Season 6 Spoilers
The Season 6 premiere of Game of Thrones gave us everything we wanted (aside from Jon Snow’s resurrection of course), with yet again more character deaths, storyline crossovers, and the all-important ending that had our mind’s blown, involving Melisandre giving us an insight into her real age. But does this make The Red Woman immortal, or do her tricks and magic only shield her age from others?
This episode, fittingly titled after our said lady, “The Red Woman”, was very difficult for Melisandre as she sees another of her male interests on their deathbed. After massively failing her loyal king Stannis last season by sending him and his wife and daughter to their deaths based on a false prophecy, Melisandre is probably not feeling too good. This is only worsened by the sight of Jon Snow’s dead body in the premiere.
It was obvious that Melisandre had a fancy for Jon and has tried to seduce him in the past due to his royal blood. The witch believes that she gains great power from royal blood so Jon Snow’s death would have been a tragic loss for her. Other than Melisandre’s practical uses for Jon, it seems that she also showed a liking and affection for Jon and prophecised a victorious future for him.
Therefore, Melisandre must be devastated when she sees Jon’s body, stating “I saw him in the flames, fighting at Winterfell,” – yet another false prophecy her Lord of Light sent her. Melisandre must feel terribly confused and probably betrayed by the Lord of Light she serves for giving her a wave of faulty prophecies that haven’t come true.
This leads to an excellently dramatic and chilling ending scene whereby Melisandre seems to be at her lowest point. Up until now, she has always been certain and faithful of her religion and premonitions and has had a goal and purpose alongside Stannis. She no longer has an army, or a side to fight for; she doesn’t know where her loyalties lie either. After cowardly running from the battle at Winterfell and abandoning her ally last season, she’s also likely to be feeling ashamed and guilty for her selfish actions. She is filled with questions and distressed emotions. In Castle Black, she is (literally) self-reflecting in her room, and this is when the magic happens.
Riddled with questions of how powerful Melisandre actually is, we study the witch undressing and removing her choker to reveal her true form; a very, very old woman. This scene was so well put together that somehow we feel terrified, disgusted and sorry for Melisandre all at once. It’s an interesting plot twist as we have become so used to thinking of Melisandre as beautiful, youthful, sexy and seductive, so her real form catches us seriously off guard.
There has been so much speculation and analysis over this scene already. Does Melisandre’s youth-inducing magic come from the necklace or something else? Fans have already noted that Melisandre has been presented without the necklace previously on the show and showed no change in appearance. There are many explanations for this like the source of the magic coming from another object or clothing item, or just a simple continuity error from the showrunners.
Does this scene mean Melisandre is not as powerful as we think and Will she remain in this form for the rest of the season? This moment is paired alongside Davos emphasising how powerful Melisandre is. If anything, this scene is presenting just how much power the witch possesses as she has managed to fool everyone, including the audience. I don’t think the scene is implying that Melisandre is actually weak on the inside because of her age but rather that she is even more wise, powerful, and mysterious than we originally thought. I also believe that she will most probably revert back to her usual appearance when she dresses again.
How old is she? Her age has endless possibilities, so book-readers I’m looking to you to answer this one for me. It’s no surprise that she is older because she has so much knowledge and magical ability that it’s hard to imagine she’s only been around for as long as her young body suggests.
Is the magic binding her changing her form completely or is it just creating the illusion to others? It’s already been discussed that if Melisandre was only performing an illusion, then it would mean that when she closely interacted with other characters or had sex with them, then they would actually be interacting with an old woman. It’s pretty obvious that the magic must be more than just an illusion. This is mainly because if Melisandre was walking around with an old body that we couldn’t perceive, then it would show in the way she moves, stands and she would easily get more tired. You could suggest that she is performing a second spell to give her more energy and strength, but it makes more sense that the reverse-aging spell physically changes her appearance and body. This would mean that she feels like a younger person, rather than an old person with a mask on, which fits into what we have seen. I mean, she gave birth in Season 2 which I really couldn’t imagine her being able to do if she was an old woman.
And the million dollar question: Is she immortal? I’m not a book-reader so maybe I should have done more research into this because there is every possibility that Melisandre does possess eternal life. In this episode, however, Melisandre appears to look sorrowfully at herself and is disgusted at her own wrinkled reflection, so could this being foreshadowing to the fact that she is slowly dying inside. The magic that makes her younger might not be able to pause her true body from ageing. Then again, maybe her magic does slow her ageing which would make her a lot older than we first surmised.
Is this ending scene indicating that Melisandre is actually dying inside, or getting weaker, and has no hope in helping to defend Castle Black? However, it could be that this eerie scene, is purely showing us one of the secrets that Melisandre has been hiding from us all this time, and that this has no effect on her power or influence. If Melisandre is, in fact, made immortal from this spell then it only emphasises the quantity of her power. Her distraught view of herself in this scene could be due to the fact that, although she has conquered immortality, she hasn’t gained eternal youth. Without using a spell all the time she will only age constantly without dying. There are endless ideas to explore.
What do you think is behind Melisandre’s youthful magic and what does it mean for the show?