Jon Snow is officially back, and although Kit Harington is bashfully apologizing like a celebrity who said something un-PC, Jon Snow the character now needs to be more of a dick. Not a dick of Ramsay Bolton baby-murdering style proportions — then he wouldn’t be engaging to watch or root for. Think more along the lines of The Hound or Jaime Lannister circa Seasons 2 and 3. Still lovable; still nuanced and heroic in his own special way, but getting down to business and taking no prisoners. This isn’t just because a more assertive Jon would be fun to watch. For Game of Thrones to continue being the same show, the narrative depends on it.
Game of Thrones has established itself as a fantasy show that subverts fantasy tropes. Oh, you think Ned Stark is the stalwart hero? Let’s cut his head off at the end of Season 1. You think Oberyn versus The Mountain is playing off the David and Goliath narrative? Let’s have Goliath win. You think Princesses in towers are pretty? Let’s rape her in front of her family friend, then have her go on the run and accept a lady-knight’s rescue on her own terms.
Revenge narratives are nice? Let’s kill Robb and Catelyn Stark before they can avenge Ned. Quest narratives are fun? Let’s have Daenerys’s quest be circular and aimless with no end in sight. You think loyal sidekicks will always aid their heroes at the opportune moment? Let’s send Sam away right before Jon gets killed.
For better or worse, Game of Thrones has always tipped its hats to traditional Tolkein-esque fantasy tropes, then proceeded to turn them on their head. It’s why its engaging for fantasy fans and genre-avoiders alike. If the genre’s predictable tropes irk you, Game of Thrones offers a version of fantasy that pokes holes in them. If you’re a hardcore fantasy connoisseur, it offers atmospheric food for thought about genre convention.
But nothing would be more conventional than if a newly resurrected Jon continues to be honorable and heroic. That would fulfill every Chosen One narrative. He would be Frodo, Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Neo, Katniss Everdeen. Not that there is anything wrong with the Chosen One narrative, but fulfilling tropes is not what Game of Thrones is about. Or at least, it never has been in the past.
There’s also the minor matter that Game of Thrones has established that a price must be paid to escape the claws of death — whether it’s Melisandre’s sentiments of “only death can pay for life” or Jon’s fellow resurrection survivor Beric Dondarrion explaining, “I come back less.”
If Jon is the exact same guy he was, the show will not only be violating its own mission as a subversive fantasy show; it will violate the rules of its established universe.
Luckily, there are already signs Game of Thrones knows this. Just check out Kit Harington’s extremely low-cut shirt on his upcoming Entertainment Weekly cover.
Not that Jon will be evil, but extremely deep vees are a trait of the evil is sexy trope, or the Draco in Leather Pants trope. All he needs to add to that photo is a fluffy white cat — or dog might be more appropriate. Granted, it could also be a stylistic choice for a magazine cover, but what’s Game of Thrones for if not Jon Snow overranalysis?
But please, for the love of all the gods Davos doesn’t care about, Game of Thrones: Make resurrected Jon a little meaner. Trade his caution for Tormund’s trigger-happy nature or give him Bronn’s uncouth disposition. It would make both character and show far more interesting.