Eastwatch was a quieter episode of Game of Thrones compared to the previous week, as pieces were moved to set up a climactic final two episodes this season. However, this episode did have a moment that was monumental in its implications.
While Sam was copying books and scrolls as punishment for curing Ser Jorah, Gilly stumbled upon the records of High Septon Maynard.
Sam is basically ignoring the newly literate wildling as she reads about the bowel movements of the meticulous notetaker. She then asks Sam what ‘annulment’ means. It is at this point that every book reader watching started hyperventilating.
Gilly then reads that Maynard issued an annulment for someone named Prince “Ragger” at the same time as he remarried him to someone else in a secret ceremony (!) in Dorne. Sam then interrupts her to complain. Sam!
Frustratingly, Sam didn’t inquire about what Gilly had read and the whole thing was glossed over super quickly.
But book readers have waited years for confirmation on this and it has huge implications for the characters and the remaining story on Game of Thrones. So here is a rundown on what it means and why it has people freaking out.
Prince “Ragger” and the importance of proper pronunciation
Sam and the late Shireen Baratheon did a great job teaching Gilly to read. However if they spent a little more time on the pronunciation of the ‘rhae’ sound, Sam might have picked up on the importance of what Gilly was saying.
When Gilly tried to inquire further about the practice of annulment, Sam interrupted.
The Prince “Ragger” Gilly was referring to is actually none other than crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen.
We found out last season that Jon Snow is the child of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. What we didn’t know for sure was the nature of that relationship.
The story in the realm has always been that Rhaegar abducted and raped Lyanna, but fans have always suspected they were in fact in love.
Prince Rhaegar was married to Elia Martell (the red viper’s sister). If Rhaegar’s marriage to Elia was annulled, Lyanna is the one he married.
I thought this might be revealed in a Bran flashback, but nope. Instead this huge fact was hidden in an OCD maester’s notes, revealed in a quick bit of dialogue from a wildling who’s reading below grade level.
Neither bastard nor Stark
If Rhaegar and Lyanna were married, that means they were in love. It’s kind of bad form to annul the marriage to the mother of your children and marry a new girl on the same day, but I guess the prince can do as he likes. This means that Jon was not the product of rape, but of love.
We knew that Rhaegar was his father, but if Rhaegar was still married to Elia, Jon would be a bastard no matter who his parents were.
This reveal means that Jon is neither bastard nor Stark. He is a trueborn Targaryen, last remaining son of Rhaegar Targaryen (with one possible book exception) and the literal union of ice and fire.
Jon is still half Stark so his Targaryen blood will not take away from that part of his identity.
Arya, Sansa and Bran are still his family and this reveal doesn’t change that. But being a bastard is part of who he is. Jon has had this chip on his shoulder his whole life and the last name ‘Snow’ to constantly remind him of it.
It may have caused him pain, but ‘bastard’ is part of his identity, so it will be very interesting to see how he feels when he learns that was never really true.
We’re talking kings and successions
Ok, so Jon was not the product of rape and his parents had a happy, loving marriage. Good for him, what’s the big deal?
One of the principles that Westerosi society is built on is that bastards cannot inherit. If it were not so the realm would constantly be in civil war as the bastards of every noble house and the crown would always be looking for their cut. Only royal decree can legitimize bastards for this very reason.
As a trueborn son and not a bastard, Jon can inherit. And here is the kicker, as the trueborn male heir to crown prince Rhaegar Targaryen, Jon has a better claim to the throne than Daenerys, the female heir to the Mad King.
This raises a huge potential conflict between the two when Jon finds out the truth of his parentage. But with Littlefinger stirring a family conflict in Winterfell and the real threat marching South, I’m not so sure this will really lead to a Targaryen succession conflict.
Dance of the Dragons part deux?
The show is already hinting that Jon and Dany have feelings for each other and they might consummate those feelings prior to Jon finding out the truth.
Plus Targaryens married brother and sister for centuries, aunt and nephew is probably tame to these people.
There is also the possibility that Dany allows the North to remain independent, in which case two Targaryens could rule all of Westeros.
Not to mention Jon really has no desire to lead and one of them could die before this even becomes an issue.
But, based on the laws of Westeros, Jon (Jaehaerys?) Snow (Targaryen) is the rightful ruler of the seven kingdoms and the iron throne is his, by right.
This episode of Game of Thrones was basically hitting us over the head with R+L=J.
From this monumental reveal of Rhaegar and Lyanna’s wedding, to Drogon letting Jon touch him, perhaps smelling Targaryen blood and a future dragonrider.
Jon even wished Dany “good fortune in the wars to come” echoing Ser Arthur Dayne’s words to Ned at the tower of joy where Jon was born.
The creators of Game of Thrones are letting us know this is important and priming us for when the characters find out and all the possible consequences when they do.
Oh, and while it isn’t the critical white walker fighting info you were hoping for, the next time Gilly is reading game-changing information Sam, please shut up.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.