“He wants to erase this world, and I am its memory” — the Night King’s goal analyzed

Sansa Jon Bran Arya War Meeting Season 8 802

Bran: He’ll come for me. He’s tried before. Many times, with many Three-Eyed Ravens.
Sam: Why? What does he want?
Bran: An endless night. He wants to erase this world, and I am its memory.
Sam: That’s what death is, isn’t it? Forgetting … being forgotten. If we forget where we’ve been and what we’ve done we’re not men anymore. Just animals. Your memories don’t come from books; your stories aren’t just stories. If I wanted to erase the world of men, I’d start with you.

In “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”, the second episode of the final Game of Thrones season, Bran Stark shone some light on the murky motivations of the Night King. The show-viewing audience had already had an idea of what he is all about: he is leading an army of murderous wights who murder ruthlessly at his command, and then he reanimates the murdered slain as murderous recruits, so when Lord Beric Dondarrion told Jon Snow in “Beyond the Wall” that the enemy was Death, that math checked out.

But the nuance that Bran brought to the battle planning table provided a new insight into the Night King and his goals. It isn’t so much that the Night King is simply a life-hating murder avatar (although he certainly might hate life as a bonus.) He might be more of a representation of something else…

He wants to erase the world, and I am its memory.

AN ENDLESS NIGHT

Night and darkness are often associated with ignorance, whereas light often represents clarity and wisdom. It’s the difference between phrases like “the dark ages” and “benighted” as opposed to “the enlightenment” and “an idea going off like a light bulb.”

The Night King is an agent of Ignorance. Of Entropy. Of the Heat Death of the Universe. He’s the reason we can’t have nice things. (And one of those “nice things” is being alive.)

If ignorance in general and a new unending dark age is the goal of the Night King, and not necessarily him orchestrating the death of every human in Westeros…

Night King: Uh, don’t rule that out too fast. I don’t want to be limited as an artist.

… then Bran being a high priority target of the White Walkers is reasonable. Bran represents the memories, knowledge, and experience of the previous Three-Eyed Ravens. It’s probably inaccurate to say hyperbolically that Bran knows everything or is the sum of all human knowledge. But he possesses ancient knowledge that isn’t recorded elsewhere. Certainly not in the Citadel, headquarters of the bookish maesters.

Your memories don’t come from books; your stories aren’t just stories.

On a practical level, this ancient knowledge could include how the Wall was first created with its foundations of supernatural wards. Now that the Wall has an Eastwatch-sized hole in it, if the White Walkers are repelled but not utterly destroyed, the knowledge to repair the Wall is critical for the future. This makes Bran a one-man institution of memory, something Sam encountered before when he was interning at the Citadel hoping to become the Night’s Watch’s resident maester. While Sam was at the Citadel, he had a very similar conversation to the one featured with Bran.

Archmaester Ebrose: We are this world’s memories, Samwell Tarly. Without us, men would be little better than dogs.

702 - Oldtown - Citadel - Sam, Ebrose 3

The Citadel is a more traditional repository of knowledge, and the maesters in Oldtown were not receptive in considering the existence of the White Walkers, let alone allowing White Walker Slayer Sam Tarly to have access to their accounts of the Long Night and what secrets those volumes might have. If the Night King is not stopped and wants an endless night, he and his horde at some point will shamble and scuttle to Oldtown to extinguish the beacon light of the Hightower and destroy the Citadel. But Oldtown is far away and the threat from the maesters is dubious as they doubt and argue.

And Bran Stark is nearby.

THAT’S WHAT DEATH IS, ISN’T IT? FORGETTING … BEING FORGOTTEN.

The association of death and forgetting has been encountered before, when Arya Stark spent time as a hostage with the undead Lord Beric Dondarrion in the Riverlands.

Lord Beric: Every time I come back, I’m a bit less. Pieces of you get chipped away.

It’s a bit more detailed in the books, that when Lord Beric is resurrected over and over, he is aware that he has forgotten things. Important things.

Can I dwell on what I scarce remember? I held a castle on the Marches once, and there was a woman I was pledged to marry, but I could not find that castle today, nor tell you the color of that woman’s hair. Who knighted me, old friend? What were my favorite foods? It all fades. Sometimes I think I was born on the bloody grass in that grove of ash, with the taste of fire in my mouth and a hole in my chest. Are you my mother, Thoros? — A Storm of Swords, Arya VII

Beric Dondarrion 802 Season 8

People build monuments as a means to preserve memories and to confer a kind of immortality on those they’ve lost. The North follows the Old Gods, and that religion has no mentions of an afterlife. A person lives on in songs or they do not live on at all. It was a pleasant counterpoint in the episode where Winterfell was preparing to face Death, that Podrick Payne sang about Jenny of Oldstones, whose story is largely unknown to the readers but always seems to have an emotional impact on characters in the story of A Song of Ice and Fire. Jenny is long dead, and yet still alive in song and memories.

The Lords of Winterfell took a more concrete approach in being immortalized, and are entombed in crypts beneath Winterfell, with stone likenesses to remind their descendants of who they were and what they were. The Kings of Winter.

The Wall that defines the border between the civilized North and the savage beyond is itself a monument to memory. It was so over-engineered and built on such an immense scale, lasting thousands of years, its size must have been intended not only to keep out the White Walkers, but to communicate its basic mission to all who see it. If the caretakers of the Wall were to die or abandon their charge, the notion would remain that someone built this structure to keep something out. Something terrible and unusual. Even if the particulars could not be remembered, the message would be clear.

Wall - Castle Black 1x02

The North is an intrinsic opponent to the Night King and his agenda. Not just because it is geographically close to the Land of Always Winter, but because of the North’s nature.

The North Remembers.

HE’LL COME FOR ME. HE’S TRIED BEFORE. MANY TIMES

Bran’s account that the Night King has tried before to kill the Three-Eyed Raven on more than one occasion brings out several questions. The fact that there have been multiple Three-Eyed Ravens is not a surprise, since Bran himself appears to have been selected to replace the aged man nestled in weirwood roots north of the Wall. It’s not hard to speculate that there was a Three-Eyed Raven that Bran’s predecessor had replaced, and one before that, with memories and experience passing down through the ages.

But the implication is that the White Walkers had been active in some capacity since the Long Night of Old Nan’s tales and through the present.  That the White Walkers did not totally retreat from the world eight thousand years before at the end of the Long Night.

Instead, some kind of low-scale (but high-stakes) conflict had been going on between the Night King and the various Three-Eyed Ravens, pitting attendant Children of the Forest and creatures like Benjen Stark against mindless wights and White Walkers. With gifted replacements summoned from the south to travel across treacherous territory, possibly encountering long-dormant wights who’d been planted under ice and snow like ghoulish landmines, to find a weirwood-rooted Three-Eyed Raven and have the mantle passed on.

Bran and Three-Eyed Raven

Was the Last Hero of Old Nan’s stories the first Three-Eyed Raven, having repelled the White Walkers during the first time they invaded the lands of men, with their hungry dead and their ice spiders as big as hounds? Or was the Last Hero just one in a series of vigilant greenseers? Or completely unrelated?

The history of the lands north of the Wall has become more interesting with these revelations. But will this all just be history? Will there even be a future now that the current Three-Eyed Raven has come south, from the traditional Children of the Forest redoubts to Winterfell, with the Army of the Dead in pursuit?

IF I WANTED TO ERASE THE WORLD OF MEN, I’D START WITH YOU

Bran Stark is not only the victory condition for the Night King; he’s the lure to expose this long-standing nemesis to a counterattack. Just as the Night King yearns to kill Bran Stark, to destroy the knowledge that humanity needs access to, Jon Snow intends to kill the Night King when he comes for Bran.

Bran will be guarded by Theon Greyjoy and his Ironborn, which is not bad from a symbolic perspective. If the Night King is Death, the Ironborn’s dogma states that they have already defeated death. The Drowned God achieved victory over Death ages ago and conferred that status to his faithful and violent followers, who drown themselves and are revived by the resuscitation of their Drowned Man priests.

Theon: What is dead may never die, but rises harder and stronger.

Unfortunately, the Night King literally commands the dead, who have risen harder and stronger as well. When symbols and reality clash, symbols rarely win.

Bran Stark will also be guarded from afar by dragons, once thought dead but brought back into the world by Daenerys Targaryen. The dragons can not only provide a check on the Night King’s undead mount Viserion, but more importantly can be used to whisk Bran away from danger. And that might make all of the difference.

Bran is the prize. If the Starks and Targaryens can’t win the battle of Winterfell by destroying the Night King, the second-best option is to simply not lose. If things go badly, and things likely will, the only avenue left might be to remove Bran from the danger and fight some other day.

This does not bode will for everyone else at Winterfell. They’re all expendable and not everyone can be evacuated on dragonback. But possibly it won’t be that dire.

bran-stark-1

Bran is the prize, and where he goes the Night King and his army will follow, with the Night King leaving any other low-priority targets behind.

And forgotten.

Is that what death is? To be forgotten?

Not always, Sam Tarly. Not always.

107 responses

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    1. This has gotten me thinking of all the other times reading, writing and the general imparting of knowledge has been highlighted:

      * At the height of “Stannis the Mannis” phenomena, when we were all rooting for him to win, we get a scene where he tells Sam, “Keep reading, Samwell Tarly.”

      * The focus on the Book of the Kingsguard, with Jaime pondering it. (Can’t remember if the show mentioned Barristan updating his own book before fleeing, which is badass)

      * Tyrion and his “Books are to the mind as a whetstone is to a sword” routine

      * Even last episode, where Tyrion is the only one that thinks to say, “So…um, WHAT?” to Bran.

      * One of the most beautiful and tragic surrogate child-parent relationships was forged over Shireen teaching Davos to read.

      * Joffrey destroying a beautiful book.

      I love this analysis. Nice work here.

      *

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    2. “That’s what death is, isn’t it? Forgetting … being forgotten”

      That bit reminds me of the movie Coco; the dead simply fade away to nothingness when there’s no one left alive to remember them, and that’s what Héctor was trying to

      What if the Night King wants a new world where nothing from the old is remembered and start everything anew?

      Yeah, sorry, I just woke up lol.

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    3. LadyGoodman:
      I just wish The Night King or Viserion were in the Episode 3 preview.

      I don’t think we’re going to see them in 803. Something is up. Seems to “clean” for them to plan out baiting NK to the Godswood and have him show up there. In think he sent a good portion of the AotD to wreck havoc and kill as much as they can while he’s up to something else. If he does show up, I don’t think it’ll be until very late in the battle or the end of the epsiode. They’ve made it a point not to show NK/Viserion since the last scene of Season 7.

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    4. The dragons can not only provide a check on the Night King’s undead mount Viserion, but more importantly can be used to whisk Bran away from danger. And that might make all of the difference.

      Makes me think of the former Three-Eyed Raven telling Bran he wouldn’t walk, but he would fly. We all assumed he meant via warging, but it would be cool if ended up being literally true, too.

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    5. Fan theories were better, so he wants to kill all humans but what about those across the seas? and then what does he do sit about in the cold not talking and just sitting,
      has to be more to it,
      i really hated sams speech it was so out of place and corny, too much fan service is making him a snowflake

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    6. also if he wants bran just give him over, the creepy dude can save them all, just take him somewhere and leave him, the night king can have him and they can all go back to arguing over soup

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    7. sellsword,

      He was created by the Children for the purpose of killing all humans. That’s what we see him doing. There’s no higher purpose to it, it’s an end unto itself.

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    8. I realize this is off-topic, but something is bugging me, and I have to talk about it. In one of the teasers, we see a clip of Jon and Dany in Dragonstone. James Hibberd has said all of the footage and photos we’ve seen are from episodes 1-3. So, that then means that Jon and Dany go to Dragonstone at some point during episode 3. I mean, that is pretty telling. I’m shocked they’ve put that footage out there!

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    9. Mr Derp,

      Strong possibility that there is more than one Night King. Note the cave paintings on Dragonstone where the Night King there is depicted with a beard. I always though that was odd but you may have hit the nail on the head. Every time we have seen the Night King in the show he is clean shaven, why would they illustrate him with a beard if he is the only one?

      Why change his appearance arbitrarily over time?

      I wonder if the creation of the Night King in Bran’s flashback could have been the creation of a second Night King after the first was defeated at the end of the Long Night?

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    10. Sean C.,

      yeah i know, but if he kills bran life doesn’t stop, that is the flaw in the whole story, death wouldn’t care if a three eyed raven or not, he comes for everyone, yet they are saying he is coming from bran, just to stop him being a voyeur , what does that do, surely there is more to it, and i think there is its just were not being told, either yet or because of books and prequels etc,

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    11. My biggest question after the War Council reveal is…

      Does the Night King have to be the one to kill the Three Eyed Raven, or does he just prefer to be the one to do it?

      We saw him personally kill the Brynden Rivers 3ER, but could any of his wights or the other Walkers have done the job? There’s obviously more than enough wights and Walkers at Winterfell to do the job without the Night King needing to expose himself.

      I don’t know if I’m fully on board with the “NK to KL” theory, but I am sure the NK isn’t going to be playing along next week.

      OFF-TOPIC:

      Get a load of this bullshit.

      https://www.vox.com/culture/2019/4/23/18512996/game-of-thrones-season-8-episode-3-battle-of-winterfell

      What a hot, steaming take of complete prejudiced bullshit. Not reading Vox’s GoT coverage anymore.

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    12. Miss Stark,

      There’s also a shot of Sansa in the daytime that we haven’t seen yet. Same with Tyrion. Both shots look like they are still at Winterfell, but it’s hard to tell, especially with the shot of Sansa. I think it’s around the 1:25-1:28 mark of the trailer.

      If these take place during the day, and we haven’t seen it yet, then it’s curious because I was assuming that they would all have to retreat from Winterfell during the battle, which takes place at night, but these shots make me question that.

      Of course, there is the possibility that I’m completely wrong about all of this.

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    13. Miss Stark,

      The bit where they are walking the halls of Dragonstone? I’m 100 percent convinced that was shot just for a trailer. Doesn’t appear in the show. And if it does, it’s not next week. No one is going to Dragonstone next week. It will all be at Winterfell

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    14. Is this three eyes ravens predecessors remind any of you of the Matrix franchise where there was multiple “The One” to reset the events or time over and over? Now I don’t think it will be like the matrix to reboot the whole storyline from thousands of years and start over, just thought I’d share some similarities between them when it comes to the three eyed raven plot. Maybe Bran can go bullet time and make the night king slow lol

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    15. HousePotterz,

      they are moaning before its begun lol, its the too dark thing i worry about, but battle wise i think it will be a mix of dragon flight scenes, death scenes, moments in battle others in fear not in battle, etc to break everything up so its not just slicing and dicing,
      the writers know this it should be good and that article is silly

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    16. Mr Derp,

      Sansa does look like she’s at Winterfell. There’s no snow on the ground for the Tyrion shot, so he could be somewhere else. Maybe they don’t all flee together and everyone gets split up in the chaos.

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    17. Miss Stark,
      Sean C.,

      There is also a shot of Sansa on the battlements wearing a dark-blue silk scarf a-la Daenerys and a shot of Tyrion standing on some muddy ground in broad daylight; neither of them seems to fit into Ep 3, too, but it’s hard to tell. The episode may include the aftermath of the battle like “The Watchers on the Wall”: it may end in a similar way without a definite victory and Jon & Dany may simply grab Bran and fly him to Dragonstone with Sansa and Tyrion watching… IDK. I’m still devastated by “The Kinght of the Seven Kingdoms” and can’t get over it:)

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    18. Thank you for the article Patrick. Wonderful as always.

      I couldn’t help but think of biblical allusions when you mentioned Bran: He is essentially the Tree of Knowledge, as a greenseer and through Weirwood trees. Some of that ancient knowledge will no doubt be good and evil/terrible.

      “If the Night King is not stopped and wants an endless night, he and his horde at some point will shamble and scuttle to Oldtown to extinguish the beacon light of the Hightower and destroy the Citadel.”

      Well, we’ll know if the NK heads there if Oldtown pops up in the opening credits next week.

      “Instead, some kind of low-scale (but high-stakes) conflict had been going on between the Night King and the various Three-Eyed Ravens, pitting attendant Children of the Forest and creatures like Benjen Stark against mindless wights and White Walkers.”

      More and more I’m reminded of Bran’s initial visions or dream when he was in a coma after the fall. I keep thinking about that passage in AGoT:

      Finally he looked north. He saw the Wall shining like blue crystal [. . .] And he looked past the Wall, past endless forests cloaked in snow, past the frozen shore and the great blue-white rivers of ice and the dead plains where nothing grew or lived. North and north and north he looked, to the curtain of light at the end of the world, and then beyond that curtain. He looked deep into the heart of winter, and then he cried out, afraid, and the heat of this tears burned on his cheeks.
      Now you know, the crow whispered as it sat on his shoulder. Now you know why you must live.
      “Why?” Bran said, not understanding, falling, falling.
      Because winter is coming.
      Bran looked at the crow on his shoulder, and the crow looked back. It had three eyes, and the third eye was full of terrible knowledge. Bran looked down. There was nothing below him now but snow and cold and death, a frozen wasteland where jagged blue-white spires of ice waited to embrace him. They flew up at him like spears. He saw the bones of a thousand other dreamers impaled upon their points. He was desperately afraid.

      It’s a long passage I know but I remember being so gripped by this “dream” and wondering who these other dreamers were. It also correlates with NK trying to kill the 3ER before – but I also wonder if he targeted potential successors and if so, how? Did he also enter in dreams or manifest in other ways? I also love this passage because the first words Bran spoke when he woke up was to name his direwolf Summer, which makes me optimistic.

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    19. Mr Derp:
      HousePotterz,

      That was without a doubt one of the dumbest articles I’ve ever read in my life.I feel dumber for having read it.

      Yeah. Miguel Sapochnik directed episodes of Thrones are many things. Boring is NOT one of them.

      If the Night King does indeed go to King’s Landing next episode, that leaves room for the living to actually win the Battle of Winterfell, or at least NOT lose. Then we might see a few of those missing trailer scenes that appear to still be in Winterfell.

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    20. I think that Bran, through his powers and visions in the past/present/future, recreated the NK to defeat him once and for all. Its kind of like the Hodor time travel stuff, but on a much bigger scale.

      I don’t know, just another theory.

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    21. There are a few things about this revelation I’m not clear about. Forgive me if I sound like an idiot. Honestly NK stuff has always had me the most baffled.

      First it’s been intimated that Bran specifically was the most important person in the world. Everyone was waiting for him. Jojen, old man in tree etc. He’d finally come though the hour was late.
      And despite the past being written-the ink dry-Bran can effect the past. So prior to him suddenly becoming 3 eyed Google, he has that ability. (NK has powers too, since he touched Bran in a vision and it followed him into his waking state, also I’m willing to bet he can greensee and that last trip to catch a wight was a dragon trap)

      Is that mark why NK was able to breach the wall with the dragon’s help? How was he able to mark Bran when he couldn’t do that with other 3ER? Are they related?

      And does that mean he can get to Winterfell-which is supposed to be protected with spells via Brandon the builder as well-because Bran is in there now?

      Secondly, Jon. The NK has had multiple opportunities to kill Jon. But a lot of intense staring goes on instead. If he greensees anything, he’s probably seen that Jon is his biggest threat in that he is determined to unite disparate factions of living to fight against NK.

      IMO there is proof that White Walkers tried to kill Jon twice before all these events really got off the ground. Waymar Royce who is the only one described exactly like Jon in the books, gets killed in episode 1 (a little before Jon joins NW), and the they attempt to kill the Lord Commander (a little before Jon becomes LC)
      I think both times they were going for Jon, but were a little off on their timing and specifics. Kind of like Mel was off with her visions.

      But the NK himself, despite all this, has never gone after Jon. He’s so good with a spear he wouldn’t have had to leave his cliff to do it at Hardhome or when they were capturing a wight.

      And when Beric told Jon they had to kill the NK, Jon stared and said, “You don’t understand.” But now his plan is to kill the NK. Because of Bran?

      I get that the NK was made by CotF to be weapon of mass destruction after destroying the arm of Dorne didn’t work. I get they appear to have lost control of the situation and then helped man later push him back to end the long night.
      I even get he’s been using free folk like Craster so he can patiently build up his army.

      I think I just felt like there was more going on, undercurrent wise, and now I’m trying to fit the puzzle pieces into place after Bran’s reveal.
      Is that the whole story, or is Bran holding something back because this upcoming battle has to happen?
      Is Bran manipulating the board? Does he still have some blind spots? Or is it all really just that straight forward?
      (PS even if it is, that’s still scary, but I can’t help wondering)

      Additional question: Will this attack explain the reasons for, “The North Remembers” “Winter is Coming” “There must always be a Stark in Winterfell”

      Oh also-The weirwood network is pretty important to 3ER and probably the NK as well. What if NK just wants to destroy that network, which would destroy unwritten memory but also maybe NK too? They were both given power via CotF.
      Am I just trying to make a show visit to the God’s Eye happen? Probably. lol

      Sorry for rambling.

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    22. Do we think that the AotD is attacking Winterfell to kill people or because there is something, some knowledge, in the crypts? Surely there is history in the crypts. Especially Stark history, which could be of interest to the NK?

      Maybe they get what they’re after and move on to the next place?

      Based on the end of e2 and preview of e3 – NK and his dragon would be at a disadvantage vs 2 dragons. Maybe he’s smart and isn’t there?
      Maybe he saw the war room planning and knows what they’re up to? With the trap?

      Maybe he just takes a direct flight to an unprotected and vulnerable Oldtown?

