The Game of Thrones season 8 premiere finally sees Jon Snow learn the truth about his parents, explaining to audiences in the process why he – and not Daenerys – is the true heir to the Iron Throne.
The truth of who Jon’s parents really are has loomed over Game of Thrones for the entire show. Initially, those questions were about who is the woman who could make the honorable Ned Stark betray his vows and sire a bastard, but as the HBO series went on, it became apparent that the mystery of Jon’s parentage was far more complicated. In season 6, Bran learns via his Three-Eyed Raven visions that Jon isn’t actually Ned’s bastard, but rather his nephew – the son of Ned’s younger sister, Lyanna and Rhaegar Targaryen.
Officially learning that Jon is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark confirmed a popular and long-running fan theory (R+L=J), but Game of Thrones took their reveal one step further. While Gilly is reading a passage from an old septon’s journal, it mentions how Rhaegar had his marriage to Elia Martell annulled before he married Lyanna, after which Jon was born. Sam reveals this to Jon in the Game of Thrones season 8 premiere, explaining how he is the trueborn son of Rhaegar and the rightful ruler of Westeros, Aegon VI Targaryen.
Audiences have known the truth about Jon’s parents as well as the legitimacy of his birth since the season 7 finale when Sam comes to Bran and shares with him what Gilly discovered in the septon’s journal. Bran, being the Three-Eyed Raven, then uses his powers to peer into the past and witness Rhaegar and Lyanna’s wedding, confirming that Jon’s birth wasn’t out of wedlock as originally thought. This means that Jon as Rhaegar’s trueborn son and heir comes before Daenerys (Rhaegar’s younger sister) in the line of succession, giving him the stronger claim. And ever since, fans have been wondering not just when the truth would be revealed to Jon, but how it would affect Jon’s allegiance to his queen. (Not to mention their budding romance.)
Judging by when it is that Sam drops the truth bomb, the news that Jon is actually Aegon VI is sure to only exacerbate the tensions already forming among the different factions encamped at Winterfell. Sam has only just learned that Daenerys had his father and brother executed, and it’s seemingly what spurs him to tell Jon the truth. Both Sansa and Arya already consider Daenerys a foreign invader, and even Tyrion has expressed concern over Daenerys being unable to keep her more vengeful nature in check. The support Daenerys’ has garnered in Westeros is tenuous at best, and it wouldn’t be difficult for someone like Jon to supplant her as their chosen ruler – assuming, of course, that’s something he even wants.
Jon, unlike so many of the characters on Game of Thrones, isn’t someone who seeks out power. It’s a trait that makes him an ideal choice to rule the Seven Kingdoms – even more so than his legitimate claim to the throne – but it may also be what stops him from pursuing that destiny. Jon may choose to abide by the oath he swore to Daenerys out of honor, or he may keep the truth hidden in order to retain her army and dragons for the fight against the Night King. Either way, there will be consequences if Daenerys ever learns the truth, and just how Jon reacts to being the one true king is going have huge implications for where Game of Thrones season 8 goes next.