In a very cruel twist of fate, Game Of Thrones will return over a year after it last left the airwaves in June 2016. In the season 6 finale episode, "The Winds Of Winter," viewers got a lot of information, so you probably need a refresher course. We saw Cersei Lannister finally — finally! — ascend the Iron Throne through mass murder. Daenerys Targaryen has set sail for Westeros. And, most importantly, the greatest fan theory was confirmed with a single scene. Of course, we’re talking about Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and his secret parentage.
With the Sunday, July 16, season 7 premiere of the HBO blockbuster right around the corner, it’s high time to remember everything we can about the most pivotal season-ending storyline of all.
"Winds" picks up right after the very epic "Battle Of The Bastards," which Team Snow-Stark wins with a little help from the Knights Of The Vale. Jon is walking around Winterfell sporting his most somber man bun and waxing poetic to Melisandre (Carice van Houten) about his #FirstWorldProblem of sitting below the Stark family at their aristocratic feasts. Davos arrives just in time to stop Jon’s latest emo story to reveal some truly terrible news: the Red Woman burned Princess Shireen Baratheon alive in season 5. Jon may know nothing, but even he realises he needs to toss Melisandre out of Winterfell. He demands she ride south right this second, and threatens to have her hanged if she ever comes back.
This development will definitely end up influencing the upcoming war against the Night King, but now it’s time to get to the real meat of Jon’s "Winds" storyline: R+L = J. We’re introduced to a Westerosi flashback thanks to Jon’s alleged half-brother, Bran. The middle Stark son sees back in time once again, this time to the day a young Ned Stark came upon the Tower Of Joy, which is where Targaryen prince Rhaegar was supposedly holding Lyanna Stark captive. He rushes up the stairs to find Lyanna screaming — but not due to Targaryen torture. Instead, the young woman is crying from labour pains.
Lyanna is well taken care of in the tower with two maids assisting her, but, everything is covered in blood, including the sheets, the new mom herself, and, now, Ned’s hand. Lyanna whispers something to her brother. The only thing the audience is allowed to hear is, "If Robert finds out, he’ll kill him. You know he will. You have to protect him. Promise me, Ned. Promise me." Obviously, the "Robert" she’s talking about the man leading a violent, treasonous rebellion in her honour, Lyanna’s fiancé and the future King Of The Seven Kingdoms, Robert Baratheon.
But, who’s the "he" Ned has to protect? That answer is quickly given as viewers immediately hear a baby coo in the background and a very wrinkly baby is placed in Ned’s arms. The baby’s stern face soon morphs into a present-day Jon Snow’s equally stern face. Yes, he really has always looked that serious since he exited the womb. It’s official, guys, Jon Snow is Rhaegar and Lyanna’s son. This fact makes Jon’s latest appointment all the more awkward.
In present day, the toughest chick currently residing in all of Westeros, young girl and local badass Lyanna Mormont, calls out all the trifling lords sworn to House Stark right to their face. Thoroughly embarrassed, they respond by rallying around Jon, naming him the newest King In The North and giving him the super cool nickname The White Wolf. That means there’s technically now a Targaryen bastard leading all of The North. Awkward.
To make this all more uncomfortable, as everyone's chanting "King In The North," Jon’s little sister Sansa Stark is sharing dubious glances with the least trustworthy human in all of Westeros, Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish. (Little) fingers crossed Sansa doesn’t double cross her cousin-brother since she’s only just confirmed Jon is a Stark "to her" and agreed not to wage a war against him since they "have so many [other] enemies now."
We'll find out in season 7 just how well Jon and Sansa can keep this pact.