This series of Game of Thrones has been chock-full of subtle callbacks, from the Hound’s discovery of a dead farmer he once wronged to Arya’s conversation with her direwolf that referenced a single line of dialogue from 2011.
And now fans have spotted yet another throwback reference in the latest episode, occurring in the scene where Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) walk together in the Dragonstone caverns.
Urging Jon to bend the knee and accept her as queen so she can help him fight the White Walkers, Daenerys says of Jon’s people “Isn’t their survival more important than your pride?”
While we never see Jon’s response, it’s possible that Daenerys’s words may have struck more of a chord with him than we initially realised. You see, back in 2015’s season five Jon posed the exact same rhetorical question to Mance Rayder (Ciarán Hinds) over the latter’s refusal to submit to Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), with Stannis threatening to burn Mance alive if he didn’t ally his army of wildlings to his cause.
“…A life’s work uniting [the freefolk],” Jon reminds Mance.
“You didn’t do it for power, you didn’t do it for glory; you brought them together to save them because none of them would survive the winter, not if they’re north of the Wall. Isn’t their survival more important than your pride?”
“And what happens to your people?” he adds. “You preserve your dignity and die standing and they’ll sing songs about you. You’d rather burn than kneel – a great hero… until Winter comes and the White Walkers come for us all and there’s no-one left to sing.”
But what could these repeated words mean? Will Jon recognise the sentiment in Daenerys’ words, swallow his pride and submit to her to unite against the White Walkers? Or will he be like Mance and stick to his guns (or, er crossbows)?
After all, Mance’s original response could just as easily apply to Daenerys’ cause as well: “You’re a good lad, truly you are, but if you can’t understand why I won’t enlist my people in a foreigner’s war, there’s no point explaining.”
Clearly, these words have been repeated for a reason – but we’ll just have to see whether they’re intended to make Jon a hypocrite, make him realise the necessity of teaming up with Daenerys or just show how much he’s changed since he first tried to persuade Mance.
Like winter itself, we can only hope explanations are coming.
Game of Thrones Season 7 premieres on Mondays on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV at 2am, repeated at 9pm