In Mailbag Of Thrones, A.V. Club contributor Michael Walsh answers your pressing questions about the Game Of Thrones universe. Wondering about the show, novels, theories, characters, past episodes, or Game Of Thrones/A Song Of Ice And Fire lore? Have questions about the current season? Forget using a raven, send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We learned a lot from Game Of Thrones’ third episode, “The Queen’s Justice,” like how Stark sons are way too vague about important topics, and that Euron really cares about what a woman wants. But the episode raised plenty of questions, too, and in this week’s Mailbag Of Thrones we’re tackling your inquiries about creepy Bran, what happens now that so many great houses are gone, and why the Night’s King is taking his sweet time.
Zack emails: Beside telling Jon he’s a secret Targaryen, what do you think Bran’s role will be moving forward? Seems like he aged 50 years in a season.
You’d look old too after years of learning about everything that has ever happened to everyone. Not sure if you’d also develop those dead eyes though…
Once Bran tells Jon about his real mother and father I think there’s a chance we learn Lyanna and Rhaegar married in secret. If true, that would mean Jon isn’t a bastard, giving him the best claim to the Iron Throne.
It’s also driving me nuts that Petyr Baelish turned on Ned and then talked Joffrey into executing him, and he’s now at Winterfell as a Stark “ally.” Hopefully Bran learns that truth about Baelish’s role in Ned’s demise and winter comes for Littlefinger.
But even more important is that Bran keeps talking about having to learn more so he’ll be ready when the Night’s King comes, which makes me think even he doesn’t yet know what his most important revelation will be. His uncertainty points to something that happened during the first Long Night that helped the living beat the dead, something the legends have forgotten. It could be almost anything, but if I had to bet money it would be that the last hero Azor Ahai sacrificed himself to defeat the White Walkers. Azor Ahai forged his famed sword, Lightbringer, in his wife’s heart—it is possible he also paid the ultimate price himself to win the first Great War. Does that mean Bran will tell Jon or Daenerys they will have to do the same this time?
George R.R. Martin has said the end of the story will be bittersweet.
Matthew Worley comments: So I took Jon’s comment about “not enjoying what we’re good at” to mean he doesn’t enjoy killing, not ruling. Thoughts?
I took it to mean Jon hates ruling, but part of ruling means killing, so you’re not wrong. Executing Olly was too much for him to handle, but Ned taught him the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.
Jon was elected Lord Commander, did what he thought was best, and got killed for it. Now he’s the King In The North and all anyone ever does is yell at him. Plus he’s the only ruler trying to fight the one war that matters, and he can’t get anyone to believe the enemy is real.
At some point, who needs the aggravation? Move to Qarth and hope you die before the White Walkers come.
Tom Triumph comments: How does Dany know Bran is still alive, when she mentions only two brothers dead? And why doesn’t Jon correct her? Am I remembering wrong?
Sam, despite promising Bran he wouldn’t say anything, did tell Jon he was alive and heading north of the Wall, so she was right when she said Jon lost two brothers. But I have no idea how she would know that, since people heard Theon killed both Bran and Rickon. Robb’s infamous death would make three deceased Stark brothers.
Maybe Jon and Tyrion talked about it off screen and then Tyrion told her before her second conversation with Jon?
She was right, so he didn’t need to correct her, but it was still really weird she knew that.
Jenna emails: Now that Olenna has admitted to killing Joffrey, does that mean Sansa’s off the hook in Cersei’s eyes? She didn’t name her co-conspirators, and Tyrion is still on her bad side for a) existing and b) killing her mother and father, but could this mean an attempt at an alliance with the last remaining (to her knowledge) true-born Stark? Or is she too crazy and evil to try that?
Even if she believes Olenna’s death-chair confession, that won’t necessarily absolve either Tyrion or Sansa in her mind. (It would have been great if Olenna implicated actual co-conspirator Baelish). Even if it did, Cersei hates them both and they are in open rebellion against her. Cersei would sooner destroy the North and salt its lands than work with Sansa.
