Bran Stark: The Long Fall

branface

In the first episode of Game of Thrones, young Brandon Stark climbed to the top of Winterfell’s walls with a specific purpose: the retinue of King Robert Baratheon was nearing Bran’s home and the young Stark wanted to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the approaching southern royal host.

Years later, Bran Stark is back at Winterfell, literally watching through the eyes of birds as the undead retinue of a decidely non-southron king shambles into the kingdom through a breach in the ancient Wall.

Much has changed for Bran. Where he once was the privileged second-son of a mighty lord able to roam care-free about the massive playground that was Castle Winterfell – now he spends his days never far from Winterfell’s gloomy heart tree and with the heavy weight of destiny on him. Bran now has great power, with the responsibilities that accompany it.

Bran’s story first picked up speed when he unexpectedly discovered the queen and her brother Jaime Lannister having an affair. This information was so dangerous that Jaime, breaking the rules of what is expected of welcomed guests, tossed Bran from Winterfell’s heights, putting him into a coma.

Jaime: Unfortunately, these Starks are hard to kill.

Soon after his fall, Bran began to experience mysterious dreams that featured a black-feathered, three-eyed bird. Surviving an assassination attempt and escaping from a captured-then-razed Winterfell, Bran’s dreams were interpreted for him by Jojen Reed, the young son of Ned Stark’s stalwart bannerman Howland Reed.

With Jojen’s guidance, Bran traveled into the far north, where he finally met face-to-face with the old tree-bound wizard who had been sending these dreams.

RootedRaven

(Max Von Sydow played a less-creepy version of the character in the sixth season.)

Bran: You’re the Three Eyed Raven.
Old Guy in Root System: I’ve been many things. Now, I am what you see.
Meera: My brother – he led us to you, and now –
Old Guy: He knew what would happen. From the moment he left, he knew. And he went anyway.
Meera: How do you know?
Old Guy: I’ve been watching you. All of you. All of your lives, with a thousand eyes and one. Now you’ve come to me at last, Brandon Stark. Though the hour is late.
Bran: I didn’t want anyone to die for me.
Old Guy: He died, so you could find what you have lost.
Bran: You’re going to help me walk again?
Old Guy: You’ll never walk again. But you will fly.

There’s a fair amount to unpack from Bran’s first meeting with the Three Eyed Raven, and honestly not much of it is reassuring on examination.

The Three Eyed Raven’s language is particularly fast-and-loose, not to mention defensive. He doesn’t give Bran a straight answer on who he is, although I don’t think he isn’t the person behind the mystical bird that had come to Bran in dreams.

When Meera brings up her brother Jojen, the old man cuts her off as if to not dwell on or be accountable to any personal cost that she’d paid. And then he directs the focus onto Bran.

“Now you’ve come to me at last, Brandon Stark. Though the hour is late.”

As if Bran is at fault for the tight timetable. It almost sounds as if the Three Eyed Raven is saying that lazy, procrastinating Bran should have made his way up the continent to the weirwood cave, starving and trudging through the wilderness, much earlier than he had.

Bran seemed to sense some of this blame falling on him, but he was a few notes behind in the measure, still tracking along with what Meera had been about to say about Jojen Reed’s death.

“I didn’t want anyone to die for me.”

And then the Three Eyed Raven pulls off a bait-and-switch.

“He died, so you could find what you have lost.”

Whoa, Nelly! This is great news! Since Bran lost his ability to walk, that’s the only thing that could be meant, right? Wrong. When Bran (who has leapt to that exact conclusion about his lost mobility) specifically asks if he’ll walk again…

“You will never walk again. But you will fly.”

Bran never had the ability to fly, so it’s not like that’s what he’s lost. Doesn’t quite jibe properly with what was said before. I’m not trying to dismiss the value of what the Three Eyed Raven is offering: to train Bran in magic. But it feels like the old wizard lured Bran up to his cave under false pretenses and possibly hollow promises.

It’s not like Bran, now essentially trapped in the cave, will refuse whatever Faustian bargain is being presented. What choice did he have?

Wights

Three Eyed Raven: Sure would be too bad if you decided to leave, and walked over another squad of the undead, waiting under the ice. Sure would be unfortunate.
Bran: Fine. But this is beginning to sound like Skullcrusher Mountain by Jonathan Coulton.

