As Season 7 of Game of Thrones draws closer, speculation about how the HBO hit will end is ramping up. There will be only one more season after this one, and so many questions remain unanswered. So many prophecies remain unfulfilled. So many fan theories remain neither proven nor disproven. One fan theory that is gaining ground says that the two Game of Thrones characters who are the center of most discussions about the show — Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen — are not really the most important ones. While they have important roles to play, someone else seems to have vastly more power than even the two of them combined. One character seems to have literal control over what’s going on. They always have had more control. They just haven’t fully realized it yet. That character is Bran Stark. He may not have lots of action-packed scenes, (well, any really) but he has great power that impacts everything and will tremendously affect the outcome of the war with the White Walkers and the winner of the game of thrones.
Be warned, what follows goes into some territory not yet explored on HBO’s Game of Thrones so it may contain spoilers. If you don’t want to go there, stop reading now.
Hints at the significance of Bran have been part of Game of Thrones since it’s first season, but they weren’t fully recognized until last year when we went to the Tower of Joy with him in Episode 3 and then suffered through “the Hodor scene” in Episode 5. Here is the Tower of Joy scene. What’s important for this discussion happens at about 5:00.
Many important things happen here, among them is the younger Ned Stark seeming to respond to Bran calling out for him. It was one of those Game of Thrones moments that helped us make a new connection between past and present and got us wondering whether Bran had the ability to do more than just observe past events.
Later in the same season came one of the most heartbreaking of all Game of Thrones scenes — the Hodor scene. Check it out real quickly. I know, it’s a tough one, but the refresher will help with the discussion that follows.
Game of Thrones viewers (after getting past their grief) said a collective “Woah,” when they realized what this seemed to confirm — that Bran can affect past events he sees. In fact, given the fact that all Hodor has been able to say for decades is “Hodor,” it’s kinda mind-blowing when you think about time loops, fate/destiny, and such.
Naturally, this got Game of Thrones fans thinking and theorizing. Support for some of those theories has grown since then.
One of these theories involves the Mad King — King Aerys. It’s an idea that, like many GOT theories, originated on Reddit and has been the topic of many conversations, including one by Paste Magazine. Bran saw the king slain in one of his visions last year.
Clips of the murder are sprinkled throughout his vision, including the words of the Mad King that have become part of Game of Thrones lore — “Burn them all. Burn them.”
What if he was just repeating what he was hearing in his mind? What if Bran goes back and tries to tell him to burn the White Walkers in order to avoid the impending present-day conflict, knowing that it’s the only way they can die, but Aerys misinterprets his words?
Let’s go all the way back to the beginning of Game of Thrones now for one more piece of evidence. Another theory related to Bran is that he is not only the current character we know, but he was also Bran the Builder and Ned Stark’s brother Brandon, who was killed by Aerys. Mind blown yet? Far-fetched? Inverse cited this quote from George R.R. Martin’s book that is the basis of the HBO show. Remember Nan? She used to tell him stories. Apparently she also used to get confused, or did she? Take a look.
“Sometimes Nan would talk to him as if he were her Brandon, the baby she had nursed all those years ago, and sometimes she confused him with his uncle Brandon, who was killed by the Mad King before Bran was even born. She had lived so long, Mother had told him once, that all the Brandon Starks had become one person in her head.”
Maybe they are all one person. Back in Season 1 of Game of Thrones, when Nan would tell him stories, she once said that his favorites were about Bran the Builder. Maybe that’s because those stories are about him.
So what does that mean? Well one thing it means is that Bran has been controlling the fate of Westeros for a very long time, just as different people. He built Winterfell and had a part in building the wall and instilling it with magic that keeps the White Walkers out. In prior seasons of Game of Thrones, he got into Hodor’s head and was heard by people he saw when he warged into the past.
Bran’s ability to travel through time, forward or backward, and to be heard by people he sees, is huge. It means he can control anything he can see. It means that any decisions made or actions taken by Jon Snow or Danaerys Targaryen in Seasons 7 and 8 of Game of Thrones can be influenced by him. He is learning the larger story and presumably will do so until the end, which could mean that he influences Jon, Dany, or someone else to do something that seems wrong in their view but that Bran knows is the best thing in the “larger picture” perspective.
[Featured Image by HBO]