Resurrection of Jon Snow in Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 2-3
If you’ve yet to watch this week’s episode of Game of Thrones, what are you even doing with your life? Just kidding, but please be aware of spoilers below. If you’ve already watched this week’s episode, you’ll know that the impossible happens: Jon Snow is brought back to life. It kind of goes down the way we thought it might after the premiere: Melisandre ressurects him by casting a spell. The more we think about the circumstances, though, the more we can’t help but doubt the magical prowess of the Red Priestess. In fact, we have an entirely different idea for how Jon lasts so long: Jon Snow wargs into his direwolf, Ghost, just before he dies.
As a reminder, warging is the process of transferring consciousness into another physical body. Bran Stark wargs quite a bit, but it’s widely believed to be woven into the Stark bloodline. Not only is it possible that Jon warged, but eagle-eyed Game of Thrones fans can find a wealth of hints hidden in the most recent episodes. We even considered it at the end of season five as we desperately thought of theories for how he could return. Wondering what we mean? Keep reading as we break it down below, then check out all the reactions you had to the new episode.
The hint in the actual death scene. Back in 2015, fans found a glint of hope in Jon Snow’s final moments. Upon very close inspection of the scene, one Reddit user called out the fact that Jon’s eyes seem to change as he dies. One widely considered possibility was that Jon warged into Ghost at this very moment. Despite the fact that we’ve seen Bran’s eyes turn milky white when he wargs, it doesn’t mean Jon would be the same. Could he have been warging into Ghost at this very moment?
Jon Snow’s ability to warg in the Game of Thrones book series. Although untrained and a novice, Jon Snow has the power to warg in the books. What’s more, he specifically wargs into his direwolf, Ghost. Pretty convenient, if you ask us. Melisandre’s previous allusion to Jon Snow’s great power. Melisandre all but confirms Jon Snow has abilities tucked away deep inside him. Back in season five, she tells him, “This power in you, you resist it, and that’s your mistake. Embrace it.” A traumatic event like his death might have been just the thing to unleash his full potential. Ghost’s behavior in the season premiere. Right after Jon Snow dies, it’s like Ghost changes, or somehow senses it. He scratches at the walls of his pen, obviously distressed. He howls. We know the Starks share some sort of deep connection with their direwolves. Does Ghost merely detect Jon Snow’s passing, or does he change because Jon Snow entered his body? Ghost’s unwillingness to leave Jon’s side. As soon as Ghost is released from his pen, he rushes to be by Jon. He’s especially attached to the body — he sleeps near it, and he gets agitated when he feels like it’s endangered. Of course it makes sense that a direwolf would want to protect his master, but if Jon were in there too, wouldn’t it be extra incentive to preserve the body? Isn’t it possible that Jon might want to try to get back into his original body, if he was indeed trapped in Ghost?
Melisandre’s crisis of faith. Look, it’s not all about proving what Jon does do. It’s also sort of about proving what Melisandre doesn’t do. In the premiere, the Red Priestess seems clearly shaken and conflicted. Even when Ser Davos asks if she can resurrect Jon Snow, she’s not entirely sure it will work. Perhaps it’s just serendipity. Maybe they try the spell just as Jon Snow feels he is strong enough to warg out of Ghost and back into his original body. Ghost’s behavior right before Jon’s return. The final piece of this puzzle is Jon’s awakening. Melisandre attempts the incantation for her spell several times, and even whispers “please” just before she leaves the room. This lack of conviction again suggests her potential failure to bring him back. Everyone leaves the room, except for Ghost. Then, just moments before Jon gasps for breath, Ghost raises his head. This could be the precise moment Jon Snow leaves Ghost’s body.
The Subtle Detail in Last Week’s Game of Thrones Episode Will Make You Sad About Ned Stark All Over Again
The second episode of Game of Thrones season six contains a virtual treasure trove of important details about the future of the series, including details about Lyanna Stark, drama in the Iron Islands, and a long-awaited resurrection. Despite all that, one of the best scenes in “Home” doesn’t concern what’s coming next to Westeros but rather something that already happened.
