- During the Season 8 premiere of Game of Thrones, Jon Snow, Jon Snow learned the truth about his parents and his relationship to Daenerys Targaryen.
- Jon and Dany, who become romantically involved at the end of Season 7, will have to grapple with the knowledge that she's his aunt.
- Under Targaryen family traditions, the fact that Jon and Dany are related by blood wouldn't be a hindrance to their getting married.
This post contains spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8, episode 1, "Winterfell."
Last night, after more than a year off the air, Game of Thrones returned for its eighth and final season. And, after dragging out the truth of Jon Snow's heritage for six seasons and the truth about his not-really-being-a-bastard for another season after that, the show wasted relatively little time in relaying that information to Jon himself and did so at the end of the Season 8 premiere. That information that will have major repercussions for his blossoming romance with Daenerys Targaryen, or as Jon should have ideally grown up knowing her, Auntie Dany.
First, since it's been a minute, a quick refresher on Jon Snow's true lineage:
Jon Snow grew up believing that the honorable Ned Stark was his father and that his mother was a random lady Ned had a short-lived affair with during the war. The truth was that Ned concocted that lie after he promised his sister, Lyanna Stark, that he would keep Jon safe since his real dad was Rhaegar Targaryen, the oldest son of the Mad King who Robert Baratheon usurped to take the Iron Throne.
So, how are Jon and Daenerys related, exactly?
We have a full breakdown of Jon and Dany's familial relationship here, but here's the short version: Dany is Jon's aunt.
Jon's dad, Rhaegar Targaryen, was the older brother of Viserys Targaryen and Daenerys Targaryen. And, since the sister of your dad is your aunt, that's how Jon and Dany are related.
Will Jon and Dany's incest stop them from getting married?
Before Jon discovers the truth about his heritage, the season premiere features a moment in which Jon and Dany's advisors discuss the benefits of their getting married after the war, in a political move to unite the North and the rest of the Seven Kingdoms under Dany's rule. But is that even possible now that it's about to be common knowledge that they're related?
In the Game of Thrones world, incest is pretty common. And, honestly, in the GOT world, aunt/nephew incest isn't even the skeeviest kind of incest going around. Jaime and Cersei Lannister, for example, have been engaged in full-blown twincest for years and even had three kids together (Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen "Baratheon").
What's more, since Jon and Dany are actually Targaryens, their incest is even less of an issue. The Targaryens infamously married in the family for generations in an attempt to keep their dragon bloodline pure. And there is something to that idea—that dragon blood is what gives Dany her ability to withstand insane temperatures and even live through fires. The only reason the Targaryens decided to dilute the bloodline by marrying Rhaegar off to Elia Martell (he had the marriage annulled when he fell in love and ran off with Lyanna Stark) was because he didn't have a sister of marrying age—Dany was an infant when she was smuggled out of Westeros to safety in Essos.
And diluting the bloodline does seem to have resulted in some Targaryens born without the dragon blood powers. When Dany's first husband, Khal Drogo, executed her evil brother Viserys in Season one, he did so by pouring hot, melted gold on his head and Dany's response was that her brother wasn't a true dragon because, "fire cannot kill a dragon."
That Targaryen dragon blood power is also what allowed Dany to "birth" her dragon babies, which require extreme heat to hatch. Dany sat in a fire with her eggs and emerged not just alive, but the Mother of Dragons and the face of a movement.
So, from a purely cultural standpoint, the fact that Jon and Dany are blood relatives shouldn't be a problem in the world of Game of Thrones.
Will Jon be willing to marry Dany?
Now, just because it's Targaryen tradition to marrying within the family doesn't mean that Jon is going to be cool with the idea. For one thing, he was raised as a Northerner and it's clear that other families in Westeros aren't as chill with the incest thing as the Targaryens. Jaime and Cersei's relationship is an open secret in the Seven Kingdoms, but it's still not something they officially confirm in a public way.
Jon, being all Stark-ish, will probably not be jazzed about the idea of continuing to sleep with his aunt. But, he does seem to be genuinely in love with Dany, which will surely create plenty of conflict on that front.
And will Dany be willing to marry Jon?
Dany's reaction to this information is bound to be a little more interesting. On the one hand, she's less likely than Jon to be put off by the incest aspect of their relationship, having been raised with at least an awareness of Targaryen values on the subject. What might cause more of an issue for Dany is Jon's place in line for the Throne.
Daenerys' claim to the Iron Throne has always been that her family was unjustly removed from power and that she, as the only living Targaryen heir, is the rightful ruler of Westeros. As the legitimate child of Dany's older brother, however, Jon is actually next in line for the throne. If that seems messed up or confusing, think of it in terms of the British royal family. Rhaegar is Prince William, Dany is Prince Harry, and Jon is Prince George. Even though Harry is older, Prince George is higher in the line of succession.
Considering Daenerys' entire identity is tied to her right to rule, she may not take kindly to the idea that Jon is actually next in line if the Targaryens are reinstated as the ruling family of Westeros. What's more, the only real proof that he is, in fact, the rightful heir is Bran's vision quest into the past, which Dany could refuse to believe at all, thereby denying Jon's claim to the throne and turning them into de facto enemies.
With the White Walkers and the Army of the Dead quickly descending on Winterfell, however, there's a very good chance that Jon won't reveal this information to Dany until at least episode three, by which point she could be aware that she's pregnant with Jon's child (an eventuality that was heavily foreshadowed last season).
For more stories like this, including celebrity news, beauty and fashion advice, savvy political commentary, and fascinating features, sign up for the Marie Claire newsletter.