'Game of Thrones': What's Next for Jon Snow's Corpse?

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the season six premiere of HBO's Game of Thrones.]

After months of conspiracy theories surrounding the man's fate, Kit Harington did indeed return to Game of Thrones in the season six premiere after all … as a corpse, just as he promised.

Jon Snow remains dead, killed at the hands of Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale) and other traitorous members of the Night's Watch. His body currently resides within a sealed-off section of Castle Black, protected by Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham), Ghost, loyal members of the Watch, and the apparently ancient Melisandre (Carice van Houten). It's only a matter of time before these unlikely allies come to blows with Thorne's men, as the battle for Snow's body takes its next inevitable turn.

That inevitable turn, of course, involves Snow's body lurching awake — or so fans hope.

Even though Jon did not rise from the dead in the first episode back from the tragically long offseason, the table is set for his resurrection. Indeed, Jon himself is literally set on a table, his corpse just waiting to kick back into action. But how is it going to happen, and why is it going to happen? The second question boasts an easier answer, though it involves some math.

For many Thrones fans, the most important mystery in the entire series comes down to an equation: R+L=J. In essence, it represents the widely agreed upon fan theory that Westeros legends Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, both of whom died during Robert's Rebellion, are Jon Snow's true parents. In this version of events, Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) raised Jon as his own son in order to hide his true lineage from King Robert (Mark Addy), who famously loathed all Targaryens for their role in the death of Lyanna, Ned's sister and Robert's betrothed. If the theory pans out, then Jon not only boasts a possible claim to the Iron Throne through his birth father, but also represents the novel series' name — A Song of Ice and Fire — with the ice of House Stark and the fire of House Targaryen flowing through his veins.

Season six looks likely to settle the debate on Snow's parentage once and for all. Numerous trailers feature scenes from the Tower of Joy, the historic event where Ned Stark witnessed his sister Lyanna's dying moments, and allegedly discovered her newborn son, Jon. It's expected that these scenes will be glimpsed through the eyes of Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright), using advanced green-seeing techniques to look back into Westeros' history and witness the moment for himself. The description for episode three of season six, "Oathbreaker," reads, in part, "Bran meets the past," suggesting likely timing for the Tower of Joy sequence. The episode title, too, hints at the reveal, as Ned's choice to raise Jon as his "son" would leave him with the reputation as an "oathbreaker" in his marriage. 

What's more, the name "Oathbreaker" hints at the possibility that Jon himself will be alive at this point in season six. If Jon returns from the dead to fulfill his destiny as a Targaryen-Stark hybrid, then he's technically no longer bound to the Night's Watch. The sacred order's vows only last "until death," and by now, there's no doubt that Jon died; only questions about his possible resurrection remain. If he comes back to life and chooses to move forward in the war against the White Walkers without continuing his role as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, then Jon Snow becomes the titular "Oathbreaker."

(Tripping down the title rabbit hole even further, episode two is called "Home," and one wonders if it will see Jon returning to his rightful home in the realm of the living.)

Of course, there's the all-important one-word question: "How?" Even if there are narrative reasons for Jon's revival, how will it play out on a technical level? 

Book readers believe that Jon's direwolf Ghost will play a role in the resurrection; on the page, Jon's abilities as a warg are quite pronounced, and there's textual support to the theories that Jon's consciousness slipped into Ghost shortly before his death. The show, however, has done little in the way of emphasizing Jon's supernatural connection with Ghost, save for the direwolf's gut-wrenching wailing over his master's body in the season six premiere.

However, the show has showcased the potential for red priests to bring people back from the dead, as seen with Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye) continually reviving the Lightning Lord Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) back in season three. It just so happens that a prominent red priest currently resides at Castle Black — assuming anyone's brave enough to wake the old soul.

Whether it's Melisandre, Ghost or some other unknown force, there's still reason to believe Jon will shake free of his current predicament, and soon. It's typically not advised to approach Game of Thrones with any amount of hope for the heroes, but if any deceased character has cause and ability to return from the grave, it's Jon Snow, his present state notwithstanding.

Stay tuned to THR.com/GameOfThrones for the latest show news, analysis, interviews and more.

comments powered by Disqus