      Of course, by doing that, he would also destroy the only written document of Rhaegar and Lyanna’s secret marriage?

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    23. So, the big question is: WHY. We know what he wants; but why does someone want everything forgotten? His original mission was simply to eradicate humans. That in no way translates to eradicating the Children, the Giants, etc., and it does not really lead to erasing history.

      There are two obvious general explanations. One, there is something in the past that the NK wants so desperately to keep hidden that basically erasing all knowledge of the past is the only way to do it. Two, there is something about people being able to remember in general that is dangerous to the NK.

      We’ve still got one more wild-card in this: R’hllor. We know Melisandre’s coming back, and we know that the Red Church has been preparing for this war; the NK is almost certainly the “great other” of their mythology. Occam’s Razor says, look for these two things to be connected: one explanation for both phenomenon.

      (The “what” or “whats” behind the “why”, I do not know; much like “why is Trump hiding his tax returns?”, there might be multiple whys, not just a single one.)

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    24. Wimsey,

      That’s a great point. What is the motivation, and doesn’t that motivation go against the motivations of the CotF who created the WierNet? Seems to be conflicting.

      I’m also not sold on the Lord of Light. I have a suspicion that the LoL could be the NK, posing as a God to get humans to do the things that he needed done in order to get the dragon.
      Melisssndra & Co are not necessarily evil, but they were used. Pawns in his game.
      The Red Priestess scene in Mereen makes me think of this. The details she knew of Varys’s mutilation and the voice…. things a greenseer could find out. Misled Stannis to get Mel up to the North. Resurrected Jon so that he would meet Dany, etc.

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    25. Ragnarok:
      I think the Night King n his dragon will be in KL. Destroyin it n fulfillingDany’s visionin House of the Undyin.

      No way we get the BoW and NK destroying KL in 803. If NK goes to KL, where does Cersei go?

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    26. Jack Bauer 24,

      Exactly. Plus if he does go to KL, that could be a whole episode by itself.

      Wiping out the Citadel on a dragon could be a 3 minute clip at the end, similar to the Wall coming down.

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    27. Do you think the battle will be at the beginning of 803, or it’ll take a little bit for the AotD to get into WF. I know they’re right outside, but they are still a decent distance away considering how slow they move. The wights do move faster, but the WW’s are slow.

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    28. Jack Bauer 24: the WW’s are slow.

      We’ll see about that. On the show they haven’t had them show any signs of urgency in what they do. They haven’t been fully engaged in battle though either. The scenes we have they’ve let the wight attack and then they simply walked in. In the books the WW(Others) are supposedly capable of being supernaturally quick/fast and strong. I’d hope that during this battle they actually participate and show that they’re exceptionally skilled.

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    29. Awesome thinktank article Patrick, thank you for this.

      Got me thinking (shocker), what would kill the NK?

      I’m sure there has been some discussion on it but I don’t recall a whole lot.

      Dragonfire? unknown
      Dragonglass? it essentially made him, so if he took another shard to the heart would it kill or reset him back to normal?
      Valyrian steel? Kills WW but not sure about King fishstick.
      Lunch from Taco Bell? it sure puts a hurtin’ on me.

      Last thought from me, Arya’s VS dagger is still a huge question mark to me. Bran mentioned something about its prior owner. I wonder if we’ll get that answered or if it will play a role.

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    30. Wimsey: There are two obvious general explanations. One, there is something in the past that the NK wants so desperately to keep hidden that basically erasing all knowledge of the past is the only way to do it. Two, there is something about people being able to remember in general that is dangerous to the NK.

      Excellent. Ever since the attack on weirnet central we’ve wondered about the various perspectives of death in this tale and the desperate retention of knowledge/memory. I find it fascinating that the “rebirth of magic” in the world has initiated a sudden need to wipe out history and knowledge as well.

      Thanks, Patrick Sponaugle, for consolidating the death perspective within the tale. This article made my morning.

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    31. I agree with a lot of this article (a very, very good one)… but not all.

      To begin with, Bran has a point of view. That point of view is extremely important and interesting, but it is, in fact, a point of view. Will the world’s memory REALLY be lost if Bran (aka the current 3-eyed Raven) is killed ?

      To that I would answer three ways: 1. That a TYPE of memory would be lost.

      But only a type, because men have developed writing and can record what they have seen and what they have lived, however imperfectly.

      (I read a Star Trek novel back in the 1980s, “Uhura’s Song” by Janet Kagan, that made a point of how humans recorded their memories externally as opposed to memorizing them, as the feline creatures from that world would do by way of intricated, exquisite songs – I’ve always remembered that underlying point).

      2. AFAWK, Bran and the Weirwood Network only exists in Westeros. That means that the memory that would be lost would be that which pertains to Westeros, but not what happened millenia, centuries or recently in the rest of Planetos.

      While GoT (and to a lesser extent, ASOIAF) is Westeros-centric, Planetos is much bigger.

      3. I don’t know how the Weirwood Network/Greenseer/3-eyed Raven interphase occurs, but I have to bring up the Parliament of Trees introduced by Alan Moore in the magnificent Swamp Thing comics of the 1980s. The Parliament Trees was connected to the “Green”, which was a sort of network of memories shared by all plant life on Earth.

      Bran’s position seems to be that the memories of the world would be lost if he (the current 3-eyed Raven) is killed. But would they? Wouldn’t those memories remain within the Weirwood Network, waiting until a new 3-eyed Raven serves as an interphase?

      Yes, that 3-eyed Raven’s first contacts with the Weirwood Network would occur while almost flying blind…. but it’s not like Bran had THAT much mentoring.

      ****

      Very good point on how there seems to have been a low-level conflict for millenia between the Night King/White Walkers and the 3-eyed Raven/Greenseers/Children of the Forest.

      The big question is why did it escalate NOW ?

      An additional question is how big is the White Walker army. There’s a high likelihood that we will find out next week, but if it turns out to be huge, it will beg the question of why the 3-eyed Raven/Greenseers/Children of the Forest allowed it to GET that big.

      ****

      As to Dragons being able to whisk Bran away, I have my doubts about this, because if that’s the solution to the Night King/White Walker problem, why wouldn’t Dany just fly Bran to Sothoryos right now ?

      I realize that the show presented this slightly differently (Bran may be the Night King’s strategic objective, but it is also the Night King’s biggest vulnerability, since the NK and his WWs/army have to expose themselves to get to Bran…. and that gives the armies of the living a chance to repel and even defeat the NK/WWs).

      However, I don’t quite understand a lot of the strategic thinking by the armies of the living…. (at a minimum, has anybody remembered something called Wild Fire ? Wouldn’t a couple of strafing runs by Dany and Jon come in order while throwing Wild Fire down at the AoTD? Or even catapulting Wildfire at the AoTD ? ). The concept of action at a distance in warfare is not new, and it really isn’t being optimized just yet against the AoTD.

      We’ll see next week, I suppose.

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    32. Dee Stark,

      I don’t think it’s anything TOO much, but I can see why some might not want to know. Here’s the info he said in the podcast:

      Can’t get the spoiler tags to work, sorry!

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    33. Great and thoughtful analysis, Patrick. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I keep thinking how does the Citadel play into this overall story? Does the history and loss of the great Library of Alexandria give us any clues?

