We don’t even need to consider the real world evidence that has been mounting since season six started shooting, we can just look at the narrative clues presented in the books and on the show that had fans speculating about his resurrection long before Kit Harington was spotted in some interesting locales.
Jon Snow is coming back.
But that might not be a good thing.
I don’t mean in regards to the character, one of the most likable, competent, and important people throughout the entire series, or the actor that portrays him. I mean are we sure that undead Jon Snow is a good thing for Westeros and the living? Are we sure this isn’t a case, as fans, of being careful what you wish for?
Most of the theories around Jon Snow’s return revolve around the most positive of readings. The most popular one being that, as the possible son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, Jon is the son of ice and fire, and he will be reborn as Azor Ahai, the Prince That Was Promised, and lead the fight against The Others/White Walkers.
He could also just resume his position as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, and continue to prepare the armies of the living, wildling and Westerosi alike, to battle the armies of the dead, all from The Wall.
Jon could even, technically freed from his sworn oath to the Night’s Watch, finally march on Winterfell, amassing an army of Northerners loyal to House Stark, to take on Roose Bolton and then the Lannisters.
It’s possible he could learn about his true parentage, and find himself heading in the direction of his dragon-owning aunt to take his rightful position as one of the three heads of the dragon, ready to ride one into battle to melt some blue-eyed zombies.
All of these are wonderful outcomes, where our bastard hero rises from the dead to lead mankind in triumphant battle against all enemies, saving the realm of the living from the dead, and uniting the Seven Kingdoms. It’s everything you’d want from a fantasy world, with good defeating evil, a brave hero leading the way. An ending we all can feel good about.
Does that sound like something George R.R. Martin would do?
Reading that, did you get a cold chill? Like you just relived Oberyn’s death all over again? Did you suddenly start hearing the “Rains of Castemere” play as you remembered all those Northerners being slaughtered at the Red Wedding?
It’s not groundbreaking analysis to say that George R.R. Martin loves to play against fantasy tropes, and to use our expectations against us. Yet, it feels like we always fall for it. You know you were cheering when you first experienced Oberyn take on The Mountain, and you were pumped when he “won.” A few moments later your insides felt as bad as the Viper’s head looked.
From the time poor old Ned lost his, we should have been prepared for anything, and yet we always fall into the same trap of expecting the outcome we want. It’s a testament to Martin’s ability as a storyteller, but also an indictment on our inability learn our lesson. For those reasons Jon coming back could be the worst thing that could happen to Westeros, and to us.
Martin has said that the entire story is inspired by the Robert Frost poem “Fire and Ice.”
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Frost’s poem says that both ice and fire can destroy the world. Not that fire (dragons) will triumph over ice (White Walkers), but rather that either “would suffice” in its destruction. Dragons are just as devastating as the undead. That’s why their own mother locked them up, reluctant to set them on the world because she couldn’t control them.
A child born to both fire and ice might just as easily be the biggest danger in the world as he could be its savior. Especially when those he swore to fight with betrayed and killed him, sending him from the world of the living that he, and he alone, was so desperate to protect, into the world of the dead.
There is precedence for this think. Think about how (insert that character we don’t want to spoil for non-book readers) has been nothing but a bringer of death, same as the White Walkers. What guarantees are there that Jon would be any different?
Jon Snow could join the army on the other side of The Wall, maybe even become the infamous legendary Night’s King. We think we’ve met him, but that’s not established. Could you imagine a worse moment as a fan than Jon standing with his blue-eyed companions, attacking his former brothers?
Sounds like just the type of thing Martin would do to us.
I wouldn’t bet on Jon’s return being the actual worst-case scenario, but I wouldn’t bet against it either. I’ve just seen too much to know that what I want is usually the last thing I get from Game of Thrones.
So we might want to be careful when we say we want Jon to come back, because when he does it might not be what we hoped for. His rebirth could mean anything.
And as usual, we know nothing.
What do you think Jon’s potential/inevitable return could mean? Swear it to the old gods and the new in our comments.