***First off, spoilers for EVERYTHING Game of Thrones related. The books, the show, fan theories, you name it. You’ve been warned!***
OK! With that out of the way, let’s begin. This week’s episode of Game of Thrones–“Home”–was a big one indeed. Jon Snow finally, though not super surprisingly, came back from the dead, fulfilling a cliffhanger that book readers have had to live with since A Dance With Dragons was published in 2011. Jon Snow indeed is back in the land of the living, though in what form, is yet to be seen.
But, people who haven’t read the books may have not noticed just how important one other scene in the episode was: the moment we spent with Bran. There’s been a lot of discussion around the internet about what this scene might mean, but I wanted to take a second to break it all down for everybody here and explain just how important next week’s episode could be. If all goes as I (and many other) expect, it could be one of the biggest episodes to date.
This week, we learned that not only can Bran look into the past, but witnessed a vision where Bran saw that Hodor once could talk. Interesting, but not necessarily game-changing. But he also saw younger versions of his father, Ned, and his aunt Lyanna. It was a brief scene, and probably didn’t seem that important to most viewers.
But it is. In fact, it’s leading up to one of the biggest moments in the entire series.
I think there’s very good reason why G.R.R. Martin really wanted The Winds of Winter, the next book in the series, to be released before this season of the TV show. I also think it’s probably connected with why we didn’t see Bran at all last season: his entire story arc took a season off, and I’m guessing it was because what Bran is going to find out soon (potentially next episode) is one of the most important things in the entire span of the show. Martin was probably hoping to reveal both that, and the return of Jon, himself. So what’s so important? Three little letters.
For those unfamiliar with that little alphabetical equation, it’s a long-supported fan theory around Jon. Jon, of course, is the bastard son of Ned Stark. Or at least, that’s what we are told to believe. But it never made sense, did it? Honorable, sensible Ned, coming back with a bastard son? There was always something off about the whole idea.
That’s where R+L=J came in. The theory holds that Jon actually isn’t Ned’s kid, but is actually the son of Ned’s sister, Lyanna, and the late Rhaegar Targaryen. Rhaegar’s “abduction” of Lyanna led to Robert’s Rebellion, which, in turn, created the entire current political landscape of Westeros as we know it. Robert went to war for Lyanna, took the throne, and the Targaryen kingship was destroyed.
But what if Rhaegar didn’t really abduct Lyanna? What if they were actually in love with each other, and Lyanna went willing? Ned talks about the tournament at Harrenhal in one of his book chapters, and remembers how Rhaegar passed over his wife, Elia Martell (yup, of Dorne), to lay a flower on the lap of Lyanna, instead. There was something going on there, all right.
It’s also worth pointing out that the show added a scene: Ned told Jon all the way back in season one that he had something he would tell Jon when he returned. Yeah… like maybe who his real parents are. Of course this never happened. Ned died, so who else could possibly know Jon’s true parentage? (Yes, yes, there’s one possibility book readers know about, but the show doesn’t seem to be entertaining that idea). So how else would Jon, or any of the current main characters, find out this little secret? Did it die with Ned?
That’s where Bran and his seeing-into-the-past comes in. In the preview for next week’s episode we saw what looked to be the Tower of Joy. The Tower of Joy is where Ned (and a few others) rescued Lyanna, only to find her dying. We know that Ned promised her something (Ned reflected on this as he was locked up in King’s Landing) as she died, but we don’t know exactly what it was. Most seem to think that Lyanna made Ned promise to raise Jon as his own son, and to keep his Targaryen ancestry secret from Robert… else he meet with the same fate as the other Targaryen children that Robert was all too OK with murdering. And now Bran will be able to look back in time and be witness to exactly what that promise was, and find out the truth for himself.
If this is true, and is revealed next week, where does this leave everything else? It means that Dany isn’t the only Targaryen left, and it also means that Jon could have a claim to the Iron Throne, if he wanted it. It also means he could have a legitimate claim to Winterfell… something else he has always wanted. It fits into a bunch of other theories and speculations as well, most of which the show hasn’t really touched on, but it seems almost certain that the show is finally going to reveal and confirm at least one of them next week.
So, that little scene with Bran is actually leading to BIG, big things. The whole series is a song of fire and ice, remember, and now Jon will be literally made up of fire (Targaryen) and ice (Stark).
Like I said. Sure, Jon coming back was big. But keep a raven eye peeled during next week’s episode, because I think it’s about to get even bigger.
What are your favorite Game of Thrones theories? Let us know in the comments below.
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