Curtain Call: Nathalie Emmanuel

Missandei Season 8

In a show that is often (if sometimes wrongly) defined by the cruelty and short-sightedness of some of its characters, Missandei’s kindness, perseverance, and loyalty made her stand out from the cast. Indeed, many of us hope to ever be as worthy of the kind of loyalty that Missandei so thoroughly inhabited.

Nathalie Emmanuel made her first appearance in the Season 3 premiere “Valar Dohaeris” as the translator owned by the cruel Kraznys mo Nakloz (Dan Hildebrand). Instantly we could see that there was a deeper brilliance and complexity in the character than how she was initially presented and that in large part was due to Emmanuel’s charismatic performance. She added an instant depth to the character, a depth she would build upon beautifully as the series progressed.

Missandei let a slight glimmer of a smile through when Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) proclaimed “All men must die. But we are not men.” As the series progressed, Nathalie peeled away at the layers of trauma that Missandei had suffered from, giving us glimpses at the woman underneath. When she first erupted into genuine laughter, it felt cathartic. Nathalie’s laughter evoked a character who was perhaps for the first time feeling a true freedom to be herself.

Missandei Laugh Grey Worm Season 6 608

That scene is perhaps Nathalie’s best performance in the series. You could see in her performance how suffering had impacted those intricate layers of emotions. There was a hesitation in feeling the freedom to laugh and live, a guilt over how those desires intersected with the trauma of her past, and a true joy that she was able to do so. It was beautiful to see her powerful relationship with Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) build to where she could see a life for the two of them and heartbreaking to see that come to such an untimely end. None of that would have been as impactful without Nathalie’s performance.

Outside of the Thrones universe, Nathalie is known for her roles in such blockbusters as Furious 7The Fast and the Furious, the last two Maze Runner films, and a key role in the lauded British soap opera Hollyoaks. She will be appearing in the miniseries Four Weddings and a Funeral along with Nikesh Patel, Rebecca Rittenhouse, and John Paul Reynolds. You can also catch her voice acting talents in the upcoming Netflix animated miniseries The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, where she will be joining such name talent as Alicia Vikander, Jason Isaacs, Mark Hamill, Helena Bonham Carter, and her Thrones co-star Natalie Dormer!

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I will miss you in these final two episodes greatly, Nathalie! And I can’t wait to see what you do next.

#Dracarys #TranslatorJokes

46 responses

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    1. Nathalie was simply wonderful in this role. As one of the few wholly decent people on the show, Missandei’s death was truly tragic (though very effective – “Dracarys!”)

      Upon first meeting Missandei, alongside Kraznys, I remember how amused I was seeing her translate Kraznys’ words into a more professional dialogue. Nathalie’s body language during those moments really sold it and put a smile on my face.

      Missandei’s relationship with Grey Worm was very sweet and touching. Both Nathalie and Jacob did an incredible job showing how much the two characters cared for one another. And, as Akash says, the scene of her joking with Tyrion, and laughing and having fun for the first time, is very refreshing and heartwarming, and some of Nathalie’s best work.

      RIP, Missandei. Dracarys indeed. And thank you, Nathalie, for everything you brought to this character.

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    2. BigMac,

      I agree with everything in your post and Akash’s Curtain Call. Especially your point about her body language in her first scenes. There was a grace and strength about how she held herself that drew me to her character. And in her last, heartbreaking scene she continued to have that same grace and strength. Thank you Nathalie!

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    3. Thanks for this Curtain Call, Akash! Missandei was one of my favourite characters (if not, THE favourite). I absolutely loved Nathalie as Missandei and I loved the decision to age her so she could act as Dany’s advisor and close friend. Her dialogue with Tyrion and Greyworm, which you highlighted in a previous post, were among my favourite scenes of hers. Thanks for including Jacob’s post! I also saw it on his Instagram as well. Also, Nathalie played a young Nala in the West End’s Lion King.

      RIP Missandei! May your curls forever pop!

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    4. I liked Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson’s recent Instagram post that stated he was sorry to Nathalie and that Cersei made him do it. 🙂

      Great job, Nathalie. You were a most welcome enhancement to the Missandei of book canon.

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    5. I went in to the season expecting either Grey Worm or Missandei to bite it. But I couldn’t bring myself to say it was going to be her, just because I did not want to see it. Grey Worm is a fighter. He knows the stakes, he puts himself on death’s door willingly for honor and duty. But for Missandei to die, sweet and innocent Missandei, who just wanted to be Dany’s girl, it was tough. At least it was a quick death.

