HBO finally revealed both the Game of Thrones Season 8 premiere date and a new teaser last night before True Detective. The teaser showed three of the four surviving Starks -- Jon Snow, Sansa Stark, and Arya Stark. Where was Bran? Well, when the cold swept into the crypts of Winterfell, suggesting the White Walker descent south of The Wall, many tinfoil-hat-wearing fans like myself decided to tie that to the theory that Bran is the Night King.
Game of Thrones fans have the [chef's kiss] best theories. The Bran as Night King theory is one of my favorites, because -- like many theories -- it sounds batshit at first. And then, when you let the pieces rattle around in your brain for a while, it makes just enough sense to spread like King's Landing wildfire. Sure, there are holes. But Game of Thrones has made plenty of wonky theories canon, so saying it doesn't quite work is not a death sentence. And even if it were a death sentence, Melisandre could just randomly revive it without prior training, so there.
I'm clearly not alone here.
This fan is already feeling smug, albeit prematurely, feeling like this might confirm the theory:
Here's another fan willing to accept the possibility:
Gotta love this one, too:
Not to be Debbie Downer, but there's also the fact that Bran is now the Three-Eyed Raven, and not really mortal in the same way as Jon, Sansa, and Arya anymore. So previewing his crypt in Winterfell during the teaser wouldn't make as much sense. This way, they can scare us -- and Jon, Sansa, and Arya -- with a potential look at their deaths, suggesting the White Walker approach could spell their doom. Would it make sense to threaten Bran in the same way?
But screw it. I'm going with the Bran as Night King theory. That theory took root in the episode when we lost Hodor. In a vision, the Night King grabbed Bran's wrist. When Bran woke, the Night King's handprint was still on Bran's wrist, suggesting a connection between Bran and the White Walker leader.
We've already seen Bran's ability to travel through time, and also affect what happens in time, as both a greenseer and a warg. The theories get complicated, but one suggests Bran was really the voice the Mad King heard saying to "burn them all," meaning he should burn the White Walkers. A theory goes that, when that failed, Bran went further back in time and took on the body of Bran the Builder to help create the Wall to keep the White Walkers out.
One theory suggests he also went back to the time we saw on screen when the Children of the Forest created the Night King out of a human man. Bran had been warned that you can't remain in the past for too long, or in someone else's body for too long, because you can get stuck. So the theory goes that Bran got stuck in the body of the first White Walker, aka the Night King. It doesn't explain everything, and there are huge motivation holes (is Bran's Night King marching south because he knows this is what's supposed to happen, like Doctor Strange knowing the "endgame"?), but it's a theory.
Bran Stark actor Isaac Hempstead-Wright has weighed in on the theory before, including saying this to THR last year:
Isaac Hempstead-Wright also said he thinks the theory is "too Hollywood." But he also fed the flames when he shared a snapchat filter transforming himself into the Night King.
Honestly, as much as I love this theory, I am not at all expecting it to play out in the final season of Game of Thrones. There are only six episodes and they seem like they will be busy enough -- fighting the White Walkers moving south, fighting Cersei Lannister and Euron Greyjoy, and finding time for Jon and Daenerys Targaryen to find out they are actually related.
Bran is one of the only people to now know the truth about Jon, and the previous teaser showed Jon and Dany arrive at Winterfell. So ... Jon is about to know more than nuthin about his past. It's going to get awkward, but the show could find a way to explain the incest if they felt like dipping deeper into Targaryen mythology.
It would be mind-blowing to add more mythology twists like Bran as Night King, or Tyrion as a Targaryen, but I don't really think the TV show plans to go in that direction. The books, however, could very well tackle those theories and more. George R.R. Martin has only published five of his planned seven novels in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. There are now many major changes between the TV show and the books, so he could very well hit us with some major Stark theories.
And, if we don't get theories like this on Game of Thrones or in the final two books, there's always the prequel series. George R.R. Martin has created a world steeped in mythology, and the prequel is heading back a long, long way, offering so much potential to fill in the gaps of the history fans have only heard portions of through the GoT characters.
Game of Thrones Season 8 is the final season and its six episodes premiere Sunday, April 14 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. Each episode is meant to be feature-length, like a new mini movie every week, so maybe there will be enough time for some Night King revelations? Eh. I won't get my hopes up too high. Check out everything happening on TV in our midseason 2019 schedule.
Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.
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