal death. First of all, it explained how Hodor became Hodor, a guy who only ever said "Hodor." Second of all, it introduced the crazy timey wimey concept of the future affecting the past. That concept has yet to pay off other than explaining Hodor, but it was a wild and heartbreaking twist that honestly could turn out to be one of the more important deaths of the whole show. If it doesn't, then JUSTICE FOR HODOR. 

2. Ned Stark (Season 1)

Ned Stark's death wasn't just an important moment in show, but it was a major moment for fans who weren't used to hero characters dying in season one. Joffrey demanded Ned's execution for treason back in season one, tearing the Stark family apart for the next six seasons and proving that this show was not messing around. He also died with many secrets, which if revealed, would have changed the shape of the show as we know it. 

1. The Night King (Season 8)

We don't yet know if there will be any lasting ramifications of the death of this evil dude, but we know that when he died, thanks to a quick dagger trick by Arya, all of the zombies died with him. He was the biggest external threat in Westeros, and now the Game of Thrones can really begin. Maybe. Listen this guy is mostly #1 because we're hoping he's more important than he currently feels. 

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO. 

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