When Game of Thrones returns this Sunday (April 14) in what will be its eighth and final season, HBO’s gargantuan event-series will be doing so with enough cliffhangers to give a soap opera writer the chills. The end game, of course, is who will lay claim to the Iron Throne as the frightening, world-ending White Walkers make their way beyond the wall. But while we all most certainly will be debating whether fan favorites badass Dragon queen Daenerys Targaryen and her pretty boy lover Jon Snow (yeah, about that) will take down the wicked, blood lustful Cersei and crew, let’s all rejoice that one of the whitest shows on television has finally injected some much needed color in the mix.
As GOT’s hottest couple (yeah…we said it!), low-key savvy translator Missandei and the stoic Grey Worm, battle-tested warrior and leader of The Unsullied, are the first fully formed, layered black characters in the show’s history. Indeed, in past years, Game of Thrones creator and author George R.R. Martin and show runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have gotten an earful for the cable series’ eyebrow-raising lack of diversity, which even had actor John Boyega calling them out.
But with the news that British Black actress Naomi Ackie has been cast for the lead role for an upcoming Game of Thrones prequel, we can expect even more Nubian majesty. With that said, here are the five blackest Game of Thrones moments. Absurd? Hey, we’re working miracles here.
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR GAME OF THRONES AHEAD!!
Before the introduction of the fiercely loyal Missandei and brave Grey Worm, folks of color on the Game of Thrones were either relegated to the role of grifter villain (Xaro Xhoan Daxos) or blink-or-you-will-miss sidekicks (Salladhor Saan). Which is why seeing the beautiful couple in all their raw yet complicated blackness was such a revelation. We saw ourselves.
Yet there is something else palpable about Missandei and Grey Worm—both the right-hand woman and man of the Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons Daenerys Targaryen. Without them, Khaleesi would have never amassed the thousands of fighters needed to make a play for the Iron Throne. Everyone’s favorite workplace Bonnie and Clyde deserves ALL the bags of Golden Dragon coins. Danny….don’t be that Becky.
Ain’t We Lucky We Got Them…The Starks
The Stark family have long been at the center of the Game of Thrones universe ever since virtuous patriarch Ned Stark literally lost his head in the first season. Since then, it’s been a bumpy, tragic and at times triumphant ride for the tight knit clan. But as the remaining siblings gear up for the ultimate rumble against the creepy dead army of the Night King and his White Walkers on different sides of the globe, let’s remember why the Starks remain the show’s unofficial 1st Family, showing the kind of holy sh*t resolve usually reserved for an episode of Good Times.
Truth be told, the Starks have had a myriad of reasons to just call it quits. Bran was pushed from a window and subsequently crippled by Jaime after witnessing the cocky swordsman having sex with his delightfully sinister sister and future Westeros ruler, Cersei. He was virtually abandoned and left to fend for himself before accepting his supernatural Three-Eyed Raven fate.
There was of course the horrific, devastating ambush that took the lives of their lioness mother Catelyn, brother Robb, and others during the aptly titled "Red Wedding." The not-really-a-bastard-son and rightful heir to the throne Jon Snow was at one point left for dead. And the Stark sisters, Sansa and Arya, survived unspeakable abuse, psychological terror, and near-death situations. But their seemingly tattered bond has only strengthened as we have seen throughout real life Black experience. It’s enough to make Florida Evans smile.
Tyrion = Tyrone
He is constantly profiled for the way he looks and often times has to work three times harder than his peers. Sounds Black to me. But despite the fact that Tyrion Lannister—constantly underestimated and looked down on by everyone outside of Castle Rock because of his infamous last name—is roundly disregarded as “the imp” because of his diminutive size, he again and again proves himself to be one of the Game of Thrones’ most masterful strategists.
What Tyrion lacks as a wartime consigliere (he’s more of a thinker than a fighter as proof of the nasty L he took against Euron Greyjoy’s army) he makes up for with life-saving chess moves, unmitigated swag, and first-tier moments like this. "Never forget what you are,” he once said. “The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.” That’s Black enough for you?
Lady Olenna Tyrell Is Your Favorite Auntie Who Gives NO F**k’s
We all have that beloved, straight-no-chaser family member who tells the truth whether you want to hear it or not. And nine times out of the proverbial ten it’s your not-to-be-trifled-with auntie capable of delivering effortlessly searing, and at times hilarious, one-liners that can either be graceful words of wisdom or a soul-snatching, savage diss. That’s essentially Olenna Tyrell, the regal matriarch of House Tyrell. Lady T’s highlight reel is seemingly endless. From giving her unvarnished view of King’s Landing as if it were a mere afterthought (“You can smell the sh-t from five miles away…”) to cutting through misogynistic fog and blessing the heroic Brienne of Tarth with the respect she long deserved (“I hear you knocked my grandson into the dirt like the silly little boy he is…”), she’s the ultimate baddie.
You could just imagine the same Miss Olenna, who gamely faced down a smug Jaime Lannister as she was nearing her end, trumping his petty “There are always lessons in failure” speech with the savage return, “Yes…you must be very wise by now,” at the center of the blackest of family reunions. Just know she will tell you to your face if your potato salad is trash. But like a lady, of course.
Oberyn Martell = Swaggy P
In what could only be described as head ass hubris, the death of Prince Oberyn Martell remains one of GOT’s most shocking and gruesome scenes, and that’s saying something. It’s also laughably ridiculous. The dashing, vengeful Oberyn, who agrees to represent Tyrion in a trial by combat, had one job to do: kill the seemingly unbeatable Mountain. And the Red Viper had plenty of incentive given that the towering, blood thirsty House of Lannister knight brutally ended his sister Elia Martell’s life.
“You raped her! You murdered her! You killed her children!” Oberyn yelled as the Mountain looked down for the count. Unfortunately, Oberyn channeled his inner Nick Young and broke out into some premature showboating, taking his eyes off the Mountain. In the ‘hood they call it sauce drippin’. Whatever it was, bad idea.
Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/ Macall B. Polay/ HBO