Well, that happened.
As if the Red Wedding wasn't brutal enough for all of us Stark lovers, "Game of Thrones" put the show's central family through its most traumatic moment yet by robbing us of one more hero. Didn't watch the episode yet? Consider this your big fat SPOILER warning, because we're talking about the death…
of Catelyn Stark's husband's bastard...
and Samwell Tarly's best friend...
and Ellaria Sand's complete and total stranger...
Hey, don't freak out! Jon's not dead! I mean, it certainly looks that way, what with the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch getting stabby-stabbed by several of his sworn brothers in an epic act of betrayal. And Kit Harington insists Jon is dead, too. But if the Faceless Men of Braavos have taught us anything, it's that looks (and talk) can be deceiving, especially on "Game of Thrones."
It's a bleak situation for Eddard Stark's bastard, but if you think this is the end of his story, you know nothing about Jon Snow. Here's why he'll be back in season six:
It's his destiny!
"Game of Thrones" tends to shy away from the talk of prophecy and destiny that's so heavily emphasized in the books, so much so that we have heard very little about Azor Ahai, a legendary hero in Westeros folklore. According to the stories, Azor Ahai fought during a great period of darkness and saved mankind, at the expense of the woman he loved. It is believed by many that Azor Ahai will be reborn, with Melisandre telling Jon:
"When the red star bleeds and the darkness gathers, Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons out of stone."
Melisandre believes that Stannis fulfills this prophecy, but what if it's Jon? The prose George R.R. Martin uses in Jon's "death" scene fulfills literal conditions of the prophecy; Wun Wun tears apart a man with a red star sigil, the Night's Watch traitors represent the darkness, Jon's wounds are described as "smoking," and the salt is represented in one of his betrayer's tears.
Grasping at straws? Maybe. But few things in "Thrones" are pure coincidence. Fans who believe Jon will play a critical role in the war against the White Walkers have reason to believe he'll come back from this betrayal stronger than ever before. The question is, how? Well, there are theories, such as…
He's a warg!
Bran isn't the only Stark with the ability to zap his consciousness inside another living creature — at least not in the books. Warging runs in the family, and Jon Snow is no exception. In the prologue for "A Dance with Dragons," the warging wildling Varamyr Sixskins notes that Jon is a gifted skin-changer, albeit an undisciplined one. Ever since Jon's "death" occurred in the books, fans have theorized that he warged into Ghost. He certainly seemed to lose a lot of blood for that to be possible, but hey, if Kit Harington wants to play the Westeros version of "The Shaggy Dog" next year, we're all for it.
Melisandre is nearby!
We have seen the Red Priestess' powers in action in the past; even if she was very, very wrong about Stannis as a messianic figure, she's got other magic working for her. And while we have not seen her breathe life back into the deceased, we've seen another Lord of Light disciple resurrect the dead — namely, Thoros of Myr, the man who repeatedly brought Beric Dondarrion back from the great beyond. Could Melisandre be Jon's golden ticket?
The Night's King is nearby!
In "Hardhome," the White Walker head honcho stepped out into the public eye and resurrected an army of the undead, his eyes locked right on Jon. He has a proven ability to bring the dead back to a certain form of life, and he has Jon Snow very much on his radar. Could the Night's King be the one to bring Jon back — and if so, will Zombie Jon even be on our side anymore? Scary thought!
If he's dead, what's the point of R+L=J?
There's no single theory in "Game of Thrones" fandom more accepted than this one: Jon Snow is not Eddard Stark's son. His real parents are Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, putting him at the center of the ice and fire Venn diagram. That lineage alone makes Jon one of the most important characters in the story. What purpose does he serve if he's just… dead?
He's Jon Snow!
"Game of Thrones" does not have one primary protagonist. It has several. But there are a few figures who are right at the beating heart of the story. Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen spring immediately to mind. Jon is on that list as well, the one man with a highborn name and a front row view of the coming snowmageddon promised by the White Walkers.
Yes, the Night's Watch turning their backs on and plunging their blades into Jon Snow lines up perfectly with his arc at the Wall. But it does not line up with everything else we've come to expect from Jon's story. "Thrones" plays with expectations all the time, ripping crucial characters from the playing field at inopportune times. But this is not Ned Stark. It's not season one. As much as we loved Robb Stark, the show could go on without him. The same is not true for Jon. He's essential, and any arguments to the contrary are invalid.
Okay, maybe he's gone.
There are valid arguments that Jon is not coming back. The fact that HE GOT STABBED MULTIPLE TIMES IN PLACES YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE STABBED MULTIPLE TIMES is a big one, for instance. But to paraphrase Lucille Bluth, I don't understand the argument, and I won't respond to it. I choose to apply the Iron Islands philosophy to the Jon Snow situation: "What is dead may never die, but rises again, harder and stronger." Let's hope those Greyjoys are right for once.