Beyond The Wall

'Game of Thrones': What That Big Season-Premiere Twist Means for Jon and Daenerys

jon snow
Now you know everything, Jon Snow, and it's weird, right? | HBO
Now you know everything, Jon Snow, and it's weird, right? | HBO
This post contains spoilers for the Game of Thrones Season 8 premiere episode, "Winterfell." Visit Beyond the Wall, our official Game of Thrones hub page for recaps, theories, spoilers and explainers.

Following the Season 8 premiere of Game of Thrones, Jon Snow has to answer the eternal question: What do you do if you just found out the man you thought was your dad lied to you about your parentage and you are having sex with a woman who you learn is actually your aunt? Yes, Jon Snow finally knows that he's the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, and he's mad, confused, and a little pouty.

He gets this info from his old friend Samwell Tarly, who confirmed these facts with vision-master Bran Stark. Sam decides to tell Jon the truth about his backstory after his own uncomfortable run in with Daenerys. Upon their meeting, she admits that she happened to burn Sam's brother and father alive when they refused to bend the knee to her. Sam's angry about that. Why? We're not really sure; in their meeting in Season 6, Randyll Tarly was an unrepentant dick to Sam, which led to him stealing the family Valyrian sword and leaving without saying goodbye to his dad or his brother. Still, he goes to Bran who informs him, kind of creepily, that it's time for Jon to hear the truth.

Sam meets up with his old pal in the crypts of Winterfell -- clearly the site of some major action this season -- to explain to him that he is not the bastard son of Eddard Stark, after all, but that he is, in fact, Aegon Targaryen, the true heir to the Iron Throne, by virtue of a secret wedding between Rhaegar Targaryen and Ned's sister, Lyanna Stark. This news leaves Jon bewildered, as one might expect. However, boning his aunt does not seem to be on his list of initial worries. Instead, he's concerned that his father, the man he considered the most noble man alive, lied to him for all these years. Defending the honor of a man who has been dead for many seasons now is all well and good, especially while standing next to his grave, but there are more pressing issues at hand.

Will you be smiling when you learn that you slept with your nephew? | HBO

Is he going to make a play for the Iron Throne? And, if so, how to break this to his girlfriend, who thinks herself the rightful queen? Oh, and how to deal with the fact that SHE'S HIS AUNT? The Targaryens have a history of incest, but this still might be a bridge too far. 

Game of Thrones has spent a lot of time trying to convince audiences that the chemistry between Jon and Dany is formidable. It hasn't always been successful. As Daenerys and Jon, Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington don't spark the same way they respectively did with, say, Jason Momoa as Khal Drogo or Rose Leslie as Ygritte. It's hard to think of these two as much more than amiable coworkers -- despite the whole having sex thing.

And yet, over the course of the hour, we're supposed to see more evidence that Dany and Jon are truly, deeply in love. She invites Jon to take a ride on Rhaegal and he somehow does not fall to his death. When they land in a snowy cove, complete with a romantic waterfall, they talk about sequestering themselves away and make out, while Drogon looks on suspiciously. He is not too keen on this dude smooching his mama.

Is this at Dragonstone? Are they fighting? | HBO

Perhaps the dragons are onto something. Obviously, the new information Jon has received throws a giant wrench into this idyllic union of two very powerful people, and how he reacts to it will determine how the rest of the season plays out. Unbeknownst to Jon and Daenerys, Tyrion, Varys, and Ser Davos were plotting perhaps a joint rulership between them. That would be an easier case to make with Jon's birthright out in the open -- he's only the heir because of dumb rules about gender -- but a harder one if it requires a marriage. 

There's no way we can predict the future -- sorry, Redditors, even you -- but the few shots of Jon Snow and Daenerys we've seen in the trailers imply that there are going to be some tense conversations between these two. For instance, the body language in this shot from the "Together" promo indicates friction. On top of that, there's the matter of where that's taking place. Sleuths pegged the locale as possibly Dragonstone, which means at least they are hanging out long enough to journey to another venue.

What we do know is that Daenerys has not been kind to those who have challenged the legitimacy of her potential reign in the past. She forced Jon to bend the knee, renouncing his title of King in the North, to her in exchange for her aid. But could she make an exception for the man she loves? Will she be content with another Targaryen? Or will the final episodes turn into a Jon and Dany showdown?

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.