Just when you thought it was safe to go back on the internet, free from massive, series-defining Game of Thrones spoilers, up pops Sean Bean - Ned Stark himself - to blow the whole story wide open, and - just possibly - that a huge secret from the Game of Thrones universe might already be on its way.
Note, MASSIVE SPOILERS below - predictably.
Bean recently spoke with Vulture, and was asked whether Bran's possible connection with heart trees could mean a Ned Stark flashback cameo in Season 5. His response was...enthusiastic, to say the least:
"Oh, yeah, yeah! And I'm his father, so that would be great fun! Just to go back to that for a while, it would be such fun to do. It would be great! It would be bizarre, but it would be great! So I guess if they're going to do flashbacks, then yeah!"
What he revealed next, though, was about as huge as it gets:
"I've definitely got some unfinished business that needs to be resolved there. I'm obviously not Jon Snow's dad. And you need that to be revealed at some point, don't you? So Bran would kind of be the one having the flashback, and he would see Ned praying, right? And revealing those things? You never know what those guys are going to do with that. It's got to be something special. But I'm into that. I certainly would be into that."
Just to clarify, according to Ned Stark himself, he isn't Jon Snow's father.
Which, fans of fan theories will be happy to hear, totally confirms the biggest prevailing one...
Haven't already heard it? Well, get ready to meet R + L = J. And for it to blow your mind.
R + L = J is essentially this: Ned Stark isn't Jon Snow's father - he's his uncle. It suggests that Jon is the son of Ned's sister, Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen.
The thinking behind the theory?
Prince Rhaegar (the son of the 'Mad King' Aerys Targaryen) effectively caused the rebellion that brought Robert Baratheon to power when he kidnapped Lyanna Stark, and took her to the Tower of Joy in Dorne.
Later, after Robert had defeated and killed Rhaegar, Ned left to rescue her, defeating three members of the King's Guard in the process - only to find her in a 'bed of blood'. As she died, she made Ned promise her something - though what that was hasn't yet been directly explained.
The R + L = J theory suggests that Lyanna's 'bed of blood' was the product of her giving birth, and that the promise was that Ned would raise the child as his own bastard - since if it were known that he was the son of a Targaryen, he would likely be killed by Robert.
Which leaves Jon Snow as, in effect, a possible Targaryen heir to the Iron Throne.
Take a look at this video:
Notice how Ned refers to Jon as being a Stark, and 'having his blood', but pointedly doesn't answer his questions about his mother - or directly refer to him as his son?
That reluctance is a pretty common theme in the books and series:
This complete unwillingness on Ned's part to refer to Jon as his son - despite having undermined his own honor to bring him to Winterfell in the first place - is generally seen as a suggestion that all is not as it seems.
There are other supporting elements - including the fact that the idea that the most (possible foolishly) honorable man in Westeros had a bastard seems fairly ridiculous, the references to Arya looking particularly like Lyanna and Jon Snow, and Ned's general opposition to Robert's attempted assassination of Targaryen children:
You can check out a more detailed explanation of the theory, as it currently stands, in this video by Alt Shift X:
Now, though, we have an even bigger piece of evidence: Sean Bean's interview.
Game of Thrones' showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss famously won the trust of George R.R. Martin when - asked by the writer who Jon Stark's father was - they provided the correct answer to the biggest question in Westeros.
Kit Harrington, aka Jon Snow, still doesn't know the answer - despite repeated pleading with the showrunners - but from the sounds of it, they might just have let Bean in on the secret.
It would make sense - more than anyone, he was having to set up any potential reveals with subtle details within his performance, and was set to leave the show pretty soon after, so the potential for him spreading the rumor was relatively limited.
Take a look at those quotes again, though, and there could be something even bigger hiding behind them:
"I'm obviously not Jon Snow's dad. And you need that to be revealed at some point, don't you? So Bran would kind of be the one having the flashback, and he would see Ned praying, right? And revealing those things? You never know what those guys are going to do with that."
Now, that could just Sean Bean messing with us all - and angling for a repeat appearance on the show. It could also, though, be a subtle hint - with a solid dash of the red herring hanging about it - that not only does he know what's set to happen, but he might have already filmed it.
After all, Bean does seem surprisingly sure of the sort of scene we're likely to see - and it's not as though there isn't television precedent for filming a vital scene way in advance, just in case something happens to the leading actor. Just take a look at the kids in the How I Met Your Mother series finale...
Could it be that Bean is so keen on a return not just because it would be fun, but also because he knows a precedent has already been set - and filmed?
Maybe, or maybe not - and it would imply a fairly substantial amount of trickery on Bean's part if true - but if it were somehow true, how awesome would that be?
[Game of Thrones](movie:817617) returns in 2015 - with or without Sean Bean...
What do you guys think? Will we see Sean Bean return to the show in flashback, to reveal that Jon Snow isn't his son?