Jon Snow’s ending would be better with a cut book character
Jon Snow had one of the best Game of Thrones endings, but it still could have been improved with a character from Wildling that the series didn’t include.
Jon Snow had one of the best endings of Game Of Thrones, but it might have been even better with a cut book character. Game Of Thrones ended in 2019, concluding its story in a confrontational way to say the least. The ending (and really, the final episodes) proved hugely controversial for various twists and turns, character decisions, and pacing issues, but Jon Snow was one of the stronger arcs throughout.
After killing Daenerys, Jon Snow’s fate had to be brought back to life on the wall, joining all that was left of the Night’s Watch. Jon may have been the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, but his return Beyond the Wall, with Tormund and Ghost by his side, feels much more in tune with who he is and how he was shaped by his. experiences with Ygritte, Mance Rayder, and others. Jon’s ending in the Far North is the kind of bittersweet fate it’s easy to imagine George RR Martin has planned for him, too, though there could be a few differences.
The show streamlined elements of Jon Snow’s arc, including what can be assumed to happen after his death. Jon’s resurrection will likely be different in The Winds of Winter, while Game Of Thrones cut a twist of Mance Rayder who kept the King Beyond the Wall alive with Rattleshirt was killed in his place, and another key element that was tweaked was the omission of Val, a Wildling who is the sister from Mance’s wife, Dalla (also cut off from the show). Good-looking, intelligent, and fierce, Val and Jon have great chemistry and a clear mutual attraction in the books, though he does pass on Stannis Baratheon’s offer to marry him, which would have resulted in him becoming legitimized as Lord Stark of Winterfell but renounce his vows. His story will likely drift away from Val in the books for a while, as his attentions focus more and more on the other side of the wall, but she represents a strong connection beyond for him that would have made Jon Snow ends north of the Wall feels even more like the right choice.
Val is a temptation for Jon; she represents the chance to have everything he dreamed of: Lord of Winterfell, a beautiful wife, a son – all things that he gave up on joining the Night’s Watch, and that he does again by staying true to His wishes. But Val also represents another part of Jon, which Ygritte also did, which is his Widling side. Jon does not fit the political landscape of Westeros; he’s a great leader in part because he’s so reluctant, but his heart is in the true North. Game Of Thrones shows this thanks to Ygritte and his friendship with Tormund, although it largely fails with his giant wolf, Ghost, who is the most significant manifestation of this aspect of him.
Including Val, then, would have bolstered Jon’s arc and the strength of his character and decisions, as well as his connection to the Wildlings. It is noteworthy that Jon in the books notes that Ghost and Val appear to be “go together,” which makes it seem like Jon and Val are more deeply connected than just flirting, and that there will be more to their story at the end. After all, Ghost is part of Jon, tied together as a warg, so at least part of Jon also belongs to Val.
It is likely that many aspects of Jon Snow’s story in The Winds of Winter and a dream of spring will follow the same main lines as Game Of Thrones, including the battle with the Others and his relationship with Daenerys (although this may be more of a political partnership than a romance). With that in mind, it’s easy to see why Val was cut, as this storyline was massively condensed (like with Mance’s death and a baby-switch arc that might have been too complicated for TV), so it would have. been introducing a character only for her to appear briefly. And Jon’s ending still works without her, but the idea of him choosing to return Beyond the Wall in Game Of Thrones, and be with his “Wild Princess,” feels like an even more fitting ending to his story, while also being bittersweet as he leaves his family and the kingdom behind him, but returns to where he truly belongs with someone he loves.
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