WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for "The Last of the Starks," Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 4.
The latest episode of Game of Thrones ended with the shocking death of Daenerys Tarygaryen's longtime adviser and confidante, Missandei. Before Daenerys and Grey Worm's horrified eyes, Missandei, once again bound in chains, was beheaded the Mountain under orders from Cersei Lannister.
Fans immediately decried the character's death, as hers was one of two remaining roles on the HBO series portrayed by minority actors, with the other being Grey Worm, played by actor Jacob Anderson. Missandei actor Nathalie Emmanuel was neither surprised by her character's death given the nature of the show nor the following online outrage due to the representation on the series.
"I was like, not surprised that she died because I had been expecting it for a really long time. So many people die in that show and I guess I didn’t think I was any safer than anybody else in that respect," admitted Emmanuel in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "But I am fully aware and engaged in the conversation of representation because I am the only woman of color in this show that has been on there regularly for many seasons and Jacob [Anderson] and I are fully engaged in that conversation constantly and throughout our whole time together."
Emmanuel had shared an online tribute, thanking her co-stars and fans for their years of love and support on the series, days after the episode first aired. Feeling that for the former slave to once again be bound in chains only to die was a cutting end, Emmanuel was glad her character's final line was one of defiance, understanding what the character means to so many people around the world.
"I understand people’s outrage, I understand people’s heartbreak, because this is the conversation around representation. It’s safe to say that Game of Thrones has been under criticism for their lack of representation and the truth of it is that Missandei and Grey Worm have represented so many people because there’s only two of them," Emmanuel continued. "I know what it means that I am existing in the spaces that I am because when I was growing up, I didn’t see people like me but it wasn’t until she was gone that I really felt what it really, truly meant until I saw the outcry and outpouring of love and outrage and upset about it, I really understood what it meant."
Airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO, Game of Thrones stars Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister, Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, Maisie Williams as Arya Stark and Kit Harington as Jon Snow.