Warning: This article is dark and full of spoilers Game of Thrones season 8 spoilers.
Saying goodbye was the theme of Game of Thrones season eight, episode four, “The Last of the Starks”. Throughout the episode, we saw characters saying goodbye to old identities, old attack plans, dreams of relationships they thought they could have, memories of the world they once thought they knew and, most importantly, people they loved. Perhaps the most shocking of these goodbyes was Missandei’s death which came at the hands of Cersei Lannister following a seemingly failed negotiation with Tyrion at the walls of the Red Keep. But before Missandei died, she had a final, badass message for her BFF, Daenerys Targaryen, that carries more meaning than you might have thought.
After Euron Greyjoy took her prisoner following the Iron Fleet’s ambush on Dany’s ships outside Dragonstone, we knew it probably wouldn’t end well for Missandei. Those fears came true when Cersei showed no signs of honoring Tyrion’s pleas for a ceasefire and surrender. Instead, as Dany and Grey Worm looked on in terror, Cersei approached Missandei, telling her, “If you have any last words, now is the time,” all but explicitly confirming to us that she would die.
Before Missandei was brutally beheaded by the Mountain, she did have one last, good word to share with Cersei, Dany, Grey Worm and the small group of Unsullied soldiers. That word? “Dracarys,” the one word command Dany says to her dragons when she wants them to unleash their full fire and fury onto a target of her choosing.
Cersei likely doesn’t speak Valyrian, so the meaning of the word is lost on her. But Dany and Grey Worm definitely understand what she means. Missandei chose to use her final moments to motivate Dany and remind her of what’s at stake if she chooses to get lost in grief over Missandei’s death, something the trusted confidant definitely wouldn’t want. In one simple word, Missandei gave Dany the push she needs to get the Iron Throne back.
This idea is is further supported by the look on Dany’s face following Missandei’s execution, a mix of fury and determination the likes of which we have never seen on GoT before. Dany just watched her best friend get murdered at the hands of her biggest enemy and that enemy’s closest ally murder her dragon child, Rhaegal. There’s no way we can expect anything less from Dany than going on the warpath in the final episodes of GoT.
Immediately after shooting Missandei’s death scene, actor Nathalie Emmanuel (who has played Missandei since season three) spoke with Entertainment Weekly about how this death will be particularly powerful and motivational to Dany and her mission.
“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,” Emmanuel told EW. “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.
Emmanuel understood then, as we do now, that Missandei has always been a motivational force for Dany and will continue to be right up until the very end of this show. But now, we’ll have to wait and see if Missandei’s final message to Dany worked when we sit down on Sunday, May 12 at 9/8c to watch GoT episode five on HBO.