In the fifth season of Game of Thrones, Jon Snow knew… everything.
Ned Stark’s bastard (UNLESS HE ISN’T) used to be one of my least favorite characters; during Season 3, I began a “Who Said It: Jon Snow or Morrissey?” quiz by stating “my dissatisfaction with how many of the scenes set Beyond the Wall have dragged, partially because of Kit Harington’s largely uninspiring performance.” My recaps weren’t much kinder.
But that was then, and now Jon Snow is the best, or at least the smartest, character on the show (note: Ser Pounce doesn’t count). Here’s how that happened this season.
1. He’s a good teacher to his “black brothers,” stern but understanding. Olly killed the only woman he’s ever loved, but Jon still makes him his squire.
2. Unlike the rest of the Night’s Watch, he’s willing to listen to the Free Folk and talk to them like actual people. They should be fighting for the same cause, after all… the existence of humanity.
3. He shows mercy, even when surrounded by overwhelming cruelty.
4. For, like, the first time in the entire series, he’s allowed to laugh after reading this note. It’s a humanizing moment for a character who used to act like a Hot Topic mannequin.
5. Rather than send Ser Alliser away, which is what Stannis suggested after Jon beat him in an election, he “keeps his enemies closer” and makes him First Ranger. They don’t get along, but Alliser is a smart man; he may come in handy in the season finale.
6. He cuts Janos Slynt’s head off for being a disloyal dick, basically (also for being the traitor who betrayed Ned Stark way back when). Had to be done.
7. He thinks with his head, not his penis, when he turns down Melisandre. Remarkable restraint.
8. Jon plans to travel to Hardhome with Tormund to forge an alliance between the Night’s Watch and the wildlings, which his men instantly reject. He goes through with it, though, because Jon Knows it’s the right thing to do. Company morale means nothing when everyone’s dead.
9. The entire “Hardhome” episode. It’s a culmination of everything Jon Snow this season: He’s a ruthless soldier, who is also willing to sit down as a concerned leader and talk things out diplomatically. He kills, but also saves. Plus, Jon’s one of the few characters who sees the big picture. All the pointless squabbling over the Iron Throne? It means nothing, not when the White Walkers are moving ever closer to Castle Black and beyond that, Winterfell.
10. And most importantly, he still has his Direwolf.
You are no longer the worst, Jon Snow.