Daenerys Targaryen was born in exile, raised alongside a creepy brother, and married off to the leader of a foreign people whose wedding celebrations typically resulted in three deaths. Over the course of her extraordinary journey, Daenerys became impervious to flames and haters. She liberated an entire region from slavery. She became a mother of Dragons.
Jon Snow’s trajectory towards becoming the King in the North was similarly improbable, given his childhood as the ostracized bastard of Winterfell. Armed with oodles of integrity and the convenient ability to wield a Valyrian steel greatsword, Jon Snow rose above his dismal birthright and brokered a groundbreaking alliance between wildlings and the Brothers of the Night’s Watch.
Though we applaud Jon Snow and Daenerys for their work as revolutionaries, I ask: Has there been an individual who better embodies the archetype of an underdog triumphing over his circumstances than the Night King?
Yes: the Night King, that piercingly blue-eyed terror in the North, is actually a revolutionary as admirable as our favorite Game of Thrones characters. All it takes to see this is a shift in perspective.
Millennia ago, a man was tied to a tree by a horde of Children of the Forest and stabbed with a magical dagger. As his horrified eyes looked on, their hue shifted from brown to ice blue. Spikes of ice burst from his skull. His ears grew into the pointed shape of a gremlin’s. At that moment of creation, the man lost his humanity — and his freedom.
During the war against the First Men, the Night King served as a mercenary in the army of the Children of the Forest. After living as a human for years, he was suddenly forced to turn against his old species.
Unlike wights, who possess no free will, the White Walkers were self-aware. They remembered the injustices performed on them by the Children of the Forest. They existed knowing they were nothing but weapons created for destruction.
After acknowledging the existential crisis of his condition as a war weapon, the Night King sparked his own revolution — just like Jon Snow and Daenerys are doing now. How else can we explain the motivation behind the White Walkers' decision to turn on their creators, and decimate both Children and Men?
Yes, people. The original Long Night, which took place 8,000 years ago, was nothing short of a political uprising.
Knocked down but not defeated by Azor Ahai, the smirking, terrifying, icy Night King’s revolution is starting up for a second time. Over the years, he’s replenished his supply of White Walkers by brokering a deal with Craster to supply his sons. Through political intelligence and determination, the Night King is ready to try implementing an everlasting night again — and I think we should commend him for his determination.
In some ways, the Night King's motivations mirror Daenerys’ quest for worldwide liberation. Like Daenerys, he recognizes that the world is unjust. After being defeated by Azor Ahai, he and his surviving people were herded to the Lands of the Far North, and penned in by a magical Wall. Stripped of their freedom and spared from death, the White Walkers were trapped for millennia.
In the years following the Long Night, the people south of the Wall weren't much better off than the White Walkers. Westeros is a swamp of inequality, hardship, and people killing each other on the King’s Road. As opposed to the White Walkers, who are (seemingly) immortal, human life in Westeros and Essos is all too disposable. People kill casually; people die frequently. There have been two natural deaths during the entirety of Game of Thrones, and countless creative executions.
By flooding the entirety of the globe, the Night King and co. will restore the world to a state of equality. Sure, it’ll be Night of the Living Dead equality — but equality nonetheless. The Long Night will place the power-hungry Cerseis on the same level as the itinerant Lannister soldiers whom she demands sacrifice their lives for her cause.
Once all of humanity has been converted to wights, as is the Night King’s dream, humans will live without hardship or inequality. Now zombies, humans will forget the very concepts of hardship and inequality. They will traipse around in a field of white, and never feel cold again.
I’m not saying the Night King isn’t evil. He is: He's cold and crackling and will destroy our humanity just as quickly as his own was taken from him. But the Night King is not just evil. He's a visionary on par with Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow. He’s someone who has done the unexpected, given his rebirth on a tree in Westeros. He's risen armies, envisioned a better future for the race of Others, and is powerful enough to intimidate even Daenerys Targaryen.
That said, while I gently applaud the Night King's strength and gumption, I do so from the comfort of Earth, where there is no threat of an incoming White Walker army. The Night King might be a good guy to those supporting his cause, but he's not our good guy. One must pick sides in the game of thrones, and I'll be team Daenerys until the last dragon roars.
Read These Stories Next: