Seven hells, Game of Thrones didn’t drag
on that out for long. In Sunday’s season premiere, Jon Snow finally learned what avid viewers have known and readers of George R.R. Martin’s books have suspected for a while now: The character who all his life believed he was Ned Stark’s bastard actually is Aegon Targaryen, heir to the Iron Throne (read full premiere recap here).
The realization came courtesy of Samwell Tarly who, with an assist from the all-seeing Bran, was instrumental in putting the pieces of Jon’s parentage together in the Season 7 finale. In Sunday’s premiere, after Bran announced it was time for his “brother” to learn the truth, he sent Sam down into the Winterfell crypts to deliver the news.
The conversation turned to the differences in Jon and Daenerys’ personalities/ruling styles, which Jon said wasn’t a fair comparison: Though he may have offered mercy where khaleesi chose a show of strength, he argued, he wasn’t a king.
“But you were,” Sam said. “You always have been… I’m not talking about the King of the North. I’m talking about King of the bloody Seven Kingdoms!”
If you’re someone new to the series, or if you’re working your way through old episodes but haven’t quite made it to Season 7 yet, Jon’s complicated lineage might prove confusing. Don’t worry. We’ve got you.
Disclaimer: If you could give a Ted Talk on the history and majesty of Game of Thrones‘ houses, we love you and definitely want you to weigh in below with your reactions to the big moment. But this refresher is for those a little less familiar with the families behind the sigils and such.
Jon’s parentage has always been cloaked in mystery, right from the series’ premiere. Though Ned Stark claimed him as a son and raised him from infancy, much to the chagrin of wife Catelyn, Jon never knew who his mother was. He and Ned had a brief talk about the matter right before Ned headed to King’s Landing in Season 1, with Ned promising to illuminate the matter upon his return. But he was killed while away, seemingly taking the truth about Jon’s mother with him to the grave.
Then, in Season 6, Ned’s legitimate son Bran had a vision of young Ned that proved very interesting. After defeating some Targaryen guards outside of the Tower of Joy, Stark heard a woman’s cry and ran up the stairs to where his sister, Lyanna, had just given birth to a son. It seemed like this was the end of a sad story that had circulated around Westeros for years: Lyanna was supposed to marry Robert Baratheon (who would later become king and take Cersei as a wife) but then Rhaegar Targaryen kidnapped her, forced her to have sex with him and imprisoned her in the tower. Robert then vowed to kill all Targaryens; in the vision, a dying Lyanna told Ned “if Robert finds out, he’ll kill him. You know he will.”
That vision proved Jon had both Targaryen and Stark blood running through his veins. But the issue of whether he was legitimate, and therefore in line to rule the realm, remained… until Gilly noticed a line in an ancient text indicating that Rhaegar had annulled his marriage to Elia Martell, seemingly so he could wed Lyanna. And when Sam and Bran had a meeting of the minds in the Season 7 finale, Bran used his ability to see into the past to watch a pivotal — and previously unconfirmed — moment.
“Rhaegar didn’t kidnap my aunt, or rape her. He loved her, and she loved him,” Bran said. That meant the baby resulting from that union — who was named Aegon Targaryen but was raised as Jon Snow — is a fully legitimate Targaryen heir. And because Rhaegar was one of Daenerys’ brothers, it also means Jon is the Dragon Queen’s nephew.
Remember how they slept together at the end of last season? Awkward.
Now we’ll have to wait at least a week to find out what Jon will do with the new knowledge he’s been handed. Until then, hit the comments with your reactions to the years-in-the-making revelation!