Nobody in the world saw it coming: Jon Snow was resurrected on Game Of Thrones last Sunday after lying dead on a slab for the first two episodes of the show's sixth season. OK, so actually everybody in the world saw it coming — but now that the resurrection is out of the way, we can get around to the business of what comes afterwards. Narratively, there would be no reason to kill the character off and immediately bring him back if nothing was going to change; so something must be different about Jon Snow now that he's returned from the dead. Could he be the fulfillment of Melisandre's prophecy? Is Jon Snow really Azor Ahai?
If you haven't read George R.R. Martin's A Song Of Ice And Fire series, then right about now you're probably wondering, "Who the heck is Azor Ahai?" That's because this prophetical figure has never been called by his actual name on the show; he's simply been referred to by his many nicknames, including "Warrior of Light," "Son of Fire," and "The Prince That Was Promised." Originally, Melisandre thought that Stannis was the reincarnation of Azor Ahai, the warrior destined to lead the fight against the White Walkers. This is why she was so devoted to him; and why she was so devastated when Stannis was killed.
So does Jon Snow's resurrection prove that he's The Prince That Was Promised? Well… maybe. In the books, there are certain conditions that should presage the arrival of Azor Ahai: the prophecy speaks of "a day after a long summer when the stars bleed" when the Prince will be "born amidst salt and smoke" and "draw from the fire a burning sword" called Lightbringer. In the books, Martin is careful to draw subtle connections to each of these conditions in Jon's death scene. One of the longest summers on record has just come to an end; as Jon is being murdered, Wun Wun is simultaneously killing a knight whose star-spangled cloak is spattered in blood; the men are crying salty tears as they stab their Lord Commander; and as Jon lays dying, his sounds smoke in the cold winter air. Really the only thing that's missing is the burning sword.
However, the show was much more lax when it came to this level of detail. There weren't any bleeding stars present at Jon's death or his resurrection; there was no salt, no smoke (although there was some burning hair?), nothing that would seem to herald the coming of a prophesied prince. In fact, the only thing that the show's version of Jon has that the book's doesn't is a burning sword. No, Longclaw isn't literally on fire, but given that it's capable of killing those icy White Walkers — a revelation which has yet to come in the books — you could argue that the Valyrian steel blade is made of metaphorical fire.
Do these conspicuously missing conditions on the show mean that Jon Snow isn't Azor Ahai? After all, we know that the show and the books are starting to depart even more drastically from this point on — so even if that was Martin's intention, could showrunners David Benioff & D.B. Weiss have something different planned for Jon? Could they even have a different opinion on the identity of The Prince That Was Promised? (Like Daenerys, for example?)
Probably not. While Benioff & Weiss are largely working off unpublished and original material this season, they still have a general sense of where Martin's saga is heading — and changing the outcome of the prophecy isn't exactly a minor alteration like sending Jon to Hardhome instead of having that battle happen offscreen like it does in the books. It's more likely that the showrunners simply didn't feel beholden to adhere to every facet of the prophecy; it's not really a level of detail necessary for fans who haven't read the books. The show has never really fleshed out the prophecy that comprehensively, so replicating every condition wasn't really necessary.
What is necessary has already happened: Jon Snow was killed, and he came back to life. That should be enough to prove to anyone that he's destined for greatness, that the Lord of Light isn't done with him yet. And if you need further proof that Jon is The Prince That Was Promised, check out this passage from Melisandre's point-of-view chapter in A Dance With Dragons:
There was no one, even in her order, who had her skill at seeing the secrets half-revealed and half-concealed within the sacred flames. Yet now she could not even seem to find her king. I pray for a glimpse of Azor Ahai, and R'hllor shows me only Snow.
Yes. "Snow," capitalized. Are we about to find out that Jon is both the Warrior of Light and a secret Targaryen? With Game Of Thrones approaching its final two (shortened?) seasons, it's becoming clearer than ever that the show is entering its endgame.
Images: Helen Sloan/HBO; Giphy (2)