Game of Thrones fans have been aching to see the first meeting between Jon Snow and Daenerys – ever since we learned of his Targaryen lineage – and episode 2 “Stormborn” brought us that one step closer. However, their upcoming rendezvous doesn’t automatically mean that the nephew and aunt are going to get on like a house on fire (forgive the pun), as this episode teases a possible alliance as much as a potential rivalry.
“Stormborn” refers to the night the only daughter of the “Mad King” Aerys II Targaryen and his sister-wife Queen Rhaella was born, and the opening scenes see her stormy personality shine through as she grills Varys over his past and present allegiances (and threatens to burn him to ash if he crosses her), before debating the merits of inviting the King in the North to Dragonstone following the arrival of Melisandre.
After the Red Priestess reveals to Daenerys, Varys and Tyrion that the former Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch is now the ruler of the North, explaining that he has united the wildlings and the Northern Houses against the common White Walker enemy, Dany seems impressed. “He sounds like quite a man,” she responds, before Tyrion speaks to his character:
“I can’t speak to prophecies or visions in flames, but I do like Jon Snow and I trusted him, and I’m an excellent judge of character. If he does rule the North, he’d make a valuable ally. The Lannisters executed his father and conspired to murder his brother. Jon Snow has even more reason to hate Cersei as we do.”
Persuaded, Dany urges Tyrion to send a raven to Winterfell and invite Jon to Dragonstone, but also to “bend a knee,” which hints that she may not be as welcoming of him as her advisors. She may well see the King in the North as a threat to her “rightful” rule of the Seven Kingdoms, now that Khaleesi is back in Westeros she doesn’t seem willing to share her power with anyone. If Daenerys finds out that Jon isn’t actually Ned Stark’s bastard, but rather the son of her brother Rhaegar, then that could also create a fissure in their alliance. Dany has been the sole Targeryen heir ever since the death of her brother Viserys in season 1, so to have Jon suddenly emerge with a claim to the Iron Throne could bring out her more ruthless side.
Of course, this episode made it very clear that Jon is still a reluctant ruler, so Dany probably won’t have a problem on that account. And after receiving the (much more toned down) invite from Tyrion to meet the Mother of Dragon at the Targaryen’s ancestral home, he’s ready to get to Dragonstone and persuade her to team up to defeat the White Walker threat. Sansa and Jon’s bannermen aren’t convinced the King in the North should actually leave the North and urge him to stay, but we’re talking about Jon Snow here. His fight is bigger than the issue of who gets to sit on the Iron Throne, and he needs Dragonstone’s supply of dragonglass to save not just the North, but all of Westeros:
“I never wanted [to be King]. I never asked for it. I accepted it because the North is my home. It’s part of me and I will never stop fighting for it no matter the odds, but the odds are against us.”
Getting to Dragonstone alive is the least of Jon’s worries, as he also has to convince Daenerys to direct her armies against the threat up North, rather than the tyrannical queen down South, which will definitely take some doing. Dany knows that she’s been a pawn used in the games of men – ever since she was sold to Khal Drogo as a wife – so she’s bound to be skeptical about any person in power trying to steer her away from her end goal. However, as much as Daenerys has proven herself to be ruthless when it comes to securing her power, like Jon she has also shown herself to be a fair and just ruler too.
Daenerys took down the slavers and freed the Unsullied, showing the same sort of compassion to them that Jon gave to the wildlings by allowing them to take shelter south of the Wall and away from the White Walker threat. He and Dany have also both been through some serious drama with their families, and upon meeting may well bond over their experiences as a bastard and an orphan, respectively.
But this is Game of Thrones, and the showrunners have a nasty habit of flipping storylines on their head and forcing “good” characters to betray one another (here’s looking at you, Theon). From a narrative standpoint, having Dany and Jon at odds and in conflict as enemies would probably create more tension and excitement in the series than if they just teamed up and took down Cersei’s and the Night King’s armies. And as much as fans would just love to see that, it seems a bit too early in the season to have the last living Targaryens enjoying familial (or maybe marital – in keeping with the proud Targaryen tradition of incest) bliss just yet.
So, while Jon and Daenerys appear to be on the path to becoming best friends, don’t be surprised if things take a turn for the ugly between them. Episode 3, “The Queen’s Justice,” will see the two heavy-hitters in the same room for the first time, and in the promo it looks like Jon is very much in awe of her as she awaits his arrival. But as Dany says in the Game of Thrones clip, she “was born to rule the Seven Kingdoms” and won’t be giving up her claim on the Iron Throne anytime soon. Jon is going to have make a lot of effort to prove he’s more ally than enemy to ensure he gets his aunt on side – and all of Westeros is at stake.
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