With a simple motion of his sword, Jaime Lannister definitively answered the question of whether conferring knighthood is an honor reserved exclusively for a king. After Tormund Giantsbane expressed extreme incredulity about Brienne of Tarth’s lack of elevated battlefield status, the former Kingslayer took it upon himself to anoint the heir to Evenfall Hall as Ser Brienne. That scene provided the emotional high point of “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” the second episode of Game of Thrones’s final season, and the last one before Winterfell’s forces cry havoc and let slip the direwolves of war. With the White Walkers literally at the gate, all of the characters’ thoughts are now understandably turned towards survival. But we still have a few burning questions for the show to answer once the carnage ceases at the end of the super-sized third episode.
Why does the Night King have eyes for the Three-Eyed Raven?
Unlike virtually everyone else in Westeros, the Night King has no interest in capturing the Iron Throne. His prize is the boy formerly known as Bran Stark, who has since ascended to all-seeing, all-knowing Three-Eyed Raven status. It’s not that Bran is particularly special: the Night King has been hunting Ravens for as long as he’s been undead. “He wants to erase this world, and I am its memory,” Bran says of his enemy’s plan to bring about an endless night, a literal and metaphorical darkness devoid of humanity and history. Even with the bravest knights in the realm pledging their dragonglass-enhanced swords to Winterfell’s cause, there’s absolutely no chance of victory — not when anyone who falls instantly switches sides to the Night King’s army. Because it’s Bran he wants, Bran is who he’ll get. The Raven volunteers to act as bait for the opposing general, waiting in the godswood to tempt him out into the open where he may finally be decimated by dragonglass… or dragon fire.
The Night King already has a way of tracking Bran in the midst of a chaotic battle: the mark that he imprinted on the fledgling Raven’s arm back in Season 6. Of course, there are those who would tell you that their mental connection is owed to the fact that Bran is the Night King, but that always-dubious theory now seems entirely unlikely. Because the Three-Eyed Raven functions as the living embodiment of mankind’s history, it’s hard to imagine any circumstance that would transform into a being eager to erase his own existence.
At the same time, the Night King’s grudge against the Raven corps is embedded in events that unfolded in the earliest days of Westerosi history. The White Walkers’ origin dates back to the world’s first residents, the Children of the Forest, who were referenced by the spiral of fire left at House Umber last week. The Night King has been leaving messages for these long-vanished citizens since the show’s first season, and the Three-Eyed Raven may hold the key to finally having those calls answered. Or, more likely, he’ll just kill Bran and his protector, Theon, without a second thought. In that case, look for Tyrion or Samwell to be the next-to-last bastions of Westeros’s past; Sam’s knowledge of historical texts is second to none, while Tyrion spent a long night by Bran’s side hearing his story, and probably some other tales of days gone by to boot.
#GameOfThrones Season 1 Episode 3— Eric M. Hammer (@TheEricHammer) April 22, 2019
This is beyond foreshadowing. IMO this all but confirms not only Bran’s connection to the Night King but also his contribution to The Long Night in some way. Also that last line? 👀🤯 pic.twitter.com/uUejDCOZ46
For the record I think the show will reveal Samwell is the author of Game of Thrones and we are recounting his and Bran’s documented history (so they survive, long enough to write it). Jorah will have to kill Khaleesi with that sword to murk night king. Jon takes throne. #got— JF (@JF_1010) April 21, 2019
Who is Jenny and what’s the deal with her song?
History doesn’t just live in the Three-Eyed Raven’s head; it’s also present in the land’s mythology and music, as evidenced by the haunting tune that Podrick croons on the eve of the Battle of Winterfell. A longer version of the song was recorded by Florence + the Machine and played over the episode’s closing credits. (Watch the video above.)