      I kind of had this thought that Grey Worm would end up living to spread her ashes on the beaches of Naath. Might still come true….

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    6. Nathalie seems like such a sweet and genuinely nice person. Just like Missandei. She did an amazing job. I’ll miss her! ❤️

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    7. Wouldn’t we all want to have a friend as loyal as Missandei. I actually expected her to die (Grey Worm would be the obvious choice, so she looked more probable), possibly on ep.3 in the crypts. But I was still sad to see her go. And such a beautiful girl too.
      I wish Ms Emmanuel best of success for her future.

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    8. Through all the series, I was sure Grey Worm would die before Missandei. I was getting ready for him to die from S5 onwards. I’m happy the show managed to surprise me. As for Missandei, Nathalie Emmanuel played her really well and I’ll certainly miss her presence. And storywise, I think her death was really impactful.

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    9. Oh beautiful girl, Nathalie has a natural internal dignity that shone through Missandei. She conveyed that dignity perfectly in any scene she was part of.

      I remember the scenes when the original generals of the Second Sons came to Dany’s camp and the one guy was so lewd and creepy toward Missandei. She maintained her composure wonderfully. It’s not an easy thing to do, to convey calm when all around you are being assholes. Nathalie did it, time and again, showing the quick wit and deep intelligence of the little slave girl turned best friend and worthy confidant of the would-be queen. And we never questioned it, never was there a false note in her portrayal that made us question whether there could be a young woman with such intelligence in that situation. There was, no doubt. Nathalie as Missandei showed us it could be so.

      Any of her scenes with Gray Worm left me feeling happy that somewhere at some time there could still be true, unselfish love between a man and a woman. The way she gently corrected his grammar mistakes, or realized he was watching her bathe in the river, or came to ask him why he hadn’t said goodbye to her before he went into battle, all wonderful scenes between them.

      I had no idea what her last words would be. Ah, the perfect one, Dracarys Even in death, Missandei’s influence shows. Thank you, Nathalie. I look forward to seeing your work in the future.

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    10. Oh Missandei. Lovely, brave, loyal Missandei. And dear sweet Nathalie Emmanuel. This really is one of the most gutting deaths in the history of the show, and perhaps the hardest goodbye we’ve had to say yet during Game of Thrones’ final run.

      Nathalie made an impression as Missandei from her very first scene when she skillfully softened the ugly rhetoric of Kraznys mo Nakloz for Dany’s benefit (“He begs you attend this carefully, Your Grace.”) Of course, Dany understood Kraznys perfectly, but that deft diplomatic skill unmistakably drew Dany’s attention to the beautiful young translator, and made it clear that she knew just how intelligent she was and just how valuable of an ally she would be. When Daario noted in the Season 5 finale that “Our Queen trusts no one more than Missandei,” he was absolutely correct, and it was easy to see why.

      There was a genuine bond between Missandei and Daenerys, just as there was obviously a deep bond between Nathalie and Emilia Clarke (the behind-the-scenes photos of them hanging out together, both at premieres and on Emilia’s Instagram, are just the best). That was constantly underscored by little moments, looks, and gestures that the actresses gave their characters in between their spoken lines, from the smile that Missandei offers up to Dany’s classic “All men must die … but we are not men” in Season 3’s “Walk of Punishment’, to the two of them clasping hands when as the Sons of the Harpy closed in around them in Daznak’s Pit, to the knowing look that Dany and Missandei share when Jon approaches in Season 7’s “The Spoils of War”. Both onscreen and offscreen, they were obviously more than coworkers. They were friends, even sisters.

      Missandei’s relationship with Grey Worm also became one of my favorites in the entire show. It never failed to exasperate me when people complained about their scenes together, because to me each and every one of those scenes was a gift and a genuine pleasure. Not only did Jacob Anderson and Nathalie have real chemistry together, but I loved the decision by the writers to establish a relationship between two people who had been scarred by the trauma of their past, but ultimately chose – hesitantly at first, and then confidently and unreservedly – to build something that was entirely their own, separate even from their devoted service to their chosen Queen. The scene in which Grey Worm and Missandei consummate their relationship at last in Season 7 is one of the most touching love scenes in the show – and one of the sexiest, because it’s abundantly clear just how deeply the two love each other and how much it means to them to be able to show it in this way.

