This blog is about ‘Game of Thrones’ season six, episode two (read our recap here). Do not read ahead unless you have seen it, or want to find out what happens. It’s full of spoilers. You have been warned.
Just like Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow may be a Targaryen. And just like these two, Tyrion Lannister could be a Targaryen too. You may have heard one or two of these theories before, because they’re probably the most widely promulgated among fans of George R.R. Martin’s novels, on which Game of Thrones is based. Here’s the evidence:
1. Tyrion has unusual features for a Lannister in the books
In George R.R. Martin’s novels, Tyrion is initially described thus: “His head was too large for his body, with a brute’s squashed-in face beneath a swollen shelf of brow. One green eye and one black one peered out from under a lank of hair so blonde it seemed white.” White hair is a Targaryen trait, and some people think Tyrion’s mismatched eyes are inherited from Mad King Aerys’ unusual lineage.
2. The Mad King took ‘unwonted liberties’ with his mother, Joanna
One of the weirder customs of Martin’s world is the ‘bedding ritual’ at weddings, where the bride and groom are carried to the bedroom by wedding guests of the opposite sex, and are disrobed by them. The Mad King (Dany’s father) complained that the “first night” ritual had been abandoned – that the King was no longer allowed to sleep with any bride on the first night of her marriage – supposedly taking “unwonted liberties” with Tyrion’s mother Joanna during the ‘bedding’ ritual. Fans have noted that Joanna was in the same city as Aerys – King’s Landing – at the time of Tyrion’s conception. So he might have gone one further then.
3. Tywin loathed Tyrion
The ostensible reason for Tywin’s hatred of his ‘son’ is that Tyrion’s mother died in childbirth. In Game of Thrones terms that’s not the most hateful thing to do to one’s child, but that bitter feeling would be compounded if it wasn’t even Tywin’s son that caused Joanna’s death.
Episode two of season six appeared to hint at the Tyrion Targaryen theory in the scene where Tyrion frees the dragons from their shackles. In the books, these dragons are freed by a Dornish prince and his companions, none of whom made it into the series. In their attempt to steal those dragons, many of them are fatally wounded by the dragons, who then fly away and escape. By showing Tyrion seemingly at ease with the dragons, the showrunners have added to speculation that he may have some of that ‘dragon blood’ Targaryens have, that allows them to work with dragons more easily than others. He may even ride one of them one day.
Meanwhile, there’s a few reasons Jon Snow seems to be a Targaryen. This section contains plot information from the books that non-readers might not want to know.
1. Ned Stark never revealed who Jon’s mother was
Jon’s father is supposedly Ned Stark, but his mother is never revealed – and the ability to guess that plot point was apparently the key to showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff securing permission from George R.R. Martin to adapt his books.
2. Rhaegar Targaryen was in love with Lyanna
When this backstory appears in the books it feels random, but it’s now appearing in the series too. In it, Rhaegar Targaryen abandons his wife (Oberyn Martell’s sister Elia) for Lyanna Stark – who had promised to marry Robert Baratheon – and takes her away, triggering Robert’s Rebellion, a war that puts him on the throne. There has to be some other significance to this storyline – and that’s probably that Lyanna and Rhaegar, characters from Game of Thrones’ history books, are the parents of Jon Snow.
3. Jon’s wolf is white
As we’ve said, Targaryens tend to have white hair. Jon’s hair is dark like Ned’s – or Lyanna’s – so the whiteness of Ghost’s hair, often associated with his Snow name, could be a marker of his Targ blood.
How did this episode confirm the Jon Targaryen theory? Well, it didn’t exactly. But the addition of the Lyanna character suggests there’s more of the Lyanna/Rhaegar storyline on the way, as evidenced by the last few seconds of this trailer for Episode 3:
It looks like we’re going to see something surprisingly lore-heavy called the raid on the Tower of Joy, which is where Lyanna was taken by Rhaegar during Robert Baratheon’s Rebellion. In that scene, Ned Stark goes with six men (one of whom is Meera Reed’s father) to the Dornish tower where Lyanna is being held, and find it guarded by three members of the Kingsguard, all of whom refuse to let them pass, or recognise the ‘usurper’ Robert Baratheon’s sovereignty.
Only Ned and Howland Reed survive the ensuing battle, and after entering the tower they find Lyanna dying, according to the books. She makes Ned swear a promise, which has never been revealed to any but Reed – and that’s probably to claim the baby Jon as his own.
What would this mean for the series?
There’s a prophecy that appears several times about the dragon having three heads. Dany has three dragons, but she can’t ride all of them – people think Tyrion and Jon will end up riding the other two. There are other contenders for that role, though: Rhaegar’s son with Elia Martell, Aegon, who was presumed dead (someone of his name appears later in the books) as well as Bran Stark, who might be able to ‘fly’ as one of the dragons using his weird possession abilities.