And so, Bran began a crash course in expanding his consciousness: connecting to the weirwood-based network of information available to the Three Eyed Raven, as well as distributing his perception across the raven-based surveillance network.

A reasonable question might be: what’s the tuition fee at Westeros Hogwarts?

Magic Has A Price

Okay, Game of Thrones isn’t ABC’s Once Upon a Time, where the Rumpelstiltskin character is contractually obligated to say “All magic has a price, dearie” at least once every other episode. But magic requiring some kind of sacrifice has been touched on before in the show.

Mirri Maz Duur: Only death can pay for life.
Jaqen H’ghar: The Red God takes what is his, little girl. Only death can pay for life.
Melisandre: Hear us now, my Lord. To you, we offer up this girl. That you may cleanse her with your fire and that its light may lead our way.
Mirri Maz Duur: Wow. I thought I was the scary witch on this show.
Jaqen H’ghar: A woman in red is the worst.

So, what sacrifices will Bran be expected to make, in exchange for power?

Maybe nothing. In a sense, it’s possible that he’s already paid a price. It seems rather significant that the Three Eyed Raven started coming to Bran in his dreams after Bran suffered terrible injuries in his fall. Why would that be? Coincidence?

Let’s consisder that there might have been no way for the old wizard to contact Bran, until Bran’s sleeping mind was awakened as a result of the fall and Bran’s coma.

Bran did already have a connection to the supernatural – in some ways all of Ned’s children (and Jon Snow) had a touch from the Old Gods by virtue of their direwolves. Bran’s comatose state and latent mystical potential might have been what was needed to bring Bran more into the spiritual realm, to bring down the barriers to communication. In that case, we might think that Bran’s injuries were a down-payment on magical teaching. Bran paid the price already.

The other Stark kids (to greater or lesser degree) have mystical connections with their wolves, and although Jon and Arya (in the books) have had wolf-dreams like Bran experienced in Season Two – only broken Bran has had the vivid dreams that appear to be sent by the Three Eyed Raven.

Rickon: Don’t forget about me! I had prophetic dreams!
Me: Whoa, that’s right. I almost forgot about you.
Rickon: Story of my life…

Rickon Stark makes it a harder sell that Bran absolutely could not have been a recipient of magical telegrams before his fall. And Jojen Reed seemed to have been given much more information from the Three Eyed Raven, enough to act as the wizard’s go-between and the travel agent for Bran.

three-eyed-raven

Is it more likely that the Three Eyed Raven chose to spam a child’s dreaming mind with unsolicited offers because this particular broken child was vulnerable? Vulnerable and desperate?

“It was just a lie,” he said bitterly, remembering the crow from his dream. “I can’t fly. I can’t even run.”
“Crows are all liars,” Old Nan agreed, from the chair where she sat doing her needlework. “I know a story about a crow.”
— Bran IV, A Game of Thrones

Dark Wings, Dark Words, Dark Warnings

Being a vulnerable and sad child, unable to block out messages from the Three Eyed Raven, it’s no wonder Bran was receptive. Despite all the warnings he received from the women in his life.

Old Nan: Crows are all liars.

Old Nan didn’t necessarily have all of the context with Bran, but she had opinions about crows, real or in dreams. Don’t trust them.

Bran began to have more raven dreams on the road, before meeting up with Meera and Jojen Reed. Jojen joining Bran’s group provided the young Stark with a confidante with whom he could share his dreams (figuratively and literally – since Jojen also had been appearing in Bran’s dreams.) These were conversations that he could not have with his wildling protector, Osha.

Osha

Osha: Were you inside the wolf again, little lord?
Bran: No. It was the three-eyed raven. It’s back. I tried to kill it, but I couldn’t. And there was a boy –
Osha: I don’t want to hear about it.
Bran: But you asked.
Osha: We’ve got plenty worries. No need calling black magic onto us.
Bran: I didn’t ask for black magic dreams.

Osha might be superstitious and generally wary of the mysterious and unexplained, but in the Season Three dialogue above, we can see that she makes a distinction among Bran’s mystical situations. Bran warging into Summer is something that she’d talk to Bran about, but she wouldn’t discuss dream-visitations from a dark bird with the wrong number of eyes. That was too much for her, and her reluctance wasn’t something Bran heeded.

