A lot of people used to think Brandon Stark was the Ultimate Villain of Game of Thrones. They thought he was the Night King.
I don’t think Bran is the Night King — but I do think he’s the “Ultimate Villain” of Game of Thrones, and I’m going to break down why! Also, let me be clear, I don’t think BRAN is the Ultimate Villain — I believe the Three-Eyed Raven is, and at the same time, I do not believe it to be a villain at all, nor do I believe it to be “evil.”
The Three-Eyed Raven’s people, the Children of the Forest, were living peacefully from the dawn of time — until they were unjustly attacked by the First Men. If anyone has justification for an attack, it is the Children of the Forest and The Three-Eyed Raven… but we’ll get there… stay with me.
HEAVY SPOILERS THROUGH THE FINALE OF GAME OF THRONES LIE AHEAD. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
I saw a comment last evening, and it really snapped it all into place for me. Let me post the comment I saw for you, and they’ll well analyze this.
Someone asked on a video “Where’s Bran during the two most anticipated battles in human history” — and the answer is great…
“What do you mean where? Exactly where he wanted to be, observing all the foolish humans killing each other, rubbing his hands together, as everything was going according to the plan. Their rogue weapon dealt with the human scum beyond the wall and was dealt with in turn. The insane girl destroyed the southern power, and in a way that ensures her own demise. Now it’s time for the other insane girl (or the idiot boy, doesn’t really matter) to dispose of her. Then it will be their turn.
He kept telling the idiot humans he’s no longer Bran, but they ignored him. They always ignore what they don’t understand. Now they will all die. The Children of the Forest will be avenged.”
Take a second, and pick your jaw up off the floor. OK, now let’s look at an analysis of The Three-Eyed Raven’s actions just here in the final season.
Meeting Aegon Targaryen and Daenerys the Destroyer (The “Savior” of the North and The Conqueror of the South)
Daenerys and Jon arrive at Winterfell, and Jon’s first move is to go and embrace what he thinks is his brother, Brandon Stark. What is Jon and The Three-Eyed Raven’s first exchange since the last time he saw him? (Mind you, the last time he spoke to Bran, Bran could still walk!)
JS: “Look at you, you’re a MAN!”
Jon sure didn’t know what to say to that… so he said nothing. Then he reunites with Sansa, and introduces Dany, and The Three-Eyed Raven is instantly authoritative.
3ER: “We don’t have time for all this. The Night King has your dragon, he’s one of them now. The Wall has fallen, the Dead march south.”
OK, nothing that you think he’s on the wrong team. No problem.
Seeing The Future and Laying the Groundwork for Dany’s Mental Illness
Next, The Three-Eyed Raven is going to prove he can see the future. Samwell gets done hearing from Daenerys that she nuked his father and brother, and stumbles outside, unstable in grief. Sam approaches and asks The Three-Eyed Raven “What are you doing out here?” It is for the first time this season that The Three-Eyed Raven shows he’s able to see the future as well as the past, as he replies…
3ER: “Waiting…for an old friend.”
He KNOWS Jaime Lannister is coming to town. He’s seen the future. He then chooses THIS time to tell Samwell that it is his duty to tell Jon the truth about his parentage.
Sam: “No… You’re his brother. Shouldn’t you tell him?”
3ER: “I’m not his brother. He trusts you more than anyone. NOW’S the time.”
The Three-Eyed Raven KNOWS this is the one person Jon will believe without questioning.
OK… let’s analyze this for a second. Sure, The Three-Eyed Raven knows he isn’t Jon’s real brother anyway, but Jon doesn’t at this point. He still thinks The Three-Eyed Raven is Brandon Stark, and that he is his half-brother. It is another subtle hint that The Three-Eyed Raven is no longer human at all. He doesn’t say “I’m not his brother, I’m his cousin…we’re family, but we’re not that close…” or anything like that. He knows that this is the one way he can be sure this information is received and accepted as fact. Anyway, this isn’t the truly important part of this scene…
The much larger issue is that The Three-Eyed Raven has seen the future — WHY IS THIS THE TIME? We know now, through the benefit of having seen The Long Night end, and also The Scouring of Kings Landing, that it was definitely NOT the time. We’ve seen what The Three-Eyed Raven saw. How did Jon knowing he was the heir help during The Long Night or The Scouring of King’s Landing? The answer is simple:
Going into the Battle of Winterfell, FOUR individuals know Jon’s identity. Jon, Daenerys, Sam, and The Three-Eyed Raven. This information is of absolutely zero tactical value during the Battle of Winterfell, and actually affects Dany’s mental state, to where when she sees the Dothraki being slaughtered, she stops the original plan and goes flying off on the Dragon… thus making Jon fly off on the Dragon. No one else knows. No one else knows after the Battle of Winterfell, either… so there was NO ADVANTAGE GAINED by Jon having learned this information before The Long Night. None.
It DOES begin to lay the groundwork for Daenerys to lose her mind and destroy King’s Landing! It also weakens the “heroes” army, and also removes another dragon from the field in Viserion. All they really needed for King’s Landing was Drogon and a small force, so taking out half of the “hero” force, the undead dragon, and the rogue weapon (the Night King) is an awesome single night’s work. Daenerys learned of Jon’s claim right before the battle, and the heroes took extra losses due to it. She also then acts rashly and loses Rhaegal and Missandei enroute to the Scouring of King’s Landing directly due to her mental state. She’s unwilling to wait to go, because someone else WITH HER has a better claim to the Throne. Instant paranoia.
“No one loves me, including my lover.” What GOOD did it do for ANYONE to learn this information?
There’s one more quote that we need to see, and that is when The Three-Eyed Raven meets with Jaime Lannister. Jaime apologizes, and The Three-Eyed Raven says he wasn’t sorry then, but he was just protecting his family. Jaime says “I’m not that person anymore” and we get another hugely important quote from The Three-Eyed Raven:
3ER: “You still would be, if you hadn’t pushed me out of that window. And I would still be Brandon Stark.”
JL: “You’re not?”
3ER: “No, I’m something else now.”
The Three-Eyed Raven also says that Jaime won’t be any help if he reveals that Jaime tried to kill Brandon Stark when he was a boy, and that he needs him in this fight. Jaime asks him “What about afterwards?”
3ER: “How do you know there is an afterwards?”
Sure, this could be foreshadowing Jaime’s death last evening, but… what if he’s meaning “There isn’t an afterwards for humanity in this fight?” It’s definitely in play. Also, The Three-Eyed Raven knows he needs Jaime alive. He needs Jaime alive so that Tyrion will also betray Daenerys, by freeing Jaime to go to Cersei. The “surrender” plan is Tyrion’s, and supposed to be executed by Jaime. You can say this is the “betrayal for love” most likely. Tyrion betrayed Daenerys for the love for his brother, the love he still had for his hateful sister, and the love he had for the child that would have joined the Lannister family, if his plan succeeds. It could also have something to do with Tyrion being jealous, as well… but I don’t think it likely. I think it was just the love of family.
The War Council
I am just going to post the video of the War Council, instead of trying to analyze all of it in quotes:
The Three-Eyed Raven overrules the military leaders in Jon and Jaime, and is certain that the Night King will come for him. The NK has tried before, with plenty of Three-Eyed Ravens. (When? Could this be a lie? All crows are liars.)
He sets the military strategy on his path, for the Night King to meet him at the Godswood. He placed the murder weapon in Arya’s hand last season. “I don’t want it, it’s wasted on a cripple.” Sure, he could be using his Three-Eyed Raven powers for good, but this showed again, that the Three-Eyed Raven can see the future. Arya asks if dragonfire will stop the Night King, and now The Three-Eyed Raven makes it clear that he has seen the whole of human history by saying that no one has ever tried to use dragonfire on the Night King.
