Be warned. There are “Game of Thrones” spoilers ahead. Stop reading now if you have not watched the season 4 finale.
Last night, hearts broke when Daenerys hung chains around the necks of two of her dragons and left them locked up underground. To be fair, she didn’t do it for fun. She did it because she just learned that a dragon was responsible for the death of a small child. To protect the people, she felt that she had to keep the dragons contained. And yet, that didn’t stop viewers from feeling crushed as they watched her turn and walk away, leaving those poor confused creatures imprisoned and alone.
After the show, I hopped on Twitter to see what people were saying about the scene. The results were not surprising. Viewers wrote:
dani putting on chains on her dragons, was the most painful thing in this episode. it was drogon’s fault not them.
— Nina (@superstarnina) June 16, 2014
Wow. The scene where she leaves the dragons in the catacombs is legitimately heartbreaking. #GameOfThrones
— Sam Mallikarjunan (@Mallikarjunan) June 16, 2014
Free the dragons!!!! @GameOfThrones
— Scott Budzien (@scottyd0089) June 16, 2014
Of course people were upset. No one wants to see animals confined. It’s not humane. However, unlike most viewers, as I watched Daenerys cage those dragons who trusted her so completely, my heart wasn’t with the fictional reptiles. Instead, I felt my heart ache for all the real creatures, from orcas to elephants to lions to bears, who are locked up in zoos, aquariums and amusement parks. I thought of the pigs, chickens, and turkeys trapped in factory farms. I thought of the dogs in puppy mills and the mink and foxes who are raised for their fur.
Instead of feeling sad for the dragons, I felt sad for all the animals they represent. The real animals, the ones who need our help, but who aren’t the faces of a popular television show. The creatures who are kept captive, not to protect small children, but for our entertainment, food, and clothing.
Last night a hashtag started on twitter: #FreeTheDragons. I can only hope that the sense of compassion that moved people to feel for the dragons makes people think about the animals they can help in real life. If captivity disturbs you, consider taking those emotions and help #FreeTheOrcas, #FreeTheElephants or #FreeThePigs. You might not be able to change the fate of George R. R. Martin’s characters. You can help the animals who share this earth with us. And their stories are even more gut-wrenching.