When I first heard the theory that Bran IS the Night King, it struck me as quite implausible. When I watched a video trying to prove it, it seemed flimsy at best. This was NOT R + L = J, after all. And it bugged me. Nothing about it struck me as right. I thought that was the end of it, but then I had an epiphany.
Bran is NOT the Night King.
At least, not literally.
Firstly, let’s get this out of the way. I’m not a professional Game of Thrones theorist. But. But I was reading the Song of Ice and Fire back before most GOT fans were even born. I read the paperback of the first in the series- A Game of Thrones in the late 1990s. Since then I’ve read every book since at the time of publication, as well as at least once again save, A Dance for Dragons which I read later and only once because it was a slog. I have also watched every GOT episode at least twice including Season 7, Episode 6- Beyond the Wall.
Here are my arguments:
Firstly, the current theory doesn’t hold
This theory is that Bran will continue to go back in time to try to “fix” things over and over again. This theory holds that Bran was the one who caused the Mad King to go mad and ramble “Burn them all!” because that’s how you kill wights. So that failed. So Bran goes back in time again. Fails. Finally goes back to when the Children made the Night King and he becomes the Night King in his stead.
Logistically, there is only one episode left in Season 7 and Season 8 is slated to have only six episodes, so I don’t see how all this back in time stuff is going to work out in the TV series. There are just too many loose threads to tie up to start unraveling freaking time. Also, in Season 6, Episode 3, the old Three-eyed Raven declares, “The past is already written. The ink is dry.” So, yeah.
Logically, if the old man Three-eyed Raven can see past and present, he wouldn’t have summoned Bran to become next Three-eyed Raven if he saw in the past that Bran would become Night King.
Bran is NOT Night King, but they are inextricably bound.
When touched by Night King in vision, some cross mojination occurred.
The key episode in this theory is Season 6, Episode 5- The Door. On the surface, it looks like a simple explanation of Hodor- “Hold the door!” But on further inspection, there may be more to it.
In this episode Leaf says, “Our sacred trees cut down.” They were at war with men and created the Night King to help them. Along the way the Night King went against the Children and thus the alliance of Children and men as evidence by the cave drawings Jon showed Daenerys. In the books, the Three-Eyed Ravens can only see through the weirwood trees, thus the faces carved on them.
We see in this episode when Leaf made the Night King.
She did so at a place where stones set in a swirl pattern surround a weirwood tree.
Later on in this episode, we see Bran as he goes into an unaccompanied vision. We are back at the EXACT SAME TREE where Leaf made the Night King.
Only now the tree is dead and covered in snow. When Bran turns around to find himself in front of the Army of the Dead, what do we see in the background?
The mountain shaped like an arrowhead seen in The Hound’s vision. This location is key.
Bran walks through the Army of the Dead and then Night King turns and looks him in the eye. Then the Night King touches him.
The Three-eyed Raven insists the Night King touched Bran. Twice he says it. Bran looks down, sees four blue marks from Night King’s fingers.
Three-eyed Raven- “He knows you’re here and he’ll come for you.”
Bran- “But he can’t get in”
Three-eyed Raven- “He can now. His mark is on you.”
Thus, in this episode entitled The Door, we see a literal door break down- the one Hodor is holding- AND a metaphysical one- the door between the White Walkers and the new Three-eyed Raven (Bran.)
At the end of this episode, Bran and Meera encounter Cold Hands (as he’s known in the books) who turns out to be Benjen Stark.
Benjen- “The Children found me stopped the walker’s magic from taking hold.”
Benjen- “The same way they made the walkers in the first place. You saw it yourself.”
Now why and how would Benjen know that? Somehow the creatures the Children made are linked. It could be that Benjen knows whatever the Three-eyed Raven knows. OR, and this is what my theory hinges on, when the Night King touched Bran in the vision and put “his mark” on him, Bran and the Night King became inextricably linked. How linked? What Bran knows the Night King knows.