Called “Jenny of Oldstones” in its released version, the tune is derived from “Jenny’s Song,” which originally appeared in A Storm of Swords, the third novel in George R.R. Martin’s book series. Arya hears a snippet of the song when she’s still embedded among the brotherhood without banners, and learns that the “Jenny” in question is Westeros’s equivalent of Wallis Simpson: a commoner who caught the eye of Daenerys’s ancestor, Prince Duncan Targaryen. Foreshadowing Jon’s mother and father years later, the two married in secret, with Duncan even surrendering his claim to the Iron Throne rather than annul the marriage, thus clearing the way for the ascension of the “Mad King.” (There’s even a theory that Jon’s dad, Rhaegar, is the author of “Jenny’s Song,” and he wrote it as a way to appeal directly to Lyanna Stark’s heart.)
Like so many other love stories, theirs ended tragically, and that’s reflected in the lyrics, which have been expanded upon by showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss along with composer, Ramin Djawadi. "We've had a song in several of the seasons and we haven't had an original in a while, so this felt like the place for it,” Benioff tells The Hollywood Reporter, adding that they always had Podrick’s alter ego, Daniel Portman, in mind to sing it. "He doesn’t sing for himself he sings for other people,” the actor explains to Esquire in a new interview. “And that’s been the whole thing about the character for me. He never does anything for himself... Pod has a real everyman quality and that’s why people connect with him.”
Pod also may inadvertently reveal a secret about where the story is headed. The Hollywood Reporter notes that Daenerys — or Jon, for that matter — could easily take the place of Jenny, winning the Iron Throne and then dancing with their ghosts in the halls of King’s Landing. During her trip to the House of the Undying back in Season 2, Dany even foresaw a possible future that’s referenced in a lyric from the complete version of “Jenny of Oldstones”: “They danced through the day and into the night, through the snow that swept through the hall.” Hmmm, the Night King may want to erase this entire song along with Bran’s memory.
Jenny of Oldstones song explains how the people having an emotional connection towards their loved ones. like Sam, Gilly; Sansa, Theon; Arya, Gendry; Missandei & Greyworm. The end is near and they don't want to lose their loved ones but they have to let them go #GameofThrones pic.twitter.com/SYazIdWGZ6— ❄️Star Light Love❄️ (@preethicreation) April 22, 2019
Where is Melisandre?
Arya is new to the foreplay game, but her command to Gendry certainly had its intended effect. “I’m not the Red Woman, take your own bloody pants off,” the younger Stark daughter told Robert Baratheon’s bastard, referring to the Red Priestess, Melisandre, who prevented him from arriving at Winterfell five seasons earlier. She also stripped him naked put leeches all over his body, which has understandably made Gendry a little leery of intimate situations.
Besides causing the internet to collectively squirm, Arya’s command also reminded us that Melisandre is the one major character we have yet to see this season. After orchestrating first contact between Daenerys and Jon, she took her leave, but promised Varys she’d be back. Not because she wants to return mind you, but because she’s fated to end her life — her long, long, long life — on Westeros. In an interview with BUILD Series earlier this month, Carice van Houten confirmed her character’s return and described how she “wept and wept” on her last day of filming.
One working theory on Twitter is that Melisandre will make her presence felt during the Battle of Winterfell, bringing back fallen soldiers so that they fight on the side of Light, rather than Night.
Next week, Melisandre comes in late in the battle with an army of red priests and they use fire to push the night King back temporarily. Then she gives Jamie Lightbringer and Cersi shows up but then he kills her to fulfill prophesy and the living win.https://t.co/qy6l8iOmRY— Petey Beatz (@PeteyBeatz62) April 22, 2019
#GameofThrones predictions.— Benny (@BMcK_1989) April 22, 2019
•Tyrion will die in the great war next week & in turn as a white walker kill Cersei at some point this season.
•Gendry will take up the Iron throne with Arya as his Queen.
•Melisandre may show up during the great war and resurrect fallen fighters
But it’s equally likely that Melisandre will avoid the battle entirely, and head straight to King’s Landing to be part of the final confrontation with Cersei. After all, she has a rooting interest in seeing Jon or Daenerys on the Iron Throne, and they’re going to need fresh reinforcements after sacrificing a sure-to-be-large number of fighters to the Night King. You might say their future is dark and full of terrors.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.
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