Jon Snow doesn’t have the best track record with sex on Game of Thrones. His first lover died, and the person who the show is strongly foreshadowing as his next lover (Daenerys) is his long lost aunt. But although his rocky sexual history seems like an inconsequential side detail along the lines of Podrick’s apparent prowess in the bedroom, it’s actually crucial to the plot.
Spoilers are below for Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 5, “Eastwatch.”
Season 7 has revealed that Jon Snow is the legitimate heir to the Iron Throne. As Gilly discovers in “Eastwatch”, Rhaegar Targaryen annulled his first marriage and secretly married someone else in Dorne. That someone could only have been Jon’s mother, Lyanna Stark. As Season 6 revealed, Lyanna gave birth to Jon in Dorne while Rhaegar’s Kingsguard and trusted friend Arthur Dayne stood guard outside. So although the show hasn’t explicitly said that Rhaegar is Jon’s dad, it’s backed up by substantial evidence. And Jon is not his bastard.
For a story in which heirs and lines of succession are matters of life or death, this is a major issue. After his brush with death, can Jon even produce heirs if he wanted to? In other words, is Jon still fertile?
In a pre-Season 7 interview, George R. R. Martin told TIME that Beric Dondarrion — who has also been resurrected — is a fire wight. Martin said about Beric,
His memories are fading, he’s got all these scars, he’s becoming more and more physically hideous, because he’s not a living human being anymore. His heart isn’t beating, his blood isn’t flowing in his veins, he’s a wight, but a wight animated by fire instead of by ice, now we’re getting back to the whole fire and ice thing.
Logically this means that Jon Snow is also a fire wight, thanks to his Season 6 induction into the resurrection club. A wight is a reanimated corpse. Until now, Game of Thrones has only presented wights as members of the army of the dead and minions of the Night King.
Jon and Beric clearly are not among these ranks, but this classification of wight is curious. Assuming it comes to light that Jon isn’t only the King in the North but the rightful King of the Seven Kingdoms, what does this mean for his potential line of succession?
Most fans agree that Jon can probably perform just fine. His muscles and organs seem to be in working order since he was able to fight in the Battle of the Bastards.
Sean Pink, a Game of Thrones analyst for the podcast History of Westeros, told Inverse, “Jon seems to bleed when wounded, draw air when winded, and Davos even detects desire in his eye. Maybe as Beric loses bits of himself on each return from beyond, Jon eventually would, too. But as things stand, I’m inclined to believe that Jon could conceive children.”
Luka Nieto, a writer at Watchers on the Wall, told Inverse that Jon’s ability to have children and a line of succession “has gone from something I hadn’t even considered to quite a conundrum.”
He added that Jon’s developing relationship with Daenerys seems to be a key piece of the puzzle.
“Given the increasing parallels between Jon and Daenerys, as well as their growing relationship, I think that’s where the answer may lie, in more way than one,” he said. “She can’t have children, and she has more than once claimed the dragons will be the only children she will ever have. If Jon is afflicted with a similar magical impairment, I do wonder if perhaps they can only break this curse together.”
On the other hand, Pink doesn’t think that Jon is necessarily a fire wight just because Beric Dondarrion is. He explains that the exact lore of what a wight is is still somewhat muddled.
“Maybe there are many different types of wights,” he said. “How is the Mountain to be categorized? Stonemen? Benjen/Coldhands? How much does the medium of resurrection matter? Could it be related to their location, their moral standing, their role in a prophecy, their bloodline? It’s also worth noting that Beric has died and returned time and again. Even if he is a wight of the same ilk as Jon, maybe Jon isn’t as far gone yet.”
Nieto likes the idea of Jon and Daenerys as “the unburnt and the reborn, two Targaryens afflicted and gifted by magic, overcoming their doomed line of succession together.”
He reasoned, “All those parallels have to lead somewhere, and if that means the lines will converge in Jon and Dany sharing not only a relationship but an offspring, I’m up for that.”
The general verdict is that Jon can most likely have kids, wight or no wight. Assuming he discovers his heritage and claim to the throne, the main question is whether he’ll want to.
Game of Thrones Season 7 is currently airing Sunday nights on HBO.