This Pivotal 'Game Of Thrones' Season 6 Scene Hints At Jon Snow's Destiny

R+L=J, explained

We don't need a three-eyed raven to see that Game of Thrones will answer one of the series's defining mysteries in its forthcoming sixth season: Jon Snow's true parentage. If you think he's the actual bastard son of Eddard Stark, then prepare to have your pure, innocent mind blown.

For years, those who have read George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series have universally agreed on one theory, and if you're a curious viewer, you might have come across it while staying up until 2 a.m. scraping the bowels of the Song of Ice and Fire Wiki archives. It's R+L=J, a compelling theory that most book readers take as fact.

HBO all but confirmed it with the first full-length trailer for Season 6, in which we get a brief glimpse of a young Eddard Stark battling against three members of the Targaryen kingsguard. Now, here's where we're going to get deep into book spoiler territory, so if you don't want to know, click away now.

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This flashback scene depicts one of the most storied battles in Westeros history, one that had enormous ramifications for the Seven Kingdoms and one Jon Snow.

It all started with Robert's Rebellion, the war that all but demolished House Targaryen and put the Baratheons (and subsequently, that little nightmare Joffrey and his languid little brother) on the Iron Throne. War was waged when Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, Daenerys's older brother, seemingly kidnapped Lyanna Stark, Ned's sister and Robert Baratheon's betrothed.

The bloodshed lasted for nearly a year, and it left House Targaryen nearly extinct. Towards the end of the war, Ned Stark, now Lord of Winterfell after the deaths of his father and older brother at the hands of the Mad King (a.k.a. King Aerys II Targaryen), and six of his companions stormed Rhaegar Targaryen's Tower of Joy in Dorne where, on Rhaegar's command, Lyanna was guarded by three knights of the Kingsguard, including King Aerys's legendary knight Ser Arthur Dayne. The flashback scene in the Season 6 trailer depicts the beginning of Ned's raid:

game of thrones

As seen in the Season 6 trailer, a young Ned Stark prepares to raid the Tower of Joy, alongside six companions: Howland Reed, Lord Willam Dustin, Ethan Glover, Martyn Cassel, Theo Wull, and Ser Mark Ryswell.

Lyanna died soon after Ned's arrival and his defeat of King Aerys's Kingsgaurd. 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 fans of 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 you've been following along then you know that, yes, this means Jon Snow would also be a serious contender for the Iron Throne.)

Now, it's unclear whether Season 6 will unpack the entire mystery, but judging from the trailer, we know we're at least getting to the epic Tower of Joy battle scene.

Fans have suspected for some time that the show's sixth season would include the anticipated Tower of Joy sequence. Casting calls for the show included a posting for a character called Legendary Fighter, who many believed was Ser Arthur Dayne. The casting call said the character "carries a hugely famous sword on his back." In A Song of Ice and Fire, Dayne wields a sword called Dawn, which was forged, likely from a meteorite, thousands of years ago before the events of the series. So it's, uh, pretty huge.

But perhaps the bigger mystery lies in the true nature of Rhaegar and Lyanna's relationship. While the Starks believed she was kidnapped by the Targaryen prince, the Targaryens themselves wove an entirely different narrative: They were in love. Did Rhaegar kidnap Lyanna, or did she somehow run away to be with the crown prince?

The books have yet to explore their relationship, just as they have yet to reveal Lyanna's last dying wish, but as Game of Thrones begins to approach the finish line (don't worry, there's still 30 episodes left), something tells us the answers to these questions won't stay in the shadows for long.

Now, if R+L=J is in fact true, as we'll hopefully come to find out this season, 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. This puts Jon at the center of the ice and fire Venn diagram. And he has a pretty big destiny to fulfill... like saving the entire world from the Night's King and his army of White Walkers.

So wake up already, Jon.


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