*Warning, this article is darkly intelligent and full of terrifying spoilers*
Well, another week, another action-packed hour of plotting, chaos, and mass murder in the land of Westeros. This one certainly had its shocking moments, but perhaps it’s best to focus on one development in particular – a foreshadowed event that now (for truly the first time in the T.V. series) seems more like an inevitability rather than wishful book-reader dreaming. If you haven’t read the books and or don’t dare to ruin the shocking revelations to come in the sure-to-be shocker-packed final three episodes of this season, turn back now.
Many of you, book readers or not, might be familiar with the ominously (yet aptly) named Lady Stoneheart (LS). For those of you not acquainted with Westeros’ finest hangwoman, a quick google search should clear up any confusion – though again I remind you, spoilers abound here.
Most book readers have long since given up on the appearance of LS in the T.V. adaptation. Indeed, it seemed after her lack of mention in any of the previous couple of seasons that she simply wasn’t in on the HBO-version party. But last week’s episode has renewed hopes that she will in fact be joining us, and soon. Here are the five main reasons why:
1) The Brotherhood Without Banners Returns –
It’s likely with all the other madness and murder raging throughout the land that many viewers have long since forgotten about these once popular figures; this band of Robin Hood-esque vigilantes, including: Beric Dondarrion, Thoros of Myr, Gendry, etc. However, they’ve now been mentioned in more than one episode this season.
Say what you will about the show moving beyond the source material, but whether you agree with some of the writing decisions thus far, the show runners are highly tuned in with pacing, plotting, and suspense building – and that seems to be exactly what they are doing here. Think about the progression. The Brotherhood was mentioned by Walder Frey and others to be raiding throughout the Riverlands – just like in the books. This reminded viewers that the band of lovable anti-establishment rebels we last saw a few seasons back are still out there, carrying on the good fight for the people. However, in last week’s episode, we saw the Brotherhood practicing what they once condemned: raiding, pillaging, and murdering anyone and everyone in their wake.
This is a far different version of these outlaws from what we’ve known. Why this change of heart? A change to Stoneheart, perhaps? As they themselves warned last episode, “The night is dark and full of terrors.” This certainly sounds like the motto of a band of raiders who may have lost their more morally justifiable leader in exchange for a Red God power-fueled zombie lady.
A little context here: in the books, Beric sacrifices himself to resurrect Catelyn (they find her body washed up on a riverbank a few days after the red wedding). Despite Thoros’ strong opposition to this due to her advanced state of bodily decay, Beric passes his life to her, finally leaving us for good while reanimating the ruthless and vengeful Catelyn, henceforth know as LS.
Clearly the Brotherhood has ‘lost their way’. It seems pointless now to bring them back into all of this without delivering on a much bigger reward. LS hanging Freys and joining in with the havoc of winter certainly seems like a juicy payoff.
2) It Makes Sense Thematically –
Season six has largely been thematically centered around this idea of resurrection – both physical and spiritual. But what’s more important are the specific effects of these rebirths.
Take Jon Snow, for example. His was a quite literal resurrection. He died, and then was brought back to life. Otherwise, little seems to have changed for his emotional state. He’s still fighting the good fight, trying to do what’s best despite the odds and consequences. This motivation would strongly contrast with the resurrection of LS, whose rule would seem to be one built on terror rather than pure justice such as with Jon. In a series that is mainly about the relative humanity of those struggling to protect, save, and avenge those they love, this fits right into the thematic fabric of it all.
Some of the other hints feel almost as if we’re being slapped in the face with thematic foreshadowing. For the Gods’ sake, look at what Stepton Meribald (who is trying to resurrect the Hound’s soul) preaches to his congregation literally seconds before the Brotherhood darkly rides in to demand tribute: “It’s never to late to stop robbing people, to stop killing people, to start helping people. It’s never to late to come back.”
Maybe for the Septon it’s not too late. Maybe not even for the Hound. But the Brotherhood and LS? Their hearts at least certainly don’t seem to be in the right place.
3) Lining Up with Book Content (And Connecting to the Plot Moving Forward) –
When Jaime was sent on his wild golden goose chase in Dorne last season, many wondered if he would ever make it to the Riverlands, like he does in the books to end the siege against the remaining Tully forces at Riverrun. It looks like the show runners are finally bringing his plot back in line with that of the text, but what next?
In the books, Jaime is able to find a peaceful resolution to the stalemate, though if his initial conversation with the Blackfish in the show is any indication of what’s to come, it’s not going to end well for either side. However, there is still hope. With Brienne en route, her negotiating might perhaps be the only chance to prevent imminent bloodshed, as well as save Jaime’s life and Jon’s uprising in the North.
The Blackfish seems intent on remaining behind his walls, ready to fight to the death. So what could possibly convince him to budge? The Blackfish has no trust for Jaime, and just as little respect. However, with Brienne to vouch for him, perhaps a deal can be struck; a deal where the Tully forces would be allowed to surrender the castle, march north to help oust a rouge murderous bastard, and install Sansa to her rightful seat as wardeness of Winterfell.
This indeed is a tenuous theory, as there would be many stark political implications and consequences, but at this point if it is the best option, might all sides agree?
The point of all this is that with the siege lifted and only the Brotherhood left to contend with in the Riverlands, this could be Jaime’s only chance at survival if he is to run into LS like its implied he will in his last scene in the books so far. Maybe lots of hopeful thinking here, but in GOTland you just never know.
4) Kill the Freys –
Who doesn’t want to see Freys swinging from trees at this point, especially those two loathsome dopes who were running the operation at Riverrun. It was nice to finally see Jaime smack down someone who deserved it, but what’s next for that pair once the siege is lifted and the Tullys are gone from the Riverlands? It’s entirely possible that we’ll see these idiots happy and eager to return to Papa Creepy Frey to tout their great victory, a victory that the only real hand they had in achieving was the golden one Jaime used to smack them across the face with. Well, we all know what happens en route to places in Westeros: chaos. And what better chaos than LS wrecking her vengeance upon the two who murder her son and daughter-law?
5) The Writers Love to Lie –
I don’t know if George Martin has said anything about this, but I wouldn’t trust anything that either he or Weiss&Benioff have to say about the matter. For years readers were convinced that Benjen Stark was not Coldhands (which he seems to now be, at least in the T.V. adaptation). Kit Harrington had to publicly apologize for repeatedly lying about his character being dead – as was ordered of him by the producers. LS’s appearance at this point in the series would simply be another welcome, even if long overdue, revelation.
What do you think? Feel free to comment below to share your own thoughts, theories, etc.!