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[Book Spoilers] Melisandre's seduction of King Stannis

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From the book my image of Stannis was that he wasn't really interested in women.. I was suprised by this scene.

I though season 1 was very much like the first book, but so far I'm of the impression that the directors are choosing to change details abit more in season 2.

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That just didnt seem to be Stannis because I was under the impression that Stannis havent even heard about thing called "lust".

But maybe they just had to make Stannis more mainstream male for the TV-show.

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It probably would have been more effective if the sex scene between Stannis and Melisandre was implied rather than actually shown. For me personally, it made Stannis appear far weaker and more susceptible to manipulation than I think his character truly is.

I saw no 'lust' in the scene though, only a man's desperation for a male heir and the presentation of a possible way of achieving it. I do like Stephen Dillane's portrayal thus far but he still has a bit of proving to do. As for Carice van Houten, I think she very much fits the part. Melisandre has always seemed to be one of the darker characters in the series and her ambiguous goals and ideas are shown through Houten's version of the character.

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I didn't really mind the scene, and thought it rather well done by Dillane in that he managed to capture how uncomfortable Stannis is in his own skin. As for Melisandre, I'm still on the fence regarding the actress. IMO, she's not subtle enough as a TVMel, be it due to writing or acting skill.

Which is to say, overall, the problem with season 2 will continue to be the introduction of new characters, at the expense of other previously established characters, but without the backstory that accompanies each in the novels, the "fleshing-out" is sacrificed for time constraints. So, we have succinct presentations befitting an hour viewing, rather than a more paced and methodical layering, as was presented in The Wire, Deadwood, Oz. It is only a "problem" if one expected an exact duplication on screen.

It seems to me there is deeper meaning to the shadow-baby than simply a magical thing that Melisandre can produce. Stannis is a character who must remind others that he "is not without mercy," but who is largely regarded as one with no capacity for mercy. He is clearly DUTY motivated versus HONOR. It is his duty to produce an heir as king, preferably male, and thus dishonoring his marriage in the service of duty fits Stannis' pathology, whether Syleese(?) is on board or not. I mean, this is a man who cut off the fingers of Davos, who smuggled supplies that saved his life while under siege, for smuggling in the past.

The shadow baby, to me, is the same "shadow/shade" that the novels refer to describing the dead, as a concept, not physically present, but a shadow on one's memory, if you will. That Donderion became a "shadow" of the man he was in younger years, as the toll of rebirth was paid, leaving only a shell of the strongest characteristics in personality is important. It is the same with Stannis. The shadow baby is his essence, (no pun intended) it is that thing that he cannot consciously bring himself to do, that is unleashed to do as he desires nonetheless. Call it his soul, call it whatever, but it is his deepest urges, his darkest secrets, his wrath set free. The shadow baby is a version of Stoneheart in that LS has become the darkest urges that were present, but controlled, while alive. He grows weaker as Melisandre grows stronger. Some would suggest he's actually dead, but continuing in a shadow/shade state himself. I think he knows about the shadow baby in the same way Bran knows that Jaime pushed him out a window, in the deepest recesses of their consciousness.

So, would he sleep with her? Yes. Would she give birth to his darkest demons? Yes. Will others suffer for it? Yes, because he is without mercy and driven by DUTY alone. And like his father, the shadow-baby is without mercy, duty bound, and ultimately, will be the death of Stannis.

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That just didnt seem to be Stannis because I was under the impression that Stannis havent even heard about thing called "lust".

But maybe they just had to make Stannis more mainstream male for the TV-show.

That's my assessment as well. I'd prefer to see Stannis half-heartedly having sex with Mel. The passionate lovemaking from the show doesnt fit his character IMO. But it's not necessarily wrong, and it's probably better for TV. Mel definitely looked good in that scene. I just wish that they had made a better practical argument for the two having sex than Mel did. I pictured Mel winning Stannis over slowly as her visions come true and insisting that sex was necessary for the next step. This seemed too much like Stannis took the first offer.

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Lustless sex? Dutiful sex? A Stannis who has fully sublimated his libido into a life of honor, justice, and chastity? Is that really how everyone thinks of Stannis, a saintly celibate? Is this realistic? Is this actually true to the books?

Of course, we don't really know, as we know nothing about Stannis's sex life, so we are all speculating. Stannis has admirable qualities (why would Davos be so loyal to him otherwise); but the man is also a power-driven, puritanical, pathological narcissist. He has a dark side. In his quest to possess that which he deems rightly his (viz., the throne), he aligns himself with a witch, renounces his gods, and "kills" his brother (at least in his heart)--in essence he sells his soul to the devil.