In the scene where Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven travel back to Winterfell, they come across a happy moment between the Stark children. A young Ned is trying to teach his little brother, Benjen, how to properly sword fight in the courtyard and tells him, “Keep your shield up, or I’ll ring your head like a bell.” You know who else is fond of that same saying? Jon Snow. We hear Jon say the same exact thing to that murderous turd Olly when he’s training him at The Wall in season five, which must mean Ned uttered it quite a bit to Jon while raising him. Regardless of whether or not we find out Lyanna and Rhaegar are Jon’s biological parents in the third episode, it’s clear that Ned and Jon shared a special connection. Check out the scene below, and then see what Kit Harington had to say about the episode’s big twist.
Brace Yourself For Even More Big Jon Snow News
Can your heart handle even more Jon Snow news? This time it’s about something very, very important — his hair. Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones finally answered the big Jon Snow question, and Kit Harington chatted with Entertainment Weekly about what it was like to keep that secret. Now EW has dropped even more major news about the fan-favorite character: Jon Snow will be rocking a man bun this season. Answering all the burning questions about the status of his hair this time around, Kit said, “We cut it much shorter for this season, and do a different hairstyle this season and put it up in a bun.” Yesss.
As we wait to find out more about Jon Snow’s condition in this week’s upcoming episode, check out the hilarious memes about last week’s big moment plus a must-read theory about his return.
The big Jon Snow reveal, explained
Since July 2011, readers of George R.R. Martin’s books have been in suspense about the fate of one of the series’ central characters, Jon Snow.
Now, nearly five years later, Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones, titled “Home,” has resolved this cliffhanger in dramatic and definitive fashion.
As many fans suspected, Jon Snow was not in fact gone for good. With the aid of Melisandre’s magic, he returned to life in the final moments of this week’s episode.
And though some may cry foul that Game of Thrones has chickened out of killing a major character, delivering a cheap fake-out instead, this is a plot development that’s been long in the making.
There were ample clues in the books and hints by the show’s creators that Jon’s death wouldn’t necessarily be permanent, as I wrote last week (and last year). And the series laid the groundwork for Melisandre’s resurrection of him all the way back in season three.
So the big question all along, to me, hasn’t been whether Jon Snow would come back — it’s been whether his brush with death would make the character more interesting. And on that, the jury’s still out.
The groundwork for this twist was laid back in season three
In both George R.R. Martin’s books and the HBO show, the groundwork for Jon’s resurrection was laid with a years-old subplot far from the Wall involving Jon’s sister, Arya Stark.
Before the Hound became Arya’s traveling companion, you may recall, she spent some time with the Brotherhood without Banners — a likable group of bandits waging an insurgency against the Lannisters.
The Brotherhood was led by Lord Beric Dondarrion (pictured above), who had one particularly unusual characteristic — he’d been brought back from the dead six times.
And the person who kept bringing him back was Thoros of Myr — a “red priest” of the Lord of Light, just like Melisandre. Thoros explained how he did it in the sixth episode of season three:
“I knelt beside his cold body and said the old words. Not because I believed in them, but he was my friend, and he was dead. And they were the only words I knew. And for the first time in my life, the Lord replied. Beric’s eyes opened. And I knew the truth. Our god is the one true god. And all men must serve him.”
Indeed, the show went even further than the books in laying this groundwork. Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss invented a plot line in which Melisandre would visit these characters and learn of Thoros’s powers.
She was actually rather surprised that Thoros could manage to pull this off, and told him, “You should not have this power.” But clearly, the wheels were turning in her head.
The other bit of setup here related to Jon’s direwolf, Ghost. Because another way the series established someone’s mind — but not someone’s body — can escape death was through warging (when a character’s mind enters an animal’s body).
The prologue of A Dance With Dragons told the story of a wildling warg, Varamyr Sixskins, whose consciousness went into a wolf when he died. Many believe Martin focused on this one-off character in the prologue to establish what happens to a warg when he dies. (The show depicted this, too, when the eagle-controlling wildling Orell was killed by Jon back in season three — his eyes turned white, and the eagle suddenly began attacking Jon.)
In the books, it was established that Jon has this power too — he has dreams where his mind enters his direwolf Ghost’s body — just like his brother Bran. He never really chooses to use or grapple with it, but it’s clear to the reader that he has it. And, conveniently, when Jon is killed in both the books and show, Ghost isn’t killed with him.