They hide any further potential of information from us, even though Tyrion approaches him wanting to hear his journey. We know they speak, but other than hearing his journey has been “stranger than most” we get no further info from this scene.
The Three-Eyed Raven and The Hand of the Queen
The next scene with The Three-Eyed Raven playing a part is after the Battle of Winterfell, and we see Tyrion Lannister approach to speak to who he thinks is Brandon Stark. They make small talk, and The Three-Eyed Raven shows how much time he’s been in the past, as he’s got a new wheelchair design. It was the same one “made by Daeron Targaryen for his crippled nephew, 120 years ago.” Then, we get into the interesting parts…
TL: “You know our history better than anyone. That will be useful as Lord of Winterfell.”
3ER: “I’m not Lord of Winterfell.”
TL: “You’re the last surviving trueborn son of Ned Stark.” Very long pause. “You don’t want it…”
3ER: “I don’t really want…anymore.”
At this point, Tyrion says “I envy you” and The Three-Eyed Raven strangely looks quickly off to his left, and then back to Tyrion, and says “You shouldn’t envy me.” If we flash back to Season Seven, we know this isn’t the first time The Three-Eyed Raven has told characters that he can not be, or is not, the Lord of Winterfell. This was from Season 7, and his first conversation with Sansa. I’ve started this video at the 3:30 mark, if my cue does not work for you.
SS: “Your father’s last living trueborn son. You’re Lord of Winterfell now.”
3ER: “I can never be Lord of Winterfell. I can never be Lord of anything, I’m The Three-Eyed Raven.”
The scene continues, and to the character’s credit, Sansa is really the only one that ever is successful at all in trying to understand what happened to Bran, and what he meant when he told her he was The Three-Eyed Raven. She is the ONLY character to ask so far, with one episode to go, anything about the crippled boy and how he now is Westerosi Google and Westerosi Miss Cleo all rolled into one. Tyrion did appear to try to ask, but it was offscreen. We can only assume that Tyrion didn’t ask relevant questions to provide any further information, which would totally play into the dunce they have made Tyrion ever since he put that bolt through Tywin’s guts. (Peter Dinklage, man, I absolutely love you, and none of this is your fault. Definitely Top 5 acting performances I’ve ever seen, and Emilia makes that list as well. Bravo, sir. To the entire cast, really. Thank you.)
Tyrion and Varys
I also want to bring attention to this clip between Tyrion and Varys, while sailing… and these very important quotes (cue video at 1:50 if it fails to do so:
Varys: “You know them both, who do you think would make a better ruler?”
Tyrion: “He doesn’t want the Throne, that’s why he bent the knee.”
Varys: “Have you considered the best ruler might be someone who doesn’t want to rule?”
The Three-Eyed Raven, who our “heroes” know as Bran, has indicated on multiple occasions that he can’t, or doesn’t want to rule. He doesn’t really want anything anymore, and as genius Tyrion says, he knows our history better than anyone, that would make him a helluva Lord, eh! That might be a very good reason for them to nominate the Three-Eyed Raven to be the new King, after Daenerys the Destroyer has been put down. Varys would NEVER put this all-knowing individual on the Iron Throne, though. He was the smartest character in the show, so he had to be put down. Conleth Hill, absolutely amazing performance. You brought my favorite literary character ever to life in a way I could not imagine. I truly thank you, and I hope you see this. This entire cast is amazing.
The Last of the Starks
The last scene involving The Three-Eyed Raven is in the Godswood, with Jon Snow, Arya Stark, Sansa Stark, and The Three-Eyed Raven. The video I posted covers the entire War Council and the scene in the Godswood. Make sure you watch when they peel away from the table showing the entire battle plan…The Three-Eyed Raven is seated at the corner of the table, he can see everything perfectly. He’s in the one family in Westeros where his family loyalty will NEVER be questioned.
Does he warn Daenerys the Destroyer of the impending doom to the dragon Rhaegal, or to the Queen’s fleet, or to the capture and subsequent public beheading of Missandei of Naath — in front of her lover, no less?