      I love that Akash singles out the scene when Missandei is joking with Tyrion and Grey Worm, because it’s genuinely one of my favorite scenes of hers from the entire run of the show. When she tells the joke about two translators on a sinking ship (which is legitimately funny) and then delivers the punchline in a way that draws a laugh from Tyrion, I just adore the way that she smiles brightly, shakes her shoulders modestly, and takes a small sip of her wine. She was SO genuinely pleased with herself, and it was almost too sweet for words. Indeed, it’s all Nathalie in that moment. Her natural radiance arguably never shone brighter. When she cried out “More jokes!”, I was all for it – I could have stayed in the room with those three for hours. Alas, our time there – and our time with Missandei – was all too short.

      Thanks to her unmistakable talent, Nathalie’s star has deservingly risen high during her time on the show. She’ll have many opportunities in her bright future. But no matter what she goes on to next, I’ll always remember her for this role. What she brought to Missandei of Naath was unique, and only she could have made it as special as it turned out to be. She will be deeply missed.

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    11. Two translators are on a sinking ship.
      The first says: “Do you know how to swim?”
      The second says: “No but I can shout for help in 19 different languages”

      I think this is my favorite Misandei scene, her telling a joke. That really told me she was ready to be happy.

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    12. Nathalie brought a commendable degree of dignity to the role of Missandei and brought out the intelligence and integrity of the character superbly. Another wonderful casting and she will be sadly missed.

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    13. On another note and on-topic… I was devastated by Missandei’s death. I’m actually shocked by how devastated I am.

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    14. Nathalie was a great addition to the GoT family.

      This season has been rough, not because characters die (that’s been a mainstay of the series), but knowing the series will end and our series “watch has ended”.

      Funny how the series, like life, doesn’t always give us the death we planned for.

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    15. The beautiful Missandei. Beautiful not only on the outside but on the inside. A pure, intelligent, graceful and regal character and Nathalie delivered an exceptional performance time and again.

      I loved the romance between her and Greyworm and I’m still seriously gutted that they won’t get to sail off to Narth at the end.

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    16. Nathalie Emmanuel definitely has a bright future, and has already bagged a few decent roles as Akash notes. I always like seeing Game of Thrones actors in other roles no matter how large a part they played in GoT, and now that the show is ending this will only increase. I look forward to seeing Nathalie in the future!

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    17. Missandei was one of the few characters that, had this been real life, I would have enjoyed inviting to dinner. Not a killer, not a liar, a decent person. And the actor did such an excellent, nuanced job of interpreting the role!

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    18. One has to admit, they know how to do effective emotional scenes, and it wouldn’t be possible without Emmanuel’s presence as Missandei, all these years. By the time she says Dracarys, the viewer wishes Daenerys had a squadron of dragons.

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    19. My favourite. 😍 Nathalie… I think her name fits her. It comes from “Dies Natalis”, Christmas. And whenever she was on stage, it was like Christmas… 🤩

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    20. Nathalie lights up every scene she’s in. She has a wonderful warming presence, grounding her scenes. I was so glad to see her and Grey Worm get the opportunity to develop their relationship further. It hurts now but it was worth it along the way. It’s always worth it.

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    21. Big up to Akash for this and his previous post, and to all the commenters here, who have all said everything that I would have said, leaving me nothing to add but a special shout-out to

      Dark Sister:
      Thanks for this Curtain Call, Akash! Missandei was one of my favourite characters (if not, THE favourite). I absolutely loved Nathalie as Missandei and I loved the decision to age her so she could act as Dany’s advisor and close friend. Her dialogue with Tyrion and Greyworm, which you highlighted in a previous post, were among my favourite scenes of hers. Thanks for including Jacob’s post! I also saw it on his Instagram as well. Also, Nathalie played a young Nala in the West End’s Lion King.

      RIP Missandei! May your curls forever pop!

      Asé!
      Right, I’m off to have another good cry now.

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    22. I so much wanted Missandei to end up living on the beach at Naath with Grey Worm. Very disappointing to see her die, even though her character died with bravery, defiance and honor.

      The good news: Nathalie Emmanuel has shown the world her immense talent and with some luck should be working well past the age her peers are collecting pensions.

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    23. Great write-up, totally agree on everything she brought to the role.
      I wish we had seen a bit more of her in s8, really felt off not showing her and Dany talking and she was barely visible in the big great hall scenes. I couldn’t help but fist pump her one line in the crypts though 🙂
      The saddest thing is if GW survives and goes to Naath…oh the pain of what might have been 😭.
      It’s getting hard to see where the “sweet” will be in this ending.

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    24. Missandei was one of the five or six most interesting characters on GOT, in my opinion, putting her ahead of most of the ‘main” characters. As the show tilted more and more towards spectacle, Missandei and Grey Worm served as a moving reminder of the human stakes.

