WARNING: This post contains spoilers not just from the Game of Thrones finale but from the books, some of which may never actually show up on HBO. But consider yourself warned.
For all that happened in the Game of Thrones finale—and a LOT happened—the chatter about how Tyrion and Tywin marked Father’s Day was almost drowned out by something that didn’t happen. Loyal readers of the Song of Ice and Fire books were hotly anticipating the reveal of Lady Stoneheart.
Season 4, while borrowing bits of George R.R. Martin’s A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons, largely followed the plotlines of the second half of A Storm of Swords, the third book in the series: the events after the Red Wedding, leading up to Tyrion’s assassination of Tywin on his privy and Stannis’ arrival at Castle Black. So why not end the season on the killer surprise of the book’s epilogue? That’s where a tortured, silent, resurrected Catelyn Stark, revived by Beric Dondarrion, is exacting revenge on anyone who’s remotely connected to the murderous Freys.
Maybe showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss thought the show hit its zombie quota with the skeletons that took out Jojen and tried to kill Bran. Maybe actresss Michelle Fairley—who, coincidentally, is playing a vengeful widow on the 24 reboot—couldn’t fit it into her schedule. Maybe they are saving her for the premiere of Season 5.
But Alex Graves—who directed the finale—casts some serious doubt on that in Entertainment Weekly: “But to bring back Michelle Fairley, one of the greatest actresses around, to be a zombie for a little while—and just kill people? It is really sort of, what are we doing with that?” Indeed, the show has never been shy about doing away with characters and plotlines that aren’t central to answering the ultimate question—Who will sit on the Iron Throne? I have not read quite far enough myself to know what Lady Stoneheart does with her second chance, but I’ve read enough spoilers to know that, as yet, her reappearance does not seem likely to alter the course of history in the Seven Kingdoms.
Which is why, as delightful as the reveal of Lady Stoneheart would have been, I think doing away with her would be the right choice for the show to make. I am a card-carrying member of Team Stark. Even as the kids are scattered, with Bran beyond the Wall and Arya heading to Braavos and Sansa precariously perched in the Eyrie with Baelish, I root for the impossible dream that they will reunite and rebuild Winterfell. Lady Stark had her faults, particularly in her treatment of Jon Snow. But she was an honorable woman and loving mother who suffered greatly because of her family’s sense of duty. It’s a small comfort to think that she could return. Too small. Zombie Cat is just another tragedy to befall the Starks, an unnecessary one. Let her rest.