In the last ‘Send the Ravens’ column for ‘Game of Thrones’ season 7, we look at the Night King’s origins and answer your questions…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
It’s going to be at least a year before the final season of ‘Game of Thrones’ debuts on HBO, which then sadly means there are only six episodes remaining until the series comes to an end.
A ton of mythology was unpacked in the season 7 finale including Jon Snow’s true parentage as Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark were revealed as his father and mother but more importantly they were married, which makes him their legitimate son. In other words based on the line of succession in Westeros, Jon Snow aka Aegon Targaryen is the true and rightful heir to the Iron Throne. To make matters that much more complicated, he just slept with Daenerys Targaryen, who is actually his aunt by blood.
For all the major moments that unfolded in the ‘Game of Thrones’ season finale, perhaps none were bigger than the Night King finally charging the Wall with his army of the dead while riding on the back of his reanimated dragon Viserion. The Night King was able to use the dragon’s blue flame to bring the Wall down for the first time in over 8,000 years and his army was able to pass by.
Now some astute viewers who watched the ‘Game of Thrones’ finale noticed something very odd when the Night King led his army to the gates at Eastwatch-By-The-Sea in the finale. The formation of the zombies looked suspiciously like a direwolf — the sigil of House Stark.
Now that convinced some conspiracy theorists that the Night King is actually Bran Stark, but that has never quite made sense to me. As the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran has some connection to the Night King, especially after his ill-fated vision quest ended with the leader of the White Walkers touching him and creating a bond between the two of them. That being said, the theory that Bran has traveled back in time on numerous occasions in an attempt to stop the Night King before eventually warging into his body just doesn’t hold much water with me.
What could be more interesting is the Night King’s true identity being revealed as some point during the final season.
Now the story about the Night King in the TV series versus the tales from the original material written by George R.R. Martin are slightly different.
As we already broke down a couple of seasons ago in a separate ‘Send the Ravens’ column, in the books the Night’s King (slightly different name) is rumored to be the 13th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, who reportedly fell in love with a woman from beyond the Wall that had pale skin and eyes as blue as the ocean. The Lord Commander ventured out to retrieve his corpse bride and the two of them then declared themselves as king and queen over the Nightfort, ruling very cruelly for a number of years until they were finally defeated. Once the Night’s King was toppled, all records about his existence were wiped out so all that’s known about him now are stories passed down throughout the generations.
In the TV series, the Night King was created when the Children of the Forest were trying to make a weapon to use against mankind after they started invading the land that would eventually be known as Westeros. Through some black magic, the Children plunged a shard of dragon glass into one of the first men’s heart and he became all consumed with wiping out mankind. Unfortunately, the plan backfired because the Night King ended up building his own army with the sole purpose of killing all life — including the Children of the Forest.
What’s interesting is the identity of that man chosen to become the Night King.
Now it could be just a random person who’s identity will never be revealed considering there are only six episodes remaining and ‘Game of Thrones’ still has to sort out a lot of other details including Cersei Lannister’s claim to the Iron Throne not to mention a family situation brewing between Jon ‘Aegon Targaryen’ Snow and his girlfriend/aunt Daenerys Targaryen.
Still, it would be an interesting wrinkle if Bran Stark were to travel back to witness the man transformed into the Night King to perhaps find out some information that could be used against him in the war against the dead.
Here’s where things take a turn — in the books, Old Nan (the nanny who used to care for the Stark children) used to tell them tales before bed, often times about legends just like the Night’s King. In her stories, Old Nan would tell Bran about this vicious Lord Commander gone astray and how he may not be just a random Northerner who became an evil king. In fact, Old Nan believes the Night’s King was a Stark.
“He was a Stark, the brother of the man who brought him down. He was a Stark of Winterfell and who can say. Mayhaps his name was Brandon. Mayhaps he slept in this very bed in this very room.”
Now don’t take the fact that his name might be ‘Brandon’ as any reference to Bran Stark actually being the Night King. Brandon is a very popular name for the Stark family the same way Aegon is used with Targaryen children. But it would be a twist for the Night King’s identity to actually link back to the Stark family from when they first arrived in Westeros.
That would explain the direwolf symbol marked by the formation of the army of the dead as the marched towards the Wall. It would also explain why the Night King targeted Viserion flying through the sky with his ice spear rather than taking out Drogon on the ground because Jon Snow was standing right next to him. Perhaps the Night King knows that Jon is a Stark and he’s unwilling to kill someone from his own family. Remember, the Night King’s second spear tossed at Drogon was after he was already in the air and far away from Jon Snow. One last note — when Benjen Stark saved Jon before being attacked by the dead, we never saw what happened to him.
Benjen was never completely turned but rather killed and then brought back by the Children of the Forest as some sort of half-man, half dead person. Perhaps the Night King captured Benjen and intends to use him in his army as a fellow Stark.
It will also be interesting to see which path the Night King takes when marching south — will he attack Winterfell, the ancestral home of House Stark, or perhaps that’s the one palce he intends to leave untouched until the end because that will be the place where he will reign. In the books, Winterfell was founded by Brandon ‘The Builder’ Stark, who also helped build the Wall after the White Walkers were defeated in the ‘Battle of the Dawn’ at the end of the Long Night. Is is possible Brandon is brother to the Night King? Just another interesting wrinkle to ponder.
Then again this could all be speculation just like Bran being the Night King and really the leader of the White Walker army is nothing more than a random man picked out by the Children of the Forest to become the first sacrifice in their war against mankind. Only time will tell when ‘Game of Thrones’ returns for season 8.
