After last Sunday’s Game of Thrones finale, fans of the source novels were taken a bit aback by the lack of a major character return. Despite Lena Headey’s not so cryptic Instagram posting (which honestly is not something fans should have taken seriously), the debut of Lady Stoneheart is a huge omission from an otherwise stellar season. While major sites like Entertainment Weekly have supported the move, book fans are a bit disappointed by the whole thing.
For those not in the know who are still reading because they enjoy spoilers, Lady Stoneheart is the second name of Catelyn Stark. Yes. Catelyn Stark. Three days after the “Red Wedding”, Lord Beric Dondarrion gives his life to resurrect Catelyn. She’s brought back to life but her wounds are not fully healed. She’s in essence a high functioning zombie and takes over leadership of the Brotherhood without Banners. The slash across her throat does not fully heal so she’s unable to speak and her entire existence is based around a desire to avenge the death of her family. As her journey continues she is responsible for the deaths of Brienne of Tarth and key members of the Frey family. Overall, Lady Stoneheart is not Catelyn anymore and based on the way the show has portrayed her, it’s a shame that she was not the huge cliffhanger of season 4.
Books fans have often been divided over Catelyn Stark. She’s often times described as an inattentive mother who had a large impact on the fall of Robb Stark and her family as a whole. Her treatment of Jon Snow has been deplorable yet in a way understandable. I defend Lady Stoneheart because of the way the show wrote her and the way Michelle Fairley played her. She was not as unlikable as she is in the novels which makes the omission of this character all the worse.
The argument has been made by many different people that Lady Stoneheart is not an integral part to the books. Leaving her out of the show actually makes the “Red Wedding” more effective. I firmly disagree. The “Red Wedding” is still one of the most difficult things to read because of how absolutely heartbreaking it is. The thing with Lady Stoneheart is that within the world of the show, this would be a brilliant plot. Watching this much more likable version of Catelyn become this heartless, bloodthirsty monster would make the “Red Wedding” hurt more. A metaphorical death always hurts more. At least in death the soul can rest. In a situation like this or with Tyrion when he murders the love of his life and his father, the soul becomes corrupted and the person ceases to be who they are anymore.
This isn’t about keeping exactly with the books. I feel the choice to leave out Jamie telling Tyrion the truth about Tysha was a brilliant move as it keeps the relationship between Jamie and Tyrion in tact. In the way the series world has been built, it makes sense. This is why it’s almost mind boggling to think that Lady Stoneheart was left out. With an actress who played Catelyn so much better than her book counterpart, it feels like we, the fans, are missing out something that could be changed in a way to work even better with the show. The Starks have been through so much hell, magnified by visually seeing it on the show, that it would be excellent to see her get revenge. The Starks deserve at least this much.
Time will tell. The writers and producers of the show have been quiet on this storyline. It’s still quite possible that we will see her pop up in season 5. If she doesn’t, then Brienne’s story will begin to deviate from the book very quickly. With Gwendoline Christie signed on for Star Wars Episode VII, it’s still very likely that she will still die. Especially if her character becomes a big part of the new trilogy. It’s the most damning evidence to suggest that Lady Stoneheart will make her debut at some point. There might be some slight alterations given the ones that have already happened and that the showrunners do know how the entire series will end. It’s possible that something new may be in the works for the character. It’s also entirely possible she won’t be introduced and if that’s the case, we will be losing out on something special.