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Why Jon Snow’s True Lineage Was Important

***Game of Thrones final season spoilers!***

I enjoyed the final season of Game of Thrones, including the finale. I can’t defend every single choice that was made, and I’d probably agree with a lot of the complaints that people have, but I thought it was a fine finale to a great show.  And I grow more comfortable with the finale the more I think about it.

I’d like to take this moment to clear up a problem I see a lot of people complaining about on the internet: what was the point of Jon Snow’s true lineage if he never did anything with it?

Jon Snow Parents 01

He doesn’t appreciate the twist like we do

Here’s your answer:

Jon Snow being the true heir of the Targaryen dynasty didn’t mean anything to him, but it meant everything to Daenerys. That’s why it was so important to the show overall.  It did not mean Jon Snow was going to sit on the Iron Throne. It was always only ever going to be the biggest, most painful straw to break against Dany’s camel back on her journey to becoming the Mad Queen.

More after the jump!

Jon Snow never wanted to be king. He never wanted to be a leader of any kind. He said so at every opportunity and to everyone who would listen. But Jon Snow was a good guy and wanted to help people, so he kept accepting the leadership responsibilities that were thrust upon him.

Daenerys has only ever wanted to be queen. It was her single driving motivation in life. Everything she ever did has been about arriving in Westeros and reclaiming the Iron Throne because she believed it to be her birthright. She even said as much to Jon Snow when they first met, that her “faith” in herself and her birthright to be queen was the one thing that kept her going through all her hardships.

Jon Snow Parents 02

She really, really wanted that pointy chair

So when Jon Snow is told in Season 8 that his real parents were Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, and that he is secretly Aegon Targaryen, heir to the Iron Throne, it doesn’t mean jack to him. He doesn’t want to be king, he doesn’t care about the Targaryen name. In what universe does Jon Snow ever insist upon his apparent Targaryen birthright to claim the Iron Throne? That’s just not who he is as a person. This new information, no matter how true it is, changes nothing for Jon Snow.

But it changes everything for Daenerys.

All of a sudden, when she’s so close to reclaiming the Iron Throne and achieving her one goal in life, Daenerys is told that it was never her birthright to begin with. She’s told that her entire life, all of that faith in herself, was built on a lie. Her only claim to the Iron Throne was based on birthright, and now she’s told that someone else had a better birthright claim all along. This wasn’t something that sprang up all of a sudden, this was something that was true and simply in hiding since the very beginning, since before she had even heard of Westeros.

The scene between Dany and Jon in the crypt below Winterfell, where he tells her the truth, is what all of this had been building towards. It is the moment that Dany’s life begins to fracture.

I will grant you that all of this was pretty rushed and crammed into Season 8. But we got the show that we got, and we need to examine it as it is, not how we wish it had been instead. So we have the moment where Jon Snow tells Dany the truth, and that’s the moment where her journey to becoming the Mad Queen truly begins. Because everything else about her life starts to fall apart in the aftermath of that reveal.

Jon Snow Parents 03

She can’t even right now

Directly because of this new information, Dany loses the love of her life, Jon Snow. In Jon, she had finally met an equal, a true romantic partner, and the two of them were getting hot and heavy at every opportunity. But suddenly Jon doesn’t want to touch her anymore since she’s his aunt. He rejects her romantic advances, even when she says she doesn’t care about their kinship. She lost one of her dragons to help this guy, but now Jon is rejecting her solely because of this new information.

And to make matters worse, Jon doesn’t go anywhere. He doesn’t break up with her and leave. He stays by her side, repeatedly professing his loyalty to her as his queen. So his presence is a constant reminder that they’re no longer lovers, all because of this information.

Jon Snow Parents 04

Were any of us really bothered by these two bumping uglies? Be honest.

Then, in short order, she loses confidant and mentor Jorah Mormont, loses a second dragon, and loses her best friend, Missandei. And she doesn’t just lose them, all three are violently ripped from her by cruel and evil means.

Between losing all of her loved ones, being broken up with by her boyfriend, who continues to stick around and support her regardless, and finding out that her long held claim of birthright was always a lie; all of these things are pretty tough pill to swallow.