It’s not entirely clear whether Jon’s consciousness in fact went into Ghost in the show. David Benioff doesn’t mention it in his “Inside the Episode” commentary, saying only that “Ghost has a kind of sixth sense when it comes to Jon,” letting him know “when Jon’s in danger and when he might be coming back.” But when everyone left the room and Ghost looked at Jon’s body, that was when Jon suddenly woke up.
Fans didn’t buy Jon’s death, because he seems too important to the larger story
There are also more extratextual reasons most avid fans of the series expected Jon to return: He seems incredibly important to the larger story of the series in ways that haven’t fully come into play yet.
For instance, the mystery of who Jon’s mother is has been teased from the start. Most fans think they’ve figured it out, and that his true parents are Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. (Here’s our fuller explainer on the R+L=J theory.) For a while, the show had been mostly ignoring the history of those two long-dead characters, but in season five, Rhaegar and Lyanna were suddenly the subject of several scenes again, in an apparent effort to remind viewers of their importance.
This revelation would be deeply significant, because it would make Jon a blood relative of another main character, Daenerys Targaryen (she’s Rhaegar’s sister, so Jon would be Dany’s nephew), as well as giving him a potential claim to the Iron Throne. With this “blood of the dragon,” he could even potentially ride one of Dany’s dragons later on.
Additionally, the books have extensively set up a prophecy believed by followers of the Lord of Light — that a promised hero, Azor Ahai, would return and save the world from darkness. Melisandre thought that hero was Stannis — but in one chapter she searches for him while staring into her magical flames, and says, “All I see is Snow” — with a capital S. If Jon’s father is, in fact, Rhaegar Targaryen, that would mean he’s the blood of the dragon, as well as a Stark — a fitting lineage for a mystical hero in a series called A Song of Ice and Fire.
The big question now is whether Jon’s character will become more interesting
Jon Snow has a reputation as a boring do-gooder drip, which I think is fair for his portrayal in the show.
It’s somewhat less fair for his character in the books, though. Martin gave Jon some really interesting moral dilemmas in A Dance with Dragons involving his conflicts between his duty to the Night’s Watch and his desire to end the Boltons’ cruel reign over the North, and I’ve complained that this was left out of last season.
So the big question I have going forward is how Jon’s death and resurrection will make his show character more interesting.
If, now that Jon’s back, he goes right back to ponderously lecturing about how winter is coming and doing good deeds, then this twist would indeed be a pointless fakeout. Instead, this experience should shake him to his foundations and transform his character.
Encouragingly, next week’s episode is titled “Oathbreaker,” which suggests the show may finally be incorporating some of Jon’s knottier A Dance with Dragons material and sending his character in some interesting directions. But in my view, that’s what this twist will ultimately be judged by: its effects on Jon Snow’s character.
‘Game of Thrones’ Season 6, Episode 2: Jon Snow, Dragons and Ramsay’s Dogs
A week after revealing herself to be perhaps centuries old as part of an extended pity party over her shattered visions (she thought), Melisandre put an end to the essentially nonmysterious mystery over whether Jon Snow would stay dead. He didn’t, jolting awake after some laying of hands, a few prayers and roughly 68,000 blog posts.
At the moment, viewers are nearly alone in this knowledge — all of the direct witnesses, except Ghost, left before Jon had his awakening. This includes the Red Woman, who apparently read none of those blog posts, most of which surmised that the story placed her at Castle Black essentially to bring back Snow. She had to be talked into even trying by Ser Davos, the most valuable player of the first fifth of Season 6.
In the end, it was a mostly perfunctory resolution to a twist that surprised, I’m guessing, few viewers. Jon Snow’s assassination was astonishing immediately when it happened but, upon further consideration, seemed destined to be overturned on magical appeal. There were too many questions (his parentage) and teased confrontations (the White Walkers) that would be left unresolved, and the show’s entire Wall story line would be left with a bastard-sized hole in the middle.
The twist was perhaps most compelling as an offscreen object lesson about how drastically viewers’ relationships with beloved television shows have changed, to the point that any show runners considering old tricks like big, shocking deaths and cliffhangers might want to think twice. (Certainly, after Jon Snow and the Glenn thing on “The Walking Dead,” the is-he-or-isn’t-he-dead concept seems done.)
