Shocking deaths in Game of Thrones are nothing new. From Robb Stark to Tywin Lannister to Prince Oberyn, no one is safe from the wrath of George RR Martin or the show’s creators DB Weiss and David Benioff. Valar Morghulis and all that…
Anyway, one death no one can see coming is that of Daenerys Targaryen. She has survived over in Essos as a young girl, as the wife of an un-horsed Khal and with the big target on her back as the Mother of Dragons and Breaker of Chains, all the while being pursued by King Robert’s assassins and the Masters of Slaver’s Bay.
She now has an army of Unsullied, a Dothraki horde, the Iron Fleet, the support of Dorne and Highgarden, three dragons, the sanctuary of Dragonstone and the wise advice of Lord Varys and Tyrion Lannister (two great underdog survivors in Westeros) to protect her. Hell, she even has Ser Jorah hundred of miles away in a cell dying from Greyscale willing to protect her if he got the chance.
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Despite all that, it seems Daenerys won’t be able to escape the inevitable should this theory come true.
The idea starts with the letter sent to Jon Snow, King in the North, by Tyrion. You’ll remember from the episode Stormborn that Daenerys demanded Jon come to Dragonstone and bend the knee. Tyrion advises softer diplomacy as she’s already proved she can conquer, now she must show everyone she can be a politician too.
Regardless, she allows Tyrion to send the raven to Jon at Winterfell. It reads:
Daenerys Stormborn, first of her name, invites you to Dragonstone, [illegible], Dorne and the Reach, the Ironborn Fleet, [illegible but probably about Dothraki and Unsullied] and three Dragons. The Seven Kingdoms [illegible but something about Cersei]. Join us and together we can end her tyranny. [Illegible but something about bastards], for all dwarves are bastards in their father’s eyes.
You don’t have to be a genius to see there is absolutely no mention of bending the knee and the phrasing isn’t quite as authoritarian as Daenerys would have liked. Use of the word ‘invites’ rather than ‘demands’ and saying ‘together we can end’ suggests there’s some kind of mutual respect. There isn’t. Daenerys sees all other Lords and Ladies as beneath her and her dragons.
There’s bound to be some sort of argument when Jon arrives at Dragonstone expecting to negotiate a way of mining the dragonglass from underneath the castle while Daenerys thinks he’s come to bend the knee and swear loyalty and service to her. And why will they argue? Because Tyrion’s letter was rather misleading.
Couple that with Lady Olenna’s advice to ‘not be a sheep, be a dragon’ and to stop listening to ‘clever men’, it spells trouble for Tyrion as her Hand. If not trouble, then at least a single-minded approach she’s never taken before towards those who have offered her counsel.
Some conversations about bending the knee to Daenerys will likely take place and Jon will probably end up doing it. They’ll either agree to fight the Night King together first, or they’ll defeat Cersei and head on up to The Wall with the full force of Westeros armed with dragonglass weaponry.
Anyway, that bit isn’t important. It’s the fact he bends the knee that holds the key to whether Daenerys Targaryen lives or dies.
Jon has a history of doing what’s right even when everyone else thinks it’s wrong or foolish. Befriending and protecting Samwell Tarly when they both joined The Night’s Watch, heading to Craster’s Keep to kill the mutineers, joining Mance Rayder’s army, letting the Wildlings south of The Wall… the list could go on.
His determination to do the right thing despite only recently being crowned King in the North by the northern lords will mean he bends the knee to Daenerys. He knows how important the dragonglass is to defeating the dead, more than any title given to him by the living.
However, bending the knee to Daenerys will make her the fourth person he’s done that to. Everyone else Jon has pledged some form of loyalty to has died. And they haven’t just died and life goes on… Jon has been the one to replace them.
You’ll have to cast your mind back to when Jon joined the Night’s Watch and was made squire to Lord Commander Jeor Mormont, he wasn’t too pleased about it. He wanted to be a ranger like his Uncle Benjen and he kicked up a mighty fuss about it.
However, it didn’t take long for Jon to see why Mormont had chosen him be his squire and he soon pledged loyalty to serve the Lord Commander as best he could.
Lord Commander Mormont later died during a mutiny at Craster’s Keep. Jon then replaced him as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.
Next up was Mance Rayder. Jon was playing a part given to him by Qhorin Halfhand to get inside the mind of the King Beyond The Wall, but he still pledged loyalty to the wildling cause.
He even scaled the wall with Tormund Giantsbane and raided villages just to prove he was behind them. At one point he even spoke of the respect he had for Mance, despite having betrayed him, and vowed to help the wildlings regardless.
Mance Rayder would later die at the stake, burned alive by Stannis Baratheon before Jon put an arrow through his heart. Jon would later replace Mance as leader of the wildlings as he leads them into battle against Ramsay Bolton outside Winterfell.
That leads us nicely on to Stannis Baratheon. You’ll remember that when Jon went north of The Wall to negotiate terms with Mance Rayder, who was laying siege to Castle Black, it was Stannis who rode in and slaughtered much of the wildling army.
Stannis persistently asked Jon to join his cause, but he rejected, saying the Night’s Watch was an apolitical military force and wouldn’t involve itself with what was going on in the south. Regardless, Jon Snow bent the knee when he met Stannis, pledging to help him and his men take shelter at Castle Black while they replenish their supplies.
Stannis Baratheon would later die fighting Ramsay Bolton while trying to take Winterfell. Jon would later take Winterfell from Ramsay and become King in the North.
And that leaves us with Daenerys. She is demanding Jon Snow bend the knee and swear fealty to her. Jon is a pragmatic man. He’s done everything that’s asked of him with the bigger picture in mind and constantly improved his standing in the world. Should he bend the knee, it could foretell the death of Daenerys.
When you consider the R + L = J theory too, it would mean Jon could replace Daenerys and become the Father of Dragons too – he is technically a Targaryen after all.
Could a half Targaryen, half Stark hold the North? Could he rule the Seven Kingdoms? Could he placate the northern lords who he swore to be king of after bending the knee? No one really knows yet, and this is just a theory.
All that’s clear, is that people who Jon appears to be serving, always end up dead. Could Daenerys be next on the list? The way her character arc is curving, she may well be.