We’re a little bit late to the party (at least in talking about it) but ever since the season 5 finale, everyone has been talking about Game of Thrones and most importantly Jon Snow. There are spoilers ahead so anyone who hasn’t seen up to the end of season 5, stop reading now. You’ve been warned. There will also be some light discussion into part of the book, mostly to support our theories.
So who saw that coming? Jon Snow? Dead and gone. But let’s be honest here, does anyone really think that he’s gone?
Ever since Game of Thrones started, it set itself up as a series that was not afraid to kill main characters. From the beginning you’re led to believe Ned Stark is the main character and when he’s kneeling on the steps of Baelor’s Sept we were all convinced something would save him. At least until they chopped off his head. With that disaster in mind how did we not see the Red Wedding coming? Surely a Stark can’t be happy for more than a few episodes. At this point, it isn’t even surprising that they went as far as to kill another fan favourite and another Stark, Jon Snow.
We know Jon is dead. The ending was pretty clear on that. But is death really final?
Main characters have been killed off left and right on Game of Thrones, but Jon is different. There is still a huge unanswered question that surrounds him, who is Jon Snow’s mother? Yes we could argue that this isn’t an important question, that it doesn’t need to be answered. But if that was true why was it that when the showrunners asked Game of Thrones writer George R. R. Martin if they could make the show, he wanted them to answer one question. What was that question? Yes, you guessed it, who is Jon Snow’s mother? This question is important and it is a question that should be answered while Jon Snow is around to hear it.
We have a couple of theories for how we think Jon could have survived.
When someone dies in the North, unless their body is burnt, they come back as a wight walker. Sure, this is one of the smaller theories, this would need to rely on the Night’s Watch choosing not to burn his body. Instead dumping him on the other side of the Wall as an ‘after death’ punishment. That in itself sounds like quite a long stretch, so following that I want to put forward another theory. How could Jon still come back as a wight (or anything else) if the Night’s Watch tried to burn his body? To answer that we need to discuss the most prevalent theory on who Jon Snow’s mother might be, mild book spoilers incoming.
Anyone who is up to date on their Game of Thrones theories has heard the big one. Ned Stark is not Jon Snow’s dad. No. A man with integrity, a man who wouldn’t even lie about Joffrey’s parentage when his life was on the line and only changed his mind when he thought of his daughters, a man who holds honour above all else, who would rather Stannis have the kingdom because he has the ‘right’ and not Renly who would have made a better King, do we really believe this man would sleep with a woman who was not his wife?
His opinion of Littlefinger’s profession was enough to let us know he didn’t partake in whores, why would a tavern woman sway him? Even Stannis believed that “it’s not his way.” The simple explanation is this: Jon Snow’s mother was someone Ned Stark loved so much he would lie for her and squander his reputation. And who would that be?
His sister, Lyanna Stark. There has always been a question to whether Ned Stark really cheated on his wife. If you’ve read the book you’ve heard more than one person who his mother could be, Ashara Daye, Wylla (as mentioned in the show), or the Fisherman’s Daughter. But more prevalent than all these theories is the theory that it was someone never suggested, Lyanna Stark, and that Ned was not in fact Jon’s father, but Rhaegar Targaryen was. And there is a convincing body of evidence to suggest this is the case.
During Robert’s Rebellion, Lyanna Stark was abducted by Rhaegar Targaryen. There are implications (and in one of the latest episodes Sansa mentioned) he raped Lyanna Stark. But if you listen to the story told about her, during a tournament, Rhaegar rode past his wife and gave his favour to Lyanna Stark. He loved her. In every mention of him, except by Robert (who was a rival for Lyanna’s affections), Rhaegar is mentioned to be a good man. Even Ned Stark respected him (not the way you’d feel about someone who raped your sister). Ned Stark found Lyanna in a bed lying in a pool of her own blood, her final words “promise me, Ned.” What promise could he have made to Lyanna that was so important he was thinking about it while he was imprisoned beneath the Keep awaiting his execution? Could it have been a promise that he would protect her son? After all, that would explain why Ned refused every single one of Catelyn’s requests to send Jon away. It sounds very much like Lyanna could have died giving birth to a child, her child with Rhaegar Targaryen, Jon Snow.
This theory is even more relevant as there are rumours that we will see the ‘Tower of Joy’ in Season 6 of Game of Thrones. The Tower of Joy was the name given to it by Rhaegar Targaryen (further hints that something happened here that he was happy about, like the birth of his child). This is the Tower that Ned found Lyanna dying in and, if the theory of Jon Snow’s family is true, then this is where Jon Snow was born.
