One of Game of Thrones' most beloved characters met a grizzly end last season...or did they?
The fifth season of Game of Thrones ended with a scene that will stay in the minds of its fans for quite some time: a felled Jon Snow, blood creeping from the wounds inflicted by his so-called ‘brothers’ of the Night’s Watch.
But here’s the thing: Watching that final episode – one that lacked the tight pacing of its predecessors and reverted to a series of frustrating cliff-hangers – when the ‘twist’ came, when Jon was stabbed time and again by the men who foolishly branded him a traitor, it did not shock so much as confuse.
Game of Thrones is famous for its death scenes but in the past those moments have made sense, whereas Jon’s demise does not.
Ned Stark’s beheading, the Red Wedding, the Purple Wedding, the Mountain versus the Viper – all those deaths were unexpected but in each case, once the dust had settled and we were over the initial shock, the twists worked perfectly in the overarching plot.
Jon’s ‘death’ on the other hand seems – for want of a better phrase – really bad storytelling; unless of course he is not dead at all.
So here are 10 reasons why Jon Snow cannot be dead…regardless of what the show-runners and actor Kit Harrington would have us believe.
His story is just beginning
When other characters have died in Game of Thrones, it was as much because their storylines had come to a natural end as anything else. But in the case of Jon, he was literally just getting going.
Recently promoted to Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, Jon had the power to make a difference, but robbing him of that power after a few episodes begs the question: What was the point of what came before?
He is too important (or at least we thought he was)
I have always believed that Jon is a hugely important character in Game of Thrones and that belief remains.
His journey from Winterfell to the Wall and beyond may not have always got the same amount of screen-time as some of the other sub-plots but his remained – for me at least – one of the most captivating strands of the story.
Along with Arya, Jon was a character rightly placed to ultimately avenge the death of his family, and the way his story develops over five seasons he was clearly heading in a certain direction…or so we thought.
The Wall loses its impact without him
The Wall is vital to the future of the Seven Kingdoms and over the first five seasons we have come to realise just how much the Night’s Watch protects the realm…and how foolishly that realm overlooks its importance.
With Jon gone and Sam on his way to Old Town to become a Maester there is no one left there to root for, which could of course prompt the Wall to be overrun by the walking dead but still begs the question: Why spend any more time there as a viewer?
There has been foreshadowing all the way through season five about Jon’s origins, some subtle and some considerably less so.
For those not familiar with the R + L = J theory I won’t go into details, but when you consider some of the things that have been said in recent episodes it would be a cruel trick on the part of the show-runners (and potentially George R.R. Martin if the books follow suit) to tease out one potential conclusion only to swiftly end it just a few hours later.
Yes we all know Melisandre is not the best red priestess in the seven kingdoms, but we do know such people are able to resurrect the dead, just as Thoros of Myr did, time and again, to Beric Dondarrion.
The fact that she returned to the Wall shortly before Jon was murdered means she is on hand to work her magic…and considering the looks she gave Snow earlier in the series she appears to know what for now we can only suspect.
It was a line that could easily have been forgotten in the craziness that followed, but back in the phenomenal episode Hardhome Sam says the following to Olly, not long before the orphan plunges a knife of his own into Jon’s stomach:
“I’ve been worrying about Jon for years; he always comes back.”
Is this a sly nod from the writers that we have not seen the last of the Lord Commander? Only time will tell.
A dwindling list of ‘heroes’
Game of Thrones has a habit of killing off our favourite characters but, as I said earlier, their deaths have made sense in the past.
Killing Jon means we have few people left to cheer for – specifically Arya, Sansa, Tyrion, Brienne and Daenerys. And while some will argue that is plenty, Brienne was rarely seen last season, Sansa’s storyline went backwards and the Mother of Dragons does have a habit of making decisions that don not always endear her to the audience.
Keeping Jon means keeping a bona fide hero, and with Winter well and truly arrived, that is vital.
The battle of Hardhome
Speaking of which, episode eight of season five was arguably the greatest hour of the show so far, and Jon was integral to that.
Watching Jon kill a White Walker with Longclaw and then stare down the Night’s King as the futility of fighting an un-killable enemy sunk in was a terrifying moment, and there must surely be more to come between the Lord Commanders past and present.
Watching Hardhome now, knowing Jon is dead, is a very different experience; but in the grand scheme of things, when the show is complete and we know exactly where the writers are taking us, it could be even more pivotal than we first thought.
Not back next season
Okay so Harrington has said he will not return for season six, while director David Nutter said the character was “deader than dead” in a recent interview with Variety but that does not mean we have seen the end of Jon Snow.
With season seven to follow, there is every chance Jon could sit out the next 10 episodes just as Bran did last season while most of the theories doing the rounds accept Snow is dead but that he will return one way or another.
It simply does not make any sense
But the most obvious reason why Jon Snow cannot be dead is because it does not make any sense.
Why invest this much time in a character, filling his history with a mystery that could well be the answer to everything, and then just get rid of him?
Martin is too great a storyteller to kill a character like Jon and have him stay dead for ever. Mark my words, he will be back, and in time he may know a thing or two as well…