There have been a lot of recurring themes and subplots throughout Game of Thrones' run, but perhaps we're overlooking one of the most important elements of all: shaving. Yes, shaving.
A great deal of symbolism can be drawn from the sight of a razor blade meeting such vulnerable skin, and Game of Thrones has capitalized on that skin-crawling concept again and again. Individually, the show's many shaving scenes might not seem like much — the first one was even so awkward that even the showrunners have since disavowed it — but sliced together, they might have more significance than it initially seemed.
In the very first episode of the series, we see Robb Stark (Richard Madden) get all baby-faced in front of his pseudo-brothers Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) before the king's arrival.
At first blush, the moment merely looks like an opportunity to showcase all the pecs and abs of the show's central hunks, but if you can get past the muscles — and the fact that they're not going against the grain, tsk tsk — there's a bit of foreshadowing contained in these few minutes of shirtlessness.
As Robb is finishing up his session, the trio start discussing their distaste for the Lannisters, and the ill-fated future King in the North says, "I hear the prince is a right royal prick." To that, Theon replies, "Think of all the Southern girls he gets to stab with that right royal prick."
Perhaps it's no coincidence that Robb's ire here is focused on Prince Joffrey (Jack Gleeson), rather than King Robert (Mark Addy) or Cersei (Lena Headey), since it's Joffrey's reign he later unsuccessfully tries to topple. Meanwhile, Theon's words seem even more meaningful, since Robb's eventual wife Talisa hails from Volantis, the southernmost of the Free Cities, and she does indeed get stabbed at King Joffrey's behest.
The second major shaving scene comes in the fifth episode, when Ser Loras (Finn Jones) shaves Renly Baratheon's (Gethin Anthony) chest, and, whaddya know, the scene also directly foretells some major deaths.
"Lord Stark's lucky he still has a head," the Knight of Flowers says to open the scene. Ahem.
That segues into a discussion about how Robert doesn't respect Renly for his lack of experience on the battlefield, as the camera hovers over his left nip being shaved. It's that exact spot where his brother's shadow monster baby later stabs him in the chest after he declines to end the Baratheon family feud.
The third shave comes in Season 4, when Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) tries to prove to his father that he's successfully made Reek absolutely servile to him by letting him shave his neck while informing him of Robb Stark's death. In addition to previewing an entire series of Theon/Reek failing to capitalize on opportunities against his family's enemies, the scene also sets into motion the coming Battle of the Bastards between Ramsay and Jon Snow when Ramsay reveals that the other Snow could be a threat to House Bolton's northern ambitions.
In other words, every single person who got shaved by another person in this show ended up dying in ways that were at least tangentially related to the scene in question.
So, what that might mean for Jon Snow in Season 8?
Well, in the first scene, he's next in line to get groomed after Robb Stark. As Jon takes a seat, Robb ribs him for loving his curls more than girls, saying, "Go on Tommy, sheer him good. He's never met a girl he likes better than his own hair."
Jon Snow's dark hair color stems from his Stark lineage, not the Targaryen side, so perhaps this is a hint that if he has to choose one side of the family to favor after finding out his true roots, it'll be the one he's always known. Or, it could be that the haircut here is meant to be a metaphor — some kind of Samson and Delilah allegory, perhaps — and the phrase foreshadows an unwillingness to surrender his hair (or his crown) to a woman, even Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke).
But perhaps the shaving scene points to something much darker in Jon Snow's future. We don't see it, but he too emerges sans beard in the scene that follows. If the fates of all the show's other recipients of a clean shave are any indication, maybe that shot of Jon squirming beneath Tommy's scissors is a hint at what's ahead for him as well.
If nothing else, Season 8 should at least include one more cryptic shaving scene just to close out what is clearly an underrated sub-series of the show.
Game of Thrones' eighth and final season bows on HBO starting Sunday, April 14 at 9/8c.
PHOTOS: Game of Thrones Season 8