Warning: Spoilers ahead for Game of Thrones’ “The Bells.”
Once upon a time, Jon Snow/Aegon Targaryen (Kit Harington) made one of the worst political decisions of his life. Amid the threat of an ice zombie army, he refused to tell Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) he would remain neutral in the battle between her and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). His reasoning: Dany, mother of dragons and breaker of chains, was his queen. No one and nothing — even the possibility of wintery annihilation— would get him to say otherwise. Scenes later, she would also become his lover.
Well, after the bloody events of season 8’s “The Bells,” it’s safe to say that relationship is destroyed. After episodes upon episodes of Jon announcing some version of “Dany is my queen,” it appears he is more likely to assassinate Daenerys than ever bend the knee again heading into the series finale. Just look at Jon’s total emotional transformation during GoT’s penultimate episode.
At the top of “Bells,” Jon is a complete Team Dany man, even though he has a better claim to the Iron Throne and people are reminding him of as much. The moment he reaches the shores of Dragonstone, Varys (Conleth Hill) greets him by suggesting Dany is mad and set to obliterate King’s Landing. “That’s her decision to make. She is our queen,” Jon responds. When Varys implies Jon could be their king instead, the Targarystark rebuffs him. Jon reiterates for the second time in about 10 seconds, “She is my queen.”
This loyalist dynamic begins to change during Dany and Jon’s single scene together in the episode. At this point, the queen has already executed Varys by fire. While Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) looked directly at the horror of Varys’ charred remains, Jon turned away from the body. Instead, he looked at Daenerys, seemingly realising the kind of brutality his queen is capable. This is the dubious Jon who arrives at Daenerys' chambers.
She complains that no one loves her in Westeros — The Realm, in Varys’ parlance, only fears her. Jon counters with the fact he loves her. So, they kiss, but Jon pulls away. He is haunted by their close blood relation in a way Dany is not. “Alright, then. Let it be fear,” Dany says softly, resigned to the terror she will bring to King’s Landing. This moment, more than anything in Thrones, is what pushes her towards becoming the Mad Queen. For Dany, absolutely no one in this continent loves her the way she wants to be loved. Not even Jon, whom she criticises during “Bells” for spilling the true details of his parentage to sister-cousin Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner).
Dany and Jon are already broken.
That emotional chaos is what hangs over the siege of King’s Landing, unbeknownst to Jon (who believes this will be yet another honourable battle). He is visibly relieved to see a flank of the Lannister army drop their weapons in the face of Dany’s army and dragon fire. Within a few minutes, the episode’s titular bells of surrender are rung, announcing the city’s acceptance of Dany. Yet, Dany takes off on Drogon, torching King’s Landing and murdering its citizens with abandon.
This is when Jon officially, without apology, breaks from Daenerys. Grey Worm, still enraged over the murder of Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), kills a soldier who has surrendered his weapon. Dany’s army follows. But, when Jon realises the dishonour of the scrimmage in front of him, he physically bars his Northman from joining. Rather than enter the fray, he simply takes down any Lannister bannerman who attempts to kill members of Team Stark. During the melee, you can hear him yelling “Stop!” as his pseudo hand Davos (Liam Cunningham) urges people to go in the opposite direction of the fighting.
During a slow-motion fight scene, Jon realises the brutality unfolding in the streets of King’s Landing — including the slaughter of women and children — was unnecessarily caused by Daenerys' bloodlust. Jon is even more pained knowing “his queen” purposefully ignored the aural white flag of the bells.
Surrounded by fire and blood, Jon comes to terms with the fact that “His Queen” is the terrorist here. Two scenes really drive home the horror of this revelation. In the first, Jon has to kill a soldier and would-be rapist, who may have been a Northman. In the second, as King’s Landing is overtaken by dragon fire and wildfire, Jon orders his army and everyone in earshot to abandon the battle. In the last we see of Jon in “Bells,” he is running out of the city with anyone who will follow him. He is in direct disobedience of Dany’s orders.
After the city-razing nightmare Daenerys wrought upon Weteros’ capital, it’s unlikely Jon will ever go back to following her commands again. Since Dany clearly now considers anything other than full compliance treason, she and her nephew-lover are on opposite sides. And in the game of thrones, you either win or you die. That means each of the Targaryens will meet one of these two fates in the finale. The only question remains is who will perish and who will rule.
Considering all of Thrones' late-in-the-game Jon worship, it looks like we know who the series is betting on.