"Game of Thrones" is finally breaking away from George R.R. Martin's books with the new direction of Sansa's plot and the (possible) deaths of two characters. But Sunday night's episode "Sons of the Harpy" was scattered with subtle hints that may prove one of the biggest fan theories behind the series.
Warning: This post contains details about the books and Season 5, Episode 4, "Sons of the Harpy."
One of the biggest questions when it comes to "Game of Thrones" is who the heck is Jon Snow. Fans have debated relentlessly over the identity of the bastard character's parentage. The most popular theory is R + L = J, which boils down to Rhaegar Targaryen + Lyanna Stark = Jon Snow. This would give Jon even more claim over the Iron Throne than Daenerys, as she is Rhaegar's sister. While this theory has mainly existed on the Internet among fans, Sunday night's episode featured four significant allusions to Rhaegar, Lyanna and Jon's parentage that could strongly validate it. Are showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff trying to tell us something?
The history of R + L. First, Lyanna Stark (who was Ned Stark's sister) was brought up when Sansa visited her aunt's crypt in Winterfell. Littlefinger showed up to give Sansa, and viewers, a mini history lesson on everything that's led up to the politics of present day in the Seven Kingdoms. In short, Rhaegar gave Lyanna roses over his wife after winning the infamous Tourney at Harrenhal, which insulted a handful of people (Robert Baratheon was engaged to Lyanna). Then later on, Rhaegar "kidnapped and raped" Lyanna, as Sansa recounts the long-believed story to Littlefinger. This then incited Robert's Rebellion and thus the fall of the Targaryen dynasty.
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Ned Stark is too noble for a tavern affair. Stannis' wife references Jon's parentage when she calls him "the bastard of some tavern slut." Stannis responds, "Perhaps. That wasn't Ned Stark's way." In Martin's books, it is said that Ned kept his vows to his wife Catelyn, and Ned technically only says Jon is "his blood."
Melisandre hints at Jon's King's blood. When the Red Woman creeps into Jon's room and seduces him, she urges him to embrace the power within him. Melisandre also says that together the two have "the power to cast shadows." One fan suggested on Twitter that this hints at Melisandre's knowledge of Jon's King's blood.
Rhaegar may be a good guy, after all. At the end of the episode, before Ser Barristan's possible death, the swordsman fondly recounts a time when he and Rhaegar would go out into the streets to sing to the people. "Rhaegar never liked killing, he loved singing," Barristan said. This seems to hint that maybe Rhaegar wasn't such an awful guy capable of rape and kidnapping after all and that maybe he and Lyanna were actually in love when (and if) they conceived Jon Snow, as Zap2It points out.
Further evidence? Sean Bean, who plays Ned Stark, full-on admitted that Ned isn't Jon's dad and further spoke about his "suspicions" on HuffPost Live last year. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau also chimed in on the theory earlier this year. But then again, who knows where Weiss and Benioff are headed with all the recent twists and turns.
"Game of Thrones" airs Sunday at 9:00 p.m. ET on HBO.