- Warning: Spoilers ahead for HBO’s “Game of Thrones” season eight, episode one.
- Jon Snow learned the truth about his parents in a dramatic scene on the eighth season premiere.
- Sam Tarly, emotional after a previous revelation, told Jon point-blank that he’s the rightful ruler of the Seven Kingdoms.
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HBO wasted no time with the season eight premiere of “Game of Thrones” Sunday. The episode started out understated, but by the end there was an emotional scene where Sam Tarly finally revealed the truth of Jon’s parentage to the former King in the North.
Jon spent his entire life believing Ned Stark was his father, and his mother was some unknown woman Ned had met while off fighting a war.
But now he knows the truth: He is the only living heir of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen (Daenerys’ brother), and Lyanna Stark (Ned’s sister) was his mother.
The revelation unfolded thanks to Sam Tarly and a devastating admission from Daenerys
In an emotional set of back-to-back scenes, Sam Tarly hears about the execution of his father and brother from Daenerys and then goes to find Jon Snow in the crypts of Winterfell.
Sam was visibly shaken by the news of his brother’s death. He pressed Jon about whether or not he would’ve done the same thing (execute enemy lords after a battle when they refused to bend the knee), and Jon dodged the question by saying he’s not a king.
“You were,” Sam says, trying to lead into the reveal of Jon’s royal blood. “You’ve always been.”
When Jon continues to protest, saying he’s not King in the North anymore, Sam grows impatient.
“I’m not talking about the King in the North, I’m talking about the King of the bloody Seven Kingdoms!” he shouts.
“Your mother was Lyanna Stark. And your father, your real father, was Rhaegar Targaryen.”
Fans have been correctly guessing Jon’s parentage since the late ’90s, when author George R.R. Martin’s first books in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series were published. In the decades since, the question of when and how Jon would learn the truth has been burning in fans’ minds.
To see Jon hear those words for the first time, and coming in the context of his new relationship with Daenerys, was a monumental moment for “Game of Thrones” fans.
John Bradley West (who plays Sam) and Kit Harington (Jon) delivered pitch-perfect performances that helped add to the emotional weight of this moment. Standing in front of Ned Stark’s crypt, you can see how devastating this news is for Jon Snow.
“My father was the most honorable man I ever knew,” Jon says. “You’re telling me lied to me my whole life?”
Sam tries to explain to Jon how Ned had promised his sister, Lyanna, that he would protect Jon from the wrath of King Robert. Not only that, but Sam reveals an additional twist to Jon and tells him his real name is Aegon Targaryen, Sixth of His Name.
Jon literally reels from the news, stepping back away from Sam. Just as Jon has often resisted the burden of leadership, he tries to brush Sam off.
“Daenerys is the Queen,” he says.
“She shouldn’t be,” Sam replies.
“It’s treason,” Jon says.
“It’s the truth,” Sam says. “You gave up a crown to save your people. Would she do the same?”
And here we have the recurring theme of the episode for Jon Snow. He bent the knee to Daenerys last season, but there wasn’t much time for formal discussions of titles. The season eight opener is loaded with scenes in which people point out to Jon that he’s not King in the North anymore.
Jon’s rebuttal to those disappointed in him is that he sacrificed his crown (not that he ever had a literal one) and title of King so he could secure the alliance with Daenerys and save the Northern people from the Night King.
Where does this leave Jon and Daenerys?
With only five episodes left in the series and the Army of the Dead marching south, there’s not much time left for Jon Snow to handle an identity crisis and have a falling out with Daenerys over the crown.
As Jon makes clear throughout the episode, he doesn’t care about the title of King in the North. Why would he care about being King of the Seven Kingdoms?
The mitigating factor might be the people surrounding Jon and Daenerys. As we saw, Arya and Sansa are clearly loyal to House Stark and only House Stark (Jon is still a half-Stark, even if Ned wasn’t his father). Earlier on the episode, Tyrion talks with Davos and Varys and the group of advisers propose a marriage between Jon and Daenerys as the solution to any political tension.
But will Jon and Daenerys want to marry once they know they’re aunt and nephew? Will there even be time to consider this option before the Great War we keep hearing about actually breaks out?
If the momentum on this episode tells us anything, the eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones” is going to be a fast-moving roller-coaster of emotions, and we’re just along for the ride.
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