Last time around we discussed Bran Stark AKA the Three-Eyed-Raven being even more than what he seemed — in particular, evidence suggesting he was also R’hllor, the entity commonly referred to in-show as the Lord of Light.
This time we delve into the repercussions of Bran’s stature on Jon Snow and what the potential endgame for Bran might be.
Bran is manipulating everything like some uber-Littlefinger
“[It’s] all but obvious at this point, Bran has been manipulating the plotline the entire time,” Reddit user DontMicrowaveCats says in in-depth theory post. “He knew exactly how to kill the Night King, because he set the trap himself. While warging during the battle, he was likely manipulating events to lead to the final conclusion.”
“Everything [Bran] has done has revolved around getting the dagger to Arya and getting her safely to the NK. That plan was set in motion all the way back in Season 1.” In this light, the dagger, an integral plot element to the series’ first season, becomes an even more revelatory one to the series’ overarching narrative. If you remember, the same dagger used to kill the Night King last episode was used by the catspaw assassin in S1 in an assassination attempt on Bran and subsequently sparked the War of the Five Kings.
“All of the war and death that was sparked because of Bran. He knew it would happen, but he saw how the alternative story lines would play out, where the Night King wins. He sacrificed whoever he had to for the good of the realm. All of the ‘magical Lord of Light moments’ that are supposedly the God’s work, are actually Bran manipulating the past, resurrecting people and making sure Arya got the knife and made it to kill NK.”
DontMicrowave brings up the following as key examples of Bran’s plan matching the Lord of Light’s actions throughout the show:
- Beric getting brought back to life so many times….it wasn’t the s----y priest saying a prayer. Both he and [Melisandre] said he shouldn’t have that power. In fact, it was Bran bringing him back to life so he could help Arya during the battle.
- The Hound surviving. Septon Ray told him he thought he was a corpse. He also told him that he pretty much died multiple times while he was recovering, but he kept coming back to life. After he comes back to life, he’s fighting for good. Again, hound ended up a key figure in getting Arya to the NK.
- Jon coming back. No evidence again to suggest [Melisandre’s] prayer did it. She completely gave up, and he didn’t come back to life until a while after.
- The trench lighting on fire…again, it didn’t seem to be [Melisandre’s] words that did it. You could see she was getting frustrated/confused when it wasn’t working at first. It was actually Bran summoning fire.
- Lord Varys hearing the voice in the flames after he was cut….which is said to be what lead to him ending up in King’s Landing and rising to power. After that scene with the priestess in the Pyramid, it cut to Bran’s face.
So what does Bran being the Lord of Light or his essential agent portend for the rest of the show? For one, Bran/3ER’s new stature could figure decisively towards the rest of Jon Snow/Aegon Targaryen’s storyline. Before we get into that though, we need to revisit a quote from George R.R. Martin himself in an interview with Time Magazine wherein GRRM brought up the character of Beric Dondarrion to reiterate the dichotomy of ice and fire in the series.
“… He’s not a living human being anymore,” Martin said. “His heart isn’t beating, his blood isn’t flowing in his veins, he’s a wight, but a wight animated by fire instead of by ice, now we’re getting back to the whole fire and ice thing.”
Which begs the questions: If Bran dies does Jon Snow automatically perish with him, a la the Night King and his resurrected minions? And if Jon Snow is merely an automaton of Bran Stark, how does that factor into his relationship with Daenerys? Is there really love there or is there union a manipulation of Bran? (Strange shower thought: How does a fire wight with no “blood flowing in his veins” gather the necessary gusto to summon the one-eyed-trouser-dragon for his aunt?)
But more importantly, what is Bran’s/3ER’s motive now that the White Walkers, the supposed overall threat towards humanity has been wiped out? For the answer to that, we revisit the origin of Bran’s transformation.
Weirwood trees, Children of the Forest and Liars
“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.” — A Game of Thrones – Bran IV
If you remember, the Children of the Forest actually created the Night King by plunging a dragonglass dagger into his chest at the heart of a weirwood tree (Game of Thrones S6E5). There is some key connection between the weirwood trees, the Children of the Forest and Bran which has still yet to be fully revealed in the show.
