He Needed This Tragedy

by Mallory Schlossberg

Valar marghulis, indeed. Much to our horror, Jon Snow lost Ygritte in Game of Thrones' Episode 9, "The Watchers on The Wall," but unfortunately, he needed this to happen. That dramatic ending as Snow went off into that not-so-gentle Westeros night? It never would have happened had he not lost his audburn-haired lady. As awesome of a character as Ygritte was — and sad as we are to see her go — this moment turned Jon Snow from a romantic hero into a take-no-shit, stone-hearted fighter.

Because let's face it: we all love Jon Snow, and he's been our most eligible bachelor in Westeros, but he hasn't done that much lately other than slit that d-bag Karl's throat and warn people that the Wildlings were going to take Castle Black. (Spoiler: He was right.) Those Wildlings sure as hell came, woolly mammoth and all. We've waited for his big fighting moment, and we knew it would be coming, and not just because Kit Harington said that this was Jon Snow's big season. It is his season indeed, thanks to this episode. He made a major change.

Here's why: Other than the fact that Jon Snow is a disparate Stark kid (anyone miss Bran? No? Just Hodor? Thought so), we hadn't seen him thoroughly enmeshed in the titular game of thrones — until now. In the game of thrones, you win or you die, but you veer closer towards winning when you learn the reality of the world and endure loss. We saw Daenerys start playing back when she lost Khal Drogo, we saw Cersei become more vengeful than ever when she lost Joffrey, we saw Sansa start to play when she started to realize that there was little to nothing left for her, and the only reason we ever met Oberyn was because he was playing in order to avenge his sister's death.

The Watchers on the Wall were not supposed to play. They weren't supposed to care; they were just supposed to do their job. The Night's Watch entered the Watch as a testament to the fact that they were giving up everything; they singlehandedly admitted that their sole purpose on the face of the Earth was to fulfill their duty. That was all Jon Snow was resigned to have, but he had more. He knew more. He broke his vows, and knew that beyond the endless massacres and bloodshed, there could be something more, even if Ygritte had stuck an arrow through him as her version of a break-up text.

So when Ygritte died, we saw Jon Snow harden and all of a sudden start doling out duties as stone cold orders. We saw him become strictly about business. Since he assumes his family is gone, and now he has lost Ygritte in front of his very own eyes, he feels there is nothing left, so why not risk it all and try to kill Mance? Why not go out there alone? If he can't even have the tiniest twinge of the promise of love, then all he has left, indeed, is his service to the Watch, so he'll go ahead and do it. In fact, now he can. Sam said it himself — he was scared to fight because he had someone to care about (Gilly), but when he killed the White Walker, he was nothing, which is why he was able to do so. Now Jon can kill the Mance, or at least, feel okay risking it. Why? Because he has nothing left to care about other than his duty.

So now, Jon Snow really knows something. He knows that if you put your heart into something, you won't win in Westeros. It's better to be cold, feel nothing, and go out into the cold alone. Winter was always coming, and he knew that. And now? He's like, "valar marghulis, bitches."

Image: HBO