While the fifth season of the wildly successful HBO fantasy drama “Game of Thrones” may be over, speculation over the fate of a certain main character is not.
(Spoilers for the newest season follow, if you’ve been away from the Internet and planet Earth for the last month …)
In the most recent season finale of “Game of Thrones,” character Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Lord Commander of The Night’s Watch, was betrayed and attacked by his men. The episode ended with him lying on the ground, apparently fatally wounded. The scene echoes what happened at the end of “A Dance with Dragons,” the most recent book in the series by George R.R. Martin on which the TV show is based.
So is Jon gone? Following the airing of the season finale, Harington said in an interview, “I’ve been told I’m dead. I’m dead. I’m not coming back next season.”
Meanwhile, Martin said following the 2011 publication of “Dragons,” “Oh, you think he’s dead, do you? ... I’m not going to address whether he’s dead or not.”
Fans have pointed to various reasons that Jon must be returning to the show, from what appear to have been supernatural resurrections of other characters to the fact that a plotline involving the identity of Jon’s parentage (he was told his father is Ned Stark, portrayed by Sean Bean) has not yet been resolved.
Now fans are discussing what some view as evidence Harington must be returning to the program. “Thrones” actress Emilia Clarke recently posted on Instagram that she had arrived in Belfast to participate in a read-through, presumably for the show (the photo she posted included fellow “Thrones” cast member Nathalie Emmanuel).
And now a fan has posted a photo of Harington at what the photographer says is the airport in Belfast.
Even if Harington is in Belfast, is it possible that he’s there just to visit cast members or for a reason entirely unrelated to “Thrones”? Definitely.
However, if he’s not and there’s some kind of reversal – Jon is only wounded, or Jon is brought back to life through magic, or, as some viewers have guessed, Jon puts his mind in the body of his pet direwolf Ghost (look, this show is complicated) – is it a good creative move by the show? A practice that has sometimes frustrated TV and movie viewers in the past is when a show seems to set up a shocking death, only to back away from it at the last minute. A very recent example was another HBO show, “True Detective,” which put one of its headlining stars in harm’s way when actor Colin Farrell’s character was shot at the end of the second episode. One critic wrote of the second episode, before audiences knew whether Farrell’s character Ray Velcoro survived (he did), “[The show has] even less going for it if it’s willing to do the whole fakeout thing.”
The “Star Trek” character Spock was famously resurrected, and while the character is beloved, the movies after the one in which Spock died, “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” weren’t as acclaimed.
So far, “Thrones” has been commendable in that most of the major character deaths have been shocking and final – in fact, a character who died on the books and the show was resurrected in the books, but so far, the show hasn’t followed that plotline. While Jon Snow is a fan favorite and viewers will no doubt be interested to see his story continue, especially if more details of his parentage are revealed, they will also perhaps feel cheated if the show's creators back away from a bold creative decision.