After waiting almost two years for Game of Thrones to return, it’s funny that the wait between last Sunday and now almost felt like an eternity. Especially after spending all week pondering how Jon was going to act on the information of his true parentage which he learned in the season premiere. But ‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms’ was well worth the wait, and this ending again makes waiting for next Sunday feel like we’re in for another eternity already.
As always spoilers through this week’s episode of Game of Thrones.
In classic Game of Thrones fashion, the episode saved Jon and Daenerys’ conversation for the very last. As everyone prepares for the battle against the White Walkers, Dany comes down to the crypts to check in on her boyfriend, who’s been painfully avoiding her all day. She finds him standing in front of the statue of Lyanna Stark, and proceeds to question how her brother Rhaegar could be a singer who gave to the poor, but also, a rapist. Jon responds by informing her that Rhaegar did not rape Lyanna, but, loved her, married her, and had a secret son with her who was passed on as Ned Stark’s bastard after they both died.
This information is a lot for Dany to take in, but one thing is for certain: whatever romantic dragon rides were happening in the last episode are not likely to happen again anytime soon even if Jon is a Targaryen.
As someone who’s entire story has been about returning to Westeros and reclaiming the Iron Throne, it is only natural that Dany’s primary concern in this scene would be that, within the context of this world, Jon is technically the rightful heir. Her emphasis on the word male made that pretty clear. In the world of Westeros, he has power over her claim. It is a power that appears to make both of them uncomfortable.
Jon’s subdued reaction to her immediate insinuation that he would even want the throne signals that he’s a little hurt by her response. His newfound claim to the throne is undoubtedly something on his mind, but how he tried to gently take her hand and tell her the truth implies that more than anything, he’s concerned about what this means for their relationship. He is worried about putting such a dent in her dream, which is why when he tells her he’s Aegon Targaryen and she replies with “That’s impossible,” his response is “I wish it were.” She ultimately believes him about this because she loves him too. She said as much to Sansa earlier.
So, there was no way in which this conversation between Jon and Dany– its outcome nor their reactions–were going to be clean-cut or easy. After all, it is Game of Thrones we are watching. Dany was never going to embrace Jon as her last living family. And of course, Jon doesn’t get the opportunity to be happy or satisfied with the knowledge of his true parentage. They are both destined individuals, with fate and power and magic behind them. But that also makes them both tragic figures, and the end of this episode drove that home. Should the Night King and his army of White Walkers be destroyed, they will both have to deal with destiny. And based on their respective reactions here, they’ll be dealing with it quite differently. They might both be finally getting what they “want” but not at all in the way they wanted it.
In this scene, they’re processing a whirlwind of emotions all at once: love, ambition, duty, desire, frustration, and fear, with brilliant performances from Kit Harrington and Emilia Clarke. It was a classy move, for Jon to reveal such information to Daenerys in a private, intimate manner, rather than for her to learn it abruptly or from anyone other than Jon. Still, that doesn’t make it any easier for Dany to absorb.
Plus, no one has mentioned that Jon and Dany are aunt and nephew, so it’s still hard to tell whether that is even going to be a hindrance at all in their relationship at this point or just the elephant in the room. At the very least, I’m assuming it has internally been bothering Jon. Probably Sam too, for that matter.
Similar to last week’s ending, there were no real signs from Jon that claiming the Iron Throne is anything he is interested in, but even still, he didn’t outright deny it. Denying that desire seemed to be on the tip of his tongue as Dany laid out the most critical choice that his new situation presents. He said nothing. Maybe because he’s not sure, and probably because some war between them will be the last major conflict the story must resolve going forward. If Dany is being made out to be the ultimate antagonist of the series, then the inciting incident to her villainous origin story begins here, which the show has somewhat been hinting at for seasons now.
They were saved by the bell, literally, as the White Walkers and the army of the dead arrive at Winterfell, signaling the massive battle that will fill next week’s episode. Jon and Dany run out of the crypts to find Tyrion, looking out at what faces them; all of the deaths that are sure to come with finally taking on the monsters who have been teased since episode one. Jon gives Daenerys a nod, and she walks off, presumably to prepare, in a quiet moment that establishes a temporary truce, reminding us that once the epic war is over, the real one is still yet to come.