In all the excitement of Jon Snow being dead (or you know, not being dead) in the new Game of Thrones trailer, it’d be easy to miss some of the most exciting secrets and hints hidden within it – including the presence of original lead character Ned Stark (played by Sean Bean) whose beheading was commanded by Joffrey at the end of season one.
Yep, the Stark patriarch is back in the Westerosi fray – but before you get too excited, we should probably point out that this is a younger version of Ned, probably seen in flashbacks that will reveal Jon Snow’s secret parentage. Take a look below and see if you can spot him.
No? OK, how about now – see the guy leading these warriors with the longer hair and distinctly Ned Stark-ish leather armour on the left?
We’re betting that’s him, especially after a casting call was put out a few months ago for an actor who would look an awful lot like a young Sean Bean. That casting call combined with these new images and a reported filming location of a free-standing tower would seem to confirm a long-held fan belief that this season will tackle the “Tower of Joy” flashback seen in George RR Martin’s source novels, where Ned and his friends “rescued” his sister Lyanna Stark from Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen’s tower.
The common belief in the “present-day” Westeros is that Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna, but it’s often been hinted that she ran off with Rhaegar willingly, before dying as she gave birth to an illegitimate son while her brother was fighting past Rhaegar’s Rhaeguards (though sadly that wasn’t their official title).
Whatever the truth, Lyanna died in a pool of blood with only Ned and his friend Howland Reed as witnesses, and her last words were “Promise me, Ned” – often taken to be her request that the Northern Lord raise her son as his own illegitimate offspring, aka Jon Snow, aka that totally not-dead guy played by Kit Harington.
Still not sure if you believe us? OK, then this other picture of the flashback which sees Ned (right) fight off a soldier who’s sporting the three-headed Targaryen crest on his armour must be a complete coincidence then.
That, or dragon breastplates have become a daring vintage fashion choice for modern-day Westerosi trendsetters. Either way, we’ll have to wait until next month to see whether it’s our wardrobes or our Jon Snow Wikis that need updating.
Game of Thrones returns to Sky Atlantic on the 23rd April