There were many, many deaths in the Game of Thrones season 6 finale “The Winds of Winter.” One death in particular hurt more than any other. Margaery Tyrell, the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, died at the hands of a wildfire explosion. Margaery died as she lived, being the smartest person in a room full of dummies. Yet with all that, it still feels like the death of one of Game of Thrones’ most beloved characters should have meant more. Margaery Tyrell deserved better.
Margaery Needed to Die
I’m not saying Game of Thrones shouldn’t have killed Margaery at all. The show has an ugly history of violence against women but Cersei absolutely would have killed Margaery in that wildfire explosion. If you’re also looking at the stats, Game of Thrones has killed far more male series regulars than female. This is not an issue of representation.
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Margaery’s death is the only reason that the wildfire bombing makes us care as an audience. Mace, Loras and the High Sparrow were not, in any way, beloved or even liked characters. If we were supposed to care about Cersei’s horrible victory and understand why Tommen committed suicide, Margaery needed to go.
Everything about the wildfire bombing creates Game of Thrones‘ strongest sequence ever. The music, the sense of building tension and the explosive ending. There is not a single thing that could make the bombing of the High Sept better, creatively. It is really everything that precedes Margaery’s storyline in this season that makes her death feel underwhelming.
The Disappearing Tyrell
In season 6, Margaery faded almost completely to the background. In season 6 King’s Landing was all about Cersei and the High Sparrow and very little else was of importance. It’s not that Margaery wasn’t doing things in season 6. Most of them just happened off-camera. The audience never got to see Margaery strike a deal with the High Sparrow or manipulate herself into the religion. Margaery’s manipulations were sacrificed in exchange for the big shocking moment when Tommen reveals that there is now an alliance between crown and faith.
For most of season 6, Game of Thrones fans were left wondering about Margaery’s alliances. It wasn’t until episode 7 that it was finally revealed that Margaery was just using the High Sparrow. She wasn’t as religious as she seemed but had forged a relationship with the High Sparrow in order to promise safety for herself and her brother. It’s a long time, too long a time, to leave the audience wondering about Margaery’s intentions since so many of her previous scenes had let us fully enjoy her scheming.
In a way you can see Margaery’s death as an example of her overplaying herself. She went too far in aligning with the High Sparrow and paid the price with her life. Margaery gambled by siding with the faith over the crown and she lost. This takes a lot of squinting to make it work, though.
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In season 6 Margaery and Cersei didn’t share one single scene together. There were plenty of scenes of Cersei and grandmother Tyrell, Olenna, but the audience wasn’t reminded at all of the rivalry between new and old queens. In order to really make Margaery’s death work to its fullest extent there should have been one last reminder.
If there had been one last final scene in season 6 where Margaery taunted Cersei then maybe the death would feel personal. It would have served as one last moment to tell us that Margaery wasn’t just this abstract antagonist for Cersei. Margaery purposely needled the Queen Mother. It would also make clear that Margaery’s alliance with the faith was a very clear decision of Margaery going against the Lannisters.
Instead Margaery’s death just feels like Cersei crossing off the name of one of her many enemies. The character deserved a bigger send-off than just being a name on a metaphorical list.
But what do you think? Are you satisfied with Margaery’s death? Did you see it coming? Should we have had one last scene between Cersei and Margaery? What would you have changed if you knew Margaery was going to die in the season 6 finale?
(Images courtesy of HBO)