Here’s some proof of that:
Firstly, the weirwood north of The Wall where the old Three-eyed Raven sat, I’ll call the Master Weirwood. The Children protected the Master Weirwood with magic that kept out white walkers and the Army of the Dead. But this magic was shattered when the Night King touched Bran in the vision. THAT bond was stronger than the Children’s magic and thus Night King, his princes, and the Army of the Dead are able to enter.
In Season 7, Episode 5- Eastwatch, we have Bran’s warging into the raven group. (Did you know the collective noun for ravens is unkindness?) Anyway, Bran wargs into an unkindness of ravens, flies over The Wall, and comes across the Army of the Dead and the White Walkers.
Is it just me, or does that terrain look a bit familiar? Does the promontory on which the White Walkers stand look remarkably similar to the one that Jon and his group have to run for to save themselves from the Army of the Dead? It may be the EXACT same place, but from different angles.
In any case, the White Walkers stand on this promontory as Bran’s unkindness of ravens fly over. Then the Night King looks at the unkindness…
…he SEES Bran and that connection/bond/link, what have you, is so strong that it scares Bran out of his warging.
The Night King, his princes, and the Army of the Dead don’t seem to be going anywhere. They are still near the mountain that looks like an arrowhead. Why? Shouldn’t they be moving south? Not if the Night King sees what Bran sees and the Night King knows what Bran knows. They’ll want to stay and force them into a choke point in order to surround Jon and his group. Why? Because the Night King knows there are dragons, knows Jon and Daenerys are allies, knows that she’ll come to his aid with those dragons if need be.
And she does.
And they’re waiting. If the White Walkers bring the Winter (and we have ample proof of that), why didn’t they just freeze the water to get to Jon and his group long before Gendry took off and Daenerys came in with her dragons? Because they wanted to turn a dragon or two or three. Below’s screen shot shows five White Walkers, but they have only three ice spears among them- one for each dragon.
They threw one ice spear at Viserion and hit their mark. The second ice spear held at the ready just missed Drogon. Why didn’t they each have their own ice spear? Why three and only three? Because Bran’s link with the Night King means that what Bran sees, the Night King sees. What Bran knows, the Night King knows. This gives the latter a distinct advantage and this enables him to trap Jon’s group in order to turn a dragon. Will it breathe ice now? ;-0
Questions remain. As Bran and the Night King are bonded, will Bran learn to see what the Night King sees without a weirwood or without warging? Since Bran is both the Three-eyed Raven and a warg, is he the most powerful greenseer ever? Will he be able to warg into something close to the Night King? Will he be able to warg into the turned Viserion?
More theories abound, too.
In the books, The Wall is like the episode title “The Door”- it’s both a physical barrier and a metaphysical one. There are many references to the magic that protects this wall. The only reference in the series is when Benjen drops off Meera and Bran near The Wall, but claims he cannot go farther. Will he be destroyed like so many wights who tried to break through the magic of the Master Weirwood? AND if that magic was broken when the Night King touched Bran and they were able to enter the Master Weirwood realm, would the same apply to The Wall? In other words, would Bran’s being south the of The Wall have broken the magic protection it once had?
And what of all of Craster’s sons? Is there a white walker nursery where there are dozens more at the ready just waiting to grow up, and join the fight?
Since Melisandre told Varys they both have to die in Westeros, I’m wondering if she’ll return to Essos and rally the priests and priestesses of the Lord of Light to come to Westeros’ aid.
Also, there will be something with that dragonbone knife that was supposed to kill Bran in Season 1. It’s back. It’s been shown in several scenes- Littlefinger giving it to Bran, Bran giving it to Arya, and Arya giving it to Sansa. This isn’t Wes Anderson, but Chekhov’s Gun.
Only time will tell if my theory is more correct than the Bran is Night King one. But I will say this, if they do the whole time loop thing, I’ll be as bitterly disappointed with the entire series as I was with Lost. They essentially ruined the whole thing in one scene. If so, I’ll say what I said at the conclusion of Lost’s The End, Part II episode,
“Well, that sucked!”
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