When he first meets Daenerys Targaryen in the seventh season of Game of Thrones, Jon Snow spends the better part of their conversation rambling on about an army of undead ice zombies that are threatening to wipe out humanity. Not a great ice-breaker (sorry, pun very much intended!). Dany somewhat entertains the notion of the White Walkers being real when she permits Jon to use the caves of Dragonstone to mine for dragonglass, which can be used to defeat them. But really, from her perspective, it’s a meaningless gesture that can be turned to her favor: Jon is now a potential ally against Cersei Lannister.
Yet Dany might reconsider her priorities after Sunday’s episode, “The Spoils of War,” and what Jon shows her in the caves of Dragonstone. There are tons of dragonglass, yes, but there are also ancient cave paintings from the Children of the Forest — if you recall, they’re essentially ancient elf people. The paintings tell a vague story of the Children of the Forest and the First Men working in unison to defeat the White Walkers, who are painted with eerie accuracy on the cave walls. “The enemy is real, it’s always been real,” Jon says. Dany seems more convinced than ever: Is history repeating itself in Westeros?
Or is Jon suddenly the biggest scammer in the realm?
The thought occurred to me during the episode; in the season’s third episode, Jon was given free reign to explore the caves and it’s unclear how much time has passed between episodes three and four. Could he and Ser Davos have orchestrated an elaborate ploy in the caves, spending hours etching out weird, abstract symbols in whatever Thrones’ version of chalk is?
I decided to tweet my wholly original theory, with the hope of, as people say, “going viral” and “finally earning the love and respect of my family that has evaded me my whole life.” It was later that I realized a redditor beat me to the punch — with a cheeky illustration to boot. (And to be sure, there were far better tweets than mine.)
But hear me out. If this is true and Jon drew these himself, then he’s been holding out on us: dude’s a savant with the chalk. He even remembered to add tiny blue gems for the White Walkers’ eyes. (I half expected an arrow drawn to one particularly menacing White Walker with the label of “NIGHT KING.”)
Thematically, Jon conning Dany into believing him would make sense for Thrones. The series is built on a handful of elaborate lies, like Joffrey Baratheon’s true parentage — not to mention Jon’s — and the truth behind Jon Arryn’s murder. What’s another white lie about how, exactly, Dany came to believe Jon about the White Walkers so the two could save the Seven Kingdoms?
I kid, mostly: It’s almost certainly true that Jon stumbled upon these cave paintings as a highly convenient plot device. And if Arya’s time at the House of Black and White is any indication, fans sometimes have a tendency to overthink the show’s storylines.
But still, part of me suspects that there’s another way this exchange between Jon and Dany could’ve gone. Imagine them re-emerging from the caves when Dany notices some chalky residue on his hand. Exasperated by his feeble deception, she calls him on it: “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”
The seventh season of Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. Eastern on HBO.
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