Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3 (titled “The Queen’s Justice” and Episode 4 (titled “The Spoils of War.”)
Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) met each other in Episode 3 and ever since then, Daenerys has relentlessly insisted that Jon “bend the knee” to her. If Jon were to do so he would publicly affirm Daenerys’ claim to the Iron Throne and her dominion over the Seven Kingdoms, including the North.
There are multiple reasons for Jon not to do this and they go beyond the ones he has already articulated. As Game of Thrones Season 7 has continued, the case against him doing so has only grown.
A prime reason is that since Jon has refused to give into her demands, he and his men have basically been held prisoner by Daenerys. As of Episode 4, Jon, Davos, and the Starks’ forces have not been able to leave Dragonstone.
Their weapons and ship were seized when they arrived at Daenerys’ headquarters and have yet to be returned to them. When Jon asked Daenerys if he was her prisoner in Episode 3, she ominously replied: “not yet.” All of her actions speak to a different conclusion.
Ever since arriving at Dragonstone, Daenerys has treated Jon as an enemy. You do not take an ally’s weapons and means of transportation away from them.
Violence vs. peace
When it comes to Game of Thrones there are fewer characters as opposed to each other on a philosophical basis than Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen. Jon is hesitant to enter into a violent conflict with enemies; favoring diplomacy instead. While in stark contrast, Daenerys often times enacts a violent reprisal against anyone who opposes her.
This was made all the more clear when Daenerys asked for Jon’s advice in Episode 4. Jon gave a cogent argument for why she should not use her dragons to solve her problems. While she did not stick with her original plan to use all of her dragons to burn the Red Keep, she still used one of her dragons in a punishing attack on her enemies. The Lannister’s forces did not have a chance once she rode in on one.
There was an opportunity to have a fair fight against her enemies and she did not give it to them. Had ground forces been the only ones involved in the clash, the battle would have taken place on an even playing field.
If Jon hopes to keep the peace in the Seven Kingdoms, bending the knee to Daenerys is not a surefire way to make that happen. Not to mention any hope for Northern independence from the Seven Kingdoms, which is something his people desperately want, would be impossible.
As Ser Davos (Liam Cunningham) pointed out, Jon was chosen to be King by his people via a democratic initiative. While Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) told Jon and Davos that those who support Daenerys have chosen her as their queen, they must confront the reality of what the alternative would have been and could be, if they turned against her. Would Daenerys really accept her supporters going home?
When they meet, Daenerys says that by Jon declaring himself the King in the North, he is in “open rebellion.” A statement that means she missed the entire point of what Jon had said directly beforehand. The people of the North elected him as their leader. Jon has not declared himself as anything.
Daenerys and the Mad King’s legacy
As Jon pointed out in his initial meeting with her, Daenerys’ claim solely rests upon her birthright and the Starks fought House Targaryen to keep them from having one and they succeeded. The Targaryens were removed from power for a reason and Daenerys has not explained why that reason and the outcome of Robert’s Rebellion, no longer applies.
While she is not guilty of her father’s sins, she is responsible for changing the course of his tyrannical legacy, and she hasn’t. She acts as though the Targaryens did not lose, or were unfairly pushed off the throne, when their leader, the Mad King’s, own actions had started the conflict. She only has him to blame for why she was raised in foreign lands.
Daenerys pulls a trick out of her ancestor Aegon’s playbook
In yet another act of not fighting fair, Daenerys uses one of the lowest blows imaginable to get Jon to do her will. In Game of Thrones Episode 4, Jon shows her a cave with drawings that prove the existence of the White Walkers.
Daenerys appears convinced and shortly thereafter pledges to help Jon save the North. There is just one catch. She will only do so if Jon bends the knee.
To translate, Daenerys is threatening to allow a massacre of the North, if she does not get what she wants. Helping innocent people is not transcending her need for personal power. That in and of itself is an indication that Daenerys has no right to any.
To save his people, Jon will have to relent to Daenerys, who for all intents and purposes is holding the lives of the Northerners’ hostage. Daenerys wants Jon to bow, not out of his own free will, but to save his people from certain death. What does that say about the kind of queen she would be?
Daenerys’ attempt to exploit a human tragedy for her own gain is a low moment that should tell Jon Snow everything he needs to know. If he bends the knee to her, it would mean submitting the survivors to the whim of a tyrant. Using the threat of death to get one to submit to their authority is tyrannical. Albeit to save his people; Jon does not have much of a choice.
Tyrion and Daenerys
In Episode 3, Jon points out that Daenerys is resisting taking over King’s Landing to avoid a massive loss of life, which he cites as a reason to believe she is better than Cersei. However, it is not actually Daenerys who is behind this show of restraint. It is really Tyrion’s doing.
Promotional images posted on HBO’s Medium page for Episode 5, show a grave looking Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) standing next to Daenerys. In another photo, he can be seen walking through the ruins of “The Spoils of War.”
Is he having second thoughts about his Queen? Tyrion is blissfully unaware of the ultimatum Daenerys issued to Jon in the cave. If he learned about it, would it change his perspective?
For Daenerys to have called House Stark and House Targaryen historical “allies” is a bit much. When Jon points out that her father burnt his grandfather and uncle alive, Daenerys apologizes for her family’s crimes and acknowledges her father was “evil” and yet she is doing nothing particularly different.
Jon’s ancestor bent the knee to Daenerys’ to save his people from being burnt alive by the Targaryen’s dragons. Now Jon is in a similar position. He should not have to bend the knee to save his people and Daenerys asking such a thing speaks volumes about her.
Find out if Jon Snow bends the knee to Daenerys when Game of Thrones Season 7 continues. Episode 5 premieres August 13 at 9 p.m. EST on HBO.
[Featured Image by Helen Sloan/HBO]