Game of Thrones is escapist fiction — a world full of fantasy, myth, and legend, with thrilling plot twists demanding a stretch of the imagination — and yet two characters of color finally consummating their affection for each other is such a big deal.
In the series' most recent episode, a kiss was shared between the dashing and fearless eunuch warrior, Grey Worm, and Missandei, the comely scribe to Queen Daenerys. Their interest in one another had been building since season 4, when the two struck up a close relationship as Missandei tutored the sensitive soldier in the way of the Common Tongue.
While Grey Worm has always been a man of few words — making more of an impact with his dexterity and ability as a fighter — the castrated former slave was able to connect with Missandei over the longing for their far-away homes, and soon a physical attraction began to mount.
During season 4, Grey Worm catches Missandei swimming naked at a stream. His staring intently at her was not only the budding of their affection, but spawned think pieces about how and if this couple would ever be.
Many of these queries were finally answered in the most recent episode: Grey Worm professed his feelings for our dear Missandei. After bravely battling the masked Sons of Harpy, who ambushed the Unsullied in their continued efforts to wreak havoc on the streets of Mereen and weaken Dany's hold on the city, Grey Worm was left bloodied and on the edge of death in an alleyway. Nursing him back to health, Missandei sits by his side for three days until he finally comes to and explains that the thought of never seeing her again as he lay on the brink of death was the only thing that brought him fear.
Emotionally overwhelmed (as we all were), Missandei kisses the injured hero, finally cutting that sexual tension. And while the moment was not punctuated with the show's signature gratuitous T&A, the interplay of their bodies was still significant.
Obviously GoT doesn't necessarily work under modern-day racial binaries, and it is largely a survey of massive books wherein certain stories are edited, rewritten, or completely absent from HBO's telling, but without question, the racial coding that is placed upon bodies and places exist. Racial ambiguity and skin tone has been used for purposes of visually representing "the Other" within these complicated story lines and determining how our beloved characters contrast in geography, customs, and mores. For example, painting the Lannisters as the flaxen-haired and cooly composed opposites to their fiery, darker complexioned foes, the Martells of Dorne, the viewer is to read how distinct in appearance, personality, and approach to war these two peoples truly are. And with that said, we organize our perceptions around these physical attributes.
Not many major protagonists on the show have deviated from a particular physical standard, though. Not many significant plot lines have been designated for characters played by people of color — people who look like Grey Worm and Missandei — which is what makes their coupling so striking on the screen. Sex, sexuality, and romance has, so far, mostly been portrayed through naked white bodies on this show. In fact, there's been so much sexualization — in such extreme, laughable ways — that a supercut was created to chronicle them all. With just a kiss, though, Grey Worm and Missandei were able to splice through the racially homogenous standard for couplings on this show, and represent a pairing that defies sexual and racial codes.
But GoT fans understand never to become too attached to any one character; lives hang in a delicate balance on this show. Nevertheless, as a woman of color pleased to see people of color enjoying a loving moment, I will hold to Grey Worm and Missandei's kiss long as I've got. No telling when we'll see this kind of representation in the near future.
Marjon Carlos is a style and culture writer for Fusion who boasts a strong turtleneck game and opinions on the subjects of fashion, gender, race, pop culture, and men's footwear.