Game of Thrones: Is There Really Nothing Supernatural About Jon Snow’s – Vanity Fair

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This post contains spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 3, “Oathbreaker.” If you haven’t watched and don’t wish to be spoiled, now’s the time to leave.

When Jon Snow came back from the dead last week, viewers were brimming with outlandish speculation as to what price he would pay for his new lease on life. (Guilty!) Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin has made it clear that according to the rules of his universe, any return from the dead exacts a heavy toll. “If you’re bringing a character back, that a character has gone through death, that’s a transformative experience,” Martin said in 2011. “My characters who come back from death are worse for wear. In some ways, they’re not even the same characters anymore. The body may be moving, but some aspect of the spirit is changed or transformed, and they’ve lost something.”

But this appears to be a case where Martin and show runners Dan Weiss and David Benioff see it at least a little differently. We won’t know until Martin’s next book, “The Winds of Winter,” hits the shelf what the author has planned for Jon’s return, but in a post-episode interview that aired on HBOGo, Benioff was quick to contradict the author’s “they’re not even the same characters anymore” sentiment saying that Jon hasn’t been altered in any “supernatural way. I mean he’s still Jon.” This is a marked departure from every resurrected Game of Thrones character we’ve seen from Beric Dondarrian and The Mountain, to book-only characters like Lady Stoneheart and Coldhands. It wouldn’t be the first time Jon was an exception (see: albino direwolf),but it is an interesting departure from what seemed to be the rules of the universe.

Benioff and Weiss place Jon’s transformation squarely in the realm of nihilistic or existential crisis. (Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Supernatural may be familiar with that reaction to resurrection.) Benioff says of Jon’s trip to the other side, “If that really is what’s beyond and what’s beyond is nothing. Just the terror of knowing that.” Weiss adds Jon discovering the wounds that should have killed him on his body is “existentially terrifying.” If Jon came back from the dead an atheist, then Melisandre has a long row to hoe convincing him he’s Azor Ahai reborn.

The episode went to great lengths to dispel any lingering supernatural theories around Jon Snow’s current state. Yes, magic brought him back, but as Edd points out, Jon’s eyes aren’t the icy blue of a White Walker. Nor, Tormund assures us, is Jon some kind of god. We can also, sadly, probably discount the warg theory. But there’s still room for Jon’s worldview to get even darker. There have to be consequences for that death beyond a snappy haircut, a change in profession, and a bad mood.

As Owen Teale—who played Ser Alliser Thorne for six seasons—put it:

I remember thinking that I hope he really is dead because if you play
the card of the magic too much then the credibly of the whole thing
drops a little. Death is not heartbreaking anymore, and part of what
you love about this series is it will break your heart. But then I was
immediately impressed when I realized what they were doing with
bringing him back was investigating what it means for that to happen —
they’re not just bringing back Jon Snow like he never died. I think
they’ve done the right thing, and it’s farewell for me.’

Kit Harington agreed that there had to be a significant transformation for Jon’s death to matter. “At first, I was worried that he’ll wake up and he’s the same, back to normal — then there’s no point in that death,” Harington told Entertainment Weekly. “He needs to change. There’s a brilliant line when Melisandre asks: ‘What did you see?’ And he says: ‘Nothing, there was nothing at all.’ That cuts right to our deepest fear, that there’s nothing after death. And that’s the most important line in the whole season for me. Jon’s never been afraid of death, and that’s made him a strong and honorable person. He realizes something about his life now: He has to live it because that’s all there is. He’s been over the line and there’s nothing there. And that changes him. It literally puts the fear of God into him. He’s seen oblivion, and that’s got to change somebody in the most fundamental way there is. He doesn’t want to die ever again. But if he does, he doesn’t want to be brought back.”

According to Harington, though, Jon’s transformation has as much to do with what happens to the Lord Commander after he woke up. Speaking about Jon’s decision to leave the Night’s Watch, Harington explained, “This place betrayed him, and everything he stood for has changed. Plus, he had to kill a child, Olly, and that’s what really does it. He kills an underage kid and he can’t see the point in being up there anymore. At the heart of it, he knows by staying at the Wall he can’t help the kingdoms and he’s probably going to die very quickly if he stays.”

But let’s hope Jon hangs around Castle Black just a little while longer. Sure, he may have gone off to sulk in his room, but Sansa’s coming and if anything will help focus his post-death funk into rage-driven purpose, it might be the sight of another Stark. And Sansa has quite the tale to tell.


Game of Thrones: Is There Really Nothing Supernatural About Jon Snow’s – Vanity Fair