A full 48 hours later and we're still reeling from the Game of Thrones Season 6 premiere on Sunday night. There's do denying the episode was a major success, but after spending the entire 60 minutes on the edge of our seats, a few of us (ahem, me) were left a little disappointed at the lack of resurrection of our beloved bastard.
Yes, yes, I know the cast, crew and HBO officials have always maintained that Jon Snow has gone for good, and haven't given us any reason to think otherwise, but a part of me just doesn't (want to) believe it. Realistically, it's still very early days and knowing the GoT showrunners, they could effectively draw this thing out for episodes or even a whole season before bringing him back.
Either way, I am not giving up yet. Jon will be back (at some point), of this I am certain. But two questions remain: How will he come back, and who will he return as? I've put together some of the most prevalent theories of how this is going to happen and who we are going to be left with after the resurrection.
The pairings certainly aren't definitive — feel free to mix and match the how and the who to come up with your own hypothesis — but I've grouped together the outcomes that make the most sense, to me at least. Check them out below.
Resurrection Theory No. 1: Melisandre And The Lord Of Light
How? With a helping hand from the Lord of Light, Red Priestess Melisandre does some stellar sorcery and brings Jon back, Beric Dondarrion style.
Who? Azor Ahai, the mythical hero (and Lord of Light's savior) in the A Song of Ice and Fire books who once defeated the Others. The legendary figure is prophesied to return one day in order to fight a coming darkness.
Evidence: Melisandre maintained that Stannis Baratheon was the savior and reincarnation of Azor Ahai right up until the Battle of Winterfell, when the victory she predicted didn't quite go to plan. Where did she go when she realized? Straight to Castle Black, of course! Melisandre's pursuit of Jon in the final episode of Season 5 is a big clue that he is somehow connected with her service to the Lord of Light.
In the books, the prophecy states that Azor will be reborn amidst salt and smoke; Jon's stab wounds are described as smoking and the man stabbing him said to be crying "salty, remorseful tears." Melisandre also thinks to herself in A Dance With Dragons:
I pray for a glimpse of Azor Ahai, and R’hllor shows me only Snow.
We have seen resurrection at the hand of the Lord of Light before: Back in Season 3, when Red Priest Thoros of Myr used a mysterious fire magic to revive Beric Dondarrion after he was killed in combat. Melisandre is clearly a fan of sacrifice (how can we forget poor little Shireen?) so there's a fair possibility that blood magic will play a role in the restoration.
"Only death can pay for life," a line repeated several times over the series, has led me to believe that someone has to die in order for Jon to live. And after seeing Melisandre so old and dejected at the end of Season 6's first episode, I'm starting to think the Red Woman might even offer herself up as sacrifice.
Resurrection Theory No. 2: Bran And The Three-Eyed Raven
How? Bran uses some pretty powerful blood magic of his own — as taught to him by fellow greenseer and mentor the Three-Eyed Raven — to bring his brother back to life.
Who? Jon Stark. Stannis did offer to legitimize Jon and make him a Stark, but he turned it down in honor of his oath to the Night's Watch. However, having died and come back to life, Jon's watch will be over and his oath void.
Evidence: This theory often gets overlooked, but in my opinion it's actually the most plausible. In case you've forgotten, HBO released a teaser trailer for Season 6 back in December, focusing on the death of Jon Snow and other calamities that have occurred over the past few years. Who's voice do we hear over the flashback, but the Three-Eyed raven himself! He says:
“We watch, we listen, and we remember. The past is already written. The ink is dry.”
As the clip comes to an end, we see a somewhat startling shot of Jon lying dead on the ground before it switches, just for a moment, to Bran going into his warg-like trance. Did Bran see Jon dying, possibly through the eyes of the late Jeor Mormont's raven? As a result, did he help to guide his brother into Ghost for safekeeping? (See Theory No. 3.)
Resurrection Theory No. 3: Ghost And A Newfound Warging Ability
How? Jon somehow taps into his ability to warg (perhaps with a little help from Bran) and slips into the consciousness of a nearby animal, keeping himself alive and safe while everyone else figures out a way to bring his body back to life.