So how does this mean Jon Snow could survive his pyre? Simple. Daenerys Targaryen herself proved ‘fire cannot harm a dragon’. If Jon is a true Targaryen, then the fire would not burn his body. The question is what happens then? Do they just end up with an unburnt corpse? Which they’d presumably decide to get rid of on the other side of the wall. Giving Jon the chance to come back as a White Walker.
I’m pretty sure a lot of people would be disappointed with this, after all we don’t have Jon back we just have a mindless shell walking around in his body. However, there has been a theory of late that Jon Snow wouldn’t just become a wight but he would come back as a White Walker, or more accurately the new Night’s King. In the TV series we saw Jon kill one of the White Walkers with his Valyrian blade. They’re down one White Walker, perhaps there is some way for Jon to replace him.
The Red Priestess
Shortly before Jon’s death we were treated to an unfortunate scene where Stannis Baratheon’s Red Priestess Melisandre attempted to seduce poor Jon Snow. This scene would be pointless and unnecessary if it didn’t serve a purpose. It showed us Melisandre’s interest in Jon, and when she returned from Winterfell early without Stannis, it also showed us she had lost faith in her ‘King’.
Melisandre has had an interest in few people throughout the show, two of which being Stannis Baratheon and Gendry, both of Kingly blood, and Beric Dandarrion and Thoros of Myr both linked to her God. We know Jon Snow still worships the Old Gods, so does this mean he is descended from a King?
So how could Melisandre be involved in him still being alive. Simple, resurrection. There is one other red priest in Game of Thrones, it’s been a while since he has appeared in the show but when he did Thoros of Myr brought Beric Dandarrion back from the dead (something he had done on numerous occasions). In the book, Beric Dandarrion also does the same thing to resurrect Catelyn Stark from the grave. Could Melisandre have done the same with Jon?
Ever since Melisandre was introduced we know she has been searching for the saviour that will save the world, ‘Azor Ahai’.
“There will come a day after a long summer when the stars bleed and the cold breath of darkness falls heavy on the world. In this dread hour a warrior shall draw from the fire a burning sword. And that sword shall be Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes, and he who clasps it shall be Azor Ahai come again, and the darkness shall flee before him.”
I don’t know about you but that sounds like the White Walkers to me. Azor Ahai is due to save the world, Melisandre’s was convinced that he was Stannis but following Stannis’ failure and her meeting with Jon Snow , has she now changed her mind on who she thinks he is?
Wolves and Wargs
According to the book, all the Starks are wargs. If you can’t remember what a warg is, they are the people like Bran who can possess animals. Although the show hasn’t given any attention to this except in Bran’s case, and a brief mention for Jon, each of the Stark’s are wargs. Arya dreams she is running through a forest as Nymeria, Jon dreams he is Ghost. The prequel in A Dance of Dragons and parts of the show with wargs over the wall has set up one very clear fact, when a warg dies their soul doesn’t always die with them. Normally it goes to their animal. In Jon’s case when he dies, he would immediately possess Ghost. Though most wargs lose their sense of self, which would make Jon start to become a wolf, what if there was a way for him to be brought back through this?
Even more telling is a recent interview with Jon Snow actor, Kit Harrington. When asked what other part he would like to play in the show, Kit replied with “I’d like to be a warg. I’d like to put myself into a wolf” and producer DB Weiss added “two words for you – season six!” Sure this could be misdirection, but at the same time is it? Jon is a warg. By the laws of a book, wargs pass to their animals when they die (unless the chose not to). So surely Jon would have gone straight to Ghost when his life ended. After all, why make the Starks wargs it is isn’t going to be relevant?
We’re convinced of one thing, Jon Snow is definitely dead. But what if they are playing with words? What if Jon Snow really is dead; because if he were to be resurrected; he will no longer be Jon Snow but a different person? Because Jon Snow represents the lie he has been living as the bastard son of Ned Stark; but really he is something Targaryen. Or maybe it is simply that he will be reborn as Azor Ahai?
Which brings me on to a new question.
What does Jon Snow’s death mean and could it have been needed to allow for other plot developments?
Now bear with me. I know the thought of him really being dead is making you tear your hair out, that’s not quite what I mean.
Let’s say we’re right, Jon Snow is genuinely a Targaryen, everyone recognises this, then what? Nothing. He is part of the Night’s Watch, when he said his vows he gave up all claims that came with his name, he would remain part of the Night’s Watch. After all, that is the reason he refused Stannis’ offer to legitimise him and make him the heir to Winterfell.
So let’s take a closer look at that oath.
“Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night’s Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.”
Well I may be wrong but I’m fairly confident that Jon has filled that requirement, you know, when he died. If it is true and Jon is a Targaryen and thus has claims to the throne, then his death was needed so that it could free him of his oath, an oath that Jon Snow not Jon Targaryen made.