Game of Thrones: What’s next for Jon Snow?
By Mark McCullough.
With Season Five’s finale now over two weeks ago, fans have had time to allow the dust to settle and ponder upon the truly surprising events that occurred within the episode. There are many questions that we want answers to, but the one that trumps all is what is next for Jon Snow. In this article I aim to try to provide an answer based on casting news and what I have discovered. Naturally this article may contain spoilers, so don’t say you haven’t been warned.
“Kill the boy and let the man be born.”
Jon Snow’s character arc this season was very much about him growing into the leader we seen make the decision to save the Wildlings at Hardhome. This would have fitted with the line of dialogue I have chosen as a heading for this section of the article. Taken at face value, Maester Aemon’s advice for Jon was to grow up and do what he thought was right. This was something that ultimately occurred throughout the season’s narrative. However Jon was blind to the fact that his decisions were not going down well with his colleagues, which it retrospect suggests that he was actually a poor leader. As it transpired this oversight appeared to have cost him his life in the final scene of the season as his brothers turned on him, stabbing him for the greater good of the Night’s Watch. The series ended with Jon lying in the snow bleeding out, assumed to be dead (or dying).
“For the Watch”
A lot of fans, myself included refuse to believe that Jon is actually dead. Perhaps this is a foolish approach given that this is Game of Thrones we are talking about, however I believe the evidence and logic that can be gathered suggests otherwise. For starters there is evidence to suggest that death is not permanent in the Game of Thrones universe, in previous series we have had resurrections via the Lord of Light. Conveniently Melisandre, a priestess of the same order has just arrived at The Wall. Sticking with Melisandre, if Stannis is not the person who fulfilled her prophecy, who is? A popular suggestion is that it could be Jon Snow, however I suspect otherwise. Either way, it wouldn’t be much to explore if Jon stayed dead. However there is a simpler reason for why he will be back. Hardhome has set up an epic battle between the White Walkers and the people of Westeros, and the inevitable front line for that will be the wall. However without Jon Snow present, who will the narrative use to depict said battle. I don’t feel any of the other characters in that location are strong enough to shoulder it on their own. Therefore the most likely reason Jon will be back, and a reason laced in irony is in fact, ‘For the Watch.’
“Pledge me your service and you’ll rise again as Jon Stark, Lord of Winterfell.”
Season five had a few metaphors which suggested rebirth or reinvention of a character. I have chosen the one above from Stannis as an example. If Jon Snow does come back, and if it is by resurrection, it does leave one major question. That question is: What was the point of killing him, just to bring him back again, other than to torment fans in the off-season. The answer again would lie in the quote above which reveals the thing preventing Jon’s rebirth, the vow that is preventing him from killing the boy and moving his character to the next stage. That object is his Night’s Watch vow, which he remains extremely loyal to despite the lure of wealth and name. In that respect he is extremely like his assumed father Eddard Stark. The key aspect of a Night’s Watch vow is that it applies for life, meaning the only way out is death. It follows given this knowledge and the nature of Jon’s character thus far, that the powers that be behind the show have decided death and resurrection is the only way to get Jon to turn his back on the vow, by essentially completing it.
The fifth season of Game of Thrones decided to open with a flashback scene showing a young Cersei and a friend visiting a witches hut. At the time this was considered quite a big deal because it was the first time that the show had opted to include a scene from outside of the time period that the rest of the narrative occurred. In retrospect this scene served to establish two things, a precedent for flashbacks, and also set up the events of the story in King’s Landing by pitting Cersei against Margaery before the two had even met. It would not be surprised if Season Six also opted to open with a flashback scene that provides information vital to one of the character’s story within the season. So realistically what could it be?
“A Targaryen alone in the world is a terrible thing.”
From the same scene that the ‘Kill the boy’ quote originated from, we have this line too. Interestingly, when Maester Aemon delivered the line, the director chose to have the camera zoom in on Jon. I’m sure most fans are aware at this stage of the popular theory that Jon Snow is in fact the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Having looked at the casting call for Series Six there is a character described as ‘A man in his thirties or forties who is a great swordsman and a paragon of knighthood. He carries a hugely famous sword on his back.’ A bit of research allowed me to come to the conclusion that this character is most likely Ser Arthur Dayne. Naturally I proceeded to look up the character and his involvement in the battle at The Tower of Joy, something covered in the books whilst Eddard is under the influence of the Milk of the Poppy. Also part of events there was Lyanna Stark’s death, which many fans believe to have been due to childbirth. This would mean that if the fan theories are correct, that the opening scene of the season would be a flashback to Jon Snow’s birth.
So where could the story go from there, technically speaking Jon is dead as far as we know, so why should the mystery of his parentage still hold relevance over the narrative. As discussed earlier in the article I highly doubt Jon is actually dead, at least not permanently. To resurrect Jon would actually pose an interesting plot thread: not only would we see the impact of his murder on his relationship with the Night’s Watch, but how it changes his views on the world around him. Could potential answers about who he really is lead Jon to the Crypts of Winterfell. Melisandre’s vision of burning Bolton Banners has to come at the hand of someone, so why not her potential new chosen one. Who knows where the story could go next, but I suspect that whatever direction it takes, Jon will be incorporated somehow.