If there’s one thing the internet is for, it’s helping people all over the world interact in real-time to create one huge global community. If there are two things the internet is for, it’s that crap about the global community and nitpicking potential continuity errors in popular fantasy or science fiction television shows and movies. Which brings us to the season six premiere of Game of Thrones and Melisandre’s magical necklace.
As you all probably know by now because you’ve seen the episode or been buried alive in spoilers, the premiere ended with Melisandre alone in her room getting ready for bed. After removing her clothes and admiring herself in the mirror for a moment or two, she took off her fancy red choker necklace, at which point the alluring youthful redhead you see in the image at the top of the screen immediately turned into this much, much older woman.
The implication here, if we’re interpreting the scene correctly, is that Melisandre’s necklace is some sort of magical Choker of Youth that keeps her looking young as long as she’s wearing it. Which, fine. We can work with that. The actress who plays Melisandre, Carice van Houten, has speculated that the character is anywhere between 100 and 400 years old, so at the very least, this would help explain that. And the director of the episode, Jeremy Podeswa, chimed in on the issue, as well, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
“The idea is there’s an indefinite indeterminate quality that she could be ancient,” Podeswa says. “We were limited by choosing to use a real person rather than a complete CG creation. Because what does a 400-year-old person look like? We don’t know. So if you try to create that, then you’re creating something that looks beyond our known reality. Here you feel like she’s very old without putting a number on it.”
Which, I mean, also fine. The magic necklace keeps her young as long as she’s wearing it. Got it. But here’s where things get a little dicey. If you look back at her appearances on the show, she is wearing the necklace in almost every scene. “Almost” being the key word. Because there was this scene…
… which now looks, at first glance, like quite the continuity error. Unless it wasn’t. It will not surprise you at all to learn that people have opinions about this, and that many of those opinions can be found on reddit. Here’s one, for example.
[I]n that bathtub scene she talks about the smoke and mirrors she uses to make people believe in her. The only person looking at her in that scene was Selyse, a devout follower. So maybe she used some other trick… Or… Maybe Selyse could always see the red woman as she was. She never seemed concerned that this sexy lady was tempting her hubby all the time. Hmmmm.
And here’s a much more elaborate take on that one, posted over a year ago by a redditor named “brashendeavors,” who must be feeling very smug today.
Of course, this makes all the more fascinating the show episode (S4E7) where Melisandre is taking a bath without her ruby choker. This scene was not in the books, many wondered if D&D had messed up, but I think the omission was quite deliberate.
The only person to see her like this is Stannis wife Selyse. Selyse has this strange expression the entire time. Like she cannot look directly at Melisandre yet also cannot look away. At first you think it is that of a religious “uptight” person seeing a naked and very sexual woman. But if you rewatch the scene, and “pretend” to yourself that Selyse is seeing Melisandre as she actually appears, it actually fits better. WE still see the seductress, Selyse sees the hag. She is horrified yet fascinated and not at all shocked. She knew all along (just like she knows the true fate of her daughter), Melisandre explains she does not need to use her “tricks” on the true convert (Stannis is NOT a true convert but his wife is).
So, there you have it. It was either deliberate storytelling or a blatant continuity error. And even if it was the latter, the nice thing about making a fantasy series that is no longer bound to its source material is that they can just open up episode two with a voiceover of Melisandre saying, “… and so I put the necklace back on, knowing that I can only retain my youthful form when I am wearing it or soaking in a bath.” Bingo bango, problem solved.