It’s hard to imagine anything about this Sunday’s coming Game of Thrones finale shocking worse than the fiery end of last week’s “Dance of Dragons,” but we wouldn’t put it past Melisandre’s portrayer Carice van Houten. Now, the actress speaks out on the horrible fates befalling Shireen and Sansa, while series creator George R.R. Martin reveals yet another character he wants to see brought into the story.

You’re warned of spoilers for this past season of Game of Thrones, but it seems the Red Woman herself, Carice van Houten has joined the chorus of show stars and crew acknowledging that this past Sunday’s horrific Shireen murder made sense for the story. Speaking to The Daily Beast, van Houten acknowledged her difficulty playing the scene, though “total believer” Melisandre felt no remorse:

It’s a very weird scene to play. I had to close certain parts of my soul. It’s appalling. And the only way I tried to play it, which comes across as purely evil, is to be content with the fact that we were doing this because in Melisandre’s head, it’s the only way to save us all. She can’t show any emotion. She wants Stannis on the throne because she thinks he’s the rightful king she saw in the flames, so she sees the bigger picture—them or us. Melisandre thinks, ‘If we let the girl live, we’re going to die anyway, so we need to make this big sacrifice.’

Van Houten also touched on the season’s other controversial fate, which saw Sansa Stark subject to repeated rape at the hands of one Ramsay Bolton. Defending that Game of Thrones indeed reflects certain historical realities, the actress espoused that the show’s strong female characters help strike a balance:

It’s tricky. I tend to think we’re doing the right thing because we have a lot of strong female characters, and it’s true what George R.R. Martin says—it’s a mirror of what happens in reality. It’s confrontational. If you made a truly historical series, you’d see even worse things—especially with women. That being said, I can imagine people find a lot of it hard to watch.

Martin himself has yet to chime in on this past Sunday’s Shireen scene (for which he was supposedly the progenitor), though the esteemed author did open up about another character absent from the series, hoping to return to Edmure Tully once Starz’s Outlander freed up any time for Tobias Menzies:

If you haven’t been watching OUTLANDER, you’re missing a terrific TV series. Gorgeous to look at, and the performances by the three leads are terrific. Tobias Menzies, who played Brutus on HBO’s ROME and Edmure Tully on GAME OF THRONES, is especially noteworthy in a double role. (I just hope we’ll be able to get him back, if and when D&D decide to return to the riverlands).

It’s difficult to project where Game of Thrones will take us for Sunday’s Seaon 5 finale “Mother’s Mercy,” but could anything prove so difficult to watch as Shireen and Sansa? What book characters might pop up in unexpected roles? Stay tuned for the latest on Sunday’s closer, and prepare for the long night of waiting for Season 6.

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