      And Nathalie is the single hottest actress on a show full of astonishing beauties. so she’s got that going for her…which is nice.

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    25. I swear to Jeebus, if I read one more stable internet genius whinging about how the last episode shouldn’t have combined two supposedly disparate halves, I’m going to change the name of the show to Game of Totally Unimaginative Fanboys.

      Otherwise, dear Watchers, 乂❤‿❤乂

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    26. Bravo!
      She was simply divine in Game of Thrones. I hated seeing her charachter go out like that. It was such a painful tragedy.

      That scene reminded me of the third act of Puccini’s Turandot where the captured slave girl, the sweet and noble Liu, stares down the threats of death and torture from the cruel and cold “Ice Princess” Turandot as she refuses to tell Calaf’s name. Liu takes her own life in defiance as the mob desperately screams “Il nome, il nome!, il nome!” I wanted Messandei to do the same but grab the equally evil, cold and cruel Queen Cersei and drag her off the ramparts with her as she screamed “dracarys!” That would have been simply unforgettable.

      I will never forget the look she gave Kraznys, in my favorite Game of Thrones scene, when Dany tells him “a dragon is not a slave” and he asks “you speak Valyrian?” as he realizes all of his insults were understood. Nathalie’s look was perfection and her face said all that was needed. What a fine, feminine and gorgeous woman and an equally fine actress. I will cherish the memory of that look the rest of my days.

      Thank you Nathalie for giving us so many fond memories from your time on the show.

      All of the very best wishes!

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    27. Jack Hamm: I will never forget the look she gave Kraznys, in my favorite Game of Thrones scene, when Dany tells him “a dragon is not a slave” and he asks “you speak Valyrian?” as he realizes all of his insults were understood. Nathalie’s look was perfection and her face said all that was needed.

      +1

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    28. I’d prepared myself for Theon, Jorah, Edd, and Beric’s deaths and, although they hurt, they were not surprising. Little Lyanna’s wasn’t a total shock either, and we knew Melisandre came back to Westeros to die. But Missandei? Some deaths are harder to accept. Hers especially.

      I’ve loved the character of Missandei ever since she was introduced and I’d hoped against hope that she and Grey Worm would have the happy ending they so deserved. But no, it’s Game of Thrones.

      Thank you, Nathalie. You were brilliant in the role and you broke our hearts.

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    29. Nathalie Emmanuel was so brilliant from her very first scene. This cowed slave translator who had wisdom, dignity, diplomacy and even a bit of a cheeky side from the start.

      Dany freeing her and her becoming her liberator’s confidante and friend, Nathalie portrayed it with such wonderful tact and feeling.

      The Missandei/Grey Worm love story was portrayed with such sensitivity, hesitation, slowly. Nathaniel Emmanuel and Jacob Andreson did a brilliant job. Two people, who were taught not to think of themselves as even quite people, finding their own way, becoming persons in their own right.

      Don’t tell me their scenes were “filler” and “boring”. They were a depiction of people finding themselves, their freedom, a tender love story that will have its payoff. Last Ep. Grey Worm almost puked, all ready for fire and blood. That wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Missandei. She taught him how to feel, be human, and now he saw that.

      Nathalie Emmanuel was just adorable as the slightly tipsy Missandei telling her first joke ever. She made me tear up, for happiness for her. Also, as a translator myself, I appreciate translator jokes.

      Nathalie’s character’s death was sooo unfair (even the detail she was back in chains, courtesy of cruel mad queen Cersei) but her “Dracarys!” will reverberate.

      Most of all, Nathalie Emmanuel did such a wonderful job of bringing Missandei to life for us. Thank you, Nathalie, and all the best in all your future endeavours. You’re one mad talented woman!

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    30. Dark Sister,

      Very interesting to hear the thought process that went into creating this beautiful work of art! I hadn’t really considered the Ned Stark parallels before … though now that Robert Ball mentions them, they’re quite striking.

      Both Ned and Missandei were viciously beheaded at the hands of mute servants wielding massive swords who were following the impulsively cruel orders of tyrannical Lannisters. Both died in front of their loved ones, who were powerless to stop the act. And both deaths ignited wars that will claim thousands of lives, and could have maybe been avoided if only cooler heads had prevailed. What’s ironic is that Cersei was one of the people trying to stop Joffrey from committing such an act back in Season 1. Here, she’s the one giving the order – and while her thought process is obviously far more calculating, it will likely prove to be no less ruinous. Like son, like mother.

