Here is a look at the most shocking moments from ‘Beyond the Wall,’ the sixth episode in Season 7 of ‘Game of Thrones.’ USA TODAY
Besides dragons, epic battles and frozen zombies, Game of Thrones has become known for some incestuous relationships. And it looks like it’s happening again.
During the sixth episode of Game of Thrones Season 7, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) is having a chat with Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) when he casually names Jon Snow (Kit Harington) as one of a long list of men (included Daario, Jorah and Drogo) to have fallen in love with her. To which Dany feigns protest.
“Oh my mistake,” Tyrion drawls. “I suppose he stares at you longingly because he’s hopeful for a successful military alliance.”
The moment is one of a dozen this season that have intimated there’s more than political sparks between the two.
Davos noted how Jon loved to stare at her “heart” in an earlier episode. And later in Episode 6, after Dany saves Jon’s life, they share a tender moment at his sick bed that has romantic overtones.
Between all of this, and the revelation that the Season 7 finale episode (HBO, Sunday, 9 ET/PT) will be called “The Dragon and the Wolf,” it’s hard to avoid the sense that the series is trying to push Dany and Jon together.
This would all be fine and good normally — “Jonerys” even has a devoted fanbase shipping (rooting for a romance between) them. The series has reveled in its notorious sex scenes and pushing its overly-attractive characters into new relationships before.
But the thing about Jon and Dany that separates them from, say, Yara and Ellaria or Brienne and Tormund, is the pesky fact that they are almost surely related.
Jon is not Ned Stark’s bastard, but the son of Lyanna Stark, who, viewers learned in Episode 5 likely married Dany’s older brother Rhaegar. This makes Dany Jon’s aunt, even if they don’t know it yet. And it also makes their romantic pairing straight-up gross and a betrayal of the themes established by the series over seven seasons.
For some, it’s all-too-easy to dismiss this incest hurdle. Seriously.
The practice has a long history on the series, from twin lovers Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), to the inbred line of Targaryens. In Season 1, when Ned Stark (Sean Bean) confronts Cersei, she defends her own relationship with Jaime by pointing to the Targaryens.
The problem with the Targaryen defense, or even the Jaime/Cersei defense, is that, although incest exists in the world of the series, it is associated with the worst characters. Just remember how the original moral compass of Westeros, Ned Stark, reacts with disgust at Cersei’s acknowledgment of her relationship with her brother.
Cersei has evolved into the series’ most powerful villain, delighting in torture and mass-murder. Jaime started out purely villainous and found some redemption over the years, yet he still sides with Cersei’s reign of terror. Their eldest son Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) was one of the series’ most unambiguously evil characters.
The Targaryens don’t have a great reputation, either. It’s implied that Dany was sexually abused by her brother Viserys, and their father’s madness is not entirely divorced from his incestuous lineage. To associate Jon, a paragon of good, and Dany, almost a paragon of good, with these seedy characters feels wrong.
Additionally, the series spent a large amount of time and energy turning Jon’s familial bonds into a mystery. The significance of Jon’s parentage, revealed in a dramatic flashback at the end of Season 6, is cheapened if he gets together with Dany. Why make his family an important plot point if it’s ignored in Jon’s love life?
There is the possibility that, in a season that’s been notoriously fast and loose with characterization and story, Thrones is just playing with us. The flirtations could amount to nothing, or the pair could spurn each other once they learn who Jon really is. At this point, getting them together seems like the too-predictable option, and the series has long strived to be anything but.
Of all the ways the Season 7 finale could break our hearts, this would be the worst.