His libido is not sublimated; it is repressed. And in this last episode it finally breaks through his iron will and explodes in a paroxysm of lust. Meiisandre's promise of a son may seem prosaic and uncanonical; but it's all tied into Stannis's "lust" for kingship, a lust that is clothed in the dress of honor and duty. Of course Stannis wants a son. The promise of a son is a promise of immortality and dynasty. I do not think it is out of character. Quite the contrary.

Stannis is a conflicted, complex man, which is what makes him so interesting. And so I am not surprised to see him suddenly and violently take Melisandre on the table. I suspect he is hating himself throughout the fucking.

That being said, I do believe that Stannis has been miscast. Stephen Dillane does not have the right bearing. I do not sense power and strength in him, only weakness..

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The shadow baby, to me, is the same "shadow/shade" that the novels refer to describing the dead, as a concept, not physically present, but a shadow on one's memory, if you will. That Donderion became a "shadow" of the man he was in younger years, as the toll of rebirth was paid, leaving only a shell of the strongest characteristics in personality is important. It is the same with Stannis. The shadow baby is his essence, (no pun intended) it is that thing that he cannot consciously bring himself to do, that is unleashed to do as he desires nonetheless. Call it his soul, call it whatever, but it is his deepest urges, his darkest secrets, his wrath set free. The shadow baby is a version of Stoneheart in that LS has become the darkest urges that were present, but controlled, while alive. He grows weaker as Melisandre grows stronger. Some would suggest he's actually dead, but continuing in a shadow/shade state himself. I think he knows about the shadow baby in the same way Bran knows that Jaime pushed him out a window, in the deepest recesses of their consciousness.

That would be his id then, also agree with Strider about the sexual sublimation. It fits perfectly.

Jaime is chaste, but not celibate, Stannis is repressed. The main male characters in AGoT cover a whole range of sexual traits.

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I sincerely believe that the TV series confirms things only hinted at in the books. I think it is the intention of Benioff and GRRM to make what is subtle in the books far more spelled out in the TV series.

So what we are seeing here in this scene is exactly what has been going on the whole time but which was veiled in the book.

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We all appear to have forgotten one other aspect about Stannis's bedding (or tabling) of Melissandre: while the catalyst is the promise of a male heir, this promise is offered within the context of a call to a personal surrender to the god. Up to this point Stannis has performed the externals of faith--he has said the words, he has burned the idols, etc.--but he has not yet given his soul toRhi'lor. This act of surrender is accomplished by the breaking of his marital vows and his erotic union to the priestess of Rhi'lor. Think Faustus. Think Anakin Skywalker.

Throughout the books we see Stannis sacrificing his duty for the goal of attaining his political and military goals, each sacrifice contributes to his moral and spiritual disintegration. But giving his soul to Rhi'lor is a deeper, more profound act of betrayal. He is giving himself over to the dark side.

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Throughout the books we see Stannis sacrificing his duty for the goal of attaining his political and military goals, each sacrifice contributes to his moral and spiritual disintegration. But giving his soul to Rhi'lor is a deeper, more profound act of betrayal. He is giving himself over to the dark side.

This, though I suspect neither Fire nor Ice is inherently evil. Both are forces in the world that must be balanced - think about Meera and Jojen swearing by ice and fire.

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Lustless sex? Dutiful sex? A Stannis who has fully sublimated his libido into a life of honor, justice, and chastity? Is that really how everyone thinks of Stannis, a saintly celibate? Is this realistic? Is this actually true to the books?

Of course, we don't really know, as we know nothing about Stannis's sex life, so we are all speculating. Stannis has admirable qualities (why would Davos be so loyal to him otherwise); but the man is also a power-driven, puritanical, pathological narcissist. He has a dark side. In his quest to possess that which he deems rightly his (viz., the throne), he aligns himself with a witch, renounces his gods, and "kills" his brother (at least in his heart)--in essence he sells his soul to the devil.

His libido is not sublimated; it is repressed. And in this last episode it finally breaks through his iron will and explodes in a paroxysm of lust. Meiisandre's promise of a son may seem prosaic and uncanonical; but it's all tied into Stannis's "lust" for kingship, a lust that is clothed in the dress of honor and duty. Of course Stannis wants a son. The promise of a son is a promise of immortality and dynasty. I do not think it is out of character. Quite the contrary.

Stannis is a conflicted, complex man, which is what makes him so interesting. And so I am not surprised to see him suddenly and violently take Melisandre on the table. I suspect he is hating himself throughout the fucking.

That being said, I do believe that Stannis has been miscast. Stephen Dillane does not have the right bearing. I do not sense power and strength in him, only weakness..