      The more direct contrast, I suppose, is that while Ned ultimately sacrificed his pride and honor in his final moments in the hopes of saving his daughters’ lives, Missandei refused to sacrifice hers and gave her Queen and her lover permission to avenge her with Fire and Blood, whatever the cost.

      Well … now I’m heartbroken all over again. Excuse me …

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    31. Jared,

      So wonderfully written Jared!

      I’ll add two things from me:

      1. that her relationship with GW was positively enchanting. I know many couldn’t see the chemistry and healthy connection I saw or if they did they simply didn’t like the characters to care for it but I did. And I was hoping GW will take her to see the shores of Naath again. It pains me to see all of that gone.

      2. That while Missandei was warmth and kindness she was also fierce. My favorite Missandei scenes are all of her scenes. But the two where I loved her for her fierceness we’re putting Tyrion in his place when it came to slavers and slavery (when he said he understood her because he was a slave too at one point) and one of her last scenes, when she defends Dany in the crypts. You’d never think she’d be so cutting but loyalty does that to one.

      You’ll be missed. #Dracarys

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    32. Jared,

      Beutifully written, Jared.

      And thanks for the link to the poster Dark Sister, .

      Inspiration, schetch and final product.

      I don’t want to sound too pissy but I prefer the earlier, simpler, starker posters. It seems to me that the artist is nowadays trying to cram too much into each poster and losing the stark focus he used to have. Even here, I think the schetch looks better than the final product. But that’s just me.

      Also, didn’t Missandei face her death with her eyes bravely open? Not closed (=cowed) and crying?

      4/10 for the poster.

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    33. talvikorppi: Also, didn’t Missandei face her death with her eyes bravely open? Not closed (=cowed) and crying?

      I agree with you. No tears. It’s a quality poster, especially with the hint of a falling dragon on the right and the heartrending red Naath sunset on the horizon, but Missandei focused on GW and Dany until her final breath.

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    34. talvikorppi:

      Also, didn’t Missandei face her death with her eyes bravely open? Not closed (=cowed) and crying?

      4/10 for the poster.

      Yes, this bothered me too. I’m a big fan of the Beautiful Death posters but feel this one really missed the mark by showing Missandei shedding a tear.

      This quote from the Vanity Fair article I linked below puts it very well: “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 King’s Landing. Her performance was responsible for whatever depth the script never thought to give Missandei.”

      https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2019/05/game-of-thrones-missandei-death-season-8-episode-4

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    35. Dark Sister,

      Thank you for posting this.
      Jared,

      I like what you wrote, thanks.

      Hodors Bastard,

      I sort of agree with you, and others. I love Robert Ball’s work, but what holds me in the last close up of the still living Missandei are her open eyes – clear, strong, sure and not crying (although I have never taken tears alone as a sign of weakness). And for that, there is that great still shot from the episode we have been seeing.

      I like the interpretation from Ball himself. The image shows her death as she mourns leaving GW and not being able to return to Narth with him. A dream like state. I imagine he means in those moments (seconds) when life is leaving the body. I like that idea. Or maybe it is just what she was thinking and feeling inwardly as she stood so strong outwardly.

      Either way Missandei was beautifully played by Nathalie. She will be missed.

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    36. Nathalie was stunningly beautiful.

      She was clearly an actress that was still learning her craft but she continually improved over the series. I was surprised at how well she delivered her romance with Grey Worm. It was one of the few true love stories in the series.

      As for Missandei – I grieve that she was not able to make it home to the beach with the man she loved. She stayed as a close advisor to a woman that attacked a country with weapons of mass destruction and a large army. Clearly, she must have understood that her life was at high risk. It came with the job.

      The really sad part of the story is that she died without knowing that she was supporting a woman who was mistaken as to her claim to the Targ succession line. I think Daenerys failed/deceived Missandei by omitting to let her know the truth. Perhaps if she knew the truth she may have made it back to the beach with her man.
      Missandei stayed loyal to the very end.

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    37. At a time when we often hear the term “strong female characters” thrown about with abandon, Missandei truly fit that description. Strong, scarred, quiet but steadfast, intelligent and cautious, loyal and brave. Nathalie Emmanuel was a blessing to the role of Missandei, and I thank her for it. She quickly won my heart with her subtle reactions and responses which became more confident with time. Her relationship with Grey Worm was beautiful (if destined to end in tragedy), but all the same I was sickened by her death, which solidified that the last of my very few fucks about Cersei had flown the coop. Her last words surprised me, but made me proud at the same time.

      Thank you, Nathalie, for giving us Missandei, the most beautiful woman on the show.

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