You didn't need to look into the flames or perch in front of a weirwood tree to know that Jon Snow would eventually come back to the land of the living on Game of Thrones. (It's been a full 72 hours, people. This is not a spoiler.) Jon Snow's fate as a sullen hero has been sealed since Season 5's standout hour "Hardhome," which made his resurrection in Season 6, Episode 2 ("Home") all the more predictable.
For a series that was built on a foundation of subverting fantasy genre tropes, didn't it all feel a bit too safe? After all, this is a series that brutally killed off its honorable protagonist Ned Stark in Season 1. At the time, Ned's death was unprecedented.
Then again, Jon Snow is one of a small group of characters at the center of the A Song of Ice and Fire saga that George R.R. Martin himself has hinted will make it to the end. Jon in particular is linked to the central mythology of the series. His parentage is important. (R+L=J wouldn't be such a fervent fan theory if it wasn't.) He's the only other character who has killed a White Walker (in fact, the show should really be saving the platitudes for Samwell Tarly, the Neville Longbottom of Westeros), and he's also one of the few who has a Valyrian steel sword in his possession. He is clearly destined for greatness. And yet, he's incredibly boring.
Like Ned before him, Jon is an honorable dude. He took the black upon his uncle Benjen's suggestion. He stayed true to his oath to the Night's Watch even after Ned's death. He chose to work with the Wildlings as opposed to persecuting them -- and he failed to see how his actions would result in conflict among the Night's Watch. He just wanted everyone to get along. It was a noble, though incredibly naive, goal. He's a know-nothing do-gooder. You can always predict his next move because he always tries to do the right thing. Yawn.
Though Jon possesses slightly more nuance in Martin's books, he still suffers from being the only character in the series who fits squarely into a traditional archetype: the Chosen One, the young ignoble everyman who gets caught up in a hero's journey. But what if that were to change in Season 6?
It's hard to predict whether Jon is still the same hapless Lord Commander we left bleeding out on the snow in the Season 5 finale. So far, the only things we truly know about JS are that he can open his eyes and take a few deep breaths for dramatic effect. The only resurrected man we have to compare him to is Beric Dondarrion, the knight whom Melisandre met in Season 3. Beric had been resurrected by his good pal the Red Priest Thoros of Myr a whopping six times, and it was very clear that Beric wasn’t who he once was. He forgot things -- places and memories that were once so ingrained in his very being.
Martin has described death as a "transformative" experience in his Song of Ice and Fire series. "My characters who come back from death are worse for wear," Martin said upon the release of 2011's A Dance With Dragons. "In some ways, they’re not even the same characters anymore. The body may be moving, but some aspect of the spirit is changed or transformed, and they’ve lost something."
Honestly, isn't that for the best? If Jon were to come back and be the same honorable guy he was just three episodes ago, it wouldn't only cheapen his death, but it would cheapen every death in the series thus far. Why "kill" Jon Snow if there are zero repercussions? A part of Jon has to die in order to advance his character arc -- and to make us care.
Because I can't take much more of sulky, ho-hum Jon Snow. I want a Jon Snow who acts like he's seen some tough shit and does something about it. A Jon Snow who sacrifices some for the good of many. A Jon Snow who takes what is his with fire and blood. A Jon Snow who is ready to wage war in the North. So please don't let me down, GoT.
Can't get enough of Game of Thrones? Listen to this week’s "Game of Crones" podcast, featuring MTV News pop culture writers Rachel Handler, Teo Bugbee, and yours truly, Crystal Bell.