Spoilers and theories from both George R.R. Martin's books and this week's episode of Game of Thrones abound in this article. If you want the show to be a surprise, this isn't the story for you.
The third episode of Game of Thrones Season 6 was mostly uneventful, with characters in Braavos or King’s Landing or Meereen furthering their stories slightly. Only Jon Snow seems to have made a definitive change in the episode, quitting the Night’s Watch. Although the episode was slow compared to the first two episodes in the season, there was one scene that seemed innocuous, but was actually a moment we have all been waiting for. That moment had to do with Ned Stark, Bran and a distraught Lyanna stuck in the Tower of Joy. Book fans have been waiting for a moment like this for a long time, but for everyone else, we’re breaking down why it is important.
Bran’s training has made him privy to flashbacks of moments in history. During Episode 2, we saw a young Ned Stark, a young Hodor, Stark’s sister Lyanna and more having a happy day at Winterfell. It was a brief introduction to the younger versions of the characters, but it gave us enough context to understand the flashback this week, which saw Ned Stark taking down Ser Arthur Dayne, sort-of. As it turns out, Ned Stark’s own life was saved when Dayne was stabbed from behind by Howland Reed. Soon after, Ned heard a horrible scream coming from The Tower of Joy and Ned runs off to save his sister. Unfortunately, the Three-Eyed Raven didn't allow Bran to stick around and find out what happens afterwards. Still, it teases a scene we’ve been waiting ages for: Finding out the true parentage of Jon Snow.
In HBO’s fantasy drama, we’ve been told that Jon Snow is the bastard son of Ned Stark, but since Ned Stark never seemed to be the type of person who would cheat on his wife and father an illegitimate child, the whole thing has come off as suspect. The prevailing theory is that Jon Snow is actually the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. So if you’ve ever heard mention of the L+R=J theory, that’s what is being discussed.
In the books, early moments with Ned Stark reference Lyanna and a promise he made to his sister. There’s also a dream featuring a bed of blood, which is widely considered to be a reference to child birth. Lyanna Stark was supposed to marry Robert Baratheon, who loved her dearly, but we get the sense in the books she may not have felt the same. In any event, she was kidnapped by Rhaegar Targaryen and was saved by her brother Ned, but died in his arms (the circumstances are left unclear.) Robert, Ned, Jon Arryn and the Tullys rebelled against the Targaryens and Robert Baratheon killed Rhaeger. In the scene during this week’s episode of Game of Thrones, it is mentioned that Rhaeger is dead, giving us a better timeline of events, although the series doesn’t really flesh this out in enough detail, which makes this scene come off as less important than it should end up being.
As it stood a while back, George R.R. Martin admitted that some readers had figured out the clues the author had sprinkled through his A Song Of Ice And Fire series in relation to Jon Snow’s true parentage.
I want to surprise and delight my reader and take them in directions they didn’t see coming. But I can’t change the plans… So many readers were reading the books with so much attention that they were throwing up some theories and while some of those theories were amusing bulls**t and creative, some of the theories are right. At least one or two readers had put together the extremely subtle and obscure clues that I’d planted in the books and came to the right solution… So what do I do then? Do I change it?! I wrestled with that issue and I came to the conclusion that changing it would be a disaster, because the clues were there.
All the clues are there on Game of Thrones, as well. Now, we just need to wait for the hit HBO drama to let them unfold. Since those Bran flashbacks are going rather slowly, it may take longer than we end up liking. While we wait, here’s what we know about Season 6.