Game of Thrones Season 3 finale (Season 3, Episode 10: "Mhysa") ended on an emotional high note, with Daenerys Targaryen being literally embraced as "Mhysa" ("mother") and lifted in triumph by the Yunkai slaves she set free. It was a moment of in-universe joy — but for many viewers, the moment was tainted by real world dynamics.
As beautiful as the scene was — and it was gorgeous, emotionally and cinematographically — it's hard to ignore that the closing image is a white woman (not just white but startlingly so, with her platinum hair) being lifted by a group of poor, non-white people as they call her "mother." It was, visually, the epitome of the "white savior" trope, that all too common, and clearly offensive, Western narrative where a group of "savage" natives just need a smart, noble white person to save and civilize them.
Now, we think that Dany's actual arc doesn't play into that trope nearly as neatly as this final image would imply. Some of our reasons for thinking that head into book spoiler territory, so we'll leave those aside, but even on the show Dany began her story as basically a slave herself, sold by her brother in exchange for Drogo's army. She's not freeing slaves because she "knows better," but because she knows the pain of being treated as less than human.
That said, the final image is still that of a white woman being embraced by the poor slaves she set free, and on a show that has been validly criticized for its lack of diversity in its main cast, ending a season with that scene was a questionable choice. We understand why the writers thought it was a good direction to go — viewers needed some real hope after the Red Wedding — but there were probably ways to direct it that would have taken the sting out of the visual.
We want to know: Did the final scene bother you, or do you think it made sense in the context of Dany's story?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Get Game of Thrones spoilers here.
Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaDMartin.
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