While Jon Snow remained a corpse in the premiere episode of Game of Thrones Season 6, fans were given a startling reveal about Melisandre’s real appearance. Aptly titled “The Red Woman,” the first episode showed Melisandre far from her typical glamorous appearance. The Red Priestess is much older than she seems, but it appears that back in Season 4, the writers already hinted about her true persona.
Remember the seventh episode of Game of Thrones Season 4 where Melisandre is taking a bath with Stannis’ wife, Selyse, as her witness? Selyse has a strange look on her face the entire time Melisandre was doing her ritual. Some speculated that Melisandre already showed her true form to Selyse in that scene. Melisandre also claims that she doesn’t need to use “tricks” when facing a true convert, and as everyone knows, Stannis’ other half greatly relies on Mel’s powers.
Following the pilot episode of Game of Thrones Season 6, some believe that Melisandre’s source of immortality is her ruby necklace. Upon taking it off in this week’s episode, her hag form appears. However, it must be noted that during the bath scene, the enchantress isn’t wearing the necklace while talking to Selyse.
Apart from that episode, actress Carice van Houten told Access Hollywood in 2012 (early days when cast members could still nonchalantly talk about spoilers) that Melisandre’s older than she appeared to be. “I don’t know how old she is, but she’s way over 100 years, so she is a wiser spirit, in a way, but it’s difficult for me to say too much because A — we want it to at least stay sort of a mystery and B — I didn’t read the books,” she said.
Meanwhile, actor Oliver Ford Davies, who played the role of Maester Cressen, said in 2013 that Melisandre’s 400 years old. It seems like the priestess is also immortal after surviving that poison in the first episode of Game of Thrones Season 2.
Fans aren’t the only ones left shocked after seeing Melisandre’s true form. While filming for Game of Thrones Season 6, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, also known as Bran, shrieked when he saw Carice in prosthetics. He told Vulture that seeing Melisandre that way moved him.
“It was so powerful to see her stooped, lowly, and full of self-loathing. It moved me. It seemed to show how deep and twisted she is on the inside, this whole undercurrent of serious darkness. It adds so many layers to who exactly she is, where she was even born, and what her real aim is.”
Liam Cunningham, who plays Ser Davos, also told the publication that Carice found her role as Melisandre more challenging than her previous characters because of its lack of backstory.
“Carice has played a lot of damaged women, modern women, but she was driven mad by this. She’d ask, ‘Who is she? Where is she from? What is her history?’ Because there was nothing as an actor to hang your hat on, it can mess with your head a bit. She had to just embrace the enigma and grow into it.”
A Song of Ice and Fire readers have several guesses about Melisandre’s identity. One is that the priestess is the daughter of Lady Shiera and the Three-Eyed Raven because according to George R.R. Martin, a part of the Westerosi history pertains to the use of black arts in retaining one’s youthful appearance. Lady Shiera’s bathing in blood to maintain her beauty was mentioned. Some think that Melisandre and the Three-Eye Raven are keys that will uncover Westeros’ ancient secrets.
Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 2 will air on May 1.
[Image via HBO]