After Bran and his companions meet Jojen and Meera Reed, Bran receives another warning. In a dream.

In Bran’s familiar dream forest, he and Jojen are observing a raven with three eyes, up in a tree.

Jojen: You have to go after him.
Bran: How?
Jojen: You know how.

Bran climbs the tree, to a thick branch where the raven rests. Then things get complicated. A dream version of Catelyn Stark appears behind Bran.

Catelyn: Brandon.
Bran: Mother!
Catelyn: How many times have I told you? No climbing.
Bran: Mother, I need to find it. It’s here. It’s calling me.
Catelyn: I want you to promise me. No more climbing. Promise me!

The scene ends with Bran falling, reminiscent of Bran’s fall from the old tower at Winterfell in the first episode of the show. In that episode, Catelyn Stark had expressed her displeasure with Bran’s hobby of parkouring around the castle; so Catelyn showing up in Bran’s dream to berate him for climbing seems to be consistent with her character.

But why is she in Bran’s dream at all? If we assume that the Three Eyed Raven is architecting these dreams, then he’s deliberately putting in a red flag warning to Bran: his mother implicitly saying to stop going towards the goal that Jojen is urging him towards.

BranLookingUP

Now, maybe the Three Eyed Raven isn’t completely in control of Bran’s dreaming, and this dream-Catelyn is being generated by Bran’s own subconscious (which means Bran on an instinctual level is not trusting Jojen and the raven), or that some other supernatural entity that’s unfriendly to the Raven is causing this. But this doesn’t seem to be the handiwork of the Night King, or R’hllor, and I’d be very surprised if the New Gods were real and that this was proof of their supernatural presence.

If we return to the idea that Bran’s dreams were being managed by the Raven, then there’s a fairly sinister implication. The Three Eyed Raven has admitted to have been watching Bran all his life. He’d know of Catelyn’s issues with Bran climbing, and with Bran’s habitual breaking of promises to his mother on that topic. He’d know that dream Bran would not take Catelyn’s warnings to heart, and by having Catelyn push Bran from the tree, would cause Bran to distrust any feelings of doubt about trying to find the Raven.

It was fortunate for the Three Eyed Raven that Osha was unwilling to venture north of the Wall, and she and her forbodings could be separated from Bran. (It was unfortunate for Osha that Bran suggested she take Rickon to the Umbers.)

The idea that the Three Eyed Raven might have been manipulating Bran calls Jojen’s participation into question as well. Jojen certainly seemed trustworthy: the direwolves explicitly gave a show of approval when Jojen first met Bran.

Jojen

But Jojen himself might not have had any ill-will towards Bran to register on the direwolf threat-radar. And the direwolves might not be good at detecting plots from the Three Eyed Raven, to be honest. Like Bran, the Raven was a powerful warg. There are theories that the Raven directed the mother direwolf to travel south of the Wall in the first place.

So Jojen might have Trojan Horsed his way into Bran’s trust, to lend some credentials to the Three Eyed Raven’s overall reputation.

The Old Bran’s Not Here Right Now – He’s Dead

Near the start of the seventh season, Bran Stark had returned to Winterfell, although all but one of his companions who had traveled with him from Winterfell and ventured past the Wall were dead. Osha, Rickon, Summer, Hodor, and Jojen all died before Bran could return to his home.

Only Meera Reed saw Bran through the North, past the Wall, to the cave and back again. With Bran safe at Winterfell, Meera came to an interesting conclusion.

Meera: Bran.
Bran: I’m not really. Not anymore. I remember what it felt like, to be Brandon Stark, but I remember so much else now.
Meera: You died in that cave.

Meera is not all that wrong, although the cave isn’t where Bran died. Bran still largely seemed himself when his undead uncle Benjen saved the pair of them during the escape from the Night King’s forces, and brought them to the Wall safely. At that point, Bran used a nearby weirwood to unpack some of the bundled up experiences that his mentor had apparently prepared for him.

The next time we see Bran, negotiating passage through the Wall at Castle Black, he’s different. Kind of vacant and creepy.

In the show, the Three Eyed Raven says that he’s been waiting for a thousand years for Bran. (Let’s save arguments about his age for the comments, book readers.) If we take that as given, a millennia of experience and knowledge has been poured into the mind of a young boy.

