We’ve known Jon Snow isn’t Ned Stark’s bastard for ages – R+L=J is probably Game of Thrones’ oldest fan theory, one that has existed since the books first came out in the ‘90s, and ended up coming true.
Last season, it was confirmed for good that he is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, but then Season 7 dropped another bombshell – not only is Jon their son, he is their legitimate son – Rhaegar and Lyanna were secretly married in Dorne, making Jon a trueborn Targ, and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
While, as show watchers, we all know this, the people who actually matter – the characters – are almost all clueless. Other than Bran and Sam (and possibly Howland Reed, who was with Ned Stark at the Tower of Joy after Lyanna gave birth), Jon’s true identity is a total secret.
That’s awkward for a lot of people who looked down on him and treated him like dirt because he was a bastard. One man who took an immediate disliking to Jon from the day they met was Ser Alliser Thorne, the former Master-at-Arms at Castle Black.
Ser Alliser hates how Jon sympathises with the Wildlings, and in Season 5, Jon beats him in the election to be named Lord Commander by one single vote – that of Maester Aemon.
Despite their differences, Jon named Ser Alliser his First Ranger, however, when Jon brings Wildlings south of the Wall after Hardhome, it is too much for the old man to handle, and of course, he and others who support him end up tricking Jon into thinking his uncle Benjen has returned, and stab him to death in front of a post marked ‘traitor’.
This, is turns out, is all extremely awkward – and not just because Jon is resurrected and hangs Ser Alliser, but because of the reason Alliser is even at the Wall in the first place.
See, Alliser is sent to the Wall for being a Targaryen loyalist – he fought against Robert during the rebellion, and when given the choice between execution and Castle Black when the war was over, he decided to join the Night’s Watch.
This is why he had such a hatred of Jon, being Ned Stark’s son, as Ned was one of Robert’s most loyal followers, but you’re seeing the irony here, aren’t you.
Jon was not only a Targaryen the whole time, but the heir to the Iron Throne – Ser Alliser did not know it, but Jon is the man he actually would have wanted to rule Westeros – and yet he ended up betraying and murdering him.
Ser Alliser was never the easiest character to empathise with, but this almost makes us feel a little bad for him. Almost.