It's been more than a week since Game of Thrones concluded its explosive sixth season with an wildfire-y bang (thanks Cersei), and we're still not over it yet. From the outpouring of violence by the now-Queen Cersei, to the massive reveal that Game of Thrones fans have been waiting for for years (decades even, if you're a book reader), "The Winds of Winter" did not disappoint.
It is of course the R+L=J reveal which set the internet alight, as "The Winds of Winter" finally confirmed what we've pretty much known for a long time — that Jon Snow is not, in fact, the bastard son of Eddard "Ned" Stark, but the child of Ned's sister Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen.
This means Jon Snow is one of the last Targaryens alongside Daenerys — his biological aunt who is currently gunning for the Iron Throne. But there's another piece to the R+L=J theory which suggests that there may be a third aspect of the puzzle out there. Let's take a look.
The Three Heads Of The Dragon
In Game of Thrones Season 2, Episode 10 "Valar Morghulis" Daenerys enters the House of the Undying to rescue her dragons, and has a vision of the Iron Throne. In the books she also experiences a vision of of her older, very dead, brother Rhaegar, and he speaks to her saying: "The dragon has three heads."
The concept of the three headed dragon — the symbol of House Targaryen — is a recurring one in both Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire, the books the show is adapted from. Daenerys is the mother of three dragons — Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion. This reflects the folklore of Aegon Targaryen and his sisters Visenya and Rhaenys, who united all Westeros from the backs their three dragons, Balerion, Vhagar and Meraxes.
Rhaegar's words to Daenerys in the House of the Undying were used as a marker of Jon Snow's parentage, as he seemed to be suggesting that the three dragons would match to three riders. The last three Targaryens, which Daenerys needs if she is to succeed in reclaiming the Iron Throne.
What About Viserys Targaryen?
Remember Viserys right? Before he got his face melted off by the crown he desired so much he was using his sister Daenerys as a political pawn by marrying her off to the Dothraki Khal Drogo as part of his path to reclaim the Iron Throne, which he viewed as his birthright. With him now being very dead, Daenerys has taken over his quest and made it her own. So, as a Targaryen sibling of the Mother of Dragons, wasn't Viserys one of the three heads of the dragon? Well, maybe not.
Viserys bites it in Season 1, Episode 6, "A Golden Crown", in a scene we all remember. He dies when Drogo has his Dothraki pour molten gold over Viserys's head in response to him insulting Daenerys, finally giving the spoilt prince the crown that he was promised. In the books Viserys shouts at the Dothraki:
"You cannot touch me, I am the dragon, the dragon, and I will be crowned!"
And (in both the books and TV show) Dany calmly remarks "He was no dragon. Fire cannot kill a dragon."
This doesn't necessarily suggest that Viserys's blood wasn't that of a Targaryen, but rather that he wasn't worthy to inherent the throne, nor to be one of the heads of the dragon. Which means that there's still two places left to be filled.
Now we know that Jon Snow is of Targaryen and Stark blood — literally the son of ice and fire — which means that if we subscribe to the three heads of the dragon theory there could still be another Targaryen out there.
There's a few theories doing the rounds about who the third rider could be, and there's two competing for gold right now. One which has been around for almost as long as R+L=J, and another which is relatively new.
Meera Reed = Meera Targaryen?
Over the course of Season 6 we've seen numerous visions experienced by Bran Stark regarding the life of Lyanna, which cumulated in the scene at the Tower of Joy when her brother Ned came to rescue her. The finale episode gave us the R+L=J twist as the final vision, but also revealed that Ned wasn't the only one present at Jon's birth and Lyanna's death.
The other man in the room was Howland Reed — the father of Meera and Jojen Reed, the siblings who aided Bran Stark in his flight from Winterfell. At first a minor character, Meera Reed played a much bigger role in Game of Thrones Season 6, sticking around to protect Bran at her late brother's request.
This part of the theory suggests that Meera is in fact the twin sister of Jon Snow — that Lyanna gave birth to twins and Ned gave one of the babies to his companion Howland Reed to raise as his own, whilst he took Jon. Clearly keeping the children apart would be safer than raising them together, should their true parentage be discovered.
There's a few other things which support this theory. Meera is roughly the right age having been born the same year as Jon, and has been described in the books as having similar personality and physical traits to both Lyanna and Arya Stark. And despite Meera being of marriageable age and a suitable match for Robb Stark when Howland Reed pledged his allegiance to the King in the North, a marriage alliance was never suggested by Howland, cause of Meera being half Stark and all.
It would also explain why Howland Reed never told Meera that he fought alongside Ned Stark at the Tower of Joy during Robert's Rebellion — lest she discover the truth of the events which occured there. It's not the strongest theory — especially as we only saw one child in the Tower of Joy scene — but it's an interesting one regardless. And she does have that Jon Snow hair, look how curly it is.
What About Tyrion Lannister?
But then there's the Tyrion Lannister theory. It's long been suggested that Tyrion may in fact be the third head of the dragon, with Targaryen blood in his veins.
In Season 6 Tyrion reveals his obsession with dragons, and actually seems to be able to communicate with them in a manner similar to Daenerys when he releases them from the Meereen dungeon in Season 6, Episode 2 "Home".
Targaryens are supposed to be the only ones with the blood to tame dragons, and those dragons looked pretty tame to us. Well, they didn't try to eat Tyrion, and that's about as tame as dragons get.
There's a few other things which point to Tyrion being a lot less Lannister-y than we've been led to believe, and not just cause he seems to have resisted the urge to boink his sibling.
- Tywin Lannister claimed more than once that he didn't believe Tyrion to be his biological son — his last words were "You're no son of mine."
- It was rumored in Westeros that Tyrion's mother Joanna had slept with Aerys Targaryen, making Tyrion half-Targaryen if true.
- When Tyrion first appears in the A Song of Ice and Fire books, he's described as having different colored eyes — one black and one green, unlike his siblings Cersei and Jaime who both have green eyes.
This also takes us back to one of the first exchanges between Tyrion and Jon (and my personal favorite) way back in Season 1.
Tyrion: "Let me give you some advice bastard. Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you."
Jon: "What the hell do you know about being a bastard?"
Tyrion: "All dwarfs are bastards in their father's eyes."
In retrospect, this passage could be some seen as a way of aligning the two characters — wearing the thing that makes them different as a means of protection. Something like, being a Targaryen perhaps?
So, even as the Meera theory gains speed, we're still holding out on that faint hope that we'll get to see Tyrion riding a dragon at some point — hopefully using it to bite Cersei's head off (sorry Queen, we love you but clearly it's time for you to go).