Who? The most obvious answer to this one is, of course, Jon's dear direwolf Ghost, who had a very prominent presence in the first episode of the season.
Evidence: Jon's ability to warg is confirmed in the books when wildling Varamyr Sixskins (named Orell on the show) recognizes Jon's connection with Ghost. The prologue to A Dance With Dragons says:
[Varamyr] had known what Snow was the moment he saw that great white direwolf stalking silent at his side. One skinchanger can always sense another. The gift was strong in Snow, but the youth was untaught, still fighting his nature when he should have gloried in it.
This just happens to be the introduction to the book that Jon is killed in. Coincidence? Unlikely. And if you're still not convinced, I leave you with this excerpt from the book, describing his death:
Jon fell to his knees. He found the dagger’s hilt and wrenched it free. In the cold night air the wound was smoking. “Ghost,” he whispered. Pain washed over him. Stick them with the pointy end. When the third dagger took him between the shoulder blades, he gave a grunt and fell face-first into the snow. He never felt the fourth knife. Only the cold…
Resurrection Theory No. 4: Rising From The Ashes
How? The exact nature of this one is a little unclear, but the idea is that Jon is reborn out of the flames, resistant to their heat as a result of his dragon blood.
Who? Jon Targaryen! The bastard child and secret son of Rhaegar Targaryen (Daenerys' much older brother) and Lyanna Stark (Ned's sister and Robert Baratheon's bride-to-be).
Evidence: Factually, this one does sort of add up. Rhaegar's kidnap of Lyanna was the whole reason for Robert's Rebellion, the singular event that basically demolished House Targaryen and put the Baratheons on the Iron Throne. When Ned and his companions finally found Lyanna, locked away in the Tower of Joy in Dorne, she was on her deathbed — but in her final moments, she willed Ned to make her a promise.
The content of that promise has yet to be revealed and has been kept relatively on the DL since Ned's devastatingly early departure in Season 1. All we know is that Ned returned from the war with a newborn he claimed to be his own son, but something about that has never quite added up.
Where was his mother? And why did she leave him with Ned? Could Lyanna's dying wish have been that Ned raise little Jon as his own? There are a few reasons Ned might have kept Jon's actual origins a secret; namely, to protect his sister's honor and protect her infant son from his true Targaryen destiny.
The newly released synopsis for Season 6, Episode 3, entitled "Oathbreaker," includes one rather revealing sentence: Bran meets the past. We all know that Bran has been hanging out with the Three-Eyed Raven (see Theory No. 2) and learning, among other magical things, how to look into the past. After the brief flashback to Ned's raid in the Season 6 trailer, it looks like this episode is practically poised to reveal the truth about Jon's parentage.
One last little piece of possible evidence is taken from the opening scene of Season 6, Episode 1. When Jon was taken inside by members of the Night's Watch, I actually remember wondering what Davos appeared to be staring at on the ground. It was only later I learned that some fans think the pool of blood left where Jon had lain is in fact in the shape of a dragon, but I don't think I'm completely convinced.
Resurrection Theory No. 5: The Night's King And His White Walkers
How? The Night's King rocks up and recruits Jon for his army of White Walkers.
Who? A White Walker version of himself, presumably.
Evidence: Well, there isn't any really, unless you include that slightly strange staring match Jon had with the Night's King when they came face to face toward the end of Season 5. Did they see something special in one another? Probably not, but some viewers still like to toss this theory around. In case you can't already tell: I don't get this one but If I'm missing something, please feel free to fill me in.
All things considered, I find it hard to believe the showrunners will be able to resist taking one of these avenues as opposed to the alternative — Jon is dead and stays that way — which is undeniably boring in comparison. And as for George R.R. Martin, he was asked why he killed Jon Snow back in 2011 when A Dance With Dragons was released. What was his response?
"Oh, you think he's dead, do you?"
Whichever theory you're backing, hopefully you agree that when it comes to death, there's only one thing we can really say: "Not today."