If David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the show’s creators, had to do it over again, I wonder if they would have handled the whole arc over a few weeks in the same season, giving obsessives less time to pick apart the move and go N.S.A. on the movements and haircuts of Kit Harington, the actor who plays Jon Snow. Of course, overheated publicity isn’t exactly terrible for a TV show.
The good news is, that in dispensing relatively quickly with a question many viewers didn’t see as much of a question at all — is Jon Snow coming back? — the resurrection raises more of them that are arguably more interesting and certainly less cut and dried. For one, what sort of Jon Snow will he be now? Will he be another Beric Dondarrion, who gets killed and returns seemingly whenever convenient? (Seven times at last count.) Seems doubtful, though such a skill could come in handy against a zombie army. (If nothing else, perhaps Jon’s newly undead status will give him additional insight into his opponent.)
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Will he be somehow diminished, a shell of the old Jon Snow? Dondarrion mentioned in Season 3 that with each resurrection, he is less of himself. But would that even be a bad thing in Jon’s case? The guy could stand to tone down the emo quotient a bit, though I’d expect a stint in the afterlife to have the opposite effect.
More important: Will Snow’s return be what finally unites the Night’s Watch and Wildlings, now together at Castle Black after a (wisely) aborted confrontation? If not, what would? If the show wants to take the Christ parallels even farther, it will have Snow forgive his betrayers and strive to bring everyone together as one family against the forces of negation and darkness. They’ll have a pretty good warm-up coming if Ramsay Bolton does lead an attack on Castle Black as mentioned. (Would there be a more satisfying end for Ramsay than for Wun Wun to get ahold of him as he did that feckless archer?)
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s allow him to get some electrolytes, maybe pet his wolf, and then we can start figuring out how he’s going to save the world.
Though Snow’s was the only literal rebirth on Sunday, he was one of several characters who took significant evolutionary steps toward the people they are ultimately meant to be, for better and worse.
For Melisandre, who had been spiraling and admitted to Davos that she was something of a fraud, this display of true supernatural ability would seem to establish her bona fides. But to what end? Is she now linked to Snow for more noble purposes? (He would need her around as his designated reviver, à la Thoros of Myr, if he planned on dying again.) Or will it send her, power-mad, in even darker directions? After all, this is a woman who was burning children roughly a few weeks ago (in “Thrones” time).
Bran Stark came back for the first time since Season 4, appearing mostly in a vision that, thanks to his developing power, took him and the Three-Eyed Raven, Scrooge-like, to a cheerful Winterfell past. Bran witnessed his father and uncle, as boys, sparring, and viewers got the first living look at Lyanna Stark. The girl, Ned’s sister, died before the “Game of Thrones” timeline but will likely have a significant role. We also got the suggestion that Bran’s visions are intoxicating to him, which could be an issue going forward.
Hodor, at the same time, was reborn in our eyes: His real name is Wyllis! And he used to say more things! I may be more excited about the Hodor origin story than I am about the race for the Iron Throne. (Though the “stable boy” part offers a possible hint, I guess.)
Somewhere south of Bran and his magical tree, Theon appears ready to return to the Iron Islands, come what may. Over in Braavos, Arya was finally enough of a nameless girl to get to go back inside, after a few more whacks.
And then there’s Ramsay, who attained new levels of treachery, killing first his father, then his stepmother and infant half-brother. The first move accomplished what had to be Ramsay’s plan all along — making him Lord Bolton, though the timeline was perhaps accelerated by the new heir. The second was the latest, almost unbelievably cruel moment in a show that’s had plenty of them. (I say “almost” because, well, they keep coming.) He did it by letting loose his dogs, who were clearly unsated by the Myranda Value Meal they had last week.
Look, Ramsay’s gonna Ramsay, though I could have done without the mauling sound effects. (Deliver us from this long nightmare, Wun Wun.) It’s unclear if those were the same hounds who, as many commenters noted, mysteriously went missing during Brienne’s rescue of Sansa and Theon last week. (They didn’t look like them.)
I am sorry to see the end of Roose, a sort of down-market Tywin Lannister but with similar diction and parenting skills. (Ramsay was going to get him at some point but Roose certainly exacerbated things with his regular verbal jabs.) I’m less so about the other bad dad who bought it on Sunday, Balon Greyjoy, mostly because we hardly knew him and what we did know wasn’t pleasant.