Who we are is largely defined by our memories of who were were. Once Bran’s native memories became outnumbered by the memories of an old man (or possibly the memories of a series of Three Eyed Ravens) – Bran Stark effectively ceased to be. The person staring out through Bran’s eyes was no longer Bran.

BranHome

In other words, Bran Stark might have been manipulated into venturing into the wilderness on false pretenses, to his doom. And some ancient psychic vampire has come instead to Winterfell, inhabiting Bran’s body and enjoying the privilege of being the Lord of Winterfell. (More or less. At the very least, he’s the brother of the Lady of Winterfell.) A bit better than existing in an ancient body, embedded in tree roots.

Winterfell: Bran’s Last Stand

Regardless if we consider Bran Stark the new Three Eyed Raven, or we consider that he’s the old Three Eyed Raven inhabiting Bran Stark’s hijacked body, it feels like his being at Winterfell will be important in regards to resolving the threat of the Night King.

Although I’ve cast the Three Eyed Raven in a somewhat sketchy light, he appears to be in opposition to the Night King and the North does need all the allies they can muster against the threat of the White Walkers. We don’t know much about the motivations and drives of the White Walkers, but we’ve seen the Night King prioritize an aggressive response to Bran Stark when their enhanced perceptions interacted in Season Six, marking Bran magically and bringing the White Walkers and a horde of wights to the Raven’s weirwood cave refuge.

Although I think it would be strategically smart for the Night King to more or less ignore the North, and just march futher south to where the populations are –

  1. larger,
  2. more densely concentrated,
  3. not arming themselves with dragonglass

– I don’t think the Night King will be able to avoid dealing with Bran Stark first.

We’ve already witnessed the priority he put on attacking Bran, and other than Melisandre there is no other magical opponent that he might consider an immediate threat to neutralize. Although I can see the Night King putting the land of the North in the rear view mirror, to be conquered after recruiting a million souls from metropolitan King’s Landing, I would wager that the Night King would not leave the North while the Three Eyed Raven was free to act.

BranAndTheDead

But what can Bran do about a huge army of fearless wights? So far, we’ve only seen him look into the past, or use ravens to keep track of the Night King’s troop movements. (There’s some debate if Bran can see into the future – but even if he can, future visions are often spun as “seeing potential futures” instead of absolute destiny.)

But I think it is fair to speculate that Bran can do something. That he has access to magical tools that raises his threat level in the icy blue eyes of the Night King.

The Children of the Forest laid down their lives for Bran. Benjen Stark was convinced that his nephew would uncover what he needed to do. This implies that there was something that Bran could do.

Maybe this was a something that the Three Eyed Raven, alone in a cave at the edge of the world, was unwilling or unable to pull off. In his isolated cave, he was a withered husk bound to a tree – a tree surrounded by bones. (Maybe the old Three Eyed Raven had been trying to get something going, ritually, but the sacrifices at hand were just insufficient.)

At Winterfell, the new Three Eyed Raven has family. One of whom, Bran knows, has the magical blood of kings.

“There is power in a king’s blood,” the old maester had warned, “and better men than Stannis have done worse things than this.”
— Jon I, A Dance With Dragons

Since magic has a price, the price might have to be paid at Winterfell.

BranWithKnife

Magic, besides being costly, is also hard to control. In the books, GRRM has an excellent visual phrase about magic:

“Sometimes the short road is not the safest, Jon Snow. The Horned Lord once said that sorcery is a sword without a hilt. There is no safe way to grasp it.”
— Jon X, A Storm of Swords

We’ve seen time and again magic being used to solve problems but with less-than-ideal results. Khal Drogo’s health was returned, but not with his mind intact. Stannis’s sacrifice of Shireen gave him favorable weather, so he could march to Winterfell to be slaughtered. The Children of the Forest magically created the White Walkers to use as a weapon against their human foes, but found their creation a weapon that cuts both ways.

I’m not trying to say that Bran Stark will be the big bad in Season Eight, but we should be at least somewhat skeptical of his intentions as the Three Eyed Raven.

Alternatively, Bran’s story in Season Eight might feature Bran Stark’s triumph over the Three Eyed Raven. Bran is still in there, just buried under alien memories and experiences. This would be especially relevant, if the Three Eyed Raven is planning to do something big and awful.