As such, when in the heat of battle, Dany snaps and uses her dragon to burn all of King’s Landing. You know what happens next.

Jon Snow Parents 05

Dragon flame can’t melt steel beams

This is why Jon Snow’s true parentage is important to Game of Thrones: it doesn’t amount to anything for him, but it’s the biggest, most difficult, most painful blow to Dany’s psyche, leading to her ultimate ending.

It doesn’t mean anything to Jon; it means everything to Dany.

They are equally important characters to the narrative. It’s “A Song of Ice and Fire”; it’s about both of them. And it was only ever going to be a tragedy.

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About Sean Ian Mills

Hello, this is Sean, the Henchman-4-Hire! By day I am a mild-mannered newspaper reporter in Central New York, and by the rest of the day I'm a pretty big geek when it comes to video games, comic books, movies, cartoons and more.

Posted on May 24, 2019, in Television and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I think that only works if one, and apparently this includes the writers, forgets that Targaryens have given up the throne before, putting aside the book only characters, Aemon gave up his chance to be king and instead joined the Night Watch to let his younger brother take the throne, who in the show is Daenerys grandfather so she would probably know the story and how technically she was on line for the throne because years ago a better claimant refused to be king, this sets a precedent, and a big part of Daenerys breakdown is people trying to betray her for Jon, which Varys did just before the final fight which certainly did NOT help, but the second Jon expresses he doesn’t want it that is where it ends, what did Varys expected would happen?

    Also some of it probably has to do with the HOW she lost it, Jon rejecting her advances and Jorah dying made sense, but the way she loses Rhaegal and Missandei was just dumb, it involves everybody acting like idiots and they nerfed the scorpions in the next episode so instead of coming up as a consequence of a bad decision it came out as a Diabolus Ex Machina.

    Also since they spent the whole season saying how Cersei is keeping women and children inside the Red Keep supposedly to keep them safe but actually to use as human shields so Daenerys couldn’t just fly and burn her, they could have gotten the same result of her be driven by madness with Daenerys just doing exactly that, deciding those were acceptable losses to make sure Cersei burns since she refused to surrender before and she won’t let her do it now, specially after Missandei, instead she decides to burn everything else BUT he Red Keep until the end, that episode was 40 minutes of unnecessary destruction porn that didn’t advance the story, they could have used that time more productively to show her fall but instead they made a dragon destroying a city look boring.

    I’m also still annoyed that nobody gave shit to Sansa for all intents and purposes trying to depose Daenerys after her armies lost people saving her and the North just because she didn’t like her (and her reasons of the north not wanting to follow a southern ruler ring hollow since they northern forces gladly joined the sack of Kings Landing, following Daenerys instead of Jon, it came across that SHE wanted the north independent to rule it), which lead to Varys tying to betray and kill her, which led to her breakdown later.

    I’m also mad about “The Long Night” in general but if I start on that path I will never finish.

    I’m also angry that the directors were offered 10 episodes but decided to do it in 6 just because they were offered Star Wars movies and wanted it all done as soon as possible, leading to the rush.

    Honestly I’m mostly just disappointed because I could honestly see this season being amazing by making just a few changes and taking to the writing with care, instead of just a regular season of any tv-show out there but with a higher budget.

    • I probably definitely agree with all of your complaints about the structure of the season and the episodes, and the stupidity on display by the writing staff and showrunners. But I disagree that Jon simply stating he doesn’t want the throne is where it ends. Because to Dany, it’s not about whether Jon wants the throne or not; to Dany it’s about the fact that Jon has the better birthright claim at all. When she begs him not to tell anyone and keep it a secret, that’s her desperately trying to sweep this all under the rug. If Jon simply not wanting the throne was enough, why not have Dany reveal the secret to everybody, with the addendum that Jon didn’t want it so it didn’t matter. Nah, Jon’s lineage has huge psychological ramifications, beyond simply Jon turning it down.

      I also forgot to add a part in my article about Dany’s paranoia. The secret obviously gets Varys all a flutter, and he starts plotting behind Dany’s back, which adds paranoia to her growing list of negative traits.

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