Jon Snow has long been a fan favorite on Game of Thrones. His death at the end of last season left us wondering – for a whole year – whether all the speculation around Jon's true parentage had been in vain. In came Season 6, in all its glory, and Jon was indeed very much dead. But in the second episode, our predictions were fulfilled and Jon Snow was brought back to life by the powers of the Lord of Light.
In the latest epic episode, "Battle of the Bastards," Jon has a very meaningful conversation with the Red Priestess Melisandre about why R'hllor (a.k.a. the Lord of Light) gifted Jon with a second chance. As the battle begins, Jon has many near-misses and, against all odds, emerges unharmed. Whether the producers simply want to toy with the theories, or Jon really is a chosen one or not, he clearly hasn’t achieved his supposed purpose yet.
Let's endeavor to figure out just what that purpose might be, shall we?
Melisandre had often claimed that Stannis was the Prince that was Promised, or as some would call him, Azor Ahai reborn. Since Stannis is dead and she brought Jon back from the nothingness of death, she now believes Jon Snow is Azor Ahai.
But who was Azor Ahai?
The followers of the R'hllor believe that darkness once fell upon the world and that Azor Ahai destroyed it with the help of the Lord of Light. It is said that Azor Ahai will be reborn and that there will be signs leading to his homecoming.
There will come a day after a long summer when the stars bleed and the cold breath of darkness falls heavy on the world. In this dread hour a warrior shall draw from the fire a burning sword. And that sword shall be Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes, and he who clasps it shall be Azor Ahai come again, and the darkness shall flee before him.
Before you start binge watching Game of Thrones in search of all the signs, take a moment to watch this video. Alt Shift X references the three most likely candidates for Azor Ahai based on the books (Stannis, Daenerys and Jon Snow) and the validity of the proposed signs for each of them.
In short, Jon’s been reborn, he’s got a pretty neat Valyrian steel sword (Longclaw), he’s got the darkness thing going for him. When Melisandre brought him back, Jon said he hadn’t seen anything in the afterlife, just darkness. There’s also the bit about Azor Ahai being reborn amidst salt and smoke, which translates to the ritual performed by Melisandre by the flames of the fire and the – possible – sweat of his body.
Anyway, signs be damned! He may not be the most likely candidate in comparison to Daenerys but, even so, he has been chosen to be reborn by the Lord of Light. Hence, even if Jon Snow isn’t Azor Ahai himself, he’s still damn important.
With Game of Thrones it's all about the wordplay. In their latest talk, Jon questions Melisandre about why she was allowed to bring him back. She explains to Jon that she has no power of her own, thus it was the God of Light’s will that Jon would be reborn. She tells him:
“Maybe you’re only needed for this small part of his plan and nothing else. Maybe he brought you here to die again.”
Now, we can all agree Melisandre’s words were gloomy and that she is in a pretty dark place where her faith is concerned, but that last bit of her speech might have been foreshadowing. Maybe Jon will have to die again before the real war for the dawn is over, and his death might be more meaningful than we think.
In the stories, Azor Ahai forges his sword, Lightbringer, and drives it into his wife's heart for strength, thus sacrificing his love to save the world from the Night Walkers. Since Ygritte, Jon's true love, is long gone, he might have to sacrifice himself for the world to survive the Long Night.
But why Jon?
The R+L=J is hardly a secret anymore, especially since the showrunners have promised more of the Tower of Joy flashback for the series finale next Sunday. So, we might get to see baby Jon and his real mother inside the Tower, meaning Jon is the son of both Ice (Lyanna Stark) and Fire (Raeghar Targaryen). And what does that mean?
Like all Gods, the Lord of Light has a counterpart. R'hllor represents light, love and joy, while The Great Other represents darkness, evil and fear, being eternally at war. As such, there’s a God of Fire and a God of Ice. Hence, Jon, being born from Ice and Fire, could potentially have the strength of both Gods. It would then make sense for Jon to sacrifice himself to destroy a part of him -- the one that connects to the God of Ice -- thus annihilating the White Walkers and ending the imminent Long Night.
It all seems reasonable, but that's only because we’re assuming Melisandre has been serving the God of Light. But, what if she hasn’t?
In "The Door," we met another Red Priestess in Meereen. Kinvara theoretically serves the same God as Melisandre, but she agreed to support Daenerys as the queen and she also believes she's Azor Ahai. Wouldn’t the God of Light likely stick to only one chosen Prince? Considering R'hllor isn’t prone to war, it'd make sense to avoid championing two candidates who could possibly battle for power later on.
It’s also interesting to notice that Melisandre has -- so far -- proclaimed two different men as the Prince that was Promised. This might either signify that she's really bad at interpreting the visions in the flames, or that she’s been getting her visions from the wrong God for some time. If that’s so, then Jon wasn’t reborn by the power of the Lord of Light, but from the evil god, The Great Other.
Jon's sacrifice would then be to destroy the darkness and to restore the light in the form of a Queen of Fire. Daenerys, anyone?
A God has cleared Jon's path in the "Battle of the Bastards" and has brought him back to life for a reason -- other than to serve Ramsay his comeuppance. Which God and for what reason are just theories and speculation at this point, but we should brace ourselves for a very unexpected and sad ending. As author George R.R. Martin has said, he likes his endings bittersweet.
Check out the promo for the season finale, 'The Winds of Winter':