Jaime: I could always drop him from a tower again… just sayin’
Me: Hey. No.

BranInWindow

Jaime Lannister is on his way into the North. We know that Bran has seen visions of himself falling from the tower, but the memory of how he came to fall has not yet been explicitly replayed in a vision. I think it would be narratively satisfying if Jaime Lannister showing up in Winterfell jogged that memory, and it had the effect of shocking Bran’s personality to emerge more strongly, subverting any plans of the Three Eyed Raven.

Jaime: And … you’re welcome.

Is there enough time in Season Eight, the last six episodes left to us, to reveal a dark and complicated spin on Bran’s magical hero’s journey? Maybe, maybe not. We know he’ll at least have a role politically, with the knowledge that he and Sam Tarly have in regards to Jon Snow’s true lineage.

But there really should be some kind of resolution to the conflict that was initiated between Bran and Jaime Lannister, so long ago. And the more unexpected the resolution, the better.

So I’m hoping we’ll all keep an eye on Bran Stark. With a thousand eyes, and one.

42 responses

Jump to (and Always Support) the Bottom

    1. Hodor? (and how appropriate is that considering the topic)

      Mmm, interesting ideas. I agree there needs to be some resolution to Jaime/Bran, and find the idea that Benjen was the catalyst for the change intriguing. Just not so sure 3ER has ulterior motives – tho tbh, we have no idea what his motives are except to keep the NK away from the wall

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    2. It was unfortunate for Osha that Bran suggested she take Rickon to the Umbers.

      Yes, if only they’d gone to Bear Island instead.

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    3. Thank you so much for another stellar essay, Patrick!!! It was a wonderful accompaniment to this vampire’s morning coffee. 😉

      I’ve written it before, and I will repeat myself: I look forward to the Jamie-and-Bran reunion almost as much as the Hound-and-Arya one. It holds the promise of being the most thematically rich reunion of all, and, whatever happens, would be a spectacular bookend to the first incident that shocked and gripped us (both viewers and readers).

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    4. Patrick Sponaugle ,

      This is so insightful! I’ve always had vague misgivings about the Three-Eyed Raven, although I was always inclined to view him as basically good and I’m intrigued by his backstory (= Bloodraven, the infamous Targaryen bastard/mastermind/kinslayer who also had the blood of the First Men through his mother). You’ve so nicely laid out why we should be skeptical about his motives and methods.

      I think your point about the 3ER’s intentions regarding Jon (or anyone else with King’s blood who crosses his path) is a very good one. LF giving Bran that ancient dagger was a very odd incident in the S7 plot, and although it subsequently being the instrument of LF’s execution was a small bit of irony, that weapon seems too significant (and possibly magical?) to have LF’s death be its primary reason for being featured in the narrative. And it’s been strongly connected to Bran, through the assassination attempt years ago (one attempted murder which LF probably had nothing to do with), and later when LF dropped it in his lap. Hm.

      I also think your suggestion about Jaime’s return to Winterfell jolting Bran so that he emerges from beneath the weight of the 3ER’s memory load is very plausible and would be very fitting, for both characters.

      Wow, so much food for thought – thank you!

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    5. I’m very interested to see what happens with the Jamie/Bran reunion. Although I expect (like most people I think) that Bran isn’t going to hold a big grudge against him given that he’s “not really” Bran anymore. He’s got bigger things on his mind now, and he can probably see that Jamie will be a valuable ally in the fight against the WW.

      How will Brienne react if she also finds out I wonder? It might add a bit of drama to their relationship, but as long as Jamie expresses enough regret over it their bond will remain strong.

      I’m also very curious to see what role Bran’s powers will have in the fight against the NK. I hope it’s more than just information gathering or spying. Warging into a dragon (Viserion)? Warging into the NK himself while Sam performs shardectomy?

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    6. Interesting topic to explore. Thx.

      I also had trouble with 3ER’s “I’ve been waiting for a 1000 years” comment. As folks know, Bloodraven (3ER) is one of the Great Targ Bastards and one of the most mysterious, manipulative and vicious characters in Westeros since before Egg. (80-100+ Planetos years ago). His disappearance as LC of the NW over 50 years back is also one of the great mysteries. Given that show-only spoiler line, could Bloodraven actually have been one in a long line of proxy 3ERs awaiting the “transference of power” to Bran? But could his Targ motives still be in play?

