Patchface: the strangest Game of Thrones character?
In the Game of Thrones books, there are lots of characters that don’t appear in the TV show – like the rogue maester Marwyn, and the wildling princess Val. One of the weirdest of these book characters is Patchface. Patchface is a jester serving Stannis Baratheon at Dragonstone. He hangs out with Stannis’ daughter Shireen and sings strange songs about shadows and the sea. He seems to be a sort of prophet of the Drowned God. But he’s also connected to the white walkers, the Lovecraftian Deep Ones, and greyscale. So about twenty years ago, in the castle of Storm’s End, there lived Steffon Baratheon,
His wife Cassana, and their young sons Robert, Stannis, and Renly. The king, Aerys Targaryen, sent Steffon across the narrow sea to find a wife for Prince Rhaegar . Steffon didn’t find a likely bride, but he did he find a remarkable young slave boy – his face tattooed with “red and green motley” . The boy was smart and nimble, could juggle and joke, and sing in four different languages. So Steffon decided to bring the boy home for his family . But on the way back, Steffon’s ship was smashed in a storm – Steffon, Cassana, and
A hundred men were drowned . Corpses washed up at Storm’s End for days afterward. And on the third day, Patchface washed up – naked, sandy and cold. He seemed dead, but then woke up, alive , though he was “broken in body and mind”. Patchface was no longer bright and clever – he now seemed “mad”, talking nonsense, twitching and trembling . Some wanted to put Patchface out of his misery – Maester Cressen spared his life, but doubts if Patchface is even glad to be alive . By Book 2, Patchface lives on Dragonstone with Shireen. She’s
A sad, lonely girl , and she forms a sweet friendship with Patchface , who she calls Patches. They keep each other company on bleak grey Dragonstone. But there is a creepiness and a darkness to Patchface. Patchface doesn’t talk normally. He just has these weird songs and rhymes about the world “under the sea” – about fish, and mermaids, and shadows. He speaks about “under the sea” as like an opposite-world to the world on land, like “Here we eat fish”, but “Under the sea, the fish eat
Us” . He falls down to the ground, then says “Under the sea, you fall up” , which might refer to how corpses float – the sea seems connected to death in his songs. Some of Patches’ songs don’t mean much in particular. But others predict future events. In Book 3, he sings “Fool’s blood, king’s blood, blood on the maiden’s thigh, but chains for the guests and chains for the bridegroom, aye aye aye” . This describes the Red Wedding – the “Fool’s blood” is Aegon Frey’s – who doesn’t appear in the show – the
“king’s blood” is Robb Stark’s, the “blood on the maiden’s thigh” is from Roslin Frey losing her virginity, and the chains for the guests and bridegroom refer to Edmure and other imprisoned survivors. So this is an accurate prediction of the future by Patchface – and there are others. Like, Patchface says “under the sea” “The merwives wear nennymoans in their hair and weave gowns of silver seaweed” . At Joffrey’s wedding, Sansa wears a silver gown in the books , and in her hair is hidden the poison
That Olenna uses to kill Joffrey . So maybe this is Patchface’s vision of Joffrey’s death. In a Davos chapter, Patches sings “Under the sea, smoke rises in bubbles, and flames burn green and blue and black” . This might be a warning for Davos about the Battle of the Blackwater, where green wildfire burns amidst black smoke and blue sea . Another song that Patchface often sings goes “The shadows come to dance”, “The shadows come to stay” . This might refer to the shadow monsters Melisandre uses to kill people
