A theory that Red Priestess Melisandre is Nissa Nissa – the wife of Azor Ahai, who plunged his sword into his beloved’s heart in order to forge a weapon capable of bringing an end to the Long Night — has been circulating for a little while. But since she enigmatically departed for Volantis in Season 7, vowing to return because she has foreseen that she “has to die” in Westeros, speculation about the Red Woman has been building.
What is her role in Season 8? Will we even see her again? She’s been wrong about so many things, why should we believe her when she says her fate is to die in Westeros? However, there must be some reason for making this a thing in the show, and many fans are convinced she’ll play an integral part in proceedings. But how, exactly?
Dragonglass + Valyrian Steel + Fire
The legend of the Prince Who Was Promised revolves around the second coming of Azor Ahai – who saved the world from darkness the first time around, and who will be reborn to save the world again. Melisandre has been spouting the prophecy in the show, and making bad decisions left, right and centre based on her poor judgement in the name of the Lord of Light, who also plays a key role in the prophecy. I mean, burning young Shireen Baratheon at the stake has to be her lowest point – and one she’ll pay for ultimately, with her life.
Redditor mephis_baal posted recently about the fact that all this time Melisandre has been sacrificing others in the name of the Lord of Light, but that ultimately she’ll have to sacrifice herself. This will bring her story full circle, as author George RR Martin is fond of doing with characters.
The Redditor’s take on the theory goes: “Jon Snow with Gendry’s help will forge a sword made of dragonglass and steel (dragonsteel — remember Valyrian steel did not yet exist in the first Long Night, and Sam reads about dragonsteel in the old texts). This will have to get imbued with special blood magic — it has to get plunged into the heart of a Nissa Nissa — which I think will be Melisandre. And when it gets pulled out, it will be the new Lightbringer and it will be wielded by Jon to kill the Night King in the show.”
It would make sense that the fabled Lightbringer would need to be marked out in some way — particularly since we’ve already seen Beric‘s flaming sword on the show. For it to be made of a blend of Dragonglass and Valyrian Steel means it would have special properties — not least because Dragonglass is known to be the substance that created the Night King, when the Children of the Forest used it to pierce their captive’s chest.
It would resonate to have the sword responsible for bringing an end to the White Walkers’ march also associated with a heart-piercing, and in the case of this ‘Nissa Nissa’ theory, of a person (Melisandre) representative of fire. And how poetic to see the Night King ultimately brought down by a blade composed of all three of the elements that can kill him — Dragonglass, Valyrian steel, and fire.
Proving the Nissa Nissa Theory
Fandom Game of Thrones community member Ni201 agrees that Melisandre will be revealed to be Nissa Nissa, pointing out that “there [are] a lot of clues leading to that in the show”.
The community’s AlmostAllice, however, thinks Melisandra will likely be back – but not as Nissa Nissa.
“One thing I don’t understand from all you Nissa Nissa people: Nissa Nissa has not been mentioned once in the TV series. The Prince who was Promised has, Azor Ahai has been but never her. So why do all of you think she’ll be a factor?” AlmostAllice asks.
Ni201 links to a video with all the clues tracked. The narrator helpfully posts clips of all those moments within the series that support the idea that Melisandre is Nissa Nissa – or at least, a reborn version of her. He stops short at actually insinuating she’s the original from the prophecy, although her obsession with the Prince Who Was Promised — and crucially her age — could indicate that she is. We know that Melisandre’s true appearance is not as most see her; she is a wizened old woman of several centuries in age.
When Melisandre tells Varys she is departing for Volantis at the end of Season 7 (the last time we saw her), she tells him that she will return to Westeros for one last time because “I have to die in this strange country”. The words she uses suggest a requirement to fulfil a destiny – “I have to die” – rather than simply that she has seen the future and knows her fate. Is it because she knows she plays this important role in the prophecy?
It Is Her Destiny
Having identified Jon Snow as the real Prince Who Was Promised, it seems she’s embraced her destiny. As she tells Jon when she first meets him: “Do you feel my heart beating? This power in you, you resist it and that’s your mistake. Embrace it. When the Lord of Light made us male and female — two parts of a greater whole. In our joining there’s power — the power to make life, power to make light and power to cast shadows.”
