It’s an interesting time to be playing the Red Woman Melisandre. It wasn’t too long ago that Carice van Houten, who has that honor, was receiving death threats on behalf of her character. After all, Melisandre did burn a young girl alive towards the end of Season 5.
Then, in the Season 6 premiere, it was revealed that Melisandre is actually very, very old, and decrepit. That inspired a bit of sympathy for the character. And then, in the last episode, she brought Jon Snow back from the dead. According to Van Houten, public opinion has changed overnight. “I quickly went from most hated woman to most loved one, almost,” she said. “People all of the sudden are like, “I want to marry you! You’re my favorite character! Melisandre for President!””
— Game of Thrones Meme (@Thrones_Memes) May 3, 2016
That’s from an interview in The Hollywood Reporter. Van Houten touched on a number of subjects, including whether her successful resurrection of a dead man will restore Melisnadre’s faith in her own abilities. She’s been pretty down since Stannis Baratheon, the man she had pegged as the savior of all mankind, died a muted death outside the walls of Winterfell. Has she bounced back?
A little bit, yeah, but she has to come from far. We saw her in a true identity crisis in the beginning [of the season]. She really has to recover from that. The fact that she made Jon Snow [come back from the dead] means there’s still some power in the Lord of Light left. I don’t think she believes it’s her doing it. She’s a vessel. I don’t think she per se believes she has magical powers. She believes she’s a servant, you know? It regained some of her faith in the Lord of Light, definitely, but she’s not there yet. She’s not yet back to where we met Melisandre in the first episode.
That’s probably good news for people who want to keep liking the character. A more down-to-earth, vulnerable Melisandre should make her easier to relate to. A tentative friendship with Davos Seaworth couldn’t hurt, either. Van Houten said that relations between the Red Woman and the Onion Knight will be less tense than before. “They’re closer to each other, in the sense that they’re in the same situation…It’s easier for Davos to come to me because I’m more open and vulnerable. Conversation is possible now, whereas before, it was always a smirk or a stare.” Still, there may be no coming back from what she did to Shireen.
But once you touch a child? It’s hard to forgive that. Even though you’re bringing some hot guy back to life, the innocence of a child always weighs heavier, I think. But a lot of people have seemed to forget it for now, now that Jon Snow’s no longer dead. But they’ll hate me again at some point. [Laughs]
We’ll reserve judgment until we see the rest of the season. Hopefully Melisandre doesn’t get up to too many of her old tricks.
But now that Jon Snow is back (Van Houten learned that Melisandre would be bringing him back around July of last year), he’s the one everyone is paying attention to. Melisandre was drawn to Jon Snow in Season 5, but according to Van Houten, even she might not realize why.
I keep saying to people that it’s almost like looking into the flames are like static radio; it’s not always clear. She picks up on stuff. She knows that things are important, but sometimes she doesn’t know why yet. She doesn’t know why, but she has to keep an eye on him. The Lord of Light will tell her, but she doesn’t always get all the information. And she’s been wrong before.
What does the future hold for these crazy kids? Look into the flames.