. But it might also refer to the white walkers – who are described as “shadows” in the books . Patchface also refers to the walkers’ army of the dead – “In the dark the dead are dancing” he sings . So how does Patchface know these things about darkness and death, and the sea, and the future? He seems to be connected to the power of the Drowned God. It’s a mystery how Patchface survived a shipwreck that killed everyone else on-board. We’re told “No one ever explained those two days the fool had been lost in the sea”
. And when Patchface washed up, his flesh was “cold” – he seemed dead until he “coughed water and sat up” . This kind of revival after drowning is similar to the drowning ritual of the ironborn. Believers of the Drowned God are deliberately drowned then revived as a show of faith . Patchface lives on the opposite side of Westeros to the ironborn, but still, his songs closely connect with their religion. Like, ironborn believe that after they die, they’ll go to “the Drowned God’s watery halls”
To “feast” with “mermaids” “for all eternity” – like a Bikini Bottom version of Valhalla. And in Patchface’s songs, he describes feasting with mermen under the sea . He even mentions mermaids blowing seashells like trumpets , and Asha Greyjoy says the same thing – that merlings blow seashells in “the Drowned God’s watery halls” . So Patchface seems to know an awful lot about the underwater afterlife of the Drowned God. He’s constantly talking about the world “under the sea”. And his revival after
Drowning is similar to the ironborn ritual. So there seems to be some connection between Patchface and the Drowned God. The popular theory is that Patchface died in this shipwreck. He drowned, and sank into the watery halls, then was resurrected by the Drowned God to be his prophet. All the cool hip gods have undead human champions . Beric Dondarrion is resurrected by the magic of the fire god R’hllor . Bloodraven and Coldhands serve the old gods . White walkers raise wights apparently to serve their god
“the Great Other” . So we got ice zombies, fire zombie, old gods nature zombies – maybe Patchface is a water zombie, raised to serve the Drowned God. The book character Aeron Greyjoy, or Damphair, believes himself to be the prophet of the Drowned God. He claims to have died and seen the watery halls, then been resurrected . But Damphair’s never made a prophecy, or done anything particularly magical. His beliefs seem to be just a coping mechanism, to feel powerful after childhood abuse . But Patchface was drowned and reborn
For real, and he shows that being the avatar of a god is way more ugly and dark than Damphair realises. Look at Bloodraven, Coldhands and Beric – these are damaged men. To become something divine, they have to lose part of their humanity . Beric barely remembers his old life , and Bloodraven is more tree than man . Patchface is the same – the sea has taken “half his wits and all his memory” . He’s gained power as a prophet of the Drowned God, but he’s lost who he was before. So Patchface being the undead champion of
The Drowned God totally fits the themes of gods and magic in Game of Thrones. And it also fits with the logic of sacrifice. We’re told a bunch of times that “Only death can pay for life” – like when Dany’s unborn child is sacrificed to raise Drogo. A hundred Baratheon men drowned along with Patchface, and the ironborn see drowning people as a sacrifice to the Drowned God . So these deaths might’ve worked as a sacrifice to pay for Patchface’s resurrection. It all adds up – it’s likely that Patchface was resurrected
To serve as a prophet of the Drowned God. And it’s through this magic that Patchface has insight into the ocean, darkness and death. But is Patchface warning against the darkness, or is he part of it? Melisandre says that Patchface is “dangerous” – she sees him in visions with skulls about him, and bloody red lips . The red priest Moqorro says the Drowned God is a “demon”, a thrall of the “god” of the white walkers. Does this mean that Patchface is on the side of the dead?
