Jon Snow’s sword is still safely tucked away in its sheath. But it almost wasn’t.
During the fourth episode of Game of Thrones’ thrilling Season 5, the Lord of Light’s No. 1 groupie, Melisandre (Carice van Houten), set her sights on the Bastard of Winterfell (Kit Harington). The mystical stunner wants Snow, the newly-minted Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, to help Stannis and Co. take Winterfell from Roose Bolton, the psychotic asshole who killed his brother.“Come with us when we ride south,” she asks. “None of us know the castle as well as you do—its hidden tunnels, its weaknesses, its people.”
Then, she tries to get the nervous Snow to take another “ride south.” Melisandre opens her robe, exposing her breasts to him. She places one of his hands on her breast, seductively purring, “There’s power in you. You resist it and that’s a mistake. Embrace it.”
“Those two characters are so far apart,” van Houten says. “It was funny, and great to be able to act opposite another actor. At the same time, it’s half-nude, again, which is never the most comfortable thing to do, but I cannot really show any of my fears or insecurities. I just have to completely surrender to whatever she has up her sleeve.”
It’s an odd, almost maternal seduction sequence—an older, authoritative woman placing a younger man’s hand on her breast. Melisandre knows Snow has serious mommy issues and is manipulating his familial hang-ups.
“I think that’s how the director wanted it to play out, in a way,” says Harington. “There’s a small age difference between me and Carice and that kind of helped it, but it is that—it is quite maternal. He’s got all those mother issues, you know. He’s very Freudian, old Jon.”
“He really does have a thing for redheads, too,” he jokingly adds. “And they come on in quick succession!” The mother of the smoke monster begins to straddle him in his chair, but Snow resists, pushing her away. “I can’t, he says. “I swore a vow. I loved another… I still love her.”
“One thing that really made me laugh was what one of the writers wrote in the script for the episode,” van Houten says. “There’s a line where Snow says, ‘I can’t because I swore a vow,’ and the direction written was, ‘Melisandre looks at him like bitch, please.’ I loved that!”
Harington, meanwhile, realizes many viewers will be disappointed by Snow’s decision. “If you look at it, most people watching will be like, ‘Oh, why?! Have some fun a little bit,’ you know?” he says. “But he’s a man of honor and principle and he swears—and has sworn—off women, and that’s because he believes he has a bigger task at hand, and if he falls in love he won’t be able to do that. He also sees Melisandre for the dangerous person that she is, and that’s a tribute to Jon. Whether it’s because he still loves Ygritte—like he says—or because he realizes that this is only going to lead to trouble, I respect him for it. Most people on this series wouldn’t be able to do something like that.” Melisandre, having had her sexual advances rejected for probably the first time ever, gets up to leave. When she gets to the door she turns around, and, with a devilish smirk, says, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” He is understandably speechless.
“He can’t believe it when she says that. It’s like, ‘Oh, come on! I just got rid of that fucking catchphrase!” jokes Harington of the line. “In reality, it chills him to the core. That’s her magic trick. He’s probably never even told Sam that’s what Ygritte always said to him, so he hasn’t told anyone and there’s no way she can know that. It’s her way of proving her powers to him.”
“Isn’t that a great line? When I read the script, I was like, ‘Oh, yes!’” adds van Houten. “But it’s not just a seduction scene—it’s far more complex than that.”
Of course, this all begs the question: will Jon Snow ever break his vows again? “Does he get laid?” says a chuckling Harington. “I can’t tell you, you’ll have to see. But he definitely spurned one really good opportunity, didn’t he?”