Game of Thrones‘ Season 6 premiere is upon us. For about ten months now, I have relished the awkward evasions from the producers, writers and actors, all of whom are trying to maintain suspense about the fate of Jon Snow, and failing miserably when we know that Kit Harington is signed for season 6 (even if they are hiding him from the cast list). But we actually didn’t need that evidence, did we, because we’ve been paying attention to all the hints and narrative devices pointing to who Jon Snow is and what he is bound to become.
That is, The Prince That Was Promised, AKA the Son of Fire, AKA the Warrior of Light.
Jon Snow is Dead…but Not For Long
To quote John Cleese: “He is off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible.” But we’re pretty accustomed to dead things not staying dead on Game of Thrones, so what of it? The problem is that almost without exception they are those nasty wights, servants of the Icy darkness. The one exception: Beric Dondarrion. And how did that happen?
Well, the Red Priest Thoros was out of faith. He had all but apostatized when in a moment of desperation he asked the R’hllor, the Lord of Light to bring Beric back after the latter got impaled by The Mountain. (We’ll get to him, too.) Lo and behold, Beric arose, and his faith was restored beyond all doubt.
Lucky for Jon Snow, there just happens to be a Red Priestess at the wall with her own crisis of faith. Melisandre brought Stannis Baratheon and his whole family and army to a nasty end by dragging them to the north, and in one of the trailers for season 6 she is even heard lamenting that all her visions were lies. Not her lies, mind you. The lies of the Lord of Light.
But they weren’t lies. She did, indeed, see the Son of Fire standing on the ramparts of Winterfell. It just wasn’t Stannis. She may have the power of prophecy, but that doesn’t mean she has 20/20 vision.
Melisandre got to meet Beric and Thoros, back in Season 3, and she was suuuuper jelly that Thoros had resurrected Beric half a dozen times. Sure, she could birth shadow demons after getting some royal D and drink poison without consequence, but that’s lvl 5 stuff. Thoros was lvl 10, at least.
Now’s her time to shine (episode 1 is even titled “The Red Woman”), and really nail why this saga is A Song of Ice and Fire. Which is why…
Jon Snow Probably Had to Die
Speaking as a writer, from a narrative standpoint, he definitely had to die. The culture is just too steeped in that whole “resurrected savior” mytheme to pass it up. Beyond that, just based on the cohesion of the whole world set up by George R. R. Martin, the person who is going to stand up to the Night’s King (an undead embodiment of darkness and cold) probably needs to be more than a mere mortal. He probably needs to be an undead embodiment of the Lord of Light.
And who better than Jon Snow? He is, after all, a union of the Targaryen and Stark bloodlines, which makes him super royalty, and the rightful heir of both Winterfell and the Iron Throne. And royal blood has power in this universe, according to Melisandre herself. Her magic even depends on it.
About his royalty: We’ve been told from the start that he’s the bastard of Eddard Stark, but by now the writers (and editors) have dropped numerous hints that he’s actually the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Rhaegar’s kidnapping and rape of Lyanna is what sparked Robert’s Rebellion, which in turns is what put Robert on the throne, which, with his assassination, set the whole civil war in motion. As Davos has said, the real war is between the living and the dead, but the petty nobles are too busy killing each other to see it.
Eddard knew better. He knew this pursuit of power was a fool’s game (of thrones) and wanted nothing to do with it. Still, he wanted to protect his late sister’s child, and so his love for her compelled him to sully his own name by disguising Jon as his own wartime bastard. Jon would never have survived infancy otherwise. By keeping him as an inconspicuous Snow, he was sparing the boy’s life and keeping Lyanna’s legacy alive.
And when people figure this out, everyone’s going to want a piece of Jon Stark Targaryen. Resurrection magic will probably be a nice insurance policy, which means he’s probably going to need Melisandre by his side. Which means…
Ser Davos is Pretty Much Dead (and so is Jorah Mormont)
Ser Davos AKA the Onion Knight and Melisandre have had a fraught relationship to say the least. He doesn’t care for the whole “burning heretics at the stake” and shadow-demon-sex magic stuff, but he’s put up with it because of his loyalty to Stannis and especially to Stannis’ daughter, Shireen. When Davos inevitably learns that Melisandre personally burned Shireen to death (WORST SCENE EVER. CAN’T UNHEAR.), all bets are off. And he will learn. After that gruesome sacrifice, many of Stannis’ men abandoned the cause. They probably didn’t make haste for The Wall, where they’d be seen as deserters, but they aren’t far, and when they see Melisandre palling around with Snow and Davos after Winterfell is retaken…truth will out.
At that point, Snow will probably be forced to choose between Davos and Melisandre, and I’m guessing Ser Onion is getting kebabbed.
