Daenerys Targaryen is wasting no time in marching on King’s Landing. Following the fiery Battle for Winterfell, with the trailer for Game of Thrones season 8 episode 4 seeing the Unsullied leave Winterfell and Targaryen boats sail for the Seven Kingdoms’ capital, as Khaleesi’s dragons soar overhead. Make no mistake, this is a Daenerys-led charge on the Iron Throne.
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The Northern lords don’t seem to have a problem with this move and are seen cheering as Dany toasts them in the trailer, suggesting that she will let the North do its thing and not compel Winterfell to pledge fealty to her. But what will Jon Snow – aka Aegon Targaryen – do?
In the uniquely awkward position of being Daenerys’ lover, nephew, and theoretical usurper, he must decide whether to remain in Winterfell as King/Warden of the North or once again abandon his family seat just as he did during his business trip to Dragonstone in the first half of season 7.
“Men do stupid things for women,” Sansa astutely remarked a week ago, and those “stupid things” look to include attacking a psychopathic queen using a severely depleted force (remember, the Dothraki army were wiped out on Sunday night).
The episode 4 trailer sees Jon and Davos apparently riding out of Winterfell on horseback, while an ambiguous shot that falls right before a cut to black sees Daenerys standing by Drogon outside the Winterfell castle walls and smiling as she looks toward the sky. What else could she be delighted by, other than Jon sitting atop Rhaegal, ready to fight by her side?
As Drogon and Rhaegal fly south over the Winterfell battlements, Sansa looks bummed. This is Sansa’s default expression, granted, but it appears she still has reservations about Daenerys, along with her brother’s unwavering belief in her.
Given Daenerys’ thirst for power and her surprisingly political reaction to the news of Jon’s true parentage, it seems very unlikely that she would let a man with a better claim to the Iron Throne than herself ride by her side into battle, unless he keeps this claim a secret. Only Jon, Daenerys, Bran, Sam and maybe Tyrion, depending on how candid his off-screen fireside chat with Bran was in episode 2, know Jon’s secret, and this doesn’t look set to change anytime soon.
A bonafide Good Guy and as humble as they come, Jon seems to have zero interest in taking the throne, and will probably always identify more as a Stark bastard than a Stark-Targaryen heir. It remains to be seen how the final three episodes go down, but the poetic aspect to this dynamic appears to be setting him up to take his secret to the grave – buried a Stark, and yet another one who died trying to do the noble thing.
If Jon does survive, it’s hard to see Jon and Daenerys coming to some kind of ‘incest be damned, I love you’ assessment, then getting married and ruling together. And if Daenerys dies, it might be a strange ending to the show if Jon becomes the reluctant ruler.
But this is where the secret third option comes in: Install Gendry on the throne. Gendry’s unacknowledged Baratheon blood is a plot element that’s still yet to be paid off in the show, and his romance with Arya (which, judging by the trailer, is more than just a pre-battle tryst) feels a little random – unless its not, and she becomes his queen (uncomfortable though she might be with that title).
The last time Westeros was remotely peaceful was when Robert Baratheon was on the throne with Ned Stark as his Hand. Might we go full circle and end with another Baratheon-Stark combo? Hell, we had Tommen on the throne so why not another relatively minor character?
At his core, Jon is a protector of men. And with trusted rulers in place if Daenerys dies (Gendry/Arya in King’s Landing, Sansa in Winterfell), perhaps he will return to The Wall to grieve – the first line of defence should the dead ever return for the living.