Brow Beat

This Week’s Worst Person in Westeros: Melisandre

After each episode in Game of Thrones Season 5, we’ll be discussing a crucial question: Who is currently the worst person in Westeros? This week, Slate assistant editor Miriam Krule is joined by Brow Beat blogger Sharan Shetty.

Miriam Krule: Sharan! Thanks for joining me to chat about Episode 1, “The Wars to Come.” I’m glad it’s finally spring in New York, but I couldn’t be happier about winter coming to Westeros, or at least my TV. I don’t know about you, but as someone who hasn’t read the books, the most exciting part of Season 5, as Jon Fischer points out in his review, is that it marks the first real divergences from the George R.R. Martin books. I even heard that a character dies in Season 5 who hasn’t died in the books yet! So: who do you want to see die in Season 5?

Sharan Shetty: Tough question. Last season obliterated so many central characters—including Tywin Lannister, whose death on the stool was profoundly satisfying—that it almost seems like there aren’t enough villains left. But there are, of course, and I confess that I am craving the demise of Melisandre, the Red Priestess who spends most of her time sizing up people for sex. Her latest target is the brooding Jon Snow. What do you make of this blossoming romance on the Wall?

Krule: He does have a thing for redheads (RIP Ygritte), but I saw that scene as less a blossoming romance than just Jon Snow doing the kind of of skeptical, pained frowning he does best. Melisandre is an excellent choice—she is one of the most loathsome characters on the show—but as someone who has gone on record saying that the religions of the Game of Thrones universe are the best way to understand the series, I think her death would be a big blow to the show. Honestly, the Baratheon storyline in general is the least enjoyable, second only to the most tedious—Daenerys Targaryen’s. I get it, it’s tough to train an army, but unless she’s on her way to Westeros, I’ve pretty much lost interest in her. Look at me, killing off kings and queens. That leaves us with … who to sit on the throne exactly?

Shetty: Tommen, I suppose? The kid seems nice enough. His mother, on the other hand, has become a full-on wino in the wake of her father’s death. And turns out she was just as much of a jerk as a kid! That opening sequence, in which a teenage Cersei rudely demands that a witch reveal her (horrible) future, offered some rare insight into the Queen Regent’s constant need for power.

Krule: That flashback was totally unexpected, but the episode as a whole felt like a lot of setup to me. Nothing really juicy happened. Margaery is attractively conniving as always, but as a whole, this episode felt kind of flat. That may just be because an episode without Arya is no episode of Game of Thrones.

Shetty: Arya’s absence was indeed tough, and you’re right that the episode was pretty much all setup. That being said, I’ve already grown weary of the Brienne-and-Podrick-on-the-road subplot that seems to have replaced the Arya-and-the-Hound-on-the-road subplot. Enough with the ancillary characters walking across Westeros.

Krule: But Podrick is so pure! I need his earnestness in the darkest moments of this show. I kind of love the platonic duos—their relationships are like the opposite of everything the show stands for. It’s Game of Thrones’ version of comic relief.

So do we agree that right now, even if Cersei is a power-hungry queen mourning the death of her father while plotting the murder of her brother with her twin (with whom she had an incestuous affair), Melisandre is the worst person in Westeros?

Shetty: Definitely. Cersei’s devious plots are at least interesting, and I’m strangely still intrigued by her relationship with Jaime, which reliably achieves its most uncomfortable moments when the two meet over a family member’s dead body. Melisandre is just pure, boring evil.

Krule: And a smoke monster! So we know things probably won’t end well

Read the rest of Slate’s Game of Thrones coverage.