Season Six of Game of Thrones returns this March to HBO. Fans of the book series are looking forward to its return with trepidation, seeing that we”re now ‘off the map” so to speak. Last year several character storylines reached the end of their novel counterparts. Several other characters have taken major detours or been merged with side characters – as in the case of Sansa”s story merging with Jeyne Poole”s – to compensate for the condensed timeframe.
But there is one character who has been missing in action for far too long, in my opinion.A character that is desperately needed. Lady Stoneheart. Perhaps a controversial take, as a slice of the Game of Thrones fandom doesn”t like her and thinks her a superfluous character. However, I think Lady Stoneheart has a pivotal role to play in war to come and it would be shame not to see her wreak havoc across the Riverlands of Westeros.
WARNING: SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT!
A refresher: Lady Stoneheart is the reincarnated body of Catelyn Stark. In the aftermath of the Red Wedding, Arya goes into a fitful sleep and wargs into her wolf, Nymeria. Believing it to be a dream, Ayra/Nymeria run back to The Twins and pull Catelyn”s lifeless body from the river. They are then scared off by a group of humans who turn out to be the Brotherhood Without Banners. If you'll recall, this group includes Ser Beric Dondarrion, who has been resurrected several times by a red priest Thoros – to the surprise of everyone. Arya and The Hound dealt with the Brotherhood way back in Season Three, where they witnessed unexplainable magic. Dondarrion possessed the power to use his blood to light a sword aflame. That small detail is vitally important, as it is tied to the prophecy of Azor Ahai (the Jesus of the Red God religion). From the novels:
There will come a day after a long summer when the stars bleed and the cold breath of darkness falls heavy on the world. In this dread hour a warrior shall draw from the fire a burning sword. And that sword shall be Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes, and he who clasps it shall be Azor Ahai come again, and the darkness shall flee before him.
However, Dondarrion has died six times and been brought back to life six times. Each successive resurrection drains Beric and leaves him less and less human. By the time the Brotherhood Without Banners finds Catelyn Stark”s body, Dondarrion is on his last leg. With his final strength, he has Thoros transfer the Red God's power to Lady Stark”s corpse. However, Catelyn had been dead quite a while and she comes back…different. Cold. Hard. Vengeful.
Since the Red Wedding, Game of Thrones has focused on other aspects of the story, so that the Freys have fallen by the wayside. But the North remembers, and the sins of Walder Frey have not been forgotten. You cannot slaughter that many members of the nobility and walk away scot-free. At some point the show will have to go back and deal with the Frey fallout.
Now they could have Sansa step into her mother shoes – only not as an undead avatar of vengeance, obviously. But who doesn't want to see Michelle Fairley demand justice for her dead children? Game of Thrones could also very just leave the power of Azor Ahai with Beric Dondarrion but it wouldn”t have the same narrative ‘oomf” as using Lady Stoneheart. Allow me to explain.
We know Catelyn Stark loathes Jon Snow. In her eyes, Jon was a daily reminder that her husband was unfaithful in their first year of marriage. She went out of her way to make Jon”s life uncomfortable, to remind him he was an outsider. Now the audience knows Jon”s true parentage and that Ned”s only sin was staying true to his sister's dying wish. But Lady Stoneheart doesn”t know this.
This sets up a really juicy confrontation and/or cathartic moment of forgiveness. Lady Stoneheart – fresh off the slaughter of the Freys and high on the power of the Red God – has the magic needed to create Lightbringer. It”s doubtful the former Lady Stark is Azor Ahai…but Jon Snow might be. We know Melisandre has seen him in her prophetic fires, we know Dany saw ‘snow” on the Westerosi throne. In the books, Jon has even had a dream where he is killing Others with a flaming sword. Having the woman who raised Jon Snow – and who hated him despite her best efforts not to – sacrifice herself in her most vengeful incarnation, in order that Jon may save the world from encroaching darkness? That's a pretty amazing story arc.
But will it happen? Fingers crossed!
Game of Thrones returns to HBO on April 24, at 9/8c.