Game of Thrones gave fans what they'd been waiting for all season on Sunday night's finale “The Winds of Winter”: the confirmation that, yes, R+L=J. Sly dogs that they are, they teased us with a secondary mystery even in the midst of solving the primary…
ENTER IF YOU WILL, THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD:
You are a Stark, Jon. You're just not the Stark you thought you were.
As we saw in the season 6 finale, Bran Stark returned to allow the scene at The Tower of Joy play out. There he saw his father Ned attempt to rescue his aunt Lyanna, but it was too late. Lyanna lay in a bed of blood (which looked to be created by far more than a childbirth gone wrong, honestly.)
Ned was handed Lyanna's infant boy and made to promise to protect him. Now, she didn't turn to camera and say, “This is the boy you know as Jon Snow. Actually, his father is Rhaegar Targaryen and if Robert finds out about him, he'll kill him.”
However, we know that it was the combination of Rhaegar kidnapping Lyanna and the Mad King Aerys burning Ned Stark's brother and father when they protested that fueled Robert's Rebellion and set a course for the events of the series as we know it.
What remains to be seen is whether Lyanna was raped by Rhaegar as the Starks believe, or if they were lovers. There's plenty of evidence to indicate that Lyanna was as enamored of Rhaegar as he was of her, including Littlefinger's sly behavior with Sansa when they spoke of her aunt.
He describes how Rhaegar rode past his wife — Dornish princess Elia Martel — during a tournament to lay a crown of roses in Lyanna's lap, a sign in that world that they were…intimately connected.
“How many tens of thousands had to die because Rhaegar chose your aunt?” Littlefinger asks. When Sansa insists that he forced Lyanna, Baelish simply smirks with a look that says, “Oh, how little you know…”
We also don't know Jon Snow's real name. In the sequence, Lyanna whispered a name to Ned. One keen-eared viewer believes that she said Jaehaerys Targaryen, naming him after a former King and dragonrider, grandson to Aegon the Conqueror.
However, we have to imagine that the whispered name will have great significance in the series.
I've jokingly proposed that it was simply Azor Ahai, the legendary Prince that was Promised to save the world that both Melisandre, and much of the fanbase, believe Jon Snow to be.
What's key here is that the Prince that was Promised is the prophesied reincarnation of a great hero that legend says rescued the world from the “long night” and the undead White Walkers, who is meant to do so once again. The signs currently point to Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, and possibly Tyrion Lannister — or a combination of the three.
Rhaegar, Jon's assumed father, at one time believed himself to be the reincarnation of Azor Ahai and it would very much be in his nature to pass the mantle to his son. “If not me, then my boy.”
Alternatively, the show may be combining Jon with another character from the books. What if the name Lyanna whispered was Aegon Targaryen?
In the novels, Prince Aegon was the second child and only son of Rhaegar and Elia Martell. In fact, Rhaegar believed he was the Prince that was Promised because a comet was seen above King's Landing the night he was conceived.
Most believed that Aegon was killed during the sack of King's Landing, but there is a character in the book, Young Griff, who claims to be Aegon. He is said to have survived as a babe by being smuggled out of King's Landing and another baby killed in his stead.
Young Griff is clearly a strong contender for the throne in the novels. It doesn't look as if he is going to appear on the show, thought, which is driving with more and more clarity towards an inevitable conclusion. So series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss may have simply merged Jon and Aegon.
When we think about it, and though we sometimes propose alternate theories, Jon really is the greatest candidate as savior to the world. First, he doesn't want it. He has all of the humility that other's lack, he does not believe himself destined for greatness, he has an egalitarian soul, has been tested in battle, and is in his heart a man of honor. He does not seek to rule out of some sense of obligation or being owed, vengeance, or arrogance.
He is fire in that he has Targaryen/dragon's blood and the magic held within. As a Stark, he is descended from the First Men, the first human inhabitants of Westeros. The Starks are also likely part of the Children of the Forest, as we see how Bran is drawn to them and they to him. In the books, not just Bran but all the Starks can warg into animals. That's a trait of the Children of the Forest, indicating that at some point bloodlines mixed. Many believe that the Night's King, the first of the White Walkers, was also a Stark. Meaning that Jon is connected to every significant piece of magic and history in this world.
Now that has died and been reborn, he is linked to both the Lord of Light and to the undead things that live beyond the wall.
The Prince that was Promised is himself a Song of Ice and Fire.
One question that does leave us with is where and how Bran plays into all of this. Bran was promised that he'd fly again, and I've always felt that was more than as the Three-Eyed Raven. That we'd one day see him warg a dragon. Perhaps we still will.
We already know that Bran Stark is pretty much to blame for everything. He certainly impacted that past transforming poor Wylis into the Hodor we know, loved, and lost. This past week's episode demonstrated that he is also able to see the future. In his vision, Bran saw the Mad King threaten to use Wild Fire, and then he saw its impact. However, the explosion was from Cersei's attack on the Sept before it happened.
Will Bran now be in the hellish position to see the future and yet not be able to stop it, even as he learns how he's already transformed the past? Does he become the Cassandra of this world? Or does he master his skills to help his once-brother, now cousin, conquer the enemies at their gates?
Roth Cornet and Donna Dickens discuss all things Jon Snow in the video above or below…