Just what is Bran playing at in the Game of Thrones season 8 premiere?


Bran Stark is a hard character to get a handle on. He’s the son of Ned Stark, a young boy who wanted to be a knight but ended up a paraplegic after Jaime Lannister the Kingslayer pushed him out a window…but is he? Ever since he inherited the time-traveling powers of the Three-Eyed Raven back in season 6, he’s been different, even claiming that he’s “not really” Bran anymore and rejecting his rightful title as Lord of Winterfell. “I remember what it felt like to be Brandon Stark,” he told Meera when they parted, “but I remember so much else now.” Bran can see everything has happened, everything that is happening, and everything that’s going to happen. How are you supposed to suss out the motives of someone like that?


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It’s tricky, but I think I have an idea. Last night on the show’s season 8 premiere, Bran greeted his brother/cousin Jon Snow — whom he hadn’t seen in years — by reminding him, Daenerys and everyone else in the Winterfell courtyard that “we don’t have time for all of this,” ‘this’ assumedly meaning pleasantries exchanged between members of Team Dany and Team Jon. As Bran reminds us, the Night King has a dragon, the Wall has fallen, and the army of the dead is on its way south to exterminate humanity. That is Bran’s only priority.

Only it’s not. Ever since Bran arrived back at Winterfell in “The Queen’s Justice,” he’s also been keen to tell Jon what he knows about Jon’s true parentage, a puzzle he only fully solved when Sam brought him the last piece. If defeating the Night King is really all that matters, why does Bran even care if Jon knows that he’s the trueborn son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark?

I submit to you that these two goals are related. I think that Bran, who let’s remember can see into the future using his vaguely defined powers, knows the general shape of things to come. He knows of a scenario where humanity defeats the Night King. To get to that scenario, Jon must know that he’s actually Aegon Targaryen, sixth of his name, Protector of the Realm and all that jazz.

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Why? Well, we don’t know that yet — if I’m right, it’ll become clear over the next five episodes. This also makes you wonder why Bran chooses to tell Jon of his heritage in the way he does: by sending Sam, whom Jon trusts “more than anyone,” to relay the message. And what’s more, Bran waits to ask Sam to tell Jon until after Sam has learned that Daenerys executed both his father and brother, when Sam has reason to feel antipathy towards the Dragon Queen. Sam carries his emotions into his conversation with Jon in the crypts, not only telling Jon that he is, in fact, “king of the bloody Seven Kingdoms,” but that Daenerys “shouldn’t be” queen. Sam doesn’t outright say that he wants Jon to assert his claim over Dany’s, but he’s not an impartial messenger. Bran, who let’s remember can see everything at all times, knew that.

Does that mean that Bran’s winner scenario includes not only a future where Jon knows that he has an excellent claim to the Iron Throne, but also one where his friends push him into contesting the claim held by his new girlfriend? And you can bet if word of this gets out, people like Sansa will push Jon, too. Again, I don’t know how all of this equals survival for humanity — if anything, I’d think it would cause division at a time when Teams Jon and Dany should really be working together — but this is Game of Thrones, and we should expect the unexpected.

Then there’s the matter of Jaime. When Sam and Bran talk, Bran’s sitting in the Winterfell courtyard, “waiting for an old friend.” At episode’s end, we see he was waiting for Jaime Lannister, who looks stark-raving horrified to see that the kid he pushed out a window all those years back is here to rat him out:

This scene has a lot of virtues. First of all, it’s hilarious. Jaime left an unhealthy relationship in King’s Landing to come to Winterfell and be killed by the family members of the kid he crippled long ago, assuming Daenerys doesn’t flash fry him for killing her father first? That’s just gold.

But it also plays into my little theory. There’s no guarantee Bran has any intention of revealing what Jaime did to him. Why, after all, would the Three-Eyed Raven care what happened to Bran Stark years ago? Instead, Jaime may play into Bran’s winning scenario. We don’t know why Bran needs to talk to his “old friend,” but it’ll probably end up being important, and not just because the part of Bran that’s still human wants justice against the man who took his legs.

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Let me know what you think of this theory. And while you’re doing that, enjoy this bevy of memes about Bran staring uncomfortably at everyone in Winterfell:

And yes, of course someone added the Curb Your Enthusiasm music to this moment:

We’ll see if any of this is borne out in Episode 802. I’m sure HBO will be along with a title by the time Episode 803 comes out.

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