How you respond to shocking news can say a lot about you as a person. For instance, Daenerys Targaryen’s reaction to Jon Snow’s shocking news on Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” reveals an uncomfortable truth that could have powerful ramifications for the remaining four episodes in the fan-favorite fantasy series.
Editor’s note: this post is dark and full of spoilers for Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones, so if you haven’t seen it yet, what is wrong with you? Oh, you were busy? Oh, well it must be nice to have plans on a Sunday. My plan was to watch this episode in a timely fashion. If those weren’t your plans too, then you please consider this your last chance to avoid getting the ever-loving heck spoiled out of this episode.
“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” neatly wrapped up storylines that have unfolded over the last decade. From Jaime Lannister’s deeply uncomfortable return to Winterfell to the culmination of Arya’s “friendship” with Gendry to Brienne of Tarth finally getting the recognition from her peers she so sorely deserves, it is one of the best episodes of Game of Thrones in years. But it also ended with a bombshell revelation that will have far-reaching consequences in the final episodes. Consequences that could take two of our protagonists and rend them asunder like the Night King turning Stark bannermen into contemporary art.
During the episode’s final moments, we were treated to the single worst version of the “We need to talk” text in television history. It was reunion that we had been dreading for the entire hour-long run, ever since Jon Snow received his unexpected Ancestry.com results from Samwell Tarly at the end of the season eight premiere. Daenerys Targaryen descended into the crypts of Winterfell expecting to have a private moment with her new boyfriend, free from the prying eyes of one very judgmental dragon. Unfortunately for Dany, Jon Snow actually knew something for once.
During the season eight premiere, Jon learned the terrible truth about his parentage: that his true name is Aegon Targaryen. He is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, who were wed in a secret ceremony. He is the last living male Targaryen heir, which means that he has a claim to the Iron Throne. In a monarchy built on primogeniture such as Westeros, this means that Jon not only has claim to the Iron Throne, but a more legitimate and stronger one than Daenerys does.
Now, there’s no good way to tell your new girlfriend that not only are you related, but you are potentially interviewing for the same job that she wants. But this has to rank among the worst ways to do it. Nevertheless, in a damp, musty tunnel full of the skeletal remains of his loved ones and ancestors, Jon Snow drops the bomb on Dany and, to no one’s surprise, it does not go over well.
Emilia Clarke’s facial gymnastics during this revelation are worthy of 1,000 GIFs as the crushing weight of history bears down upon Daenerys. “That’s impossible,” she tells Jon, reeling from the shock. She rapidly progresses from shock to denial when Jon explains that Bran and Sam were the ones who told him the truth. “A secret no one in the world knew except your brother and your best friend…doesn’t seem strange to you?” Dany rightfully asks.
But through Bran’s greensight, we have seen the past. We have known this shoe was going to drop ever since they prepared one another to be boarded during their ocean voyage to Winterfell. The horror of banging a relative, though, is nothing compared to what this means for Daenerys’ lifelong mission to reclaim the Iron Throne.
“If it were true, that would make you the last male heir of House Targaryen,” Dany says very slowly and deliberately. “You’d have a claim to the Iron Throne.”
In that moment, Dany does not mourn for the romantic partner she may have lost, but she steels herself for the political rival she gains. Much digital hay has been made about whether Daenerys would be a good and just ruler if she ascended to the Iron Throne or if she would follow in her father’s footsteps and become the Mad Queen. She has never been one to tolerate dissent in her ranks. Case in point, she displays a fiery temper when Randall and dinkon Tarly refuse to pledge fealty to their dragon-riding conqueror. So what would Dany do if her allies in the war for the living, people that she feels close to, don’t align with her visions for the future? It’s a question that Sansa asks her point-blank during their tête-à-tête following episode one’s icy introduction.
“All my life, I’ve known one goal: the Iron Throne,” Dany tells Sansa. “Taking it back from the people who destroyed my family, and almost destroyed yours. My war was against them. Until I met Jon. Now I’m here, half a world away, fighting Jon’s war alongside him.”
The moment of sincerity and sisterhood is fleeting. Sansa has evolved into one of the smoothest political operators in all of Westeros and wisely wants to know what happens after the dust settles. “We defeat the dead, we destroy Cersei, what happens then?” she asks. As expected, Dany asserts that she would ascend to the Iron Throne and become Queen of the Seven Kingdoms.
But the North is done with the old ways of Westeros. They have had their fill of Southern rulers telling them what to do. “What about the North?” Sansa asks with increasing grit. “It was taken from us and we took it back. And we said we’d never bow to anyone else again. What about the North?”
The question is left to hang in the ether as the two are interrupted. The same thing happens at the end of Jon and Dany’s conversation when a horn signaling the arrival of the White Walkers interrupts them, officially makes it the horniest thing to happen between them this episode (and oh what a horny episode it was).
While they’ll have 82 minutes of glorious battle between them and a satisfying resolution to this revelation, it does raise major concerns for what will happen once the battle between the living and the dead has come to an end. Will Jon continue to bend the knee (and the D) to Daenerys? Will Dany ultimately turn on Jon and have him eliminated? Will the final episodes of the show be a showdown between Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen, two people’s heroes who have overcome tremendous adversity to achieve greatness? The true song of ice and fire, it seems, is between the King in the North and the Mother of Dragons, but how it ends is anyone’s guess.
For the final episodes, I cannot help but hearken back to the surprisingly wise words of one of the worst people ever to grace the small screen, Ramsay Bolton: “If you think this was going to have a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.”
Unfortunately for Jon and Dany, Game of Thrones is far from a fairy tale. The night is dark and full of secrets, and now that the long night is upon us, all of our secrets are coming out at long last.
Featured Image: HBO/Helen Sloan
Dan Casey is the senior editor of Nerdist and the author of books about the Avengers and Star Wars. Follow him on Twitter!
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