Season 5 of HBO’s Game of Thrones was a rough one for the Red Woman — really, for most women of the acclaimed fantasy adaptation. After years of throwing her weight behind Stannis Baratheon, the perpetually-disrobing priestess effectively ran for the hills when she realized that there was no victory to be seen for Stannis in the flames.
Credit where credit is due, Melisandre gave it her best shot, even convincing the righteous Stannis to sacrifice his beloved daughter, Shireen, to her Lord of Light when the northern weather turned against him and his forces. With that one torch, Melisandre effectively cemented her status as the stepmother from hell.
Melisandre remains one of the most mysterious characters of Westeros, as her devotion to the Lord of Light occasionally oozes of bullshit. While everyone else’s motivations are clear, Carice van Houten’s performance leaves Melisandre constantly looking like she is in on some great joke to which the other characters are not privy. She, herself, admits that a lot of her magic is a matter of cheap trickery and illusions to get people to believe in her cause. Still, Melisandre’s faith remains steadfast when the chips are down. Plus, like, shadow baby.
So, given that her powers are at least partly real, it is very likely that her sacrifice of Shireen did in fact accomplish more than the thawing of some ice.
When we last saw her, the weary priestess had inexplicably ridden back to Castle Black — home to murderers, rapists, and wildlings — sensing Stannis’ upcoming defeat. But for what purpose? Were all of her prayers perhaps answered in a manner that had nothing to do with Stannis? We know her magic is stronger at the Wall, and we’ve previously met at least one lapsed Red Priest with the power to bring back the dead — Thoros of Myr.
Now, if only there were someone at the Wall in need of a timely resurrection at the moment. Oh, right.
At this point, it is clear to show-watchers and book-readers alike — a divide that is becoming more irrelevant with each season — that we can look forward to Melisandre finding her new champion in a resurrected Jon [Insert Last Name of Your Choosing]. We predict that the Stark bastard won’t be as pliable as Stannis was.
In fact, Season 6 looks to be a big one for all Red Priests of Westeros because we actually have quite a few roaming around nowadays.
The Season of the Red Priests
Melisandre’s Fire Lord will be preached across the globe, as leaked set photos have revealed that over in Essos, Meereen will be getting its very own Red Priestess — a woman determined to convince former Masters and former slaves alike that absentee/kidnapped Queen Daenerys Targaryen was, in fact, their salvation. This new priestess will be team Dany all the way — whether Dany’s official representatives (Tyrion, Varys, Missandei, and Grey Worm) approve of the addition or not.
But, that’s not all. The aforementioned Thoros of Myr is also strongly rumored to be returning this season, still roaming the Riverlands with his own resurrected champion, Beric Dondarrion. Much like Melisandre — who was presumably charged with converting Stannis — Thoros was tasked to convert sitting king Robert Baratheon (RIP) to the mysterious religion, which he failed to do, preferring to vagabond and sing.
The lapsed priest and his Robin Hood-inspired Brotherhood Without Banners haven’t been making a lot of noise these past few seasons, but we can bet that will change as big things are set to happen in the Riverlands this year.
If resurrection-by-way-of-Red-Priest is the running theme of this year, Season 6 might see some A Song of Ice and Fire truthers get the last laugh after all.
Still, everything comes back to Melisandre, who is set to rattle the board in a pretty major way with her first big action of Season 6. Lest we forget, Jon has really never ventured below the Wall since the beginning of the show. His return from the dead would also free him of his Night’s Watch oath, allowing him to address the clusterfuck currently taking place in his former home of Winterfell. One thing is sure: the return of the Stark Bastard is sure to have political ramifications throughout the North.
Though it has never been seen convening, the order of the Red Priest has always been on the edge of the political scene of Westeros. Between Robert, Stannis, Dany — and soon Jon Snow — every Red Priest we have met has conveniently chosen a messiah that also happened to be a viable political figure. For all their talks of Faith in fighting the night, the Red Priests have proven to be a sect of very politically-minded clerics.
Who knows what their end goal actually is?
Season 6 of Game of Thrones will premiere April 24th, 2016.