Amrita Acharia’s anguish echoed across the Red Waste, and just like that, shockingly, we knew it was over. One of the more quietly brilliant characters on Game of Thrones had met his maker. Irri’s sobbing words said that she feared Rakharo had lost his very soul, but even Dany’s fervent promise—“We will build him a funeral pyre, and I promise you, Rakharo will ride with his ancestors tonight”—did not soothe the sense of Irri’s loss.
Her loss is ours too, and this is the only pyre we can build for him.
It’s no small thing to say Elyes was able to capture the imaginations of countless fans in just a few small scenes; the fact that he was ‘shipped (“relationshipped”) with Irri so early in the series’ first season was a testament to his easy charisma, and the chemistry both actors seemed to immediately display. Gabel played Rahkaro (originally “Jhogo” until the name was deemed too similar to “Drogo”) with a youthful but wary charm. He was the sort of character who, you could tell, had seen a lot in his young years.
The moment that will always stand out to me was his excellent scene with Iain Glen, as Rakharo and Jorah shared weapon and armour tips whilst Rakharo learned the common tongue. This was a character fiercely proud of his Dothraki heritage, and proud of his father. There was a lot of “I want to be as good as my father was” going on with him.
Topped onto that great bit was his layered exchange with Acharia’s Irri that seemed to peel back (if only slightly) the wary layers both characters had, seemingly sparking a very interesting… something. That odd, lingering look he gave as she was leaving, like he can’t quite make his mind up whether he’s annoyed or intrigued. I know Tumblr did a bit of a jig.
The desire for many Game of Thrones fans to see Rakharo and Irri’s hinted-at relationship find fruition was cut short, perhaps bitterly so. I am thankful Gabel was able to make an appearance in the season two premiere, at least, to bring some closure to his tragic character’s arc. And as he was so solidly in Dany’s camp, I really loved their final exchange. (And I appreciated how director Alan Taylor positioned Irri in that scene, almost off camera but solitary, as though Rakharo’s exit was leaving her alone.)
Don’t cry any tears for Gabel, however; he’s too busy for tears. Elyes plays Umar in the BBC television show Silent Witness, has filmed a movie called Welcome to the Punch (in post production), has already shot scenes for the Brad Pitt zombie film, World War Z, and is scheduled to shoot a TV movie called Widow Detective. He’s not exactly bored.
Of course to us he will always be Rakharo, and will always wear that slightly miffed-and-baffled look he had when khaleesi told him, no, he could not kill her crazy brother now.
Not a bad bit of work, Elyes. Fare you well in the Night Lands. We appreciate all you did.
Fire And Blood: I was immediately heartened to see Elyes in the first episode of season 2—and then immediately disheartened when I saw Jorah take that signature ponytail, severed and done, out of that saddlebag. I saw the episodes back-to-back, so for me it was a one-two high and low. Travel well, Elyes! You will be missed!