With that said, let’s get to your ‘Game of Thrones’ questions for the finale….
Will Dani and Jon have a baby from tonight's encounter and why was Tyrion standing outside the room looking concerned?
— Angelina 🗝️ 💜 (@AngieJaxson) August 28, 2017
It certainly seems likely that Jon and Daenerys would have conceived a child together from that night of passion, especially considering the complicated future they will have after the truth is revealed. Jon was smart to question whether or not Daenerys could actually have children or not considering her only source was the witch, who caused her son Rhaego to be stillborn in a piece of blood magic to “save” Khal Drogo.
It can’t be coincidence that later in the same episode, Jon and Daenerys end up in bed together just as his true parentage is revealed.
Now you have to remember as icky as incest might seem to all of us — and rightfully so — but in the history of Westeros, it’s fairly common.
Daenerys is the product of incest — her father ‘The Mad King’ Aerys Targaryen and her mother was his sister wife. Almost every Targaryen throughout history was married to a sister or some other relative in an attempt to keep the bloodline pure. Times have changed dramatically since Robert Baratheon was crowned king, which is why everyone frowned upon Cersei and Jamie Lannister having an affair as brother and sister.
Still, don’t be surprised if Jon and Daenerys end up parents to the next ruler of the Seven Kingdoms with a child on the way in season 8.
Robert Baratheon was crowned king after overthrowing the Targaryen dynasty but his rule didn’t come without some justification based on his lineage.
Robert’s father, Steffon Baratheon, is actually first cousin to Aerys Targaryen aka ‘The Mad King’ so technically he has a familiar attachment to the Targaryen bloodline. Baratheon’s and Targaryen’s have been attached to each other for centuries ever since Orys Baratheon — founder of House Baratheon — was one of Aegon I Targaryen’s fiercest generals when he conquered the Seven Kingdoms. In fact, Orys Baratheon was rumored to be Aegon’s bastard half-brother so there are deep connections between the two families.
To that point, Robert also had no natural heirs to the throne.
Joffrey and Tommen — who aren’t actually his children anyways — are both dead and the only known living connection to Robert is his bastard son Gendry, who wouldn’t be eligible until the king or queen naturalized him and that isn’t going to happen with Cersei Lannister still sitting on the Iron Throne.
Based on the original Targaryen bloodline — Aerys Targaryen’s first born son Rhaegar Targaryen would have been next in line. When he died, his eldest living son would have been next to sit on the Iron Throne and that’s Jon Snow. Rhaegar’s other children were murdered during the sacking of King’s Landing when Robert took the throne in the first place.
So there’s the lineage by which Jon Snow aka Aegon Targaryen is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
Did Tormund die?
— Frank Dicristofano (@Tank2526) August 28, 2017
‘Game of Thrones’ clearly has no problem wiping out major characters, but it would be rather unsatisfactory for someone as pivotal as Tormund to not even get a death scene. Plus as the old adage goes — if you don’t see them die, there’s no proof they’re dead. The only person who has died off screen, who has been confirmed as dead, is Stannis Baratheon and that was very well implied after Brienne swung her sword at him a couple of seasons ago yet we never saw his body.
Instead, Roose Bolton mentioned retrieving his body after the battle was won.
In this case, Tormund and Beric Dondarrion, who was also at the Wall when it crumbled, will likely survive and travel south to warn Jon Snow that the army of the dead is on its way.
— Derek Kavanagh (@kavanagh254) August 28, 2017
It’s actually Viserion who was killed by the Night King before being reanimated as one of his soldiers. Now I’m just making an educated guess about whether or not Viserion is actually a White Walker versus a wight…but here’s my theory.
In past episodes we’ve seen the Night King lay his hands on a child that was brought to him from Craster’s Keep that he transformed into one of his White Walkers. The baby’s eyes turned that pale blue after the Night King touched it. Now remember those babies were alive before being transformed into White Walkers just like the Night King was alive before he was turned by the Children of the Forest.
When the Night King and his army sacked Hardhome a couple of seasons ago and killed hundred of Wildlings, he didn’t touch anybody but instead just put his arms in the air and they all raised up from the dead.
Considering that Viserion was dead when they dragged him from the icy waters and the Night King touched him, my best guess is that he’s a wight. A reanimated corpse brought back to life to serve the Night King.
Anything is possible although it seems like the way things timed out, Bran and Samwell were discovering Jon’s heritage at the same time when he was going to bed with Daenerys. Bran has known for quite some time that Jon is actually the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark but hasn’t told his brother that information yet.
Only after Samwell arrived did he seem to get a sense of urgency in telling his former half-brother now cousin that he’s actually the true heir to the Iron Throne.
As previously discussed, Tyrion’s strange look at Jon and Daenerys as they went to bed together probably stemmed from one of two things…
Either Tyrion has fallen for Daenerys, which is entirely possible given that nearly every man who worked for her fell head over heels love with her or he’s concerned about the emotional attachment she’s growing for Jon Snow and how that might affect her decision making going forward. Let’s not forget, Tyrion advised Daenerys to let Jon Snow die beyond the Wall rather than racing to save him.
If Daenerys would have listened, Jon would be dead but the Night King wouldn’t have an undead dragon at his command and presumably the Wall would still be standing.
Well that’s it for another season of ‘Game of Thrones’ and our Send the Ravens columns but don’t worry we will still have plenty of coverage between now and the final season as we gear up for the last six episodes of the series!