As Jon Snow learned in last week’s Game of Thrones season eight premiere, he isn’t the bastard he believed he was his entire life. Jon is, in fact, Aegon Targaryen, the trueborn son of Ned Stark’s sister Lyanna and Daenerys’ brother Rhaegar Targaryen, making for one of the most unintentionally incestuous love affairs in television history.
Along with putting him first in line for the Iron Throne, Jon’s family lineage also means he’s a natural dragon rider (though a somewhat clumsy one, at least at first). Dragon riding has always been a bit of a tricky thing to define, but the book lore makes one thing pretty clear: dragons bond for life.
So if you think back to Jon’s joyride on Rhaegal, the second of Daenerys’s living dragons, in last week’s episode, you have to ask yourself: in that moment, did dragon and rider bond?
A deleted scene from the episode suggests as much. After their magic dragon ride, Jon tells Daenerys, “You’ve completely ruined horses for me.” But a behind-the-scenes clip reveals an omitted line of dialogue that hints at a new and lasting bond between Jon and Rhaegal: “It almost seemed like he knew where I wanted to go,” he says.
It’s quite poetic that Jon may have bonded with the dragon named after his father, but Daenerys might not see it that way. Though Daenerys rides Drogon, she has already lost one dragon to the Night King and might not take kindly to Jon inadvertently taking another, even if he’s her nephew/lover. His bond with Rhaegal might also be used as proof of his Targaryen heritage — in an “Inside the Episode” segment after the premiere, showrunner David Benioff said that “only Targaryens” can ride dragons — but that might just drive a further wedge between Jon and Daenerys, who considers the Iron Throne her birthright. If Jon and Daenerys have a falling out, will the dragon go with him? Will Rhaegal obey Daenerys anymore? And what role could Jon’s potential dragon bond play in the battle against the Night King and his forces?
While it has yet to be confirmed, it’s a pretty sure bet that Jon will ride Rhaegal at least once more before the series’ end — and it could have massive implications. But when it comes to Jon’s magical beast companions, we do have one final, pressing question: Where. Is. Ghost?