Every woman, even a Red Priestess, knows that accessorizing is the key to a put-together look in Westeros. And as the premiere of Game of Thrones Season 6 shows us, Melisandre is no stranger to the powers of a good accessory. A shocking final scene to the episode, "The Red Woman" revealed that the necklace around Melisandre's neck is in fact the key to her power and those devilishly good looks — a theory some people have been guessing at for years. However, did showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss drop a continuity clanger with "The Red Woman"?
I think we can all agree that Carice van Houten's character looks better in red than in gray. Exactly how old Mel actually is, no one knows, but back in 2012 van Houten revealed to Access Hollywood that she is much older than we first thought:
"She definitely has certain powers. I don’t how old she is, but she’s way over 100 years, so she is a wiser spirit, in a way, but it’s difficult for me to say too much because A — we want it to at least stay sort of a mystery and B — I didn’t read the books."
With the cat now out of the bag, it really does seem that rubies are forever, thanks to the magical necklace that has appeared in every scene of Melisandre's 20-episode appearance. Or did it?
Rub A Dub Dub
Where we first thought the necklace was just the stylish cherry on top of that long red dress she favors, "The Red Woman" showed us there was much more to Melisandre's jewelry as it kept her eternally young — presumably to entice the likes of Jon Snow. However, there is a spanner in the works. Back in Season 4, Episode 7, "Mockingbird," we saw Melisandre most definitely unclothed and most definitely not wearing her necklace when visited by Selyse Baratheon while taking a bath. Could Weiss and Benioff just have forgotten to include the necklace, or was it all part of the plan? Melisandre is naked at every given opportunity, so for her to have the necklace off would suggest she is in her comfortable, natural form. "The Red Woman" shows us that she sleeps without the necklace on, but for what purpose? Does the thing that is keeping her young also harm her too, à la Tony Stark's Arc Reactor?
The Redditors are up in arms with theories on how Melisandre could stay in her younger form without the powerful necklace. The most notable theory is that Selyse Baratheon was the first to see the "real" Melisandre. The look of distain on Selyse's face as she enters the room is not due to Melisandre's blatant nudity, but seeing her old-lady form. Redditor Brashendeavors sums it up:
Selyse has this strange expression the entire time. Like she cannot look directly at Melisandre yet also cannot look away. At first you think it is that of a religious “uptight” person seeing a naked and very sexual woman. But if you rewatch the scene, and “pretend” to yourself that Selyse is seeing Melisandre as she actually appears, it actually fits better. WE still see the seductress, Selyse sees the hag. She is horrified yet fascinated and not at all shocked
This would also explain Melisandre's rather cryptic speech to Selyse about all her potions and lotions she uses to convert people to the Lord of Light:
"You are strong enough to look into the Lord’s light and see his truth for yourself. However harsh it is."
Not only does this indicate that Selyse saw Melisandre's true form, but also that she knew what was going to happen to her poor daughter, Shireen — bad mommy skills! Why Selyse didn't tell her husband, Stannis, possibly sets up a whole other trail of question marks, but they are both dead — so who cares?
Blinded By The Light
The Baratheon family (God rest their souls) were a loyal but gullible bunch, and always fond of a bonfire just on the request of the crazy Red Woman. The other theory doing the rounds is that Selyse was so enamored with the Lord of Light, she could not see past Melisandre's beauty to her true form. Redditor I_Hate_Nerds comes to the conclusion that Selyse is a true believer and as we see the scene through her eyes, even us as the viewers cannot see past her magic. This theory also ties in nicely with Melisandre's less than happy face in the closing moments of "The Red Woman." The big reveal is at a time when Melisandre's faith is lost — sadly this theory does away with necklace being magic at all and doesn't cover why her necklace glowed red when killing Cressen in her very first appearance.
If you aren't convinced by either of these ideas and still want to point to continuity errors, there is one more for the pile. The final theory is that that lovely lotion she adds into her tub is no Lush Cosmetics bath bomb. Could it be some super-powered mirage smelling salts? With a whole treasure trove of magical items at her disposal, it could not just be the necklace that gives Melisandre her powers.
While "The Red Woman" was the first confirmation of the importance of Melisandre's necklace (yep, I'm backing that it means something), the books had already alluded to her powers being more than just setting fire to items and birthing smoke babies. In the book A Dance With Dragons, she tells Jon Snow:
"Call it what you will. Glamor, seeming, illusion. R'hllor is Lord of Light, Jon Snow, and it is given to his servants to weave with it, as others weave with thread."
In a plot from the books that we won't see in the TV series, Melisandre is involved in a glamouring. Mance Rayder isn't burned at the stake and she instead disguises him as the Lord of Bones (a.k.a Rattleshirt) by using a magic ruby. The glamoured Mance is eventually captured in a failed rescue mission at Winterfell by Ramsay Bolton, then strung up in a cage outside the battlements, wrapped in human skin — so things don't go much better for him than in the books, anyway!
The books also see Beric Dondarrion (another follower of the Lord of Light) sacrifice himself to resurrect Catelyn Stark. It is also unlikely that this plot will be visited, so could the sacrifice of Melisandre lead to the rebirth of Jon Snow?
Highway To Mel
Signs don't look particularly good for our Red Woman — especially seeing as there is a second one on the horizon. Last year it was reported that Melanie Liburd had been cast as a another Red Priestess. And eagle-eyed viewers will have noticed signs of the Lord of Light as far away as Meereen in the season premiere, when Varys and Tyrion stumble upon a meeting of former Meereen slaves. They appear to be none too happy with their current queen, Daenerys and could be turning to dark magic to resolve their situation. Admittedly, the Wall and Meereen are thousands of miles apart, but two Red Women crossing paths is sure to be explosive.
The jury is still out on how much longer Melisandre can survive on HBO's brutal beat-'em-up. As she gazed into the mirror in her true form, there was a look of sadness on her centuries old face. Admittedly, I would be none too pleased looking like Frances Conroy in American Horror Story, but a sense of foreboding hung over the final scene, possible marking the beginning of the end for van Houten's character.
Stannis Baratheon's corpse lies in the woods outside Winterfell while Jon Snow is on a slab. Things aren't looking great for the support camp of Melisandre and you almost (almost) find yourself feeling sorry for the Lord of Light's most devoted servant. Only time will tell if Mel makes it to Winterfell, but here's me thinking it's about to be morning on that night that is so long and full of terrors.