Whether we like it or not, Game of Thrones is coming to a close relatively soon — there are only two shorter-than-usual seasons left — which means theories about how the hell this whole thing is going to shake out are abound. Many people are turning to details from the George R.R. Martin series upon which the show is based, A Song of Ice and Fire, for clues. And Time writer Megan McCluskey has laid out a great one for us this week.
Here goes: remember Old Nan? Yeah, didn't think so. Old Nan is House Stark's oldest servant at Winterfell, the one who tends to poor Bran after his lower body is paralyzed in season 1 (thanks, Jaime Lannister). While taking care of him, she tells him many stories. While their content seems insignificant at the time, this fascinating theory illuminates the possibility that Old Nan's tales are actually very important — and may actually foreshadow what's to come. As McCluskey writes, "there seem to be clues about both the past and future — and [Bran's] connection to them — in much of what she says."
There's already proof, in fact, that Old Nan's anecdotes are prophetic. You know how Arya killed Walder Frey by serving him a pie filled with the remains of his two sons, before slitting his throat? Back in season 3, Bran actually told a similar tale (in which a king is served a pie with his son baked into it) to Meera and Jojen. While it's not clear on the show, Martin reveals in the books that Bran initially heard that story from none other than Old Nan.
What's more, the fact that Bran Stark has some sort of ability to time-travel puts other things Old Nan says in the books into perspective. At one point, Bran calls Old Nan's tales "stupid," per Time. "'My stories?" she replies. "'No, my little lord, not mine. The stories are, before me and after me, before you too.'" It's believed this next bit about Old Nan could be foreshadowing Bran's fate: "She had lived so long, Mother had told him once, that all the Brandon Starks had become one person in her head." Could this indicate that Bran is, in addition to being present-day Bran, also the Bran that existed in generations before him, like we saw when he visited a young Hodor in a vision? If so, then young Bran Stark could also embody an important historical figure in Westeros, Bran the Builder — who lived thousands of years before the series takes place and is known for building the Wall.
Yes, this involves a bit of confusing logic including time travel and self-fulfilling prophecies. McCluskey quotes a GOT theorist on Imgur who puts it like this: "Bran will go back in time to build the Wall, and when people will ask the guy’s name, he’ll just say 'Bran...' Thus, Bran the Builder, who will be the inspiration for his name when he’s born in the present time. He’ll be the one who’ll establish, in the past, that there must always be Starks at Winterfell, because he must ensure that he comes to exist in the present." Well, holy shit guys. All we can do now is wait and see.