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GAME OF THRONES Re-Throned: “The Red Woman” (S6, E1)

Winter is coming, but not soon enough. So to help pass the time until season seven of Game of Thrones, we’re doing a weekly re-watch of the series, episode-by-episode, with the knowledge of what’s to come and—therefore—more information about the unrevealed rich history of events that took place long before the story began. Be warned, though: that means this series is full of spoilers for every season, even beyond the episode itself. So if you haven’t watched all of the show yet immediately get on that and then come back and join us for Game of Thrones Re-Throned.

Because the next best thing to watching new episodes is re-watching old ones.


Season 6, Episode 1: “The Red Woman”

Original Air Date: April 24th, 2016
Director: Jeremy Podeswa
Written by: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

Jon Snow is dead!

For now!

But he’s coming back!

I don’t know why we’re yelling!


Sorry, it’s hard not to be a little worked up after re-watching season six’s premiere, which ends with one of the single most shocking visuals from a show known for them: Melisandre‘s true form.

Even though fans of the books speculated about her real age for years, it was still a stunning confirmation from the show. It wasn’t merely from the revelation that she has been using incredible magic all this time to “glamour” herself—this is a world featuring dragons, face swapping, and ice demons—it was the frailty of the moment. No character had been as sure in his or her beliefs as Melisandre. She had dedicated her long life to the Lord of Light, and had done unimaginable acts in his service.

But between seeing Stannis defeated and Jon lying dead before her (after she had seen in the flames Jon fighting at Winterfell), she lost her faith, and that meant everything she had lived for might have been a lie.


But beyond the pathos of the scene, this moment shows that there remains a horrifying possibility that Melisandre has been in service of a god for hundreds of years, only it has been the one she has been trying to fight this whole time.

Followers of the Lord of Light believe there are only two gods, theirs and the Great Other, the god of darkness and death the White Walkers follow. R’hllor is in a great battle against him, the light versus the dark, fire versus ice. His followers believe if the Lord of Light cannot defeat the Great Other, death will rule.

Yet despite those seemingly clear lines, which god called for innocent men to be burned at the stake and for which one was a small girl sacrificed?


And while we think of the Night’s King as having the awesome, terrible power to raise the dead, we’ve seen two dead men, Jon and Beric Dondarrion, rise in answer to prayers to the Lord of Light. In many ways Melisandre, living hundreds of years past when she should have, is also like the dead walking. Obviously both the Lord of Light and the Great Other share incredible powers to defeat death itself.

Unless, that is, there aren’t two of them. We know another faction obsessed with death believe there is only one god and he has many faces. The Faceless Men of Braavos would say that the Great Other and R’hllor are the same being, so of course they share that power.

If they are right (and we can see they have many similarities) that means that everything Melisandre has done has been in that god’s name, even if she didn’t realize it. And if that’s the case, that could mean Jon Snow’s resurrection isn’t the great promise we think it could be.


It was Melisandre’s prayers that brought him back, so if that prayer was answered by the same god the White Walkers follow, what guarantee does anyone have that Jon Snow will be an agent for the living going forward? What makes him different than any of the tens of thousands of other dead people who now make up the Night King’s army?

When the Red Woman disrobed and revealed who she really is, she didn’t just reveal her shocking identity, she may have revealed the terrible identity of the god she has served for all these years. Even if she didn’t know it.

Melisandre is a LIAR! Now, there have been rumors forever that Melisandre and her visions are a bit misguided when it comes to picking out who, exactly, is Azor Ahai. We, personally, believe that even though Stannis is alive in the books (but not the show), he will soon be dead for real, allowing for the unraveling, twist-y betrayal of Melisandre and her visions. Take, for example, the letter Jon Snow received from Ramsay Bolton, demanding his bride (fake Arya) and Reek returned to him. It came without the typical Ramsay accouterment—namely script written in blood and a piece of skin, so cute his calling cards are—putting its creator into question. Considering Melisandre's obsession with Jon Snow, could this have been her way of trying to get him to break his vows (before that whole betrayal thing where Jon Snow was murdered by his fellow Night's Watchmen) in order to gain control over him for Stannis (who is still alive in the books)? If that's the case, all of this points even further to Melisandre being a potentially corrupt, manipulative user of trickery to gain power in the literal game of thrones. After all: women are so often without power in this universe. Maybe Melisandre is using her knowledge of the Lord of Light and pyromancer tricks and what natural magical skill she has/acquired in her priestess training (we really don't know anything about the legitimacy of that, after all) in order to mess things up in the Realm enough that she has power, either for Stannis or herself. It'd be a real Cersei move—if Cersei had actual skill and political acumen. Maybe then, too, her resurrection of Jon Snow (because I mean, C'MON, it's happening) could make his rebirth all the more nefarious and menacing. If she has control of him, then what? We should also add, this could still bring about our own personal theory that Jon Snow is the next Night's King.

Which could mean in the coming Great War the White Walkers don’t have a worthy enemy in Jon Snow, they have a powerful ally in wait.

Some prayers are better left unanswered.

What do you think? What does Melisandre’s true identity tell us about the coming Great War? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Images: HBO

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