These clips may hold the clue
Spoilers follow for Game of Thrones season 7 episode 7 – ‘The Dragon and the Wolf’.
In the final episode of Game of Thrones season 7, we at last received confirmation of Jon Snow’s true parentage: he’s the trueborn son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, because Rhaegar annulled his marriage with Elia Martell and married Lyanna in secret. This news confirms that Jon is the true heir to the Iron Throne (and Daenerys Targaryen’s nephew). His real name is Aegon Targaryen.
An under-discussed aspect of these revelations is that Jon’s past interactions with Targaryens aren’t limited to Daenerys: he also had several conversations with his great-great-uncle Aemon Targaryen at the Wall, without either of them even knowing that they were related. Or didn’t they?
Take a look at the below clip from season 1 for a clue:
“If the day should ever come when your lord father was forced to choose between honour on the one hand and those he loves on the other,” Aemon says to Jon – apparently referring to Ned, but possibly also referring to Rhaegar – “what would he do? … What is honour compared to a woman’s love? And what is duty against the feel of a newborn son in your arms? Or a brother’s smile?”
Reddit user sakhnini1 has juxtaposed this season 1 scene with the Tower of Joy revelations from season 6, suggesting Aemon may have known who Jon’s real parents were. This is definitely a possibility, because the books say Rhaegar corresponded with Aemon by raven. Aemon’s words could be read as referring to Rhaegar’s decision to abandon ‘honour’ in favour of Lyanna; ‘duty’ in favour of protecting his son, Jon.
There’s another significant scene later on in the series, where Jon asks Aemon for advice – and here his words seem to suggest that he doesn’t know who Jon really is.
Referring to his great-niece Daenerys (and also to himself) Aemon says: “A Targaryen alone in the world is a terrible thing,” right before Jon walks into the room. Here it seems like the showrunners have purposefully written Aemon’s dialogue to be ironic – Aemon appears unaware that he’s in the room with his great-great-nephew. But then again, perhaps the dialogue is purposefully ambiguous.
What do you reckon? Did Aemon know who Jon’s parents really were? Let us know what you think in the comments.