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    34. Miss Stark:
      6thofhisname,

      The only issue with this sneak attack on King’s Landing by the Night King is…why wouldn’t Bran know about it?

      He should be able to look AS it’s happening or see that the NK is headed elsewhere during the battle – if he looks. His abilities wouldn’t give him a clear image of what’s going to happen though.

      Miss Stark:
      Dee Stark,

      I don’t think it’s anything TOO much, but I can see why some might not want to know. Here’s the info he said in the podcast:

      Can’t get the spoiler tags to work, sorry!

      [ spoiler ] your text [ /spoiler ] <— don't use any spaces inside brackets.

        Quote  Reply

    35. Just read this comment somewhere and thought it was cool.

      Ned Stark’s sword was reforged into 2 separate swords, Widow’s Wail and Oathkeeper. Tywin gave Jamie Oathkeeper but Jamie gave it to Brianne when he tasked her with saving Sansa. Widow’s Wail went to Joffrey but when he died Jamie took the sword. It’s only fitting Jamie knighted Brianne with Ned’s old sword in Winterfell hall. It’s also fitting these 2 sister swords are back in the North protecting Winterfell. ⚔⚔⚔🐺🐺🐺

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    36. WinterRy71: It’s also fitting these 2 sister swords are back in the North protecting Winterfell.

      Ice has made its way back home, in more ways than one!

      Wouldn’t it be fitting for Jaime to make his final stand with Cersei and hear the widow wail?

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    37. Hodors Bastard: I find it fascinating that the “rebirth of magic” in the world has initiated a sudden need to wipe out history and knowledge as wel

      Hmmm: could their be some vaguely Gaimanesque aspect of things like R’hllor needing humans to remember it or strengthen it with all of those awful things that humans do? Whatever R’hllor is, it certainly has been preparing its acolytes for the NK. (When, oh when, is Melisandre going to get back?!?!) But is it the cart to the NK wanting to obliterate memory (you need things with memories to chant, kneel and murder for you), or is that why (or part of why) the NK wants to obliterate memory (chanting, kneeling & murdering all cause problems for the world)?

      It might even boil down the NK basically being the Lorax on Anger Pills: if he kills all the people, then the trees will be safe. (Sort of like Thanos, but with no Xenos Paradox issues.) Of course, R’hllor won’t like that: who will burn people for it if there aren’t any people to burn or to burn?

      However, there really are quite a few directions this could go: we can probably rule out a few trillion ideas, but that will leave us with myriad plausible ones.

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    38. Clob,

      Thanks. Let me try this again.

      He said that the episode hits the ground running with the battle and goes through the entire 80 minutes. He also said there is very little dialogue, though it is not all fighting. There is hiding, running, strategy, etc. He also said that the episode works as several mini-stories, several characters starring in their own survival stories.

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    39. JRVJ,

      Agree 100% about the wildfyre. Where is it? And Tyrion is in winterfell and knows all about wildfyre?

      It has to be in those catapults.

      The lack of talk (on the show) about wildfyre and lack of talk about lots of dead people in the winterfell crypts has me baffled.

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    40. Miss Stark:
      6thofhisname,

      The only issue with this sneak attack on King’s Landing by the Night King is…why wouldn’t Bran know about it?

      This is where things get weird, as fictional plot devices work. It’s sort of like the time travel in The Terminator universe; the more you think about it, the more your head hurts.

      What’s clear to me as I write this is that both Bran and the Night King are greenseers. How do they outmaneuver the other? I have no flipping idea. Presumably they are both keenly watching the other, and who has the edge will come down to who can deceive the other regarding their intentions.

      Unfortunately for the living, I gotta give that advantage to the Night King. He’s been doing this for a lot longer than Bran, and also has pulled Bran into a trap already (when Bran received his “mark.”)

      Whatever happens next week, I’m confident in guessing he’s not coming to the Godswood as hoped.

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    41. Jack Bauer 24,

      with some few episodes left that part will be fast n simple just like the rocks. NK is very smart n he knows for a fact Winterfell will be protect by magic, just like the three eyed raven cave n the wall.

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    42. Tobias Umber: It has to be in those catapults.

      How would they have gotten all of that Wildfire up to Winterfell? They would have had to show them stealing it from Kings Landing, or at least mention that it they’d stolen it.

      Tobias Umber: The lack of talk (on the show) about wildfyre and lack of talk about lots of dead people in the winterfell crypts has me baffled.

      We have assumed that the NK can raise any dead person. However, we’ve only seen dead raised who were (in some capacity) in the presence of White Walkers when raised. It’s vague, but there is some implication that this part is necessary.

      At any rate, there are not many fresh cadavers in the crypts. Rickon would be the freshest corpse. Ned is just bones, and most of the others would be mostly dust at this point.

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    43. Ragnarok: he knows for a fact Winterfell will be protect by magic, just like the three eyed raven cave n the wall.

      Ah, but that is not a fact. We saw demonstration of the Weirnet Hub’s magical protections as soon as we saw it. We’ve never seen anything indicating that there are similar magical protections on Winterfell.

      It’s an old drum, but I’ll beat it again: if a potential plot device has not yet been introduced on the show, then do not expect it to suddenly appear.

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    44. Great article. Apologies for the long post. A few thoughts though…

      The weirwood tree by the arrow mountain where the Night King was created looks like it is completely dying out. I found this very odd considering other weirwood trees beyond the wall were full of life and color. You can briefly see this weirwood tree when Bran encounters the NK in the weirwood network vision he has before getting his arm grabbed. The Night King is literally on the spot where Jon Snow and company wind up trying to bring a wight back. I don’t know if there’s any significance here but that’s always baffled me why the weirwood tree for the Night King looks to be dying out and all the other weirwood trees we’ve seen beyond the wall have looked full of life/color.

      Melisandre mentions her fate is to return and also to see Arya again. Was she specific for this return being at Winterfell or just in general in their land? This would seem to indicate whether they’d show up in E3 or later.

      The Night King can see into the future so they’d likely no any moves in advance. It’s not clear yet if Bran can yet master looking ahead. It seems hinted at he’s waiting by the Stark weirwood tree for some reason.

      In the E3 preview we can see Jon Snow will make an appearance fighting and Theon will be there as well. In both clips it looks like they are focused on a single person that they’re fighting instead of their eyes dancing all over the place like you’d expect on a wight invasion.

      Arya’s dagger seems to hold some type of special power or historical significance but it’s not really clear what.

      I don’t know what to make of the Crypts at Winterfell. Are there underground escape routes there? Is the Night King’s queen buried there and he wants to reanimate? What other magic that is hinted at does it have and what can we expect?

      The North can’t get completely wiped out in one go or how’d they even begin to take on Cersei in the remaining episodes. I’m assuming some of their forces will remain. Only other thought if they do take huge losses but somehow turn the GC against Cersei and also use any remaining Ironborn.

      Judging from E3 and previous trailers it does appear the wights eventually overpower everyone to some degree. I’m assuming the White Walker generals lined up at the front step aside and let the wights have at it. If the White Walker generals keep distance and they’re facing wave after wave of wights, how can they get at them to start taking out not only each one but the wights under their spell? I guess the first wave or two must be some sort of trick or softening them up and perhaps they get flanked on other sides. If the Night King knows the future, he’s already made counter moves to what the North plans to do. Or maybe it’s when the Night King finally shows up raising hell with the wight dragon that the tables turn for the worst.

