Game of Thrones and Rebirth: His Watch has Ended and Now a Girl Can See

7:20 AM

There is something powerful about a new beginning. I am sure that many have wished for one at some point or another, I know I have. This week's episode of Game of Thrones has very clearly afforded two major characters the opportunity of a new start. The literal and metaphorical death and subsequent rebirth of Jon Snow and Arya Stark respectively are probably two of the most interesting moments from this season so far. I cannot help but ask, "how will this piece of the narrative affect the future story?"


Both of these characters, via their "rebirth" are now released from the ties that previously bound them. Jon Snow hands over the position of Lord Commander of The Night's Watch to Eddison Tollett, walking away professing that his "watch has ended." Because Jon technically died and was subsequently resurrected, his death will have released him from his vows to the watch.


Although the title of this episode seems to imply that this might be the breaking of an oath on the part of the reliably honorable Jon Snow, I would argue that he has effectively fulfilled his vow, and now upon rebirth, is free to move on from his position at the wall. The interesting thing to watch here is going to be if Jon remains the honorable man he has tended to be up until his death. Several of his Night's Watch brethren seem to question whether it is really still the "Jon" that they know and respect taking up residence in that body. Has the combination of death and magic fundamentally changed who Jon will be as a character?


Arya on the other hand appears to have finally accepted her position as "No One" and, one can assume, is released from the unrelenting inner urge for revenge that drove her former self. Perhaps on Arya's part she has come to betray a key tenet of her former philosophy, which dictates that she kill those who have wronged her or he family. However, there is a piece of me that wonders if Arya's hitlist will not be fulfilled (albeit potentially not by her) as a payment for her service to the Many-Faced God. After all, the training montage in this episodes suggests that The Waif is particularly interested in learning everything about Arya's former life, particularly the complete contents of her hitlist.


Clearly two of the main players from House Stark are being washed of their former baggage and can now move forward largely unimpeded by their former commitments. Here I must reiterate my opening question, how will this new beginning - this re-birth - affect these characters and the story moving forward? Each of them was so bound and defined by the pieces of themselves that they gave up in this episode, it will be interesting to learn where each of them will find their future motivations and how these motivations might impact not only their own character arcs but the future of Westeros.

For each of these characters (and for most people), the crux of their re-birth is that each must find a new path, new motivations, and/or a new way of being, all things that require a great amount of trust in the process of change. Arya seems to be embracing her move to become "No One" but Jon's exit from the Night's Watch seems much more fueled by a crisis of faith in his own abilities to lead. Although Game of Thrones is particularly brutal about affording anyone a "happy ending," it is my hope that these characters are able to embrace their new beginnings and follow them down a path to a positive narrative end.
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8 comments

  1. You know if technically Jon's service was over when he died, he shouldn't have been able to order the execution of the four conspirators. So the title of the episode, "Oathbreaker" seems to suggest some discontent with Jon walking out. Also, in another way, Arya is breaking her own oath, as she seems to be giving up on her list of targets. "Oathbreaker" seems to echo the earlier episode name "Oathkeeper" which was more about Jaime and Brienne. Maybe the Starks are getting more realistic about how to succeed in the game of thrones.

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  2. I wonder where Jon is going. He seems pissed off, and rightly so, that his brothers murdered him. To me, it was less of a failure in leadership and more of a, well they didn't listen and they killed me and the freaking White Walkers are coming, so good luck with that. Peace, Jon Snow, out.

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    1. I'm with you, Katie. While it seemed he was upset/hurt about Olly's treason, I figured he expected the others. So I understand the frustration but, like you, assumed he was more focused on a new goal. What that goal would be, I'm not sure. But I didn't get that "forget you all" vibe others are mentioning.

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  3. House Lorch, I enjoyed your analysis of comebacks and new beginnings in this episode. I cannot wait to see what happens to Arya. It was great to see the return of her vision. Yes, I agree that the returns of Jon and Arya were probably the most crucial scenes of the season, so far.

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  4. This episode was definitely a set up for future episodes, especially with Jon and Arya. Although many people believe Jon will ride south, I wonder how this will be possible. Will the wildlings really want to move past the wall as they have always lived in north. Jon now has to decide to either become king of the north or save the realm against the white walkers. I'm not sure which path he will choose, or if it is as simple as an either or choice. I'm hoping we will get some sort of inkling from this next episode. I enjoyed your post!

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  5. I never thought of Arya becoming No One as a fresh start. Like it’s obvious, but it’s a new way for me to think about it. I just focused on the “death” of Arya Stark. Where will No One go? I love that GIF of Jon and Arya. Even though I just watched the entire series again, I forget how young they were when they started.

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  6. I never thought of Arya becoming No One as a fresh start. Like it’s obvious, but it’s a new way for me to think about it. I just focused on the “death” of Arya Stark. Where will No One go? I love that GIF of Jon and Arya. Even though I just watched the entire series again, I forget how young they were when they started.

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  7. I never thought of Arya becoming No One as a fresh start. Like it’s obvious, but it’s a new way for me to think about it. I just focused on the “death” of Arya Stark. Where will No One go? I love that GIF of Jon and Arya. Even though I just watched the entire series again, I forget how young they were when they started.

    ReplyDelete

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