Game of Thrones Season 6 Teaser… Is Jon Snow Dead? If not… how not?
This post contains spoilers for the show and book. I didn’t disguise the title as the subject has trended on the news, Facebook and Twitter… I don’t think there are too many people alive who don’t know that Jon Snow is ‘dead’.
Just ’cause they died doesn’t mean they are dead… It’s kind of A Song of Ice & Fire thing, right?
Well… kind of. The television series seems very aware that it is much shorter and more condensed than the books and so trying to carry across certain elements of ASoI&F or delivering them at the wrong time or on multiple occasions would really kill of the kind of suspense and shocking nature of the plot twists that have made it so popular.
Anyone seen Supernatural? I enjoyed Supernatural hugely until one of the main characters began to die every season finale and then were brought back to life the following season premiere (sometimes without a decent explanation). The inevitable effect was that whenever one of the main characters got into any kind of trouble (even died) I just presumed they’d be OK and this eventually led to me dropping the show due to an inability to get emotionally invested in the dangers facing the protagonists any further.
The books have so, so many words and require a huge time investment. So, when a character or two is brought back to life every couple of books it works. Should this happen every season or two of the show though, it really wouldn’t. By cutting the Lady Stoneheart element of the A Song of Ice & Fire books, Game of Thrones has been able to keep us guessing and highly anticipating Jon Snow’s fate following the Season 5 finale. Anyway, before we continue with that discussion, let us review the trailer:
The whole teaser is basically HBO poking fun at readers/viewers who don’t and can’t know what’s going to happen next. However, ‘The ink is dry’ quote spoken by the Raven feels like it’s being said to Bran in the context of Jon’s death (i.e. he is dead and you cannot change that). This fits with what we’ve been told by cast members such as Maisie Williams have been very firm in saying things like “All the time people are asking me if Jon Snow is alive and the answer is no! He’s dead! I promise.” and the even more adamant HBO Boss who added: “Dead is dead is dead is dead … He be dead. Yes. Everything I’ve seen and heard and read, Jon Snow is indeed dead.” So, OK, he IS dead. However, the following poster released by HBO and the trailer focusing on Jon’s death so extensively suggests that he isn’t actually leaving the series… so how is this going to work without leaving fans feeling cheated?
In terms of the books, I feel we led firmly into to believing that Jon Snow warged into Ghost upon his death. Check out the final few lines of his final chapter:
Jon fell to his knees. He found the dagger’s hilt and wrenched it free. In the cold night air the wound was smoking. ‘Ghost,’ he whispered. Pain washed over him. Stick them with the pointy end.
When the third dagger took him between the shoulder blades, he gave a grunt and fell face-first into the snow. He never felt the fourth knife. Only the cold …
That seems pretty straight-forward to me… especially when you consider the opening chapter of A Dance of Dragons that introduced us to Varamyr Sixskins who transferred his consciousness into a wolf upon his death. George R.R. Martin also responded to a question about why he killed Jon Snow with: “Oh… you think he is dead, do you?” The television series hasn’t been quite so obvious, but we can perhaps use the fact that the writers removed the focus from Bran (warg plot) and didn’t include Lady Stoneheart (resurrection plot) in the last series to intensify the impact of what happens next.
Should we believe this then, the real question becomes: how does Jon Snows consciousness get back into a human body? Well, there are a few options, but before we go into them it’s worth noting that the warg theory does provide Jon a way to remain ‘Jon’ without the kind of damage to his humanity that Catelyn experienced when she was resurrected as the Zombie-like Lady Stoneheart.
Theories of resurrection
- “a man then a wolf than a man” – that would certainly support the warg theory.
- “I pray for a glimpse of Azor Ahai and he shows me only Snow” – Azor Ahai is a Legendary Champion who is prophesied to be reborn again as a champion
The argument against this theory would be that Melisandre’s powers seem questionable at the best of times. She promises great and grand things, but other than the weird shadow-y baby thing she hasn’t exactly proven herself to be a match for Gandalf. From what we’ve read though, resurrection isn’t all that difficult. Here’s what the Red Priest, Thoros, has to say about it:
“I have no magic, child. Only prayers. That first time, his lordship had a hole right through him and blood in his mouth, I knew there was no hope. So when his poor torn chest stopped moving, I gave him the good god’s own kiss to send him on his way. I filled my mouth with fire and breathed the flames inside him, down his throat to lungs and heart and soul. The last kiss it is called, and many a time I saw the old priests bestow it on the Lord’s servants as they died. I had given it a time or two myself, as all priests must. But never before had I felt a dead man shudder as the fire filled him, nor seen his eyes come open. It was not me who raised him, my lady. It was the Lord. R’hllor is not done with him yet. Life is warmth, and warmth is fire, and fire is God’s and God’s alone.”
The television series seem to point us in another direction: towards the Night King. The Night King has the power to resurrect hundreds of humans into weights at the mere wave of his hand. He’s been mentioned a number of times in the books, but is very much in the background right now. In the television series though he’s a big deal, especially towards the end of series five when Jon Snow severely ****ed him off at Hardhome and earned himself ‘the look’
I don’t want to draw too extensively from the books to support the possibility that the Night King will resurrect Jon, because I am trying to treat them as separate entities now that the show has overtaken Martin, but a few things worth noting:
- In the A Dance With Dragons prologue, Thistle, as a wight, looks at Varamyr Sixskins and ‘sees’ him, despite being in the body of a wolf. I would suggest that this sets up a way for the Night King to find Jon Snow.
- The books also suggest that the Night King was Lord Commander of the Wall, likely a Stark and – like Jon – fell in love whilst serving. If that is the case perhaps he can sense the Stark blood and has a number of motivations for taking an interest in Jon Snow.
The problem that this throws up is that the Night King wouldn’t be raising Jon from the dead for any good reason, would he? So perhaps he sees Jon as some kind of heir? If this is the case, Jon could end up being ‘King of Ice and Wights’ and that would serve for an epic showdown against Daenerys, ‘Queen of Fire and Dragons’ in the future.
That’s just a few thoughts, do you have any more?