by Daley Wilhelm
This article contains spoilers for Game of Thrones
A lot happened in the season finale of season seven of Game of Thrones. Long-held theories were finally confirmed; characters who had been scheming since the start were put to a bloody end; and age-old loyalties were betrayed. Not to mention the undead ice dragon taking down the Wall.
In between all the action, however, was a plot twist that seems insignificant, but Game of Thrones has proven to be anything but shallow in their choices. Fans, both avid and casual, have been aware of the rumor of Jon Snow’s true heritage for a very long time now. Last season, we learned that he was a trueborn Stark, his mother having been Lyanna Stark. In these last episodes before the finale, showrunners teased the Targaryen half of his parentage with that moment between Jon and Drogon ripped straight from How to Train Your Dragon, and in the fun fact that Gilly found about Rheagar Targaryen’s annulment of his marriage to Elia Martell.
To drive it all home, Bran stood at Lyanna and Rheagar’s wedding, and we heard what Ned Stark’s sister’s dying words were:
“His name is Aegon Targaryen,”
If you’re like me, this felt lackluster. While it was satisfying to see the poorly-kept secret finally out in the open, or at least shared between Sam and Bran, Jon’s real name seems like an afterthought. If anything, I was offended that the writers seemed to be unsure whether or not viewers would be able to put two and two together to realize who Jon’s father really was, and thus included this tidbit.
Aegon is a very Targaryen name. Really, it is the Targaryen name. Aegon the Conqueror is credited with uniting Westeros from seven kingdoms to one, and his dynasty after him ruling it. It wasn’t uncommon for Aegon the First’s progeny to name their sons after him. In fact there were six Aegons since the conquest of Westeros. This includes the great grandfather or Jon/Aegon and the infant son of Rhaegar and Elia who was murdered by The Mountain during Robert’s Rebellion.
Personally, that detail makes Jon’s real name all the more strange. But this might foreshadow the possibility of another Aegon appearing in the next and final season.
The bastard son of the infamous womanizer Aegon the IV, Aegor Rivers founded The Golden Company, which Cersei is now looking to as her protection against both the army of the dead and Daenerys’ army. Rivers was exiled from Westeros after siding with his half-brothers in the First Blackfyre Rebellion, during which one of Aegon IV’s bastards claimed the throne over his older, trueborn brother. The kingdoms fell to civil war, but in the end “The Great Bastards” were either put to the sword or exiled.
Rivers first served with the Second Sons before gathering sellswords in order to create The Golden Company. Their battle cry, “Beneath the gold, the bitter steel,” pays homage to Rivers’ name “Bittersteel.”
Cersei is right to be reassured at the idea of having The Golden Company at her side. The Golden Company has the strength of 10,000 men, elephants, and many exiled Westerosi knights. Among them is Jon Connington and his adopted son “Young Griff.”
Young Griff’s real but disputed identity is that of Rhaegar Targaryen’s firstborn son, Aegon. According to this lithe boy with dyed-blue hair, he was smuggled out of the chaos as a baby, and the child who had been killed during the Sack of King’s Landing had been a tanner’s son. In the books, when the boy reveals his identity to The Golden Company, they believe him and support his plan to marry Daenerys and claim the Iron Throne.
It’s a funny thing, considering that Dany likely would have married her nephew Aegon since they were close in age. And of course, it’s doubly weird now that she’s shacked up with her other nephew Aegon.
To avoid confusion, it should be said that many readers believe that the Aegon among The Golden Company is a pretender, and that Jon Snow is the real deal. The two Aegons also share the same “prince who was promised” prophecy, since Rhaegar’s first son had been conceived under a falling star.
When The Golden Company comes to stand against their founders’ great-great-great-great granddaughter will the other Aegon be among them? Why did Rhaegar name his second son Aegon?
The show definitely seems to be leading toward the conundrum behind Jon and Daenerys’ relationship. As it stands now, Jon would have a stronger claim to the Iron Throne, being Rheagar’s trueborn son, than his aunt Daenerys. Should another son of Rhaegar appear, this one on Cersei’s side, then there’s some interesting implications there. Would Cersei say she’d marry The Golden Company’s Aegon in order to invalidate Daenerys’ claim? Would he still want to marry Daenerys? What drama would arise out of the identity crisis of Jon/Aegon vs other Aegon? Which one would be the true heir?
I refuse to call Jon Snow "Aegon" until he takes that name for himself. Which I hope never happens/don't think will happen. pic.twitter.com/XQ7bQvsamx
— Kim Renfro (@kimrrenfro) August 31, 2017
Whether or not this happens, it would be interesting for the show to explore this in the wake of so many predictable plot twists. After so much setup, it’s clear the direction the show has decided to take in lieu of guidance from the books, so it would be nice to see a curveball like another Aegon smack and surprise viewers.