This post contains spoilers for the Game of Thrones finale and the book A Feast for Crows.
While the fourth season finale of Game of Thrones had everything from shocking deaths to gruesome fights to dramatic entrances, fans of the books were disappointed by one key absence: Lady Stoneheart. Despite being rumored to appear at the end of the episode like she did during the epilogue of A Storm of Swords, the former Catelyn Stark was nowhere to be found, leaving many confused and worried about the upcoming seasons. However, according to director Alex Graves, she was never scheduled to pop up at all this season, as there were far too many significant moments to cram into the last hour. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Graves revealed that her resurrection was never in the cards for Season 4, and it was instead an Internet rumor that gained traction. (If they’re looking for a point of origin, Lena Headey’s Instagram seems like a good place to start.) No matter where it came from, fans felt let down when the episode came to a close without Lady Stoneheart killing the Frey’s men in a bloody act of revenge.
Though she only makes a few small appearances in the novels, Lady Stoneheart is a vitally significant character, and not just because she used to be Catelyn Stark. Her resurrection and reanimation by Beric Dondarrion – who himself was resurrected by Thoros and the Lord of the Light after he was fatally wounded by the Hound – connects several plots and characters together. She’s one of the last ties that anyone has to the character affected by the Red Wedding, her plan for revenge brings both the Freys and the Lannisters into the picture, her resurrection through the Lord of the Light ties her to Stannis and Melisandre as well as the Brotherhood and her most notable interaction in A Feast For Crows involves Brienne and Podrick Payne. Keeping her out of the finale simplifies things somewhat, and keeps many of the other shocking events from losing their impact, but it does mean that adding her into the fifth season will now be less dramatic and shocking. Now that book fans are counting down the time until she reappears and show-only fans know to look out for “Lady Stoneheart,” the writers are going to have a difficult time finding a way to introduce her character so that it has the same weight that her first appearance does in the books. And that’s if she even appears at all.
Graves went on to reveal that he had no idea if show runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have plans to incorporate her into the ensemble at all in the future, citing the difficulties of working her character into the show, and the fear of wasting Michelle Fairley on a bit part. But cutting out Lady Stoneheart completely will have a major impact on the events of the next few seasons, particularly on Brienne’s plot, which culminates in her arriving face to face with the woman she swore allegiance to. Without Lady Stoneheart, Brienne and Pod are just wandering aimlessly on their journey to find the Stark girls. Their encounter with Lady Stoneheart gives their journey a final destination for the next season to work toward, while still leaving plenty of room for the writers to change and add new elements to their trek, like last night’s fight with the Hound.
Of course, it might not make sense to work Lady Stoneheart into the show at all at this point. Brienne and Pod meet the Brotherhood without Banners after perusing the Hound, who is rumored to be travelling with one of the Stark girls. However, based on the finale, she now knows that the Hound is likely dead and that it is Arya, not Sansa, that he was with and she doesn’t plan on going with Brienne at all. They could still run into the Brotherhood on the way to the Vale, but it doesn’t have the same potential for shock that the original plot in the books had, with the Brotherhood rescuing them from Rorge and Biter, only to have Lady Stoneheart turn around and threaten them with death.
Outside of this important scene with Brienne and Pod, Lady Stoneheart has no significant moments in the books. She travels around the woods with the Brotherhood, killing anyone even tangentially associated with the Freys and Lannisters as revenge for killing her son and spooking everyone with her curdled-milk skin and inability to speak without holding her slit throat shut. While it would be worth it for many fans to have her pop up occasionally to terrify and torture people, it does bring the issue of wasting Fairley to the forefront. With an actress as talented and beloved as Fairley is, the writers would likely want to give her as much screen time as possible, which means adding in original scenes for her, and considering how many plots they will attempt to incorporate next season as well as the original plots and arcs that the show has been developing, it makes adding her into the show a lot more complicated. There’s also the issue of explaining Beric Dondarrion’s importance as well as the magic that helped him and Lady Stoneheart cheat death. Though the show has dipped into some of the magic and mythology behind the Lord of the Light, it has mostly been brought up in vague, general terms during Stannis’ few scenes with Melisandre. In order to properly explain how Catelyn became Lady Stoneheart, the show will have to delve into a lot of the fantasy elements that they have thus far shied away from.
Though working Lady Stoneheart into the show at this point will involve some creativity from the writers, thanks to the many plots and twists they’ve added this season, she would be a worthy addition to the show. After all, she represents all of the bloodlust and desire for revenge that the writers love focusing on and it would give them the opportunity to stage numerous vivid, horrifying deaths. Both she and Catelyn are also fan favorites, and her return is a moment that fans have been impatiently waiting for. To deny them a character this interesting, compelling and violent, especially after all of the controversy that seemed to rage this year, would be a terrible disappointment.
Besides, Headey’s already posted about it, so it has to happen now; her Instagram is law.