'Game Of Thrones' Ned Stark Will Return, But Not How You'd Expect — Could This Mean More Clues About Jon Snow's Past?

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NED STARK IS COMING BACK. (...But not from the dead.) Do you think the producers of Game Of Thrones would ever do you such a kindness? Watchers On The Wall reported on Monday that, according to reliable sources, Ned Stark will return to the Game Of Thrones storyline in a flashback; 13-year old English actor Sebastian Croft has been cast to play young Ned to Sean Bean's Eddard. It's the second major flashback in the five seasons of the series — in Season 5, Game Of Thrones offered a glimpse into young Cersei Lannister's childhood, when she meets the witch Maggie the Frog who predicts her fate. Hopefully this flashback provides a glimpse into both Ned Stark's past, and reveals truths about Jon Snow. Because what is the story with that guy?!

Ned Stark was beheaded for his transgression against the Queen in Season 1 — remember, he suspected that Jon Arryn, the Hand to King Robert, was killed because he discovered that Cersei's children were by her brother/lover Jamie and not Robert Baratheon. Which, of course, eventually led to King Robert's death and the titular... game of thrones. But he's been a presence throughout the entire series, and now his memory will come more to life than ever in this childhood flashback. The biggest mystery surrounding the late Eddard Stark in Season 5 of GOT was the question of Jon Snow's parentage, and even though this flashback stars a very, very young little Ned, it could reveal some more clues in the painstaking, shrouded truth about Jon Snow's parentage.

The most believable theory right now is that Jon Snow is not a wolf, but a dragon—the R + L = J theory. That is, that Jon Snow is not in fact the bastard son of Eddard Stark, but his sister Lyanna's son with Rhaegar Targaryen:

Viewers of the HBO series might not be as well-versed in Eddard Stark's youth as readers of the books, so here's a quick but crucial recap of Ned Stark's youth: he was raised not at Winterfell but at the Eyrie, alongside his closest friend and foster brother, Robert Baratheon, under the hand of Lord Arryn. Because the casting of young Ned is such a young gun — only 13! — it's likely that we will see young Robert and Ned's sister, Lyanna, as well. Maybe the producers of Game Of Thrones are finally going to admit that R + L = J. And if they don't go that far, at least we can hope that the flashback will shed more light onto Ned Stark's past and his relationship with his sister, who was the object of affection of one of the last dragons in Westeros. We'll have to keep an eye out to see if GOT casts any youthful actresses that bear a resemblance to Sebastian Croft.

Image: Helen Sloan/HBO