R + L = J. That simple equation is Game of Thrones most popular and important theory. Fans have been waiting years for it to finally be confirmed, and in tonight’s episode, “Oathbreaker,” it… nearly was. We were so close.
As a reminder, here’s what we wrote in the episode preview:
“Now it begins,” a man says. “Now it ends,” another responds. The two warriors are Arthur Dayne, a member of Aerys II Targaryen’s Kingsguard, and our brave hero from season one, Ned Stark. They’re fighting at the Tower of Joy, where Rhaegar Targaryen (Daenerys’ brother) took Ned’s kidnapped sister Lyanna, who was betrothed to Robert Baratheon (although some book readers think she was a willing accomplice in the kidnapping). Thus began Robert’s Rebellion. The Tower of Joy is also where Ned found Lyanna dying, and where he agreed to raise her son with Rhaegar, Jon, as his own.
We got the (expertly executed) fight. We got Ned acting honorable. We got Lyanna screaming from the Tower. We even got Meera Reed’s backstabbing father. We got everything but (the now former-Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch) Jon Stark. Presumably, Lyanna was in pain from giving birth, but we won’t know until next episode (next season? never?) what’s going on, because, to quote the Three-Eyed Raven, “if you stay too long, you’ll drown.”
Fans are not pleased.
I believe Bran said it best:
For more on R + L = J, here’s our explainer.