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GAME OF THRONES: Everything You Need to Know Before Jon Snow Visits Dragonstone

When the lords and ladies of the North and the Vale lost their minds on last week’s Game of Thrones, after Jon Snow announced he would accept Daenerys‘s invitation, they weren’t overreacting. While it might seem completely logical for the King in the North to go to the one place that has White Walker-killing dragonglass, there’s even more reason for his men to think he’s walking into a fatal trap.

Because when Jon stands before the Mother of Dragons for the first time, a long and bloody past stands with him, surrounded by complicated relationships that could prove decisive in saving–or damning–the living.

Helen Sloan - HBO (Photo 3)

So here’s everything you need to know about the history and people involved with Jon Snow’s coming visit to Dragonstone.

When Lords of Winterfell Go South They Die

We know how Ned Stark’s time in King’s Landing ended, and how his son Robb met the same fate when he also traveled south. However, fears about Jon’s safety go back much further than that, to one of the most explosive moments in Robert’s Rebellion, a day when House Stark learned just how dangerous a Targaryen monarch can be.

After Lyanna Stark was “kidnapped” by Rhaegar Targaryen (this will explain why those quotation marks are needed), her oldest brother Brandon marched with Northern bannermen to the Red Keep to demand her release. After yelling for Rhaegar to “come out and die” (Brandon was famously rash), they were arrested by the Mad King, who then demanded their fathers come answer for their sons’ crimes.


All the fathers and sons, save for one, were executed upon their arrival, but Lord Rickard Stark’s death was especially cruel. He demanded a trial by combat, so the Mad King named “fire” as his champion. Lord Rickard was hung over a fire before the Iron Throne, where he cooked in his suit of armor. Brandon also died during that “trial,” as Aerys II had him hooked up to a Tyroshi noose with a sword placed just out of his reach. Brandon strangled himself to death vainly trying to reach it so he could cut down his father.

The last four Stark men to go south all died, but none suffered more than Rickard and Brandon at the hands of Daenerys’s father.

Jon Is Putting A Lot of Faith in the Short Time He Spent With Tyrion

Jon said part of the reason he’s going to Dragonstone is because he trusts Hand of the Queen Tyrion, even if the rest of the North doesn’t have confidence in the word of a Lannister. The Freys and Boltons conspired with Tywin to pull off the Red Wedding.

Jon and Tyrion met at the start of the series, when Robert went to Winterfell to ask Ned to be his Hand. Tyrion gave Jon a pep talk when they met about accepting his lot as a bastard, and then he was the only one to tell him the truth about life at the Wall. The two became friendly on their trip to Castle Black together, where Tyrion also helped explain to Jon how lucky his life had been compared to his fellow recruits. That was a key moment in “Lord Snow” being accepted by his brothers in black.


But there time together was brief, and Westeros and the world has dramatically changed numerous times since then. Jon might think he’s a good judge of character, but there’s little reason for anyone else to think Tyrion should be trusted.

Tyrion Might be the Only One Who Will Believe Jon About the White Walkers

In season two, episode two, the Small Council got a letter from Lord Commander Mormont about the dead rising. Tyrion had met Jeor Mormont during his time at the Wall, and he both respected him and liked him.


At the time Cersei dismissed the note–which said a dead man tried to kill the Commander in his chambers–the way everyone laughs at reports of White Walkers. But Tyrion didn’t. “Mormont doesn’t lie,” he said, “Don’t know what I believe, but here’s a fact for you: the Night’s Watch is the only thing that separates us from what lies beyond the Wall.”

Jon was the one who saved Mormont from that attack in his chamber; he’ll be able to confirm Mormont’s letter. More importantly he won’t be the first person Tyrion respects to tell him about the White Walkers, and that could be the difference in forging the alliance mankind needs.

Melisandre Awaits Jon and Davos

For as helpful as Jon and Tyrion’s past might be, Davos’ return to Dragonstone will bring him face-to-face with the person he most despises, Melisandre. Jon exiled her from the Winterfell at the end of season six for burning Shireen, and it’s doubtful Davos–who threatened to kill her himself if they met again–will be happy at their unexpected reunion.

Helen Sloan - HBO (Photo 4)

The red priests and priestesses of the Lord of Light were instrumental in helping keep the peace in Meereen during Daenerys’s absence, which is why she welcomed Melisandre at Dragonstone last week. But what will happen when Davos threatens the red witch? Or Daenerys learns what she did to Shireen? It could blow the whole meeting, or lead to a powerful ally in Melisandre being cast aside when her talents are most needed.

What Does Varys Know About Jon’s Birth

Everything so far is fact, but there is one possibility to consider because if true it would be the most important part of this meeting: does Varys know Jon is the son of Lyanna and Rhaegar?

The story of Jon’s birth is not universally accepted in the Seven Kingdoms. Stannis doubted the truth about him being Ned’s bastard. Baelish was skeptical about Rhaear “kidnapping” Lyanna. If anyone knows the biggest secret in Westeros it would be the Master of Whispers, the spider himself.


If Varys does know who Jon Snow really is–there were servants at the Tower of Joy for his birth, not to mention his little birds might have told him the true nature of Lyanna and Rhaegar’s relationship–that information could save a meeting that has taken a turn for the worse.

Jon’s visit to Daenerys is either very brave or very naive, but either way it has been decades in the making.

That past could make all the difference in the coming Great War.

What do you think? What is the biggest factor in the coming meeting between Daenerys and Jon? Tell us in the comments below.

Images: HBO

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