He doesn’t speak a single word at the War Council. Not one.
Sansa and Arya then ask for a word with Jon after the War Council, with the plan to attack siege King’s Landing. They make it clear to Jon that they do not trust Queen Daenerys, and they have a spirited discussion that ends with this:
Arya: “We’re family — the four of us. The Last of the Starks” (roll credits!)
Jon: “I’ve never been a Stark.”
Sansa: “You are. You’re just as much Ned Stark’s child as any of us.”
Arya: “You’re my brother. Not my half-brother or my bastard brother. My brother!”
The Three-Eyed Raven has been looking on intently, right in the middle of Sansa and Arya, looking directly at Jon Snow. Jon swears Arya and Sansa to secrecy, and then has The Three-Eyed Raven reveal his parentage to them. Or at least we assume, as they do this offscreen.
The Three-Eyed Raven says only three words…
“It’s YOUR choice.”
The Three-Eyed Raven knows Jon’s honor will not permit him to lie to his family. He is going to tell Arya and Sansa the truth 100% of the time. The Three-Eyed Raven can see the future. He knows that this knowledge will now make its way to Tyrion and Varys. Let us rehash who we know learns this information before The Scouring of King’s Landing starts:
The Three-Eyed Raven, Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Sansa Stark, Arya Stark, Samwell Tarly, Tyrion Lannister, Varys, and Howland Reed are the only ones who possess the truth of Jon Snow’s parentage going into and through The Scouring of Kings Landing.
Let us analyze what each character is doing through this point:
The Three-Eyed Raven: At Winterfell (We assume.)
Jon Snow: At King’s Landing
Daenerys Targaryen: At King’s Landing
Sansa Stark: At Winterfell
Arya Stark: At King’s Landing
Samwell Tarly: At Castle Black
Tyrion Lannister: At King’s Landing
Varys: At Dragonstone, attempts to poison Daenerys, sends ravens with Snow’s heritage and is EXECUTED for treason.
Howland Reed: Assumed to be at The Neck. No one has seen Howland Reed for the entirety of the series. He is the only one who was witness to Jon’s birth by Lyanna Stark.
Now… let us analyze. The Three-Eyed Raven told Samwell Tarly that it was the time to tell Jon Snow he was Aegon Targaryen nearing the end of Episode 1. Has this information done ANYTHING to help the heroes? No. It led directly to The Scouring of King’s Landing.
Howland Reed is alive. He is the only man alive that can truthfully speak to Jon’s parentage, and has seen the falsehood of the succession. The only conceivable reason why he has not left The Neck is that he is working with the Children of the Forest to win the war with humanity. He was Ned Stark’s best friend, and the relationship was fierce, so we must assume that he is potentially under the power of the Children, just like Brandon Stark, from the year he spent on the Isle of Faces. Jojen was definitely serving the cause of the Children, even knowing the day he would die in service of The Three-Eyed Raven. Meera is my only straggling issue with this theory, I must admit.
Daenerys’s conscience, Ser Jorah Mormont — who would have absolutely prevented The Scouring of King’s Landing — died at the Battle of Winterfell, after being granted Heartsbane in order to protect Daenerys the Destroyer. Do not think for a single second that The Three-Eyed Raven did not get that sword into Jorah’s hand.
Varys has likely alerted any Lord of Westeros that could play a role against Daenerys Targaryen, we see him writing the raven scrolls with Jon’s lineage on them. Varys tries to use one of his little birds to poison Daenerys, but she is foiled.
When have you ever known Varys’s little birds to fail and to get eyes on them? Hardly ever, right? What if the Three-Eyed Raven was warging in and making sure no one could poison Daenerys the Destroyer?
Then, of course… we have this.