      I’ve noticed this intriguing Targ-Stark relationship for a while now. 300 years back, Torren bent the knee to Aegon and the North was spared the devastating wrath of Aegon’s Conquest. That was specifically mentioned in the show. 75 years back, Dunk and Egg (aka Aegon) made a mysterious trip to WF that hasn’t been fully divulged (maybe in the upcoming 4th D&E novella). Then Rhaegar fell for Lyanna at Harrenhal and eventually ran away together to create Jon (another Aegon). Then Bran met BR and formed a bond and Jon/Aegon met Dany and formed a bond. Targ-Stark, Targ-Stark.

      Hmm…the magic returning to the world…Starks burning, Targs wiped out, dragons born, obsidian candles alight, R’hlorr fire/light magic/power coming to Westeros, direwolves born…and after Aegon/Jon was born, the WW became restless again. Jon went north with Benjen. Benjen/Coldhands was “saved” by the CotF (per 3ER’s influence?) from WWs/wights. Jon faced the NK, who exhibited a pause and sense of respect for Jon. Jon was rezzed by Mel with R’hlorr’s help (and maybe another?). Jon and Dany discover the CotF/WW history, undead Benjen saved Jon, and Bran/Sam uncover Jon’s history. And now Bran is presumably going to face the magic of the NK at WF. Hmm…

      Although nothing is certain, I do believe these historic Targ-Stark bonds are leading to a great reveal of the NK and a great purpose behind these many Targ-Stark bonds.

      Thx for the writeup, Patrick. It got me spinning, for better or worse. 🙂

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    7. Hodors Bastard,

      There really aren’t many links between the two families, historically. Indeed, the Starks are largely MIA from the histories of the Seven Kingdoms under the Targaryens, because they’re fairly isolated up north. Indeed, every other great house, arguably, is more closely tied, save perhaps the Greyjoys.

      The show also completely ignored the Three-Eyed Raven’s backstory, so I don’t think that matters either.

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    8. Sean C.: There really aren’t many links between the two families, historically.

      But that was my point…when the two families get together, interesting things happen. The Song of Ice and Fire! 🙂

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    9. “How many eyes does Lord Bloodraven have?” to which the answer was “A thousand eyes… and one…”

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    10. Great write up! I wish the 3-eyed Raven had a more mysterious and sinister feel to him like his book counterpart, the 3-eyed Crow. It would make things more interesting. I assume D&D just didn’t exactly know where GRRM was going with him, and since there wasn’t any mention of Brynden Rivers in the show it would’ve confused non-book readers to introduce him. Oh well.

      I did like that little nod to (maybe) Dark Sister when Meera grabbed a random sword in the cave that she left with. I very much doubt this will come up in S8, but I enjoyed the speculation it caused.

      Bran is definitely the biggest mystery to me in S8 though. I can see how other character storylines will probably play out, but with regards to Bran’s importance in saving humanity… I don’t know. The only thing I can think of is that his warging ability will prove to be very helpful in the end. Hopefully D&D will introduce something totally new to really blow out socks off. I assume he will have to change the past in a BIG way, and maybe that is why Benjen tells him he is essentially humanity’s last hope.

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    11. “Warging into the NK himself while Sam performs shardectomy?”

      I’ve been thinking it would be more of a green-seer battle of wills, as they interfere with each other’s visions. Bran, being more powerful, eventually shows the NK the vision of his creation by the CotF. He reminds the NK he was once one of the First Men, just like Bran (who has the blood of the First Men in his veins). “After 8,000 years, wouldn’t you rather finally rest?” Bran implores. Meanwhile, in the physical world, Sam, escorted by No One, gets closer and closer to the NK…

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    12. Thank you for the fantastic article Patrick! The initial meeting between the Three-Eyed Raven and Bran was one of my favourite moments of that season, especially with Djawadi’s haunting “Three-Eyed Raven” score in the background.