      For the Night King possibly going to Kings Landing in E3, I don’t think this will happen because of the following. Though David Benioff and D. B. Weiss could have filmed fake scenes to throw us off.

      Behind the scenes photos for the making of this season showed Jon Snow and Cersei in Kings Landing talking. Kings Landing didn’t look damaged. It’s not entirely clear why but it appears if we take this at face value that Jon Snow goes to Kings Landing to talk to Cersei in E4 or E5

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    45. Night King Dance Party: Melisandre mentions her fate is to return and also to see Arya again. Was she specific for this return being at Winterfell or just in general in their land? This would seem to indicate whether they’d show up in E3 or later.

      She will be back, and we should not be surprised if there are other Red Clerics with her. Something that comes up several times in Season 6 is that the Red Church is pushing Daenerys as a major savior, and we know that R’hllor does prod & push its followers. (Why? No idea: but I’d bet that it’s the flip-side to the NK.)

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    46. Wimsey,

      I agree, no new plot devices… unless they’re veiled and then unveiled.

      I.e. there must always be a Stark in Winterfell

      Just thinking out loud

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    47. Wimsey,

      They made the wildfyre in KL.
      Can they not make wildfyre elsewhere?

      Or maybe they’re just not going to bring back wildfyre yet again for a big third time.

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    48. Tobias Umber: They made the wildfyre in KL.
      Can they not make wildfyre elsewhere?

      Insofar as we know, it’s one particular “guild” that makes the stuff. We know that they are in Kings Landing. We’ve never been told that they are anywhere else, and we definitely have not been told that they have a branch in Winterfell. They should have told us that a very long time ago!

      (Of course, Ramsay would have burned up most of the North if he had any of the stuff!)

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    49. Tobias Umber: When the WWs attack/get into Winterfell, I wonder if that proximity might be sufficient?

      To be honest, I don’t think that the few dead Starks would be a huge problem: they would be so badly outnumbered by the Rohirrim in Helms Deep, sorry, Refugees in the Crypts that the crumbling Starks probably could be physically overwhelmed once the shock wore off.

      The real problem at that point will be all the dead Northerners, Unsullied, Dothraki, Valemen, etc., that will be a bigger issue. Hmmm, I wonder if Wight Dothraki will still ride on Wight horses. It would be appropriate (and a bit sad) if they do!

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    50. Wimsey,

      Thanks! I was assuming Melisandre will be back with her order in tow. I just hadn’t worked out if it literally would be at the Battle of Winterfell or later before whatever happens at Kings Landing.

      My only other thought on the Night King if the dying of the weirwood tree where they were created indicates he’s dying out. Perhaps anyone Night King’s magical powers and existence only span so long. Everything now is self-preservation in addition to revenge. He’s on his dying days needing a replacement or his entire people get wiped out. Probably every thousand years (give or take) the pact meant a prince of nobility had to be given to them to replace the current Night King. Somehow the latest prince never came to replace him and slowly he started to lose his magic powers. The urgency was to find a replacement asap before they were wiped out. The only option was to go below the wall and raise hell. While Craster’s sons could provide White Walkers, only a noble prince from House Stark or other could replace the Night King. In this regard, it would parallel the 3-eyed raven needing to be replaced.

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    51. Miss Stark,

      Maybe his 3 Eyed Raven search engine requires his question to be more specific lol. He didn’t even know if Dragon fire would affect him. He didn’t stop to search for the answer to that question during the battle planning either. But it would make for a cool plot-twist.

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    52. The updated description of the Night King seems to match that of “The Great Other” from the religion of the Red god Rhyi’lorr (or however you spell it). The great other is basically the anti-red god, representing cold and death. I was very surprised we did not see the return of the Red Woman in episode 2, yet she is supposed to be able to help Jon defeat the army of the dead. If she and her followers truly believe the Night King is the Great Other, I expect her to return with as much force as she can muster – red Priests / Priestesses, the Firey Hand and other followers of the red god. Since they are comparing this episode to LOTR’s Helm’s Keep (or is it Deep?) might we see Mellissandre leading the charge of reinforcements over a mountaintop like Gandalf?

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    53. RG,

      Wimsey,

      JRVJ,
      Yes, so many questions ! Thanks for your comments. To RG’s list I’ll add: at the Fist of the First men, why did a WW look at Sam and just moved on (now, if Bran/Sam are right, maybe: “could be our guy? Um, no, just reads lots of books, not the one”?).
      The WHY and the HOW look very messy to me right now. I just gave up, and will see at the end whether we get interesting answers or it’s just sloppy writing. Certainly to me the least interesting part of the story so far, so I get content with “well, just one unclear massive threat that keeps the other plots moving on”. As for the NOW, because… ‘A book needs to start’ ? Or maybe political lies, scheming , bad politics and resulting wars just make Death stronger, for what I know!

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    54. The thing about Bran is his presence is both necessary (without him the Night King would be even more overpowered than he already is) and adds narrative…issues.

      Issues, in that we’ve never gotten a full accounting of his abilities since becoming the Three Eyed Raven. Can he only see the past? Can he see the past and the present, in other locations? Can he see the future? They haven’t (and won’t) answer these questions because if they did, and Bran could do all of the above, why couldn’t Bran just pull a Doctor Strange and tell everyone where they need to be and when?

      It’s abundantly clear that Bran is maneuvering characters on the chessboard this season, which certainly indicates that he can (and has) seen the future. Then again, we get a scene where he’s specifically asked if dragonfire can kill the Night King, and he says he doesn’t know because no one’s ever tried it. That makes it appear that he can’t see the future, or any permutations of it that depend on what’s happening in the present.

      Annnnnd my brain hurts.

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    55. AnnOther,

      Perhaps Sam “had a role to play in the great war to come”.

      I said earlier that I think the LoL is the NK. Getting people to do what he needs them to do to get a dragon. Maybe Sam was on the exempt list.

      I’m not a book reader though, so maybe this sounds ignorant. Just seems that all of the LoL actions have led to the NK getting a dragon. Ie resurrecting Jon to eventually meet Dany.

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    56. Tobias Umber,

      Interesting. Could be. Or somehow the NK needed Bran to be the 3ER and saw Sam was required to help him go beyond the Wall. And now, as someone put it, my head hurts…

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    57. There’s much to fill in gaps on what it means to destroy memories of life via taking down 3ER. Still haven’t wrapped my head around it, how the pieces fall into place.

      Turning people into wights does the job of destroying memory. Once you get enough of an army, nothing stands in your way. If all are dead, there are no memories. Do not see importance of prioritizing taking down 3ER when you have the tools to take out all of the living.
      So what’s behind this idea of wiping 3ER’s memory? It isn’t explained as necessarily a top priority to accomplish what NK is in process of doing anyway. Just wipe out castles as you go and there’s nothing one man in a wheelchair can do about it. They’ll all die and lose their memory…. and even if 3ER was last man standing, you could wait till last to get to him. Why urgency to hit him first?

      I suppose the point that 3ER knows how to rebuild the wall seems good early target to strike. But the value of dragon glass and valerian steel to destroy AOFD were never discovered by him, nor the two remaining fire breathing dragons. Those are attributed to other minds working to take down the threat.

