'Game of Thrones': Why the Night King Might Be Obsessed With Bran Stark

Two times in a vision. Maybe one time face-to-face. What will happen in the Battle of Winterfell? 

Of the 8 million characters who populate HBO’s Game of Thrones, only one pair will actually matter in next week’s episode: the Night King, lord of all that is deadly and dark, and Bran, who is basically the Stark version of your cousin who insists on reading astrology aloud at the Thanksgiving table.

As the two most important chess pieces in the coming Battle of Winterfell, it’s important to remember the full context of what Bran and the Night King mean to each other.

In “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” an episode that will go down in history as a series all-timer that also didn’t feature violent, shocking deaths or sexual assault, the assembled heroes spend one anxious night in Winterfell and mull over their imminent devastation over wine and song.

They also did their homework. Part of the Battle of Winterfell will see Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) used as “bait” to lure the Night King (Vladimir Furdik), who is suspiciously missing when the episode ends with the White Walkers and wights at their front door.

White Walkers outside Winterfell at the end of the second episode of Season 8 of 'Game of Thrones.' But where is the Night King?
White Walkers outside Winterfell at the end of the second episode of Season 8 of 'Game of Thrones'. But where is the Night King? 

Whether or not the Night King will show up in the tombs of the Starks, one thing is for sure: Bran will meet the Night King in the flesh for the first time.

Below, I dive into Bran and the Night King’s bizarre relationship and revisit the validity of that undying theory that Bran is the Night King.

Game of Thrones Bran Vision the Night King
The Iron Throne, succumbed to winter — from Bran's vision in 'Game of Thrones' Season 4.

That Time With the Tree

The first time Bran “met” the Night King came through in a vision in Season 4, Episode 2. In “The Lion and the Rose,” Bran is guided by the Three-Eyed Raven to a weirwood tree inside a cave. There, Bran has a vision that includes a snowy King’s Landing, followed by voiceover that says, “Look for me, beneath the tree,” and someone saying, “He saw us,” a distorted replay of Cersei from the time Bran found her having sex with Jaime.

The last line is just another voice that says, “North.”

Much of the hard-to-decipher vision includes images such as recycled footage of Bran’s father, Ned Stark, as well as then-ominous imagery: a dragon flying over King’s Landing (is this the past? or the future?) and the Iron Throne room shrouded in winter. There is also the obscured face of the Night King, peering over ice, an omen of their second confrontation.

In a post-show interview from 2014, showrunner D.B. Weiss explains that Bran’s vision is loaded with purpose, no matter how opaque the images appear.

“It’s there for a reason, and it does have some bearing on his story going forward,” Weiss said at the time.

Game of Thrones Bran Night King
When Bran "met" the Night King in 'Game of Thrones' Season 6.

That Time With the Scar

After Bran’s vision, the Night King made himself known to viewers and Jon Snow before confronting Bran, once again, in a vision. But unlike the tree, this time there was no hiding.

In the Season 6 episode “The Door,” a tragic chapter that includes Hodor’s origin story and death, the Night King touches Bran on his forearm, leaving a scar (which Bran showed again in this week’s episode). It’s an important moment in the story, as fans believe the physical touch bonds Bran to the Night King.

Bran says in the second episode of Season 8 that he knows the Night King will come for him because of the scar he left on his forearm.
Bran says in the second episode of Season 8 that he knows the Night King will come for him because of the scar he left on his forearm.

How the Night King is connected to Bran is still up for debate, but it’s birthed a number of interesting theories. The only one you need to know is that the touch allowed fans to speculate that Bran is actually the Night King (despite the fact that the Night King’s origins were revealed in the same episode).

In “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” Bran proposed that his scar with the Night King serves as de facto GPS coordinates to his location. The Night King knows where Bran is because of that scar, and so Bran is giving himself up as bait for the Battle of Winterfell. Whether or not the Night King will fall for it remains to be seen (and for my money, super unlikely).

Bran at the tree where he will wait for the Night King.
Bran at the tree where he will wait for the Night King.

But Bran is confident the Night King will come for him. He told the council of Westeros as much in a dramatic bombshell in this week’s episode. “He’s tried before many times with many Three-Eyed Ravens,” Bran said.

Bran not only confirmed the extent to which it means to “be” a Three-Eyed Raven — Bran is effectively a host for the spirit; think Marvel characters like Venom or Ghost Rider — but that the Night King has been an ancient enemy of the Three-Eyed Raven for a long time.

When Samwell Tarly asked Bran what the Night King wants, Bran answered:

“An endless night. He wants to erase this world, and I am its memory.”

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 8 p.m. Eastern on HBO.

Media via HBO, HBO