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Game of Thrones: Will Jon Betray Daenerys?

Jon's response to that major reveal could change everything

Sadie Gennis

[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the Game of Thrones premiere.]

Game of Thrones' Season 8 premiere delivered two major moments fans have been waiting years for -- or in the case of book readers, decades. Not only did Jon (Kit Harington) ride a dragon, but he also learned his true identity after Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) shared that he and Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) discovered Jon isn't Ned Stark's (Sean Bean) bastard but the true heir to the Iron Throne.

The reveal came after we'd spent nearly the entire hour seeing all the ways that Jon and Daenerys' (Emilia Clarke) alliance wasn't going as well as they hoped. Not only did the Northerners not trust this new queen, but several actively were rebelling against Jon for bending the knee and giving up the crown they had recently bestowed upon him. While Jon wasn't shocked to see Sansa (Sophie Turner) among those bitter at his decision, he was surprised to find Arya (Maisie Williams) siding with her sister on the matter, to which Arya explained that they're both just defending their family.

"I'm her family too," Jon said.

"Don't forget that," warned Arya.

Kit Harington, Game of Thrones
Helen Sloan/HBO

Jon's loyalty to Daenerys remained resolute throughout the episode despite the mounting tension in Winterfell, either because he truly believes it's the only way to save his people or, as Sansa accused, because he's in love with Dany. (It's likely a mix of both, if you ask us.) But when Sam finally confronted him toward the end of the hour with the truth about being Aegon Targaryen, Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen's son, we started to see the cracks form in Jon's certainty. Upon Sam suggesting he take his rightful place as king, Jon weakly protested, "That's treason."

"You gave up the crown to save your people," Sam replied. "Would she do the same?"

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While Jon didn't respond -- or at least his response wasn't shown in this episode -- we all know the answer to this question: Hell no. Daenerys' unbending pride -- and her often violent responses to those who don't fall in line, such as with Sam's father and brother -- has always been a red flag that she could one day become the Mad Queen, and she hasn't truly proven she'll behave any differently in the future (this episode even included a vague threat against Sansa if she didn't start showing her more respect). One just needs to look at Daenerys' arrival in Winterfell to see evidence of this. After Jon pointed out that Northerners aren't quick to trust outsiders, her dragons immediately swooped overhead, inspiring terror throughout the gathered crowd. At this, Daenerys smiled smugly, as though being feared was the same as or better than being trusted.

​Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
Helen Sloan/HBO

Jon is no stranger to making tough decisions and playing the martyr. And with his family, friends, and the people of the North pushing back against Daenerys, he could be persuaded to take a stand against her as well. Of course, he's also honorable to a fault, and this will likely be the biggest obstacle when it comes to Jon potentially turning his back not only on his queen, but his lover -- and his future wife if Davos (Liam Cunningham) gets his way.

However, this episode may have also planted the seed for how Jon could justify betraying Daenerys. Upon learning that Ned, "the most honorable man" he's ever met, lied to him his entire life, Sam explained that Ned only lied to Jon because he was staying true to his word to Lyanna and keeping Jon safe by whatever means necessary. If Jon truly thought Daenerys being queen wasn't the best way for his people (and all of humanity) to survive, he could look at Ned's betrayal as proof that sometimes you have to hurt someone you care about for the greater good.

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And then there are the prophecies to consider. Jon has been theorized to be the subject of several prophecies, both in the books and in the series, but right now let's focus on one of Melisandre's (Carice van Houten) cryptic predictions from Season 2. After Stannis (Stephen Dillane) lost at the Battle of Blackwater, he confronted the Red Priestess about her false promise that he would be victorious and become king. She explained that she still sees him winning before elaborating on what she knew from the glimpses of the future R'hllor shared with her.

"This war has just begun. It will last for years. Thousands will die at your command," Melisandre said. "You will betray the men serving you. You will betray your family, and you will betray everything you once held dear, and it will all be worth it because you are the son of fire. You are the warrior of blood. You will sweep aside this pretender and that one. You will be king."

Since Stannis is obviously dead, it seems as though her visions were of a different future king -- potentially Jon Snow. Jon betrayed the men serving him in the Night's Watch (at least in their minds, he did), he betrayed his family by bending the knee to Daenerys (and most Northerners see this as Jon betraying his men as well), and since we have it confirmed that Jon is the true heir to the Iron Throne, that technically places Dany in the pretender pile. Add this all up, and it doesn't bode well for Jon's continued loyalty to his Dragon Queen.

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There is also the prophecy Daenerys received at The House of the Undying that said she is going to be betrayed three times: for blood (as Mirri Maz Duur did), for gold (as Jorah Mormont did), and lastly for love, which hasn't yet occurred. While many predict the third betrayal will be by Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) -- who will possibly betray Daenerys to protect Cersei's (Lena Headey) unborn child and whose potential jealousy over her relationship with Jon Snow could sow bad blood between him and his queen -- the most obvious option once again is that this prophecy is about Jon. If Jon does wind up turning against Daenerys, it would not be for personal gain but for his love of his family and his people, making him an easy subject of this ominous prophecy.

Of course, there is probably nothing worse for humanity right now than if Daenerys and Jon turned on each other and couldn't find a way to unite all their people against the Night King. Game of Thrones has always played with the cyclical nature of history and explored what happens when people allow it to repeat itself or try to forge a new path, and so it makes sense to look to the past to anticipate what Jon's potential betrayal of Dany might mean for their future.

As Shireen (Kerry Ingram) mentioned prior to her death in Season 5, and as George R.R. Martin has explored in the books, a long time ago there was a Targaryen civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons. This battle between Aegon II and his half-sister Rhaenyra over who would take the Iron Throne not only saw the deaths of both aspiring monarchs but also decimated the Seven Kingdoms and kick-started a bleak era known as the False Dawn, a period that also coincided with the beginning of a long winter. If Jon and Daenerys waste any time fighting each other instead of the Night King, we could see history repeating itself all over again, only this time humanity may not get another shot to right their wrongs.

But there has to be a reason that Bran told Sam to share the truth with Jon in this episode. As his brusque attitude upon Jon and Dany's arrival at Winterfell made clear, Bran's only concern right now is defeating the Night King -- not politics or playing nice with his family. And so if Bran believed that Jon knowing he's Aegon Targaryen is what's best for the realm, that likely means Bran wanted him to act on it. Otherwise, Bran would have instructed Sam to keep this all a secret. And that, maybe more than anything else, makes us believe that Daenerys should start bracing herself for that final betrayal.

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.

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Helen Sloan/HBO