Send the Ravens: The Red Woman, Jon Snow’s Fate and the Bastard Letter

In this week’s Send the Ravens column, we answer your Game of Thrones questions about The Red Woman and much more….

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

Welcome back for another season of Game of Thrones and another year of Send the Ravens where we answer your questions about the show.

Now this year is a little bit different because Game of Thrones is venturing into uncharted territory away from George R.R. Martin’s books, but luckily being obsessed with the world of Westeros and the history of the Seven Kingdoms still gives me plenty of insight to answer your questions for this entire season.

We got several submissions following the first episode titled “The Red Woman” but there was one overwhelming favorite that came in multiple times so we’ll answer that one right away.

What the hell was going on with Melisandre transforming from a hot redhead to an ancient (and quite naked) crone at the end of episode one?

Here goes…..

There have been hints throughout the show and more so in the books that Melisandre wasn’t a young woman but in actuality was much, much older than what she appeared in the story. According to show runners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, Melisandre is actually several centuries old and in past interviews, Carice Van Houten (who plays Melisandre) has hinted at the fact that her character is far more than 100 years old.

The best way to explain Melisandre masking her appearance is through a magical spell called “glamouring” where a person can be made to look like someone or something else to everyone else while maintaining their true appearance underneath. In the books there’s an entire story devoted to Melisandre “glamouring” Mance Rayder to look like another person after Stannis Baratheon orders him burned alive just like what we saw in the show.

In the book version, Melisandre rescues Mance and makes him appear to be a man called Rattleshirt (also known as the Lord of Bones, who we met a couple of times north of The Wall and who Tormund Giantsbane killed last season). She sends Rattleshirt to Winterfell to rescue Arya Stark, who is being married to Ramsay Bolton. Now in the books that’s not the real Arya, it’s actually another imposter, but long story short Mance is “glamoured” to look like another person so he can survive and infiltrate Winterfell.

In the books, Mance Rayder wears a ruby cuff on his wrist that gives him the power to look like another person, just like the ruby choker that Melisandre wears at all times.

As we saw last week, when Melisandre takes off the choker, her true self emerges as she transforms from a buxom redhead to the ancient woman who crawled into bed at the tail end of the last episode.

There’s one more clue to witness earlier in the show when Melisandre is taking a bath just before Stannis and his troops leave Dragonstone to begin a trip north to conquer the Wildlings. Stannis’ wife Selyse walks in on Melisandre taking a bath and she’s taken back when seeing her priestess naked inside the tub.

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In that scene you’ll notice that Melisandre isn’t wearing her ruby necklace.

The theory is that Selyse actually saw Melisandre in her true form and that’s why she was so shocked when she walked in. During that scene, Melisandre also explains how what we see isn’t always what’s real. Seeing that transformation from old woman to young woman could have also strengthened Selyse’s faith and belief in Melisandre as a priestess for the Lord of Light.

So there you have it — Melisandre is actually hundreds of years old and through the power of some very wicked magic she appears to be a much younger woman to the eyes of every other person who sees her.

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Now let’s get to the rest of your questions for this week’s episode of Game of Thrones

Stannis is definitely dead.

At the end of last season when Brienne of Tarth sentenced him to die for killing his brother Renly, she swung her sword at him but we never actually saw his severed head so it left a lot of people wondering if he was actually dead or not.

In one very quick scene during “The Red Woman”, Roose Bolton actually asks Ramsay who killed Stannis and how he would like to reward that man for killing the false king. So it was kind of a throw away line but just confirmation in that moment that the Bolton’s found Stannis’ body after the battle and he was dead.

This is a great question and one piece of the puzzle that still hasn’t happened from the books.

Remember the story from earlier in the column about Melisandre sending “Rattleshirt” (really Mance Rayder) to go rescue Arya Stark from Ramsay Bolton at Winterfell?

Well in that story, Mance commits to the mission to rescue Arya from Ramsay and during the wedding feast along with help from Theon Greyjoy, he rescues her from the clutches of the Boltons. During the escape, Theon and Arya are forced to jump from the castle walls to safety — just like Theon and Sansa did during the show.

We don’t know exactly what happened to Mance but Ramsay pens a letter that he sends to Castle Black, taunting Lord Commander Jon Snow about the person he sent to infiltrate his camp who has now been captured and is being tortured at Winterfell.