      It’s interesting, I never really considered the Three-Eyed Raven being duplicitous or tricking Bran – I just interpreted his behaviour being a result of only having the CotF for company the last few hundred of years, and yes, the memories of the previous Green Seers. I do remember that in AGoT, as Bran was dreaming of falling for the final time before awaking from his coma, he was recalling the fact that he was pushed from the tower:
      “A face swam up at him out of the grey mist, shining with light, golden. “The things I do for love,” it said. Bran screamed. The crow took to the air, cawing. Not that, it shrieked at him. Forget that, you do not need it now, put it aside, put it away.”

      I always wondered about the significance of that moment, and now that you have mentioned a potential resolution between Bran and Jaime, it really becomes plausible that perhaps it will affect Bran in a way that may bring a piece of his former self. Well, I hope at least. I also think that Bran will play a significant role, and as others mentioned, I think there is a possibility for him to warg into the NK himself – which is something perhaps the previous Three-Eyed Raven(s) could never accomplish.

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    13. Tensor the Mage, Who Always Appreciates a Word or Phrase You’re Unlikely To Read Anywhere Else says:

      “Max Von Sydow played a less-creepy version of the character…”

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    14. ash,

      I do appreciate your reservation about the 3ER, that he might not be as bad as I’m shading him. Totally understand. (My article was kind of wishy-washy with me not fully committing that he’s a monster…)

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    15. Hodors Bastard,

      Thank you for bringing in so much of the Bloodraven and Targaryen content into the comments. When writing these features, I tend to just go with show revealed stuff.

      Like everyone else, I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s going to happen with Bran in the books, and what’s Bloodraven’s game.

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    16. Sean C.,

      I mostly agree. It’ll definitely be more important in the books than the show, since we have no backstory really for the Bloodraven analogue on screen.

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    17. Winter’s Widow:
      “How many eyes does Lord Bloodraven have?” to which the answer was “A thousand eyes… and one…”

      I was sad that we didn’t get the more dramatic presentation of Bloodraven on the show, with one of his eyes gone.

      It prevented me from paraphrasing the line and going with this:

      “How many eyes does Brandon Stark have? A thousand eyes, and two.”

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    18. Jaehaerys,

      Thumbs up, Jaehaerys. I’m trying to keep my hopes and expectations in check, since we are only going to get six episodes, but most are supposed to be long, like 90 minutes long, so I’m hoping each episode can go deep on things.

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    19. I felt a little unwell with 3ER in the show, didnt’t really think/feel, he were evil, but a kind of… distant, unemotial, unhuman, mostly interested to rid himself of his burden to Bran.
      But there was no time to lose, we saw it by ourself.
      And I felt sorry for Bran, to lose his personality, his soul, to become a power tool for a divinty/fate/what-you-call-it…

      “He died, so you could find what you have lost.”

      What did Bran lose?
      He lost his legs.
      He lost his parents.
      He lost brothers and sisters.
      He lost his direwolf.
      He lost home.
      He lost everything, a child needs, even in an medivial world.

      What could he find?
      No, legs, but wings.
      No parents, but a teacher (3ER).
      No brothers, but a cousin and two sisters again.
      No direwolf, but magic skills
      No home, but a place to be.

      As far as Bran was shown “intact”, he was a restless child, longing for further and higher, an explorer, who sought to look from above at the world.
      He lost his physical ability to fullfill this longing, but the 3ER opened the way even to look from above through times and places.

      It wasn’t fair the way the 3ER did, as Patrick stated above, but: there was no time to lose.

      (Excuse me please – it’s late and I’m a bit puzzled by my own thoughts)

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    20. Poetic?
      Thank You :o)
      I felt, that I cobbled words and thoughts together – pitiable sight.
      I’m no native speaker/writer, words don’t come easy (as somebody sang).

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    21. cos alpha:
      Poetic?
      Thank You :o)
      I felt, that I cobbled words and thoughts together – pitiable sight.
      I’m no native speaker/writer, words don’t come easy (as somebody sang).

      Cobbling words and thoughts is exactly how I wrote this feature, so don’t feel bad about that. And thank you for these comments, I appreciate the feedback and your interest in the article.

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    22. Enjoyable and insightful read. Thank you. The 3ER skews more malevolent than benevolent to me, as well. And malevolent is probably too strong a word. I see him as someone who has been given a Sisyphian burden and just wants to pass it off to someone else, even a child, before it is too late,

      It will be interesting to see if Bran stays aloof and mystical when the battle for The Dawn heats up, or if it spurs what’s left of Brandon Stark of Winterfell into action.

