Since finishing this season’s last Game of Thrones episode, I’ve spent most of my time looking for reasons why Jon Snow cannot possibly be dead in spite of ounces of blood flooding from his body and Kit Harrington stating that he won’t be back [well, next season, see below]. My only excuse is that I’m currently in bed with a cold and fever and that I can’t do anything anyways, and that I can’t talk (worst punishment for the likes of me), so I have to communicate the following this way.
In the last two days, numerous attempts to explain how Jon Snow can survive have surfaced. The most readable one, in my opinion, is this one put together by Vanity Fair. I can also highly recommend the Season 6 preview by my favorite Game of Thrones nerd on the WWW, Charlie Schneider, who runs the YouTube Channel “Emergency Awesome” – Jon Snow stuff is at the end of that video.
To me, more important that the details of how Jon Snow can survive is why he cannot possibly be dead. The short answer is: Because he’s the new Harry Potter. The long answer is what follows:
Now, first of all I have to admit that I was resistant to joining the Game of Thrones Hype for a loooong time. Only last November did I start watching the TV series and after two weekends of doing not much else, I was through with it. So I went on to the books, and casually read 6000 pages of A Song of Ice and Fire over Christmas break. As with all good things, it was a mystery to me how I possibly could have missed out on this for so long.
It was like being 14 again, the new Harry Potter book out and all you want to do is keep reading all night. And then, when the last page of the currently available material is read, you turn to some online forum where other nerds have already filled endless threads with considerations on whether Snape is good or bad or good or bad or a little bit of both, and about how he came to be like that and so on and so on.
And with that, we’re right in the middle of what this blog post is to be about: A Song of Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones is the Harry Potter of my twenties (and I think I’m not alone with that): It has magic and dragons and birds delivering messages instead of email, but at the same time, it’s all so very real, you know what I mean. And there are all those different kinds of outsiders so that all those who feel like outsiders in the `real´ world (which is everyone at some point) have someone to relate to: those a little too small and those a little too smart; the tomboys and the lost boys; the cowards and the also-ran’s.
The worlds of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones are not only very real, they are also pretty grim. The dark and evil is just around the corner. But there’s Harry, and there’s Jon and with them, there’s the potential to keep evil at bay. The fact the Game of Thrones is a little more complicated in terms of good and bad than Harry Potter (though that was also far from being as simple as many believed) does not mean that there are no good characters. To me, Jon Snow is the most obvious pick to fill that role. Bottom line: Jon Snow is my new Harry Potter.
I think we can agree that there are a lot of similarities between the two, and the fact that they both fall in love with a red-haired woman is the most insignificant one of those (although it always gives me these moments of redhead-envy). They both start from extremely unprivileged positions: Harry is an orphan, Jon a bastard (and an orphan, too, in fact, if you buy into the R+L=J theory, which I totally do, you can check it out here). The unprivileged position is a quite conventional starting point for a hero’s quest. What follows then is, in both cases, a quite typical hero’s journey (check out this video if you’ve never heard of that).
Take home point: The hero does not simply die halfway through. Nope, that just doesn’t happen.
Anyways, so both Harry and Jon go to a mysterious castle, and they find their sidekicks. I mean, Sam is practically Ron and Hermione in one, strange as it might sound… think about it: he combines Hermione’s bookishness with Ron’s clumsiness and the loyalty of both of them.
By now, we, the readers / viewers, have figured out that Jon / Harry move around in a pretty dark world. Jon’s world is maybe a bit darker, Harry Potter started out as fiction for children after all. But in that world, they are brave and have morals and believe in good, and they try to do the right thing, even if that is hard on themselves. In a fucked-up, dark world, they are the ones who give us hope that maybe, maybe not all good is lost just yet.
And even in a series as cruel as Game of Thrones when it comes to killing off main characters, you do not kill of that one character that gives people hope and the whole series some kind of meaning. Even a world as fucked up as that of Game of Thrones needs some kind of hero, even if it is the last hero in that world. Oh, did I just write “the last hero”? So, right here we get to the meaty part. So “the last hero” happens to be one who saved the world from the “Long Night” the last time. He also goes by “The Prince that was Promised” and “Azor Ahai”. It is never really specified whether all these are the same people, however, there’s reason to believe they are, and there are a number of prophecies about Azor Ahai coming back to save everybody’s ass yet again.
So what does that sound like, all this promised prince stuff? To me it sounds very much like the “chosen one” prophecy in Harry Potter. And like in Harry Potter, there are some suitable candidates to match the prophecy, and there have been a number of theories arguing that Jon Snow is Azor Ahai. All this is fairly complicated, and if you haven’t descended into the crazy depths of Game of Thrones fan theories so far, the places I send you to now might be a bit of a shock. This video here is a pretty comprehensive exploration of who could be Azor Ahai (go to 10:40 for the Jon Snow part).
Jon Snow and Daenerys being the “Song of Ice and Fire” is a pretty popular fan theory, mostly they are seen as a team. There is, however, also the suggestions that they might end up fighting each other, so if you are looking for something a little more complex, please go here. Fair warning: Your mind will be blown. I had to read this twice before I got (I think) most of it.
Having written all this, I feel a lot better. I think even cough is less awful than two hours ago.
It was like that the last time. You know, dear series-only people, when I finished that chapter where Jon Snow gets stabbed, my first impulse was the same: Look for reasons why this cannot be. And after a while, his death seemed so absurd that I became sure he’d survive somehow – because it is technically possible and because (and this is the more important argument in my books) it makes no narrative sense at all to kill him off. Seeing it on screen hit me hard nevertheless. And the Kit Harrington interview. That was a shocker. Reading it closely though, even that leaves things open: He’s not coming back next season. Okay, I can live with that. But Jon Snow is my new Harry Potter and Harry Potter DOES NOT DIE. So, thanks for going through this therapy session with me.
What do we say to death? Not today.
Oh, one last thing:
Harry died as well. And came back.
And now my wait begins.