      ‘What is dead may never die’ … well, maybe this line has far greater meaning. Maybe Theon cannot be turned into a wight. Won’t that be cool and why Bran waited for his ‘old friend’ and nodded consent to Theon protecting him.

      I’m going with that right now. Perhaps GRRM will more fully explain how green sight constitutes a major threat to the NK with his massive army capable of wiping out all in its path regardless of a wheelchair bound 3ER. I hope episode reveals the mystery because I’m not buying the weirwood net memory separates the dying from the dead.

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    58. AnnOther,

      Yes. But when you think about it, every single thing the LoL has done, has helped the NK.
      From killing Renly, to Stannis losing in the Blackwater, to Stannis north, to helping get bring peace to Mereen, to resurrecting Jon… all led to the NK getting a big pet.

      Sam Tarly, while not the LoL’s doing, I have less of an explanation for.

      Maybe that White Walker who let Sam go was disciplined in the next Night King staff meeting.

      “You did what?! Why would you do that?! You’re fired! Good luck getting another job out there!”

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    59. Olli,

      My guess is that the 3ER is the only person who can reach back into time and affect/change things. We saw Bran call out to young Ned and Ned heard him.

      That is power. Power to potentially change things in the past to make a different present. Maybe the ink is not already dry.

      Nobody else in Westeros has that power.

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    60. I was looking forward to finally seeing the Ice Spiders in E3, but now we have the NK riding Viserion, I can’t see that happening. However, I think even the CGI/VFX team would have had a problem pulling that one off!

      No elephants either with the GC, but at least we know why? They don’t travel well in ships 😉

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    61. “So, the big question is: WHY. We know what he wants; but why does someone want everything forgotten? His original mission was simply to eradicate humans. That in no way translates to eradicating the Children, the Giants, etc., and it does not really lead to erasing history.”

      Scope creep. 😉 He was created by the Children to defeat the First Men. The Children lost control of their weapon and it turned on them as well. Killing and raising giants just makes the job of killing humans easier.

      Erasing history is another outgrowth of his expanded mission. Killing everyone is one level of death-dealing; erasing their memory is the next level. Recall Sansa’s gleeful farewell speech to Ramsay.

      “Two, there is something about people being able to remember in general that is dangerous to the NK.”

      They can rebuild easier if they remember how they built. Erasing history is the NK’s insurance that people won’t return and rebuild. He already learned he had an easier time of it once the NW and the North had forgotten him.

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    62. Tobias Umber:
      Olli,

      My guess is that the 3ER is the only person who can reach back into time and affect/change things. We saw Bran call out to young Ned and Ned heard him.

      That is power. Power to potentially change things in the past to make a different present. Maybe the ink is not already dry.

      Nobody else in Westeros has that power.

      yes, this is a really good point on not just memory, but reaching back into past to change memories…. thanks! that helps my processing these ideas!

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    63. Tensor the Mage, Whose Engineering Degree Taught Him About The Difficulty Of Building Things: He was created by the Children to defeat the First Men. The Children lost control of their weapon and it turned on them as well.

      That’s “what”, not “why.” The NK is not a mindless automaton. Moreover, this is a story: and in stories, motivation is everything. So, the question remains: why; we see the pattern, but we do not know the process. What was the motivation that drove the NK to lump humans, Children, Giants, etc., together.

      One thing that we also have to keep in mind regarding even the what: Bran’s view is hardly unbiased. The NK and the Three-Eyed Raven have been enemies for a very long time. Why you think your enemy is attacking, and why your enemy actually is attacking often are two different things.

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    64. Tobias Umber: Yes. But when you think about it, every single thing the LoL has done, has helped the NK.

      I wouldn’t go that far. For one thing, R’hllor did not send Stannis: Melisandre did. Yes, Melisandre thought that R’hllor wanted that: but she basically got it wrong. THat mistake also did not really hurt the cause. (Having Renly as King might have made things better than having Cersei as Queen, as Renly would have been much more apt to put aside the war against Daenerys than was Cersei; however, Stannis as King would have been better than either, at least for that.)

      Bringing Jon back was huge for Team R’hllor. Jon is the one that got Daenerys north: and he might have been the only one. Jon also was one of the only people who could instigate a truce between Wildlings and Northerners. And, of course, R’hllor’s visions might have been misinterpreted by Melisandre: but the final result was to put her where she needed to be so that Jon could both save the Wildlings and survive to keep leading the fight.

      R’hllor also helped get Daenerys to Westeros to even give Jon the chance to persuade: its clerics were waving “Team Daenerys!” banners for years and they seemed to help put the people on her side.

      Now, if R’hllor really wanted to make itself useful, then it would engulf a legion or two of zombies in a big fire. However, one general truth about gods of any sort is that they are pretty much assholes! 😀

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    65. sellsword:
      Fan theories were better, so he wants to kill all humans but what about those across the seas?and then what does he do sit about in the cold not talking and just sitting,
      has to be more to it,
      i really hated sams speech it was so out of place and corny, too much fan service is making him a snowflake

      Oh look… it’s the “fan theories were better” cat.

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    66. “Why you think your enemy is attacking, and why your enemy actually is attacking often are two different things.”

      That’s a good point. It’s entirely possible Bran has the NK’s motivation wrong. My speculation would be that 3ER has greensight more powerful than does the NK, and the 3ER is on the side of the humans, so he’s a potential threat the NK wants to neutralize, considerations of memory secondary or irrelevant.

      I do believe you’re overthinking the NK and his motivations, though. The NK and minions are simply an existential threat, an Other (as they are indeed called in the books!) which cannot be reasoned with or negotiated away. (Hence the showrunners’ original plan, since scrapped, to give the NK and WW a language. No language was needed, because they literally have nothing to say.) Without this threat, all of the squabbling amongst humans would amount to little more than a colorful soap opera.

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    67. Tensor the Mage, Recalling How “Why?” Is A Bottomless Question: It’s entirely possible Bran has the NK’s motivation wrong.

      I don’t think that Bran even offered a motivation: Bran just stated what he thinks the NK wants to accomplish. Given the nature of this story, it’s not “Bwah hah haaa, I am evil!!!!” My bet is that Martin (like J. Michael Straczynski) has something in mind where he hopes a big chunk of the audience will go “ahh, I see what he’d feel that way.”

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    68. Night King Dance Party,

      The only option was to go below the wall and raise hell. While Craster’s sons could provide White Walkers, only a noble prince from House Stark or other could replace the Night King. In this regard, it would parallel the 3-eyed raven needing to be replaced.

      I have thought for a very long time that the NK wants baby sam to be a walker. So does he end up being the NK?

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    69. I am loving this discussion, so much to think about. Would be interesting to reread this after its all over. For now my head hurts, so good night

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    70. I’ve always been grateful that Beric is not nearly as broken as in the books. One of the best changes to the story, in my opinion.

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    71. WorfWWorfington,

      Yes to all of this.

      The Tyrion-Bran scene, although brief, was one of my favorites in Ep2. Tyrion is not freaked out by Bran and is genuinely curious (SO true to his nature). And as I noted in another thread, whatever is left of Bran in the TreeGoogle doubtlessly remembers the great gift Tyrion gave him, unbidden and without any expectation of reciprocity—the design for the saddle, so he could ride again.

      I do wonder what Bran told Tyrion.

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    72. Jack Bauer 24,

      They’ve made it a point not to show NK/Viserion since the last scene of Season 7.