The demise of Balon, Theon’s father and the king of the Ironborn, came via a new character: his brother Euron, who I’m guessing will be returning soon to claim the throne. Yara thinks she deserves it, however. I’m not going to get too worked up about this subplot until I see where it’s headed, but let’s hope that the Iron Islands aren’t this year’s Dorne.
In another win for Melisandre, you’ll recall that Balon was the last remaining living leech king from her Season 3 liaison with Gendry. (The other two were Robb Stark and Joffrey Baratheon.) So a big week for her!
Jon Snow a ‘god’
After rising from the dead, Kit Harrington’s character, Jon Snow, has already drawn comparisons to Jesus by fans and the inhabitants of Westeros and beyond are set to be just as overawed. “They think you’re some kind of god,” wildling leader Tormund Giantsbane tells him in the preview trailer. This could work in Snow’s favour if he needs to rally support and fight against the Boltons at Winterfell, as well as the White Walkers beyond the Wall.
Arya is ‘no one’
Maisie Williams’s Arya Stark has appeared in episodes one and two but little has happened to her yet. Blind and homeless, she was challenged to fight by the deadly assassins, the Faceless Men, and allowed back into the House of Black and White. Hopefully there will be more action to come in episode three. In the trailer, she is told: “If the girl is truly no one, then she has nothing to fear.”
Ramsay Bolton has a gift
A visitor from the House of Umber has arrived in Winterfell and tells Ramsay Bolton – now Lord Bolton, after violently murdering his father, stepmother and newborn half-brother – that he has a “gift” for him. In season five, the youngest of the Stark children, Rickon, was seen heading to find shelter with the Umbers. Is it possible they might hand him over to the ruthless Ramsay?
Young Ned Stark is back
In what looks like another Bran Stark flashback, a group of young men can be seen fighting on a hilltop. This appears to be Ned Stark, Bran’s father, and Ser Arthur Dayne, a member of Aerys II Targaryen’s Kingsguard. In George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, the scene takes place at the Tower of Joy in Dorne at the end of Robert’s rebellion, although in the books the flashback comes in one of Ned’s dreams. Stark and his men went to the tower to recover his sister, Lyanna. However, she was injured and made him promise something before she dies. Fans have long theorised that she asked him look after her son: Jon Snow.
Game of Thrones: Kit Harington on that ‘Oathbreaker’ ending
This post includes discussion of content from Sunday night’s Game of Thrones episode “Oathbreaker.” Spoilers below. Jon Snow made some key decisions in Sunday’s Game of Thrones. First, he executed the Night’s Watch mutineers – including teenage Olly. Then he declared his intention to leave the Night’s Watch (“Now my watch has ended”). For star Kit Harington, the two decisions were firmly linked together, and also inspired by seeing “nothing” while he was dead.
“He’s done with it,” Harington says of Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch. “He’s seen the other side, seen what’s there, and comes back and realizes he needs to lead his life and get out of there. This place betrayed him, and everything he stood for has changed. Plus, he had to kill a child, Olly, and that’s what really does it. He kills an underage kid and he can’t see the point in being up there anymore. At the heart of it, he knows by staying at the Wall he can’t help the kingdoms and he’s probably going to die very quickly if he stays.”
As we saw in Game of Thrones’ very first episode, quitting the Night’s Watch is an executable offense. But the Night’s Watch creed specifically reads, “Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death…” Since Jon Snow has now died, he would no longer technically be an “oathbreaker” to give up the Black. Previously, Harington told EW that his chat this week with Melisandre and Ser Davos about his afterlife experience — or lack thereof — was the most important part of the season for his character.
“At first, I was worried that he’ll wake up and he’s the same, back to normal — then there’s no point in that death,” Harington said. “He needs to change. There’s a brilliant line when Melisandre asks: ‘What did you see?’ And he says: ‘Nothing, there was nothing at all.’ That cuts right to our deepest fear, that there’s nothing after death. And that’s the most important line in the whole season for me. Jon’s never been afraid of death, and that’s made him a strong and honorable person. He realizes something about his life now: He has to live it because that’s all there is. He’s been over the line and there’s nothing there. And that changes him. It literally puts the fear of God into him. He’s seen oblivion, and that’s got to change somebody in the most fundamental way there is. He doesn’t want to die ever again. But if he does, he doesn’t want to be brought back.”