There's a time for touching, and that was not it, Ser Jorah. What could have been a sweet moment between two former companions might have dire consequences. What exactly are the parameters of the disgraced knight's affliction, and did Jorah Mormont spread his greyscale to Daenerys on Game of Thrones? If so, that wasn't very nice of him. The Queen of Meereen's fiery exit was one of the most hopeful moments we've seen in a while on Game of Thrones, but it could come with a terrible price. Greyscale is the leprosy of Westeros, and I'm starting to worry about an epidemic hitting Essos.
How do you even get greyscale in the first place? With only two known sufferers on the HBO series, that's a low sample size with which to draw a conclusion. It's definitely a more complicated process than becoming a White Walker or a wight. Maybe you only need to touch a greyscale infection, not an infected person, in order to contract the disease. Plenty of people touched the doomed Princess Shireen Baratheon, whose greyscale was contained and considered as good as cured except for her face. However, a wildling woman named Val in the A Song Of Ice And Fire books insists that greyscale never really leaves a host, and could start to spread again. Unfortunately, Shireen is no longer with us in the HBO series. Whether or not those who've come into physical contact with her in the North will end up with the stony sickness remains to be seen.
Back to more pressing matters, Jorah definitely touched his Khaleesi's hand. That's undeniable. You can see it in the photo above! She then held hands with Missandei. There was a lot of hand-touching in the final scene of "The Dance of Dragons" and I'm thinking there's a reason for it. This has been a threat ever since the Stone Men attacked Jorah and Tyrion. If we don't start seeing consequences in Sunday's finale, I would look for greyscale to be a major player in Season 6.
According to Jennifer Vineyard's exploration of the disease for Vulture, the spread of greyscale isn't even known by the characters.
"People in the world of Game of Thrones seem to think physical contact spreads greyscale, but the disease, which is mostly caught in cold, damp climates, could be airborne, waterborne, carried by parasites, or even, given its supposed origins, something magical."
We didn't see one of the stone men touch Jorah's wrist, so we can't be sure that's how he was infected. He could have contracted the disease by reaching into the Valyrian waters and/or by touching Tyrion Lannister — though that would mean that Tyrion is somehow immune, because he nearly drowned in those waters. Before the Stone Men attacked the duo, Jorah warned Tyrion not to touch them. So, clearly he knows that he is a threat to those around him, right? Is he really so out of cares? Why would he touch Daenerys in the first place? If that's some sort of subtle revenge plot, I want no part of it.
Because not only is greyscale deadly and gross, there is also no known cure, as Stannis explained to his daughter in a now depressingly touching scene earlier this season. Over the centuries, many have tried different methods to cure and maintain greyscale. Nothing worked to satisfaction — not quarantine, herbal remedies, or even the amputation of infected parts. Jorah probably won't live more then five more years now that he's been infected. So, in the event that he's casually spreading this disease to every slaver, ally, or not-so-secret crush that he's been touching for the last handful of episodes, I'd like to know!
Then again, what if Daenerys (at least) is immune? In the books, she talks about how her brother Viserys told her that Targaryens were immune to disease. This is probably not totally true, but it could extend to greyscale. The offhand comment has also lead to fan theories that a greyscale plague could be what reveals any potential secret Targaryens in the Game of Thrones universe. What if there's something magical in her blood or her connection to dragons that makes it easier to fight off this disease?
I certainly hope that Jorah hasn't doomed everyone around him. Watching a group of some of my favorite characters on Game of Thrones slowly live out their last days without realizing it is particularly brutal, even by this show's bloody standards.
Images: Nick Wall/courtesy of HBO; Giphy