I never thought of Stannis as saintly. I thought of Stannis as simply disinterested is sex altogether. Part of Stannis's sexual disinterest could be his wife, but I expected that most of it was simply his stubborn and dispassionate nature. That has nothing to do with religion or purity. Some individuals simply do not care much for sex. Some find it distasteful, especially with someone you're not in love with. And Stannis doesnt seem like he's in love with his wife. I don't expect the book Stannis to actually fall in love with anyone. He's that much of a stubborn stiff for that. And Stannis remarks several times about how Robert had that quality in him (making other people love him) and Stannis does not.

I don't see that as a good or bad thing. It's just Stannis's character. That's portrayed much different in the show.

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Yeah I thought this scene was poorly done. Stannis is an early casualty of the HBO format this season.

For starters, they cut out scenes with his family to save time, but the result is you don't get the missing piece that Selyse is a devout follower of Mel, the reason she's there in the first place, and that Selyse encourages Stannis to follow her even though Stannis is reluctant at first. It also seems to me that they're trying to build suspense for the eventual shadow birthing scene by giving a reason why Mel can be shown as pregnant, and shocking the TV viewers when they find out that it's no normal baby. Assuming this hunch is correct, it's just one of a number of detrimental slights to the character of Stannis all for the sake of raciness, episodic drama/suspense, and other TV show "necessities."

The next issue is that HBO, wanting to make the show as racy as possible, forces the onscreen sex scene which takes away all subtlety and provokes a much different reaction from the viewer. It's not that I have a problem with the scene itself (other than the invented motives and lack of context), but they have laid next to no groundwork yet for the Stannis character. Very little back-story has been shown, or his iron-willed, dutiful, and honor-driven nature. In fact, the best we get of that is Davos telling Saan that Stannis is the most honorable man he knows, yet only minutes later he is sleeping with the Red Lady through lust and the manufactured desire of wanting a son.

Instead of building his iron-willed, dutiful character first, and subtly showing the sexual relation with Mel after the character has some credibility, they've chosen to essentially start with that. Although many people identify with and support Stannis in the books, it'll be near impossible for a TV viewer to be fond of a character that has done nothing as of yet but cheat on his wife out of lust. There's no coming back from that, either, because as far as the show is concerned, viewers' first impression will always be that of an adulterer, and when the show later tries to build on Stannis's identity of justice, duty, etc, it will just seem silly.

The whole problem is that they've removed any argument for those of us who believe in the book his motives for his exploits with the Red Lady were to win the iron throne and that if he was not encouraged by his wife, in the very least you get some idea that she would be OK with it because she vehemently follows Melisandre. Now, clearly these last two points are debated in the book by some, but the problem is it's not even debatable in the show because they've taken out key facts and are left with a 1-dimensional Stannis. And that, if nothing else, is their biggest misstep. They took a character that has layers and can be debated (his motives, his honor, etc) and created the opposite.

It's really unfortunate, because it'll be very hard for them to bring him back from this. I know it's early in the season, but they've already changed too many important background aspects of Stannis and they wouldn't have introduced things such as his motive of wanting a son if they weren't going to continue with it. And in the end, I feel all of these changes have just been brought about because of HBO's lack of time and need for sex and suspense. They've taken my favorite character from the book and created a character that even I don't like in the show.

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I don't think it's unlikely or even untrue that Stannis wanted sons. But if it was that big of a driving motivation for him (enough to get away from his established character as hard, just, dutiful, etc) I think GRRM would have made it evident in the books. I don't think it's fair to try to pin such a strong motive to a character when there isn't much (if any) evidence just because it could be true or because it simply seems to make sense. Therefore making a point of it being his motive for sleeping with Mel is a stretch in my opinion. And again, I really think they're just going to use it as fodder for the shadow-baby reveal which will undoubtedly be a big event at the end of an episode. But this whole issue is only a small piece of my big problem with that scene.

And whether they know more about the story than us isn't completely relevant. The fact of the matter is they're adapting the story to a TV audience. They are going to take liberties and make changes based on how they think the story can be successful on a TV platform, and us readers aren't always going to agree with them. Just because something is true or becomes true in the show doesn't mean it's true in the books, although they do a good job for the most part.

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Slightly off topic: is anyone else worried/curious how they're going to visualize the shadowbabies? I hope it doesn't come off cheap (which is very much possible). The main thing is that it doesn't look too similar to actual child labor... more like an exhaustibg physical excercise for Mel. I know it is described like that in the books, with Mel opening her legs, but I just can't visualize it with my mind's eye. At the same time, it should be made clear that M&S sexy times led to the shadows. I can see the shadows moving towards their prey but that can also become a bit cartoonish. IDK, I guess, overall, the emphasis should be on shadows, not babies.

