Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 2 had Jaime Lannister argue his case before a skeptical audience at Winterfell, but an even harder sell happens in the final minutes of “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” when Jon Snow confesses the truth of his parentage to Daenerys Targaryen. She reacts with utter disbelief before the war horns blow and the battle begins.
Most of the world thinks Dany’s brother, Rhaegar, kidnapped Lyanna Stark, but in fact they were in love, wed in secret, and had a child that Ned Stark raised as his own bastard. Jon Snow is actually Aegon Targaryen, Dany’s nephew and the true heir to the Iron Throne. We know this. Jon Snow knows this. Now, finally, Dany knows it, too — and she’s the first person who doesn’t believe it.
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Under different circumstances, it might not even be necessary to present further evidence. Most people just go along with whatever Bran says as the Three-Eyed Raven, and everybody trusts Samwell Tarley. But Daenerys makes a pretty good point about why these two characters might not have her best interests at heart.
“A secret no one in the world knew except your brother and your best friend,” Dany says. “Doesn’t it seem strange to you?” Actually, she’s totally right about this.
There’s only one man in all of Westeros who can actually confirm anything related to Jon’s parentage: Howland Reed, Lord of Greywater Watch. Reed was there when Ned Stark discovered his sister, Lyanna, giving birth to Jon Snow. He also has a direct connection to Bran; the father to Bran’s old traveling companions Jojen and Meera.
*We’ve previously theorized that Reed, not Jaime Lannister, is the “old friend” Bran Stark is waiting for in the Winterfell courtyard for this very reason. Dany’s reaction to the revelation only makes Reed’s intervention even more necessary.
The High Septon who married Rhaegar and Lyanna has since died. We know this because he’s been replaced at some point by another priest. There was also a wet nurse present at the Tower of Joy, who was probably named Wylla (the name Ned would give whenever pressed about Jon’s mother). We don’t know what happened to her, but we do know what happened to Howland Reed, the man who saved Ned Stark’s life by stabbing Ser Arthur Dayne in the back.
Following Robert’s Rebellion, he returned to his family’s castle, Greywater Watch, a castle on an island that supposedly moves through the swamp. As such, Reed and his fellow crannogmen remain isolated from the rest of the world. But should the living actually lose the Great Battle of Winterfell, the swamps might freeze over, rendering Greywater Watch accessible.
The rest of Season 8 could go in all sorts of directions, but if Dany still needs convincing about Jon’s heritage, then introducing Howland Reed is really the only option — unless Jon bucks up and proposes to his aunt already.
Daenerys has every right to be skeptical about Jon’s claim. She’s has spent her entire life focused on reclaiming the Iron Throne for her family, and suddenly her boyfriend is telling her they’re related. More importantly, he’s also indirectly telling her that he has a better claim to the throne than she does. Obviously, she’s skeptical, especially when the only two sources of this information are Jon’s brother and his best friend.
But will she need further convincing? Or will she realize that Jon’s ability to ride a dragon is the only proof she needs of his Targaryen heritage?
Game of Thrones airs Sundays on HBO at 9 p.m. Eastern.