“Bran’s powers are strongest by the Weirwood trees,” DontMicrowave explains. “Aka the ‘Heart Trees’ The trees were worshiped by the First Men (and Children of the forest?) as gods. They’re known as “Heart Trees”. The lord of light is also known as the “Heart of Fire”, with a symbolic heart.”
Could Bran/3ER be puppeteering the denizens of Westeros and Essos like some uber-Littlefinger for the benefit of the Children of the Forest? Yes, according to Redditor mbj16.
“The evidence in favor of this theory is simply overwhelming,” mbj says. “The Three-Eyed Raven was previously Brynden Rivers; a spymaster, the last greenseer and commander of the Night’s Watch until he disappeared beyond the Wall
Beyond the wall, he had “merged” with a weirwood tree that heightened his abilities and gave him unnaturally long life, ultimately becoming the Three-Eyed Raven. Here he sat for years, dreaming, warging, plotting and scheming while he waited for Bran. We know in the books he is very likely responsible for Jon becoming Lord Commander and if the theory holds, much more. Curiously, Leaf, one of the last CotF and the Child that created the White Walkers, serves him.
A bit of backstory on the history of the CotF and the war against men from “Children of the Forest vs. the First Men” a special feature from Game of Thrones: The Complete Sixth Season:
“War did not come to Westeros with men. In the dawn of days the Children of the Forest fought the giants. But neither race sought to destroy the other or their claim to the continent. They couldn’t; the Children hunted and fought with dragonglass arrows and spears and the giants had hold of the branches they pulled from trees. Nor could both races fill more than one of the Seven Kingdoms of today.
But then the southern deserts coughed up a new race; the First Men, who had crossed the Narrow Sea over the Arm of Dorne. Unlike the Children and giants, the First Men lived in huts and villages and farmed the land to eat, and there were so many. As their numbers swelled, men needed ever more fields and timber. Of course, they saw that the great forests could provide both.
When they cut into the deep woods, however, they stumbled on a strange sight; a white tree with red leaves and a face staring back at them. At first they were afraid, but the face never spoke even when the axe bit into it. The First Men didn’t know what a weirwood was. They didn’t know that a weirwood grows forever if left in peace. Or that the native Children believed their spirits went into it after death. The Children had no letters or runes; all of their history, songs, and prayers only the trees remembered. When the Children looked at the cleared fields, they saw not white stumps but their ancestors now lost forever, with their bones stolen to line the invaders’ walls. Driven mad by grief, the Children attacked.”
Interesting to note the parallel between the First Men wiping out the weirwood and essentially the Children of the Forest to the White Walkers wanting to “erase the memories of men,” according to Bran in S8E2. Back to mjb’s theory:
So the Three-Eyed Raven, the last greenseer and former spy master becomes intertwined with the collective consciousness of the CotF, the people who were massacared and destroyed by men. It has been established through Hodor that the powers Brynden and Bran hold can transcend space and time and influence the past. We know the Three-Eyed Raven cares and is involved with the prophecies and events of men that aren’t directly related to stopping the White Walkers as seen by the focus on Jon’s parentage and the shadow of a dragon over King’s Landing
It would make no sense for Leaf, the very same Child that created the White Walkers as a weapon against men, one of the last remaining CotF who watched her entire species and the spirits of her ancestors destroyed by men, care about or want to help men and their prophecies
The simplest and easiest explanation for the above is that the Three-Eyed Raven (formerly Brynden Rivers and Bran) is being used as a tool of the CotF for their greenseeing and skinchanging powers in their war against the men of the Seven Kingdoms.
Of course, maybe the preceding is all extreme tinfoil speculation and instead the showrunners will subject us to three drawn out episodes involving Cersei and Euron as inexplicable tactical deities that outsmart our heroes at every turn for shock value.
We’ll see when Game of Thrones S8E4 (which, big surprise, leaked earlier today) airs tonight at 9PM EST on HBO.