(Warning: The following contains major theoretical SPOILERS for this coming Sunday's episode of 'Game of Thrones,' as well as distinctly concrete ones for last week's episode. Proceed with whatever level of caution your friendly neighborhood Three-Eyed Raven suggests is wise.)
Now, here's the thing about the current (sixth) season of Game of Thrones. In among all the huge revelations, confusing plot entanglements and moments of sheer, unadulterated terror, there's also been an algebraic mystery dogging the dreams of every fan who's also read the books (or been on an internet forum in the past five years). Specifically, the R+L=J theory.
As it turns out, though...
Game of Thrones Might Just Have a R+L=J Problem
Or, to be more precise, the show may just have forced itself into a narrative corner in which the long-awaited reveal of R+L=J (widely expected to arrive in this Sunday's season finale) may have virtually no impact on proceedings.
The reason for that? Well, it lies at the very heart of what R+L=J is in the first place.
(Which means that what follows is potentially SUPER SPOILERIFIC.)
Y'see, to put it simply (you can read a more thorough explanation right here) R+L=J is the theory that Jon Snow's parents are not in fact Ned Stark and an unnamed woman, but rather Ned's sister Lyanna, and Rhaegar Targaryen (Daenerys's older brother, who was killed during Robert's Rebellion). Which, among other things, would make Jon Snow a potential heir to the Iron Throne — and very much not a potential heir to Winterfell.
Why Is That A Problem, Though?
Well, the thing is, the situation we were left with at the end of Episode 9 (Jon and Sansa have taken Winterfell, but at a terrible cost in terms of loss of life) doesn't really put Jon in a position where the revelation of his real parentage is going to change all that much. Were Littlefinger, say, to reveal to him that he was in fact not Ned Stark's son, then it's entirely possible that Jon would simply shrug, and keep right on going with his task of retaking the North.
In other words: R+L=J might be a big deal to us as viewers, but there's no guarantee it would be to Jon. He might immediately head down South, and try to press his claim on the Iron Throne somehow, but since he has no real army with which to do that, it seems unlikely. Instead, all it would really achieve is to see Sansa proclaimed Warden of the North in his stead, which he may well be entirely OK with anyway.
Could There Be a Solution To That Problem, Though?
Well, yes, as it happens. Y'see, were Bran to turn up all of a sudden (as seems possible, seeing as we haven't seen him in a few episodes) it's entirely possible that we could discover a whole other aspect to R+L=J. One, in fact, that might just force Jon Snow into action. Y'see, it's entirely possible that the whole overarching title of George R.R. Martin's series — A Song Of Ice And Fire — is in fact intended to make reference to a necessary melding of the northern, icy Starks, and the fiery, southern Targaryens — Ice and Fire.
Were Bran — along with Benjen, who, it was established way back in Season 1, knows the truth of Jon's origins — to turn up with a vision-revealed tale of Jon being the only one who can stop the White Walkers, then, it's entirely possible that R+L=J could be reworked as less of a family drama, and more of a potentially Westeros-saving secret. Plus, if Bran's vision were to, say, suggest that they needed dragons in order to make that happen, then there's always the chance we could see Jon heading towards Daenerys in Season 7.
After all, Targaryens were known for marrying their family members, and he is her nephew. Anyone spotted any clues in next week's preview yet?