Judging by the euphoric reactions on Twitter, fans loved it when Jon and Dany finally hooked up on Game of Thrones during the Season 7 finale, titled "The Dragon And The Wolf." It's weird to say, but after seven years of watching two main characters who are twins engage in a sexual relationship, viewers are probably a bit accustomed to incest on the show. And compared to siblings, an aunt/nephew pairing — between two people who don't even know they're related — doesn't seem nearly as weird. To some, Jon and Dany's sex scene was less about incest and more about watching the long-awaited consummation of a fan-favorite 'ship, however weird it all feels. But no matter which way you come down on the issue, the Jon and Dany sex scene on Game of Thrones was a very dark moment… and bodes ill for the eighth and final season. Yes, the incest weird and uncomfortable, but we also need to talk about the political ramifications of a Jon and Dany romance, so I'm going to focus on that here.
Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss warned viewers of that much in their "Inside the Episode" segment which aired after the finale. Weiss makes it clear that the revelation of Jon's true parentage is "an information bomb" that will blow up everything about the way he sees himself — and the way the rest of the characters see him as well. "Just as we're seeing these two people come together, we're hearing the information that will inevitably, if not tear them apart, at least cause real problems in their relationship," he says. "And she's his aunt."
In the clip, Benioff agrees. "It complicates everything on a political level, on a personal level, and it just makes everything that could have been so neat and kind of perfect for Jon and Dany, and it really muddies the waters," says Weiss' co-creator.
The interesting thing is that Weiss' comment almost makes it sound like the incest aspect of Jon and Dany's relationship is an afterthought. While it will undoubtedly come as a shock to find out that they're related, Dany always grew up assuming and fearing that she would be forced to marry her brother Viserys someday. (He only sold her to Khal Drogo out of desperation for an army, otherwise he probably would have married her himself.)
But even outside of the Targaryens, it's not uncommon in Westeros for cousins to wed. The definition of "incest" in the fictional kingdom seems pretty strictly limited to immediate siblings. Yes, Dany is Jon's aunt, but that's much closer to cousin than sibling, she's much closer to his age than their parents' generation, and they didn't grow up as aunt/nephew. So while Jon may be a bit thrown at first, it doesn't seem like the whole "incest" angle will have to be too big of an obstacle if the writers don't want or need it to be — not that this will make their family ties easier to deal with as a viewer.
What's infinitely more interesting are the political ramifications of this revelation. Dany has staked her claim for seven seasons on the (erroneous) idea that she's the sole surviving member of the Targaryen dynasty. How will she react when she learns that not only is there another Targaryen out there, but there's a Targaryen with a better claim to the Iron Throne than her own? Dany has become increasingly prone to burning her enemies without mercy; what will she do to a man whom she perceives to be standing between herself and her rightful kingdom?
"But wait," you might be thinking. "What if Jon simply chooses not to be king of Westeros?" It's true that he has never shown much desire to rule; he was only elected Lord Commander of the Night's Watch after Sam stumped for him, and he only accepted the mantle of King in the North when it was thrust upon him, and because he wants to save the North from the impending invasion of White Walkers. But he has no reason to want to rule the Seven Kingdoms… unless, of course, honor compels him.
If Jon has a flaw, it's that he's honorable to a fault — much like his surrogate father, Ned. If Jon feels like duty demands that he accept the mantle of king, regardless of his own desires, then he'll do it, consequences be damned. This is the man who couldn't even lie to a mortal enemy for one second in order to convince her to join the fight against the undead. Will he really choose not to accept his destiny once his true parentage is revealed to him? Would he even see that as a choice at all? Or would he go about the job of being a monarch with the same grim determination with which he's faced every challenge thrown his way?
Of course, all of the tension between Jon and Dany would be solved if they took the logical course of action and got married. That way, the issue of succession wouldn't matter; they could rule together. But they might simply be too shaken by the incest news to immediately consider such an option. And even if they did get married, such an alliance would come with its own inherent set of problems.
People like Tyrion, Jorah, and Missandei have flocked to Daenerys' side based on her promise to "break the wheel" once she conquers Westeros — to stop the cycle of the powerful running roughshod over the powerless in their never-ending game of thrones. But a Targaryen wedding siring a Targaryen offspring who would take the Iron Throne after the death of their Targaryen parents sounds an awful lot like spinning the wheel, not breaking it. How will Daenerys' followers react if she breaks her promise?
The Jon/Dany scene included a shot of a troubled Tyrion for a reason. Beyond the personal question of whether Tyrion is in love with Dany or not, there's the political question of how the Hand of the Queen will react to what is essentially a betrayal, were she to marry her nephew and relaunch the Targaryen dynasty. Earlier in Season 7, he tried to get Dany to address the matter of succession, suggesting democratic ways of picking a leader, like the elections of the Night's Watch or the kingsmoot of the Ironborn. If Dany ignores his advice, she could find herself faced with a revolt from the very people who have carried her all the way from the Dothraki Sea to the shores of Westeros — perhaps led by her own Hand, jealous over her love for Jon and stung by her betrayal of her own promises.
So while the Jon/Dany scene felt exciting and satisfying in the moment, it's easy to see why the showrunners are warning fans that it could also signal very dark things to come in Season 8.