      And at the end of that episode didn’t the NK fly staight on ahead way past the Dead? Perhaps this is actually a clue that he is heading elsewhere.

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    73. I really admire the energy and thought that went into many of these posts trying to figure out the NK, what he wants, what he will do next. Interesting read – some useful contribution to my own viewing.

      My views – I have nothing! The answer is what the writer wants the monsters to be is what they will be – it does not even need to make any sense. This magic stuff (including the magic people) is still something I observe rather than engage. So whatever.

      GOT for me is the human and political side of the story. There is so much “magic” among us humans, I am endlessly fascinated. The relationship stuff in Episode 2 is where it is for me. For me, the NK/AOTD is important but only to the extent that we see what this crisis brings out in the real people in the story.

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    74. I think the Night King’s motivation can be seen through the lens of the story – this story is basically the same as the AI destroys humans story. Man creates AI to bring about peace on earth. AI sees that humans are the impediment to peace on earth. AI decides best way to achieve peace is to kill all humans.

      Here, the Children create the NK to help defeat Men. NK sees only way to defeat men is to destroy men. NK tries to kill all men.

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    75. I have my own ghosts, Bran. A brother that I loved, a brother that I hated, a woman I desired. Through the trees, I see them still, but no word of mine has ever reached them. The past remains the past. We can learn from it, but we cannot change it.[3]
      —Brynden to Bran Stark

      The strongest trees are rooted in the dark places of the earth. Darkness will be your cloak, your shield, your mother’s milk. Darkness will make you strong.[1]
      —the three-eyed crow, to Bran Stark

      The memory is stored in the trees network, not in Bran, so destroying the trees would have sense, but none is destroyed.

      I don’t want to go deeper here. I am sure they changed the final season when they noticed the end would show what the sequel/prequel is all about.

      P.S.
      Its possible the NK is back as Brandon/3ER was about to die and did not longer have the power to hold the NK back.

      Most of him has gone into the tree … He has lived beyond his mortal span, and yet he lingers. For us, for you, for the realms of men. Only a little strength remains in his flesh. He has a thousand eyes and one, but there is much to watch. One day you will know.[1]
      —Leaf, to Bran Stark

      I am pretty sure Bran will need access to a tree to be able to defeat the NK.

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    76. H. Dale Sponaugle M.D.:
      Nice commentary.I am proud and envious of how you can use your grey cells.Le Roi

      It’s my dad, you guys!!!!

      Dad, if I owe my critical thinking skills to your guidance. And I owe my love of heroic fantasy stories to you, telling me about King Arthur, and taking me to see CAMELOT in the theaters when I was just a little lad.

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    77. AnnOther:
      Yes, so many questions ! Thanks for your comments. To RG’s list I’ll add: at the Fist of the First men, why did a WW look at Sam and just moved on (now, if Bran/Sam are right, maybe: “could be our guy?Um, no, just reads lots of books, not the one”?).

      The showrunners actually explained that when it happened in the after the episode segment. It’s not a satisfying answer. They basically just ignored him because he was so pathetic that he posed no threat and they were after Mormont and the rest of his crew.

      So at least we know they don’t just kill every living thing they cross paths with. If they have a target, they go after the target and anything that might be a threat to them getting their target. Otherwise, they’ll ignore you. Though they did come back for him after, when Ghost saves him. So I guess they’ll eventually try to kill everything, but they have a strict priority ordering.

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    78. AnnOther:
      Yes, so many questions ! Thanks for your comments. To RG’s list I’ll add: at the Fist of the First men, why did a WW look at Sam and just moved on (now, if Bran/Sam are right, maybe: “could be our guy?Um, no, just reads lots of books, not the one”?).

      When you see this scene it seems the WW is directly looking at Samwell, but when the camera viewpoint changes, you notice that from WW place it is impossible to see Samwell hiding.

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    79. Tensor the Mage, Whose Engineering Degree Taught Him About The Difficulty Of Building Things:

      Scope creep. 😉

      Lol I’ve had that training

      They can rebuild easier if they remember how they built. Erasing history is the NK’s insurance that people won’t return and rebuild.

      This reminds me of Valyria- can’t remember if it’s show or just books that they indicate it was more advanced than “current” civilization in Planetos.

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    80. Noirgirl,

      It might, in that the great Library wasn’t lost in one fell swoop (as popular myth has it), but rather, dwindled away over the centuries for numerous reasons including (of course) politics and lack of funding. The same has happened in Oldtown, once the capital of Westeros—but now a quaint port town with a library overseen by quaint old men puffed up by visions of their own importance.

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    81. Another great article Patrick. I am of the opinion that the Nights King will likely be defeateted in episode 3 or 4, in order to resolve the human rivalries Jon/Dany/Cersei. Given that the battle of Winterfell is now upon us I doubt we will get any more backstory or clarity to his intentions but I truly hope he goes out in style, likely killing Theon who heroically tries to save Bran.

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    82. Miss Stark:
      I realize this is off-topic, but something is bugging me, and I have to talk about it. In one of the teasers, we see a clip of Jon and Dany in Dragonstone. James Hibberd has said all of the footage and photos we’ve seen are from episodes 1-3. So, that then means that Jon and Dany go to Dragonstone at some point during episode 3. I mean, that is pretty telling. I’m shocked they’ve put that footage out there!

      I don’t believe the clip is from Dragonstone, both James Hibberd and the person who leaked the trailer dropping (time and content) stated everything was from the first three episodes and they’ve been ultra secretive not to give anything away what happens beyond tonight.

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    83. I suppose then that the books are so much more comprehensive than the show; Bran’s contention that the Night King wants to kill him to kill ‘the memory of the world’ doesn’t carry for the facts of the matter in the books.

      First, the Others are very much alive, as GRRM has said before, they’re just a different type of life, as in maybe not organic, maybe crystalline in nature, or different elsewise. Also, fisherman and traders out of Eastwatch by the Sea do, on occasion, see Others on the shore from their boats. This suggests to us the Others are always around, they are not trying to kill all Wildlings or tear down the wall because they’re just not interested in it. This is actually one of the biggest mysteries in the story: why is the Others’ behavior changing now when it’s been regular for thousands of years?

      Second, the Three-Eyed Raven. We still don’t have much textual evidence that his ‘second sight’, ‘oracular vision’, ‘clairvoyance’ – call it what you will – isn’t limited by the range of the carved weirwoods. Even if the Others swept through the whole of Westeros, the great majority of people live in Essos and the most magnificent civilizations in that world are located there.

      Lastly, I think we may need to remind some folks that the FM, before the Andals came, had a writing system of runes that was used largely only in ceremonial contexts and only a small slice of the population could read it. This is why ravens were trained to speak their messages. The Citadel existed long before the Andals came, but they actually wrote very little. Rather than looking at the maesters today as the ‘traditional book learning’ as against the ancient and ‘environmental’ knowledge of the Three-Eyed Raven, what I think we’re seeing is a tension in the how the maesters perceive the dissemination of knowledge itself, and their own historiography. For a long time before the Andals, the maesters worked to stoke the fires of learning, but they did so within the confines of an oral cultural tradition. The written word has not changed their fundamental purpose, but the media through which it is pursued. The true binary in the maester’s mind about learning isn’t ‘what we teach vs. what ancient entities know’ but ‘the way we shared through speech vs. the way we share through text’.

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