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Lustless sex? Dutiful sex? A Stannis who has fully sublimated his libido into a life of honor, justice, and chastity? Is that really how everyone thinks of Stannis, a saintly celibate? Is this realistic? Is this actually true to the books?

Of course, we don't really know, as we know nothing about Stannis's sex life, so we are all speculating.

BINGO. We just don't know. We've never had a Stannis POV. Yet there are many who just are so *sure* that Stannis has no sex drive. But how would we know?

Again... GRRM is writing these books "unreliable narrators". We only know what they see - or think. Not what actually happens when they are not around. And when the POVs do tell us something, it is always through the filter of that character. Davos practially worships the man, so he ignores or rationalizes away things that don't mesh with his view of Stannis. The same with Cressen. And Melisandre. But Melisandres POV, at least, gives a very strong hint that there has been an *ongoing* sexual relationship with Stannis.

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I don't think it's unlikely or even untrue that Stannis wanted sons. But if it was that big of a driving motivation for him (enough to get away from his established character as hard, just, dutiful, etc) I think GRRM would have made it evident in the books. I don't think it's fair to try to pin such a strong motive to a character when there isn't much (if any) evidence just because it could be true or because it simply seems to make sense. Therefore making a point of it being his motive for sleeping with Mel is a stretch in my opinion. And again, I really think they're just going to use it as fodder for the shadow-baby reveal which will undoubtedly be a big event at the end of an episode. But this whole issue is only a small piece of my big problem with that scene.

And whether they know more about the story than us isn't completely relevant. The fact of the matter is they're adapting the story to a TV audience. They are going to take liberties and make changes based on how they think the story can be successful on a TV platform, and us readers aren't always going to agree with them. Just because something is true or becomes true in the show doesn't mean it's true in the books, although they do a good job for the most part.

We didn't have a Stannis sex scene so we cannot know if it was dutiful or lust filled. I think his sex with Selyse is dutiful because she is ugly. I have no problem believing that his sex with Mel was lustful. Stannis has never had an attractive woman strip and grab his junk. If he's straight, he's going to bang her. The scene looked about right to me, because I imagine he was done by eight strokes or less.

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We didn't have a Stannis sex scene so we cannot know if it was dutiful or lust filled. I think his sex with Selyse is dutiful because she is ugly. I have no problem believing that his sex with Mel was lustful. Stannis has never had an attractive woman strip and grab his junk. If he's straight, he's going to bang her. The scene looked about right to me, because I imagine he was done by eight strokes or less.

Yes, exactly, we didn't see it so we only can go off of what we know about the character, which we clearly have two completely different views of. Nothing we're ever given about Stannis shows a man of lust or impulse. On the flipside, almost everything we're given contradicts it. If we don't agree on that, then there's no use arguing because we clearly just don't see eye-to-eye. I don't mean to argue that he had sex with the Red Lady, that it was right, or that he did or did not enjoy having sex with her, but his motive for doing so is the question at hand.

This bit of your post in particular: "Stannis has never had an attractive woman strip and grab his junk. If he's straight, he's going to bang her." seems to be your own cynical projection of how Stannis would act in a situation rather than using the information we're given about him (which is all we legitimately have to go on). Again, we just disagree completely. But as I mentioned in my first post, at least in the books there is room to argue and disagree, in the show they've taken away too many facts and clearly painted him in one way, which myself and many others believe is the wrong way.

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Yes, exactly, we didn't see it so we only can go off of what we know about the character, which we clearly have two completely different views of. Nothing we're ever given about Stannis shows a man of lust or impulse. On the flipside, almost everything we're given contradicts it. If we don't agree on that, then there's no use arguing because we clearly just don't see eye-to-eye. I don't mean to argue that he had sex with the Red Lady, that it was right, or that he did or did not enjoy having sex with her, but his motive for doing so is the question at hand.

This bit of your post in particular: "Stannis has never had an attractive woman strip and grab his junk. If he's straight, he's going to bang her." seems to be your own cynical projection of how Stannis would act in a situation rather than using the information we're given about him (which is all we legitimately have to go on). Again, we just disagree completely. But as I mentioned in my first post, at least in the books there is room to argue and disagree, in the show they've taken away too many facts and clearly painted him in one way, which myself and many others believe is the wrong way.

Cynical, no. Logical, yes. There isn't straight a man alive ,other than on tv, movies and romance novels, who is going to turn away an attractive naked woman begging him for sex. Especially a repressed, self-righteous and self-serving character like Stannis; and a king no less. Stannis is man, and NO human being has that much will. GRRM doesn't write unbelievable characters. If you can beleive that a woman gives birth to a shadow and dead people can live and talk, you can believe that Stannis gives into lust for Mel. He disguises it to the outside world as being dutiful, but I refuse to believe it until GRRM writes it.

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