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‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8: How Will Jon Snow Tell Daenerys About His Real Name and Claim to the Iron Throne?

Jon Snow (Kit Harington) was finally confronted by his true parentage and real name—Aegon Targaryen—on the first episode of Game of Thrones Season 8, “Winterfell.” But while the audience has known of Snow’s lineage since the end of Season 7, the reveal was shocking for its political subtext, as Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) used Snow’s father and family tree to argue for supplanting Queen Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). This pits Snow’s identity and real name against his love for Dany, setting up a fight for control of Westeros. But how will Jon Snow present his claim to the Iron Throne?

How Will Jon Snow Reveal His Real Name to Daenerys?

In the first season of Game of Thrones, Eddard Stark attempts to install Stannis Baratheon on the Iron Throne, believing him to be Robert Baratheon’s true successor after discovering that Joffrey, Tommen and Myrcella Baratheon aren’t in fact Baratheons, but fully Lannisters—the children of twin siblings Cersei and Jaime. But while Lord Stark had the rules of succession correct, he failed to understand the dynamics of power at play, dooming him to execution and all of Westeros to the War of the Five Kings (Renly Baratheon, Joffrey Baratheon, Stannis Baratheon, Balon Greyjoy and Robb Stark). Snow will have to do better.

Tell Daenerys and Let Her Decide

Daenerys Targaryen to Die in 'Game of Thrones' Season 8 Emilia Clarke who plays Daenerys Targaryen's on Game of Thrones. Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

If it weren’t for the weight of responsibility the newly revealed Aegon Targaryen feels toward the North and his adoptive family, the Starks, it seems likely Jon Snow would either ignore his real name or tell Daenerys bluntly and leave his fate up to her. This is probably not a realistic option, because any open discussion of Jon’s parentage automatically undermines Daenerys’ authority.

Propaganda

stannis baratheon in game of thrones Stephen Dillane as Stannis Baratheon in HBO's 'Game of Thrones'. The actor has branded the show too "brutal" to watch. HBO

While Stannis eventually sacrifices everything, including his own daughter, for a failed bid at the throne, his initial methods are a little more subtle. Despite having the most legitimate claim to the Iron Throne, Stannis knew it would take more than his word to become king.

“When Eddard Stark learnt the truth, he told only me, I’ll not make the same mistake,” Stannis tells his advisors. So when staking his claim to the throne, Stannis doesn’t tell Joffrey, instead penning a letter to be sent to “every corner of the realm, from the Arbor to the Wall.”

“My brother Robert left no true-born heirs: the boy Joffrey, the boy Tommen and the girl Myrcella, being born of incest between Cersei Lannister and her brother, Ser Jaime Lannister the Kingslayer. By right of birth and blood, I to this day lay claim to the Iron Throne of Westeros. Let all true men declare their loyalty.”

Stannis’ letter offers no evidence of its central claim, but instead relies on disgust and gossip to delegitimize the Lannister hold on power.

Stannis’ letter could set a clear precedent for Jon Snow, should he want to win people to his side. (Presumably he’s more personable than Stannis, described by Loras Tyrell as having “the personality of a lobster.”) Instead of telling Daenerys about his real name and lineage, Snow would first tell everyone else. This would move Jon and Daenerys’ individual claims to the Iron Throne to the court of public opinion. Surrounded by sympathetic Northerners, this could work out well for Aegon Targaryen, unless Daenerys is willing to endanger the war against the Night King by turning her army against Snow and his backers, setting off a populist revolution in the North.

Bran Stark Intervention

Sansa and Bran Stark reunite Sansa and Bran Stark reunite. Helen Sloan/HBO

Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) isn’t the boy he once was. He’s hardly even a Stark anymore. Instead, Bran identifies with the full scope of history, his personality subsumed within the all-seeing powers taught to him by the Three-Eyed Raven. But despite his inscrutable, inhuman demeanor, Bran seems to have a plan involving Aegon, coming to Sam in the Game of Thrones Season 8 premiere to nudge him toward a fateful conversation with Snow.

This can only mean that Bran sees Aegon Targaryen, not Jon Snow, as somehow essential to the defeat of the Night King. But does this mean Bran would back Aegon’s claim to the Iron Throne? Or is Jon Snow’s self-awareness regarding his family tree a sufficient condition?

The bigger problem may be the nature of the evidence. The only concrete information pointing to Snow’s real name is the High Septon’s diary in the Citadel, which describes Rhaegar’s annulment from his former wife and marriage to Snow’s mother, Lyanna Stark. After hearing of the diary entry from Samwell, Bran uncovers the truth for himself, proving he didn’t before realize Snow’s royal lineage.

who-is-lyanna-stark-and-rhaegar-targaryen-game-of-thrones-season-8-bran-vision-jon-snow-parents Bran witnessing the secret marriage of his aunt, Lyanna, to the Targaryen heir, Rhaegar. HBO

With the history pieced together in visions, it’s hard to see what Bran could say that would convince anybody of the veracity of Aegon’s claim to the Iron Throne, but we at least know Bran is motivated more by revealing the truth to Jon Snow than by a desire to thwart Daenerys’ ambitions.

War

It’s nearly impossible to imagine Jon Snow going to war against Daenerys for control of Westeros. Snow’s first reaction to learning of his Targaryen ancestry is shock and dismay that he’s no longer related to Ned Stark, a man who he believes was the most honorable ever born. He seems genuinely horrified to learn that he could or should be king. But the thought that Ned lied to him his whole life upsets Jon the most.

“That’s the thing I love about Jon, his purity, Harington told Entertainment Weekly. “He doesn’t fucking want it. He doesn’t want that fucking information. He doesn’t want to know. He has no ambition for the throne. He’s never wanted that. The end of the world might be coming soon but at least he’s in love with somebody and knows who he is, and then comes this sledgehammer.”

Now that the royal cat is out of the bag, there will be consequences that could spoil everything Daenerys has spent seven seasons building. But whatever the outcome, Jon Snow and Daenerys seem unlikely to resolve their conflicting claims on the Iron Throne by war.

Will Jon Snow tell Daenerys the truth in Season 8 Episode 2 of Game of Thrones ? We’ll find out when the second episode of the final season debuts April 21 on HBO.

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