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    23. Winter’s Widow,

      I second that– posts that analyze a single character/family are always my favorites. Especially when they discuss book and show aspects! Keep on keepin’ on, Patrick. Crank ’em out.

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    24. that was an interesting read, thank you very much! also, the comments add interesting thoughts. i should be sleeping now, but if i go to sleep now, i’ll forget all of the thought fragments that come to my mind. so this will be more sth like short notes than a real comment going deep into anything. forgive me!

      – someone mentioned how Brienne might react when she gets to know about the thing Jamie does for love. i don’t remember if Tyrion knows. did Jamie ever tell him? anyway, once the truth is out Jamie will have a completely new set of cards and i wonder if they are good.

      – two former servants of houses that turned out to be enemies of the Starks helped Bran dealing with the physical handicap. Tyrion constructed the special saddle that made Bran “yahooo” for the last time ever. and former Bolton employee Maester Volkan constructed a wheelchair. this is how tired i am right now: i try to keep my brain away from interpreting these facts as a hint to any possible historic Stark – Brynden Rivers interactions or tensions or whatever i don’t remember now…

      – i like the idea i’ve read in some comments by some writers now: that the 3ER is some sort of spirit or whatever wandering from body to body as it’s necessary. will Bran be the last 3ER?

      there were at least two more points on my mind ten minutes ago. all hail CET for keeping me from getting started. good night!

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    25. …that the 3ER is some sort of spirit or whatever wandering from body to body as it’s necessary. will Bran be the last 3ER?

      The 3ER does indeed seem to be more than just a human user of magic. To me, at least, he seems to be a minor deity from very ancient days of Westeros, needing to reside within a human form. (“Warging” for the duration of the human host’s life?)

      I imagine Bran will be the last 3ER, as the magic leaves Westeros for good. In fact, I expect him to revert to being just Bran at the end of the story. (Albeit with some truly amazing memories!)

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    26. LadyGoodman:
      Enjoyable and insightful read.Thank you. The 3ER skews more malevolent than benevolent to me, as well. And malevolent is probably too strong a word.I see him as someone who has been given a Sisyphian burden and just wants to pass it off to someone else, even a child, before it is too late,

      It will be interesting to see if Bran stays aloof and mystical when the battle for The Dawn heats up, or if it spurs what’sleft ofBrandon Stark of Winterfell into action.

      I am glad you also kind of feel a non benevolent vibe from the 3ER – hopefully it is just a vibe, or our innocent Bran can kind of grab more control.

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    27. Winter’s Widow:
      Patrick Sponaugle,

      I LOVE posts like these – please keep em coming!!

      That is very kind of you to say!

      As long as I can come up with an interesting take, I will submit these kinds of essays to Watchers.

      I will have to step up and go weekly when Season 8 hits.

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    28. death by chickenfire,

      Thank you for your thoughts, especially since you were tired. Tyrion probably strongly suspects Jaime was behind Bran’s fall, and Brienne might know. Jaime confessed it to Lady Catelyn at the end of Season 1 (in the books, I believe Brienne was there for that, since it was part of the same conversation where Catelyn released Jaime into Brienne’s custody.) But Cat might not have told show-Brienne this info. We didn’t see it happen, and a Brienne has never brought it up.

      So I would not think it implausible either way, for Brienne to already know, or to be surprised and distressed by the news.

      Great comments, thanks!

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    29. Thanks for this interesting post, Patrick Sponaugle. It seems to me that, although most of the build up to the war focuses on Daeny and Jon, it is Bran and Arya together who who hold the key to defeating the NK.
      Old 3eyes was certainly aloof, but I never sensed a threat, only that he wanted to make sure there was a replacement before the NK got to him, and time was short. Perhaps we will get some insight through more flashbacks from Bran in s8.

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    30. 3eyes,

      Hmmm. Interesting perspective “3eyes” — hmmm.

      🙂 I agree. It would be cool if Arya and Bran, the two children who got invited to two magical schools of study, are the combined key to winning the day. That way Jon and Dany can concentrate on the secular fight and everyone gets to be relevant.

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