Which is a shame, since Sansa’s been rocking that old Cersei hairstyle, even if it is so three seasons ago.
James emails: Since the showrunners obviously don’t care about royal succession, considering they’ve left out a few Martells and Tyrells from the books, I have to know: Who’s next in line to take over Dorne and The Reach? Also, who’s in charge of The Stormlands and The Riverlands now that the Baratheons and the Freys have been wiped out?
I doubt the show ever really addresses this, and if it does it will briefly be mentioned at the very end. So many great houses have been wiped out (there might be some unimportant Freys left, but they seem to be so decimated it won’t matter), but all of those regions still have other, old, powerful, respected families there. House Tarly is the new warden of the Reach, but the rest will likely see a power struggle, and that chaos is probably the best explanation for why they won’t play a role going forward.
Paul emails: It’s a minor point, but it’s always bothered me that King’s Landing still retains the Baratheon sigil in the opening titles of the show. Both the map and sigils of other houses change on a week-by-week basis, but King’s Landing has retained the stag throughout the whole series, despite the royal sigil changing to a Stag and Lion under Joffrey, and now (arguably) should just show the Lannister lion. Any thoughts on why?
Even though Qyburn crowned her as Queen Cersei of the House Lannister, her claim is very dependent on her marriage to Robert Baratheon. There was no one left to ascend to the Iron Throne after Tommen, but at least Cersei was a legitimate queen by marriage. The show has used the stag as a reminder of that.
Dan emails: Have all the religions been proven valid, except The Seven and the Great Stallion? The old gods let Bran see back in time, both the Drowned God and the Lord Of Light bring people back to life, and the Many-Faced God lets you become entirely different people.
With magic back in the world it’s possible none of those things are due to a god or gods.
But either way the Seven are totally useless and stupid.
Marie emails: Gendry is a Baratheon, but his great grandmother was a Targaryen. Do you think this will be important? Maybe he’s the 3rd head of the dragon, not Tyrion.
Gendry has been so marginalized it would be hard to accept him being so important to the end game, but as you point out he does have Targaryen blood so we can’t rule it out entirely. (Gendry’s father, Robert, had a Targaryen grandmother, which helped his claim to the Iron Throne, as did the belief that House Baratheon was a bastard line of Targaryens.)
I wouldn’t be shocked if Gendry ends up being the new lord of House Baratheon and the Stormlands, assuming there’s a Westeros still standing when the show ends.
Speaking of potential new inhabitants of famous castles…
Sn comments: So does Bronn get Highgarden?
This is amazing and now if it doesn’t happen I’m going to hate everything.
Rebelliousjukebox Glen Coco comments: WHERE IS GHOST?? Seriously, is he still at the Wall?
Hiding from the show’s budget at Winterfell.
Mandaliet4 comments: If Jon and Tyrion can ride dragons, doesn’t that mean they’re fireproof like Daenerys? Wouldn’t they have noticed this by now?
Jon burned his hand saving Lord Commander Mormont when the wight attacked him, which makes sense since being “fireproof” isn’t a normal Targaryen trait. It seems exclusive to Daenerys (on the show—in the books it might have been a one-time event when she birthed the dragons, and that might have been blood magic and not her being immune to fire).
Rick James comments: Time and distance are becoming extremely confusing in this show. Where the **** are the White Walkers? Based on how far everyone else has traveled this season (and Euron building 1,000 damn ships) it would seem that the White Walker horde should be at the Wall by now. Are they waiting to attack? If so, why?
One reason for the long delay is it gives the Night’s King more time to grow his army by opening more graves and killing the remaining wildlings.
In the books I think he’s also still looking for the Horn Of Joramun, which legend says can bring down the Wall. The show has never introduced that though, and the latest theory is the HBO White Walkers are waiting for the seas around the Wall to freeze so they can walk around it.
If it turns out the magic of the Wall can be avoided merely by going around it, that will be a monumentally lame development. It will be a huge stain on the show.
Ugh, there’s definitely no way any other question will consume me more than this one.