In Book 5, Jon Snow plans the mission to Hardhome, where thousands of wildlings are attacked by white walkers and their zombies. Someone asks who’ll lead the mission, and Patchface says “I will lead it!” “We will march into the sea and out again” . If the sea represents death in Patchface’s songs, marching into the sea could mean dying – like the people killed at Hardhome. But Patchface says he’ll then march back out of the sea, which could mean rising again from death – just like the zombies raised at Hardhome. Patchface
Also says that “mermaids will blow seashells to announce our coming” – just like the Night’s Watch blows horns to announce the coming of white walker attacks . So these lines do seem to refer to the massacre at Hardhome, which hasn’t actually happened in the books yet – we’ve only just heard about “Dead things in the woods” and “Dead things in the water” . So we don’t know if Patchface will play a role here. But whatever happens at Hardhome, it’s telling that Patchface uses these words “we” and “our”. It
Sounds like Patchface is on the side of the dead – just as Mel and Moqorro warn. And there is another kind of evil connected to Patchface – the Deep Ones. Author George Martin is a fan of H. P. Lovecraft, who wrote stories about the cosmic horror of alien gods. There are lots of references to Lovecraft in Game of Thrones, like these ancient ruined cities in the east – K’dath , Carcosa, Leng . One Lovecraft story, called The Shadow over Innsmouth, is about the Deep Ones, fishy creatures that breed with humans. And there
Are hints that these creatures exist in Game of Thrones . We hear about “squishers”, half-fish creatures who breed with humans . And we see families in Westeros with webbed fingers and bulging eyes , just like the half-fish hybrids in the Lovecraft story. It’s said that the Deep Ones built structures in Westeros, including the Seastone Chair of the ironborn . It’s said that the Drowned God is the father of the Deep Ones . And this idea of fish creatures breeding with humans is connected to Patchface. After Patches drowned, fisherfolk
Said that “a mermaid had taught to breathe water in return for his seed” . And Patchface says “Under the sea, men marry fishes … They do, they do, they do” . Could Patchface be involved with the Deep Ones’ plans to breed with humans? This could cast a shadow over Patches’ relationship with Shireen. In Book 5, he takes her by the hand and sings “Come with me beneath the sea, away, away, away” . There is another dark possibility for Patchface and Shireen. When Shireen was a baby, she
Caught greyscale, an infectious disease that turns the skin grey and hard . It eventually covers the body and makes the victim lose their mind, become a zombielike stone man, and eventually die. Children can survive the infection – and Shireen was one of the lucky ones, left just with its mark on her face. But in Book 5, the wildling Val says that Shireen is “not clean”. That her greyscale is just dormant, and will “wake again” . Could Shireen infect others with deadly greyscale ? In the show, Shireen is dead,
Burned alive by Melisandre – and nothing happens with her greyscale. But in the books, Shireen’s still alive, and her death might be different – it could involve greyscale and Patchface. Because greyscale is associated with damp, cold climates . And it’s said that greyscale was a curse inflicted by a Rhoynar Prince called Garin as a sort of water magic . Some say that Garin has “risen from his watery grave” to become the Shrouded Lord , a figure who spreads greyscale with a “grey kiss” . So greyscale’s connected
With water magic, and is spread by a character who rose from a “watery grave”. Patchface is connected to water magic, and rose from a watery grave. And remember Mel says she sees him with “skulls about him”. So maybe, if Shireen’s greyscale wakes, Patchface will help spread it. Maybe when Mel tries to burn Patchface’s only friend – he’ll get mad and start biting people – thus the bloody lips – causing the greyscale to spread into a plague. This could fulfil Mel’s prophecy of waking a stone dragon – the stone dragon
Could be greyscale. And this ties back to Shireen because she has dreams of being eaten by stone dragons . So, it’s all pretty vague, but it could fit. This lonely little girl and the sad fool of Dragonstone may not only horrifically die, but they may unleash a grey plague on Westeros . So there are three main ideas on the fate of Patchface, and all of them are awful. Maybe he’ll march with the army of the dead. Maybe he’ll take Shireen to the Deep Ones for breeding. Maybe Patchface will wake a grey
Plague. It’s all fucked. And that’s what magic’s like in Game of Thrones. This is no swish-and-flick shit, the gods only give at great terrible cost. And these eldritch forces are rising. “Old powers waken. Shadows stir. An age of wonder and terror will soon be upon us” . This is what the Winds of Winter will bring. Thanks for watching. Comment below what you think will happen with Patchface, and what videos you wanna see next from Alt Shift X. This video topic was chosen by our Patrons.
For updates, votes and streams, you can support on Patreon. Thanks to artists sprrow and M.Luisa Giliberti, and thanks to Patrons Brian Langford, Nik Blackwell, Emily Eppley, Dylan Speed, and Myyaonline. Cheers.