There may be well over a year until Game of Thrones season 8 arrives, but it looks like Carice van Houten will be returning as the Red Woman Melisandre in the show's final season.
We last saw Van Houten's sorceress cast out by Jon Snow for her crimes, and heading to her birthplace of Volantis for an unknown reason. It would be all too easy to leave Melisandre there to rot, but speaking to Lord Varys, she promised that she would return to Westeros "one last time." Also one of the show's most mysterious characters, it looks like the writers aren't going to leave her plot thread hanging where we left it in 2017.
As noted by redditor EveryFckngChicken , a (now-deleted) video on Van Houten's Instagram showed her on the road at night and heading somewhere in the UK. A bit of digging on Google Maps revealed directions pointing toward Linen Mill Studios in Corbet-Banbridge near Belfast. Fans know that a lot of filming for Thrones takes place in Belfast, but Linen Mill is best-known for locations like the Three-Eyed-Raven's cave, Riverrun, and Winterfell. So, is Melisandre heading for a deadly reunion with her enemies under the banners of House Stark?
With the Red Woman becoming a major part of Jon Snow's resurrection and with her search for the Prince that was Promised, no one was really buying that Melisandre has gone to live the rest of her days peacefully in Volantis. However, with only six episodes left and so many characters to deal with, there was every possibility that season 8 would leave her storyline where it is. Interestingly, Melisandre is in the dangerous situation of being on Arya Stark's kill list and even prophecised her own death to Varys. Many are expecting her to be one of the show's many casualties in its final run, but at over 4o0 years old, at least she's made a good run of things.
Van Houten's part in the show's swansong is yet to be officially confirmed, but with the promise of the Golden Company coming to Queen Cersei's aid in season 8, it could be a neat segue into a Melisandre storyline. Those up on their geography of the Seven Kingdoms will know that Volantis is based in Essos, which just so happens to be where the Golden Company is currently based. The Linen Mill Studios also held filming for a number of the ship scenes in season 7, which might also see Van Houten's character board a boat bound for the rest of the ensemble.
One of the show's most ambiguous players/vilains, Melisandre has been part of memorable storylines that include the assassination of Renley Baratheon, the sacrifice of Shireen Baratheon, and the shocking reveal of where she gets her mystical powers. However, despite having a recurring role since season 2, we still know relatively little about the scarlet witch and her allegiance to the Lord of Light. Given that Van Houten only appeared in two of season 7's episodes, here's hoping that showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss can give her a proper sendoff, whatever it may be.
Game of Thrones season 8 premieres on HBO sometime in 2019.