She’s referencing her heart here – a sword is plunged into Nissa Nissa’s heart – and she’s also emphasizing that they’re connected in some way, like Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa, and must come together to become the “greater whole”. It’s foreshadowing the moment we could see in Season 8 when Jon plunges his Dragonsteel blade into her chest to forge Lightbringer, melding sword with the soul of the Red Priestess for a weapon – and wielder — capable of protecting life as they know it.
Could Melisandre Appear in Episode 3?
While Melisandre was absent from the reunions at Winterfell over the past two episodes, some fans think she could still show up in episode 3 to take part in the big battle.
She also told Jon Snow: “I’ve been ready to die for many years. If the Lord was done with me so be it but he’s not. You’ve seen the Night King, Jon Snow. You know the Great War is still to come, you know the army of the dead will be upon us soon and you know I can help you win that war.”
Of course, perhaps this coming battle – though it’s been billed as epic – isn’t the end of the war and she’ll have a part to play beyond the third episode. Indeed, one theory abounds that the Night King is actually employing a tactic tested out by both Robb Stark and Jaime Lannister previously of splitting the troops so that he can sneak into Kings Landing, and take Cersei and her hired army by surprise, adding them to his own army of the dead, while creating a diversion at Winterfell.
But what if Melisandre were to turn up with her own army of recruits perfectly poised for a battle against the icy undead?
Game of Thrones community member Jesssmmoon says: “I reckon she’ll show up just before or during the battle with whatever soldiers are from Volantis since that’s where she’s been, maybe other priestesses too? whatever it is it surely will be something huge.”
It could well be something she’s been planning — when Melisandre meets Daenerys on Dragonstone and Dany questions how many followers the Lord of Light has in Westeros, Melisandre says: “Not yet, but even those who don’t worship the Lord can still serve his cause.”
The Fiery Hand
With the “Not yet” it sounds as though things could be about to change – in the form of a group of slave soldiers hailing from Volantis, aka the Fiery Hand and Kinvara, the Red Priestess who visited Meereen as a vocal supporter of Daenerys as the Princess Who Was Promised. Their flaming spears would be the fiery opposite to the White Walkers’ ice javelins. It seems highly likely that we could be about to see the full power of the Lord of Light leading into the series’ final episodes and Sunday’s upcoming instalment could be the start of it.
While there’s growing support for this theory, there are an increasing number of fans opposing the theory that Melisandre is Nissa Nissa.
Over on Reddit, twentyonepotato points out “but doesn’t the Nissa Nissa have to be someone who means a great deal to Azor Ahai? Melisandre, even tho she saved Jon’s life, doesn’t mean a great deal to him, I don’t think.”
Loczek88 counters this with a speculative: “Maybe because she saved his life they are bound in some strange way.”
TheOtherMe4 goes on to say that Jon has some faith in what Melisandre prophesies partly because she channels Ygritte – his one true love – when she says, “You know nothing, Jon Snow” right after she had just died. Which could be a way of addressing this issue around the theory. Could Melisandre summon or channel Ygritte somehow at the key moment, meaning Jon somehow plunges – or believes he plunges — the Dragonsteel blade into his love’s heart?
Alternatively, suggests The OtherMe4, with Jon resurrected by the Lord of Light via Melisandre, it could be that if he is now a servant of the Lord of Light, a ‘fire wight’ if you will, losing a part of himself in the resurrection process to R’hllor, he could recognize feelings for Nissa Nissa, whatever physical form she may take, when the time comes.
But after all this, what if Melisandre’s just not important at all? DigitalBotz certainly thinks that could be the case.
“I think Melisandre is more of a red herring than anything,” says the Reddit user. “Her story is that she is actively trying to make the prophecies come true even though she keeps being proven wrong. My thought is that when she returns she will bear her breasts to Jon Snow and ask him to plunge his sword into her heart but it won’t make him Azor Ahai if he kills her. Truth be told, the more Melisandre thinks someone is Azor Ahai the less likely it is [to be] true.”
So there you have it. The final word.
Catch Game of Thrones Season 8 on Sundays in the US and Mondays in the UK.