Unless you've been living under a rock this entire week, odds are you've heard about all the different theories surrounding the mystery of Melisandre's big reveal on Game of Thrones. I'm referring, of course, to the fact that the Red Woman morphed into an old woman right after taking off her evidently magical necklace. Some believe that it's simply a glamour device, while others think it could be the key to finally resurrecting Jon Snow. And, while many of these options seem highly probable, there's one major takeaway from Melisandre's secret that should not go unnoticed.
Last season, the red-haired priestess did an unthinkable deed — she orchestrated for Stannis to sacrifice his own daughter, Shireen, in order to save him and his army. A plan, which by all accounts, failed quite miserably. And while even now, the thought of that poor girl's unnecessary fate still sends chills up my spine, this revelation about Melisandre's age puts a little more context and reasoning behind this otherwise cruel decision. I'm not saying that she should be absolved of Shireen's death, by any means. But, I can't deny that her age does play a factor into understanding her overall thought process at the time.
Considering how old she is, it seems reasonable to assume that Melisandre has undoubtedly seen many wars. So the life of one child may not seem like a big sacrifice to her in the grand scheme of things, especially if it means saving so many in the process. When you've lived as long as she evidently has, then you would have a different view of the world and may even be seen as more qualified to make the impossible decisions. So, to her, saving thousands and thousands of people outweighed the need of save one innocent child.
Admittedly, even with that in mind, I still can't erase my anger toward her regarding her harsh treatment of Shireen. But at least I have a clearer understanding of her motivations. This was likely not just a throwaway decision for her, which is something that the actress herself was hoping to get across to fans about her character.
"That’s why she was able to say, 'This is just a small war, it’s all relative compared to the big war were going to face,'" Carice van Houten, who plays the Red Woman, recently explained in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "[Melisandre's age] makes everything even more meta. Definitely, that’s where all that stuff comes from."
Looking at the larger picture may not do much for her popularity, but now that we've seen how powerful her magic can be (strong enough to shield her true form for who knows how long), then it makes her rantings and visions about the Lord of Light more than just words. She has lived to see things and knows things that no one else has, which could make her an invaluable asset to winning this war.
Images: HBO (2); stannisbaratheon/Tumblr