Game of Thrones premiered Sunday night, and Jon Snow is still dead. (Sorry.) But for how long? Alliser Thorne has only given Ser Davos and a handful of Snow loyalists until nightfall to surrender and leave Jon Snow's body, and knowing how Game of Thrones can transcend time and all of its limitations, we're looking at a storyline that could feasibly go on for episodes.
However, the newly released synopsis for Season 6, Episode 3, titled "Oathbreaker," makes me think that showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss want to wrap up the season's central mystery by the third episode. As per usual, the episodic description is tragically cryptic, but there are four intriguing words fueling my theory: "Bran meets the past."
One, BRAN IS BACK. (I realize that I might be the only one stanning for Bran Stark right now, but trust me, you will be too.) In case you forgot -- I won't judge you -- Bran has been hanging out with the Three-Eyed Raven, learning how to use weirwood tress to look into the past, among other magical things. And two, Bran's newfound ability is an imperative narrative tool for Benioff and Weiss. Why? Because now they can deliver some very important, and much needed, glimpses into Westerosi history, starting with one of its most storied battles: The Tower of Joy.
We saw a glimpse of Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen's infamous Tower of Joy in one of the official Season 6 trailers, so we know it's coming, but up until now, we had no idea where the flashback sequence would fit into the narrative. If Bran does meet the past in Episode 3, then it's likely he'll see visions of his father Ned storming the Targaryen tower. What does this have anything to do with Jon Snow? Well, let me tell you...
But first! A message from Brienne of Tarth and one very hard-working bear actor:
Real talk: Ned Stark's crusade at the Tower of Joy had enormous ramifications for the Seven Kingdoms and Jon Snow.
War was waged when Rhaegar, Daenerys’s older brother, seemingly kidnapped Lyanna Stark, Ned's sister and Robert Baratheon's betrothed. Robert's Rebellion soon commenced. You probably remember Robert's Rebellion as the singular event that all but demolished House Targaryen and put the Baratheons on the Iron Throne.
Towards the end of the year-long war Ned and six of his closest companions stormed Rhaegar's Tower of Joy in Dorne where, on Rhaegar's command, Lyanna was being guarded by three knights of the Kingsguard, including King Aerys's legendary knight Ser Arthur Dayne. The flashback scene in the Season 6 trailer depicted the beginning of Ned's raid:
Lyanna died soon after Ned’s arrival and his defeat of King Aerys's Kingsguard. However, upon her death she made her brother give a promise, the content of which remains unknown. Some fans believe that Jon Snow was born mere moments after this epic battle, the secret son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark -- and the subject of Lyanna’s dying wish.
We know Ned returned from war with a newborn he claimed to be his bastard son, but for years readers of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire have speculated that it was all a ruse to protect his late sister's honor and her infant son from his Targaryen destiny. If Episode 3 is in fact the Tower of Joy scene we've been waiting for, this is HUGE -- not just for Maesters and Westeros history buffs -- but for everyone who has ever believed in, or read about, R+L=J, the long-standing fan theory at the heart of ASOIAF.
Now, if R+L=J is in fact true, then Jon Snow isn't just the bastard son of Winterfell -- he's a Targaryen, the son of the dragon prince and the winter rose.
But wait! There's more. If "Oathbreaker" -- and really, isn't that a fitting word for Rhaegar Targaryen? -- does reveal the truth about Jon Snow's parentage, then it should also mark his impending revival. Think about it: Jon Snow is born, and born again, in one episode. He's born in the past and present. How thematic! How perfectly cyclical! The Seven couldn't have planned it any better.
The nature of Jon Snow's rebirth is unclear. Will Melisandre get her groove back and use the flames to resurrect Snow from the dead? Will the Night's Watch build a pyre to watch their former Lord Commander burn only to see Snow, a Targaryen, walk out of the flames? Will Jon Snow be different when he inevitably arises? Who can really say.
But I'll bet you 1,000 cockles that it will happen sooner rather than later.