In the letter, Ramsay taunts Jon Snow and says that he’s captured Mance and Jon has two choices — send him back his bride along with Stannis’ wife, daughter and the Red Woman and in exchange, the Bolton army won’t come to Castle Black to kick the shit out of the Night’s Watch. Or to put it in Ramsay’s own words…..

“Send them to me, bastard, and I will not trouble you or your black crows. Keep them from me, and I will cut out your bastard’s heart and eat it.”

In the books, Jon decides to go with a garrison of wildlings to his former home at Winterfell to rescue Mance but before he can go anywhere, his fellow brothers in the Night’s Watch stab him to death in a mutiny (just like on the show).

So Ramsay definitely could send a letter to Castle Black looking for the same results after Theon and Sansa escaped and obviously he has no knowledge that Jon Snow is dead (for now). It could be a great way to bridge those stories and give Ramsay yet another Stark to deal with before it’s all said and done.

It was a little disappointing to see so little out of Prince Doran in Dorne before he was murdered by Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes.

My theory on this has to do with Game of Thrones moving beyond the books and the possibly stories that are still going to be told when George R.R. Martin finally tells the rest of his story once The Winds of Winter comes out (hopefully later this year). There’s a good chance that Prince Doran could end up dying in the books as well and rather than drag out his story for an entire season, the writers behind Game of Thrones could have sped things along to get rid of him and his son Trystane right away, which sets up a very interesting dynamic going forward.

Remember, Dorne was at peace with the Lannisters under Prince Doran’s rule but now that he’s dead, the entire colony could revolt and become a major thorn in the side of King Tommen and his home in King’s Landing. Dorne has always been home to some of the finest warriors in all the Seven Kingdoms not to mention being an impossibly tough place to invade thanks to the mountains that surround the area and the ocean that envelopes the peninsula on all sides.

Now that Prince Doran is out of the way, Ellaria and her daughters could pose a serious threat to the kingdom depending on who they back from now going forward. It’s a bummer we didn’t see more from Prince Doran or his son Trystane, but it seems they were casualties for a much bigger war that’s brewing in the south.

The popular theory still remains with Melisandre resurrecting Jon Snow before this season is over. The worshippers of the Lord of Light have that power as we witnessed a few seasons ago when a man called Thoros of Myr brought back his friend Beric Dondarrion after he had been lopped in two by the Hound in a trial by combat. Thoros revealed that he had brought Beric back numerous times although each time he did, his friend came back a little bit less than before.

Thoros also said that at the time when he resurrected Beric, he was a false prophet essentially spouting off about the Lord of Light to fleece his followers, but in a time of great need when his friend was dying, the Lord answered his prayers and brough him back from the dead.

Right now, Melisandre is questioning her faith in a big way. She thought she saw Stannis conquering the Seven Kingdoms and ruling on the Iron Throne. She thought she saw Jon Snow in a battle at Winterfell. Now with both of them dead, she’s questioning everything she’s ever believed in with the Lord of Light.

There’s no better time for the Lord of Light to show his true power than to resurrect Jon Snow as a sign of his true power. So my money is still on Melisandre to get the job done.

That’s a very interesting theory I hadn’t considered, but wouldn’t put it past him at all.

Petyr Baelish is nothing if not cunning and a master strategist when it comes to power and control. He’s already set in motion plans to turn the Boltons against the Lannisters with the ultimate outcome being his marriage to Sansa Stark so he can rule the North. Baelish plotted to kill King Joffrey and he was responsible in many ways for getting Ned Stark killed as well.

It’s clear the Sons of the Harpy are answering to someone and considering Baelish’s long history at odds with Lord Varys, that wouldn’t shock me at all if he traveled half way around the known world to put another kingdom into upheaval to serve his own needs.

Daenerys returning to claim the Iron Throne could undo all the work he’s done so it’s definitely possible Littlefinger has orchestrated this entire plot.

What we do know for sure is that there is a leader behind the Sons of the Harpy and from rumors I’ve heard, we will find out who that is before the season is over.

That’s it for this week’s Send the Ravens column. Make sure to send your questions via Twitter to @DamonMartin or @NerdcoreMOV this week and every week through the end of the season!

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