Game of Thrones episode 4, season 8 spoilers ahead. Game of Thrones fans were livid when the end credits of the latest episode rolled, and for good reason—it was a painful, painful episode. Like much of this season's episodes, "The Last of the Starks" started off nicely but ended in disaster. #Braime broke up (sorry, but as the self-appointed captain of this ship, I will literally never get over this), and both Rhaegal the dragon and Missandei were killed because of Daenerys's terrible battle strategies. Brb, crying.
The cherry on top of our anguish came as Jon Snow and what was left of Winterfell's army were set to depart for King's Landing. The former King in the North, not known to be very sentimental, said his emotional goodbyes to his friends and family, and the moment is meaningful because it's quite possible that this will be the last time that Jon will ever see his family home. As he talked to Tormund, Jon's direwolf Ghost appeared in the yard. Having faced a horde of wights in the Battle of Winterfell, Ghost was injured—his right ear was bloody and mangled, and he padded towards his owner with a limp. The two met eyes, but what happens next shocked and appalled everyone: Jon just walked away.
No hug. No belly rub. No boop on the nose. Not even a "that's a good boy!"
He just...walked away.
To understand the depths of this particular offense, one must first understand the relationship between Jon and Ghost. Ned Stark found six direwolf pups in the side of the road and gave one to each of his children, and Jon received Ghost, the runt of the litter. The direwolf, like Jon, was an outcast among his siblings because of his snow white skin and red eyes, and they two bonded because of their shared outsider nature. Ghost followed Jon on his Night's Watch, present at the Wall even when Jon was attacked and killed by the rebels of the Watch. He even returned to Winterfell to fight against the Night King's army! They've got deep history, these two, and that's exactly why fans were outraged by Jon's seemingly careless departure.
Jon may not be the softest person in Westeros (spoiler alert: it's Tormund), but it doesn't make sense that he would be so frigid toward Ghost considering all that they've been through. At the same time, however, Jon's strange behavior could be a telling sign of what's going on inside of him. Reddit user u/Waitingforadragon thinks that Jon's cold shoulder is an outward reflection of his inward identity crisis.
Now that his secret identity is pretty much public fodder for the group messages of the North ("i have tea, y'all: jon snow is having sex with his aunt! eggplant emoji"), Jon is no doubt feeling pulled in two different directions. On one hand, he's Aegon Targaryen, the rightful heir of the Seven Kingdoms. Both Daenerys and Cersei are mad queens in their own right, so there's pressure to step up and claim the throne in order to keep the peace in Westeros. On the other, Jon was raised a Stark, and he has to remain a Stark in order to maintain his relationship with Daenerys, even if it means bending the knee to a person on the brink of losing the last bits of her sanity and leaving the only life he's ever known behind.
The theory also makes a point to note that direwolves, found in the snowy terrain of the North, don't do well in the warm, sunny climates of the southern parts of the continent. Though Jon is a dragon by nature, he's a wolf by nurture—does that mean that his decision to leave Winterfell will end in his demise? I certainly hope not. I don't think I have the bandwidth for another Jon Snow death scene.
While the masses are not one hundred percent satisfied with this emotional explanation, it's a lot better than Game of Thrones director David Nutter's reasoning, which involved something about a missing wolf and computer graphics. Sounds fake, but okay.
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