Davos isn’t the only warrior whose days are numbered. Jorah Mormont‘s clock is ticking, thanks to that rather aggressive, crazy-making strain of eczema he has on his wrist. Game of Thrones may be in the habit of killing off major characters mercilessly, but never randomly. There’s always long awaited revenge or reconciliation involved. Even the Red Wedding, shocking as it was, served as a culmination of a lot of bad decisions and gave the characters enough time to be totally themselves (particularly cutthroat, Mama
Bear Wolf Catelyn Stark) and say their goodbyes.
In this case, after multiple, near-fatal attempts to reconcile with his one-and-only Khaleesi, Daenerys Targaryen, Mormont will probably die fighting to prove his loyalty in rescuing her from a khalasar that has whisked her off to Vaes Dothrak, where according to Dothraki rules, she should be living as a widow, ever since she picked the world’s worst naturopath to treat Khal Drogo. (Let’s hope her Dothraki hasn’t gotten too rusty.) There’s no way she’s staying put, though, and based on how much power seems to shift among the Dothraki, she might end up in control again. If her allies (?) back in Meereen play their cards right, she might actually end up with ships and a Dothraki army as she intended before.
Oh, and she’ll have dragons, too. Whether any or all of these forces learn to behave is another matter. I am so glad Varys is back around, and not just for the banter with Tyrion. Things always run so much more smoothly.
Oh, and about those dozen other plot-lines…
They are important, too, but really they all seem to be an accessory to the central story of who is going to kick the Night’s King’s blue, puckered ass. The dragons are definitely going to play a part, as nothing will lay waste to the tens of thousands of wights on the march like fiery re-death from above. Bran Stark is out beyond the wall, still learning to warg and see the future and other biz with the three-eyed raven, who has told him he will never walk again, but he will fly. I’m guessing at some climactic point, that may include warging a full grown Drogon, but that’s just fanboy speculation. I feel no shame.
Seeing as I view most of these developments as inevitabilities, I am not feeling much in the way of suspense, but I am looking forward to a full on religious purge in King’s Landing. I will never cheer for The Mountain—especially after he smashed my swarthy, pansexual future husband’s head. (Oberyn 4 Ever.) But The Mountain is technically even more dead than Jon Snow. Snow will still be snow, just like Beric is still Beric. The Mountain is now just a Frankensteinian meat puppet named Ser Strong, and he’s about to Hulk Smash those pesky, anti-gay, slut-shaming Sparrows but good. (Judging from the trailer, the gore factor has not been dialed down this season. Meep.) I love to hate Cersei, but given that she’s just been brutalized at the Red Keep and is about to find out her daughter is dead, I’m kind of rooting for her in this fight, so long as she reconciles with my BFF, Margaery Tyrell.
My other BFF, Arya Stark, is also in deep dook, having lost her sight after pissing off the Faceless Men. (Gotta say that brutal kill in the brothel almost made it worthwhile.) The trailer shows her training in martial arts, which she has been wanting to do since the beginning anyways. She’s had a little bump, but if she gets to be a deadly assassin and she never has to look at Sansa’s mopey, supercilious face again, it’s win-win.
This whole scenario raises another big, lingering question…
Just who’s in charge here?
And by that I mean, who are all these gods toying with the mere mortals?
The Faceless Men say there is just the one god: Death, The Stranger (as he is called in the Faith of the Seven). But as we have seen, there are multiple supernatural forces at work here. There’s the antagonistic pair (The Lords of Light and Darkness) and the more neutral Faceless god, for whom all living things are temporary manifestations of a single identity. Instead of the whole “Namaste” thing, you have this nameless, “The God within me greets the God in you (because we are both just wearing a peeled-off face)” thing. All I know is, the House of Black and White still looks more inviting than a Landmark retreat.
The Lord of Light doesn’t come across as all that benevolent. His followers are certainly amoral. Only the primeval force that we see surrounding the Children of the Forest seems to be inviolable against the darkness. Even the Night’s King’s minions get obliterated in its presence. For me, I’m just curious to see if the writers (and Martin) can pull all of these elements together cogently. If you’re going to give us a world of magic and gods wherein they are actually at war with each other, we don’t need a full cosmology, but we should want cogency.
For now, it’s still The Jon Snow Show, though. All of these events (even those that occurred before the series begins) are conspiring to pit the champion of R’hllor against the epitome of the darkness. All the thousands dead, all the intrigues are all just clearing the way for him to quietly take over and mobilize against the real enemy to the north. And now that we see a glimpse of another Red Priestess, Kinvara, talking to Varys and Tyrion in Meereen, we may begin to learn just how unified (or divided) the servants of R’hllor really are. Truly, the Lord of Light Works in mysterious ways.
Check out this fan-made mega trailer for Season 6, and then see the cocktail suggestions below.