Features and Columns · TV

Game of Thrones: What Matters Most is What Happens Next

By  · Published on May 6th, 2016

Answering Questions from the Game of Thrones Spoiler Mailbag.

In addition to my usual Game of Thrones explained columns on Monday, I may occasionally put together a spoiler Q&A later in the week. One of the benefits of covering the show so closely and co-hosting a podcast like A Storm of Spoilers is that readers send me questions throughout the week. By the time we get to Friday, there are all kinds of new theories, questions, speculation, and crackpotitude to talk about.

Let’s do that here. But first, if you’re into this brand of talk – that of speculative goodness – you should also check out this week’s episode of A Storm of Spoilers below.

Click here for the latest episode of A Storm of Spoilers

For those who are not into speculation, production rumors, and potential spoilers, you may want to end your journey here. I’ll let this GIF of The Red Viper of Dorne be your last warning.

Now on to your questions.

Does Jon Snow’s resurrection cheapen the concept of death on the show?

This is a topic we tackled on the podcast, mostly in response to an article written by my good friend Joanna Robinson at Vanity Fair entitled Jon Snow Should Have Stayed Dead. At first I was not ready to go along with her on this one, as I do subscribe to the theory that Jon Snow is necessary to the plot going forward. But with a deeper inspection of her piece, the point is much clearer: it’s not that Jon Snow shouldn’t have come back, it’s that Game of Thrones now feels too safe.

And that’s true, to an extent. Ever since the original outline of George R.R. Martin’s story (which was meant to be a trilogy of books) was released to the public, we’ve known what was long rumored: that George has favorites. These favorites – characters likely to make it to the end of this story – are Jon, Arya, Dany, Bran, and Tyrion. This revelation is the backbone of why book readers have always been so sure of Jon’s return. Now that Jon’s return is confirmed, we feel safe.

What we don’t really know is what happens next. And while we feel safe now – as we did for two books and almost two seasons following Ned Stark’s death – how long will that last? If I were the storyteller behind this narrative, I might want the audience to feel safe with Jon Snow back. There’s still plenty of time to tear away a beloved character (even if that’s one of George’s favorites). Jon’s resurrection makes things safe, for now. But stay on your toes, fellow fans, because there’s plenty of death still to come.

The other part of this is whether death is cheap now because of resurrection. That doesn’t ring true to me. There are resurrections in the book – Jon, Lady Stoneheart, Beric – but they are all tied to unfinished business. Noble pursuits that ended with said character being wronged horribly. Beyond the way The Night’s King recruits his soldiers, I don’t see resurrection becoming rampant in Westeros. Plus, when you consider the army of the dead marching (slowly) toward The Wall, perhaps it’s not so bad that we’re balancing the equation a little.

What are the chances that we’ll see Lady Stoneheart this season?

By my estimation, about 105%. With the big resurrection out of the way, the show has pulled the cover off the resurrection machine and we can begin to explore who gets to come back and why. Plus, production info has confirmed the return of Paul Kaye, who played Thoros of Myr. With Brienne and Pod shown at Riverrun in one of the trailers, it would be surprising if they didn’t do some Lady Stoneheart stuff.

Did this week’s episode confirm that Tyrion is a Secret Targaryen?

Not completely, but it feels like a nice nod to the longstanding fan theory that Tyrion has some blood of the dragon in him. As the show established in the conversation with Missandei, the dragons are capable of identifying the friends of their mother. So them not eating Tyrion isn’t a huge leap. Though it’s worth noting that these two dragons have never met Tyrion, which means that they are either (a) really good at spotting a liar or (b) there’s something special about Tyrion. I prefer to believe it’s the latter, Secret Targaryen or not.

If this is Ser Arthur Dayne at The Tower of Joy, why is he wearing Targaryen armor?

In the books, Ned Stark, Howland Reed, and their team of Robert Baratheon loyalists go to The Tower of Joy, a holdfast in the northern edge of the Red Mountains of Dorne. This is after Robert Baratheon has defeated Rhaegar Targaryen at the Battle of the Trident. They find it guarded by three members of the Kingsguard (Ser Arthur Dayne, Ser Oswell Whent, and Lord Commander Gerold Hightower). These men, sworn men to Rhaegar Targaryen, are defending the tower where the abducted Lyanna Stark (Ned’s sister) is being held. It is in this sequence where Lyanna is found dying, asking Ned to promise her something (everyone assumes it is “protect the baby I just had with Rhaegar,” a baby who would grow up to be Jon Snow).

If these men are members of the Kingsguard, the white cloaks we’ve seen throughout the series, why aren’t they wearing Kingsguard armor? I can think of two easy answers. The first is that this is something the show needed to change in order for the audience to quickly identify both the sides at play and the time period. The second is that by this point, Ser Arthur Dayne might not have been doing Kingsguard things. He was part of the group that helped Rhaegar abduct Lyanna, likely staying with her as he marched off to war with Robert Baratheon. A change of armor isn’t that far out of the question. Sometimes the show has to keep things simple, because not everyone has read the books, and this is something we’re just going to have to live with.

How did Hodor get the name Hodor?

The most explanation we’ve ever received from George R.R. Martin is that Hodor is a nonsense word that Wyllis (in the books his name is Walder) picks up after something happens to him. But there is a theory I like, that Wyllis was injured during the abduction of Lyanna Stark – someone for whom he had a lot of affection – and the white horse we see in Bran’s vision was named Hodor.

What is Littlefinger’s master plan?

It’s hard to know where Lord Baelish’s head is at these days. His physical whereabouts are most likely in the Eyrie, rounding up the Knights of the Vale. Per his conversation with Cersei last season, Littlefinger is looking to take Winterfell from the Boltons, probably marry Sansa (gross), and become Warden of the North. By allying himself with both the Boltons and the Lannisters, he’s in a position to wait and see who’s going to win before he ultimately makes his move.

The one thing I don’t think Littlefinger has a hand in: anything happening in Meereen. Unlike Varys, who is playing the long game by supporting the Targaryen restoration, Littlefinger’s machinations appear to be confined to creating chaos in Westeros. Unless he’s got some yet-unexplained plan that’s far-reaching, he’s actually working on a much smaller scale than we may have originally thought. His ultimate downfall may be that he’s still playing the Game of Thrones, while others are starting to move on to the larger conflict between the living and the dead.

This is all I’ve got for this week, though I’m sure episode 3, “Oathbreaker,” will deliver plenty more. If you have questions that you’d like to have answered on A Storm of Spoilers or in this mailbag column, feel free to send them to [email protected] and we’ll do our best.

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the upcoming One Perfect Shot TV show (HBO Max, 2021) and the co-host of The Storm: A LOST Rewatch podcast. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)