Warning: This recap of Game of Thrones season six “The Red Woman” contains spoilers. Proceed with caution. You have been warned.
“Winter is Coming,” a term all too familiar to Game of Thrones fans and a reality that finally came in season five — leaving fans in shock and dismay during the ferocious finale that took the life of the beloved Stark-bastard, Jon Snow. The season six premiere, appropriately titled ‘The Red Woman,’ left fans astounded as the Lady Melisandre reveals that she has been hiding a very dark and cryptic secret for her entire presence amongst the show.
The first scene begins with a birds-eye view of the desolate courtyard of Castle Black, panning over a body just mere hours past death, lying frozen amongst the ground — our cherished Jon Snow. The only sound emitted from the grounds is that of an anguished howl coming from the Stark’s loyal dire wolf, Ghost, as he frantically tries to escape his enclosure to mourn the death of his master — sensing the fact that Jon Snow lies very, very dead.
Davos exits his chambers and catches the eye of a body lying in the snow, surrounded by blood, as he quickly exits the courtyard to find the body of the Lord Commander, emitting mass stab wounds — quickly ushering Jon’s friends to deliver him to his quarters. Then enters Melisandre as she cautiously and confusingly approaches the wooden table in which Jon Snow remains pale as ice, reminding all about what her visions presaged. “I saw him in the flames, fighting at Winterfell,” she stammers as she runs her hand across Snow’s antarctic cheek, as Davos replies, “I cannot speak for the flames, but he’s gone.”
The immediate realization becomes clear to the group that this wrongful doing could have only come from one Night’s Watch ‘brother,’ who is to be held responsible for the mastermind trickery that took place this fateful evening — Allister Thorne.
We then switch to a meeting amongst the Night’s Watch brothers, crowded together in front of the high-table anxiously awaiting Thorne’s response, in which he argues that Jon Snow’s place as Lord Commander would have inevitably destroyed the Night’s Watch and all that it stands for. “He thrust a terrible choice upon us, and we made it,” he exclaimed, defending his decision to take action against Snow.
Shortly after we see Thorne attempting to barter with the men that stand behind the locked door, protecting the body of their dearest friend and comrade, making demands of surrender by nightfall in trade for safety and acceptance among the Night’s Watch brethren. It’s not difficult for the men to see right through the door and through Thorne’s deceitful face, as they inform him they will discuss his means and return an answer at a later time — not actually planning to agree to his terms. The men quickly attempt to consider another course of action to take revenge amongst the traitor that has taken the life of their friend, when Davos suggests asking Melisandre for help. The men remain weary with uncertainty as Davos assures them that he has “seen what she can do,” as he stands behind his belief that the once Baratheon mistress holds the answers to what they seek.
While Jon Snow’s death during the season five finale was arguably the most shocking event to take place in the series to date, the episode ends in the chambers of the Red Woman, as we see her sitting amongst her bed, once again dressed in her famous red robes. She stands and slowly floats across the room, where she stops in front of a table that holds an eerie tarnished mirror; reflection barely visible. We watch as she slowly unhinges her robe, as it drops to the floor, revealing the body of perfection we’re all so used to seeing, only bearing the famed ruby-centered choker around her neck; staring longingly with appreciation at her body in the mirror.
Now, as we’ve experienced through multiple scenes, Melisandre frequently bares all, proudly showing off her bosom to all who dare to catch a glimpse —nape always adorned with the mysterious necklace that has been assumed to just be a staple of her appearance; until now.
We follow her hands as she carefully reaches behind her neck and unlatches her necklace, removing it from its place amongst her collar and places it on the table in front of her. The camera then pans back to the mysterious mirror showing an image of a woman, first resembling the platinum-blonde Daenerys Targaryen, until closer examination reveals a cryptic and unexplainable woman appearing in the reflection.
As the camera focuses back on the woman standing in front of the mirror, we no longer see the Red Woman we’ve become accustomed to, but an imposter standing in her midst — a decrepit old woman. It then becomes known that the woman we thought we knew so well had been an illustrious illusion this entire time, cloaked under a magical veil of jewels. The whispy-white-haired woman in which we see appears ancient, broken down and exhausted — wrinkled, aged skin sagging across every inch of her body. The inexplicable woman then turns and slowly travels back across the room and sluggishly slides into bed. The scene then ends, cutting to credits and leaving fans in astounding awe, wondering what horror they have just witnessed.
While Kit Harington (Jon Snow) and the majority of the Game of Thrones cast insists that the Stark Commander will not return to the show past the point of playing a perfect corpse, we can only assume that Melisandre’s next move will be the attempted resurrection of the man seen amongst her fiery visions.
“I have seen him leading the fight against the dark, I have seen it in the flames. The flames do not lie, else you would not be here. It is written in prophecy as well. When the red star bleeds and the darkness gathers, Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons out of stone.”
Perhaps we haven’t seen the end of our revered bastard, just yet.