The Three-Eyed Raven can see the future. Jon Snow is the last one to speak to Daenerys before The Scouring of King’s Landing, and it is his claim, and the rift that has grown between them because of it, that drives Daenerys over the edge to destroy King’s Landing and the ONE MILLION INNOCENT PEOPLE inside. The soon-to-be iconic words and awesome acting from Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke will live forever during the rejection scene:
Daenerys: I don’t have love here, I only have fear.
[They kiss, but Jon pulls away. It doesn’t seem he can truly commit to his aunt.]
Daenerys: All right, then. Let it be fear.
The Three-Eyed Raven saw this disaster, and not only did he not say a single word to stop it, it absolutely appears as if he orchestrated the entire thing.
You have probably noticed that I have refused to call The Three-Eyed Raven “Bran” in this writing… it is because HE IS NOT BRANDON STARK!.
The Three-Eyed Raven is likely the awareness and the power of the Children of the Forest, who are still likely present at The Isle of Faces, and potentially at The Neck. No one has passed the Neck the entire series — and we’ve all been looking for Howland Reed for 72 episodes. We know that Howland Reed spent at least a year at the Isle of Faces with the Children. Meera and Jojen are Howland Reed’s children, and could have easily been instructed by their father that the way of the Children is the way, so they would help the Children turn Brandon Stark into the savior of the world for The Children of the Forest. It is likely that they will be permitted to live with the Children, as long as they do not reproduce.
We assume the Children are gone… but they were not. Jon Snow made sure that the humans would destroy the rogue weapon (The Night King) the Children made, and after the rogue weapon destroyed the North, The Three-Eyed Raven made sure that Daenerys would be sure to destroy the South. All of the major houses are gone, except for House Martell and House Stark. If Daenerys executes Tyrion, the only remaining major houses in Westeros are House Stark, House Martell in Dorne, and House Arryn. I do not think anyone will recognize Gendry’s Lordship after the actions of Daenerys, but if so, House Baratheon has a single bastard member. House Lannister is gone. House Tyrell is gone. House Arryn may as well jump through the Moon Door. They are all gone.
Jon Snow will put down Daenerys the Destroyer, and Drogon will melt the Iron Throne. You may even see Jon’s sword alight in a great flame, so the “heroes” think they’ve done the right thing. A Great Council will be called to determine the fate of the realm. There’s still a dragon left, and the Children of the Forest will put it to good use. Don’t invade other people’s lands. They were living in peace when the First Men attacked.
Aegon Targaryen will refuse to stay in the South, he’s done fighting and had to kill the woman he loved, even though she became mentally ill. He will exile to the North with Ghost. He abdicates his claim to the Throne. The Three-Eyed Raven may even tell him there may be another threat to the North, and he can reform the Night’s Watch… just to get him out of the way.
The idiot humans, they think that Brandon Stark, last trueborn son of Ned Stark, should be the ruler of Westeros. He doesn’t really want anymore, and he knows every bit of their history. It wasn’t like he could have stopped The Scouring of King’s Landing by the Mad Queen, Daenerys the Destroyer of House Targaryen, or anything. If Jon abdicates his claim, and Daenerys is dead, only Brandon Stark and Gendry Baratheon (if recognized) would have claims to the Throne. All Targaryens, Baratheons, and Lannisters are dead. The Starks are the oldest family in the realm, and have a “trueborn son” to lead their family. Brandon Stark “is the only choice for the throne.” (The Children chose their target well.)
This just goes with the theme that people shouldn’t rule other people, and it certainly shouldn’t be determined by your gender or what order you were born in. They will put a destructive force on the Throne, simply because of “birthright.” That’s not the way to go, and that is just one thing that George R.R. Martin is trying to teach us in this amazing series. Thank you, George, even if Dan and Dave did wind up ultimately disappointing.
With Daenerys the Destroyer put down, the armies of humanity decimated, and Aegon Targaryen going to the True North, it is the time. You see Drogon’s eyes turn blue as the Three-Eyed Raven completes HIS destiny, and the destiny of the Children of the Forest.
The truths the First Men knew, forgotten now in Winterfell, is that these are the lands of The Children of The Forest. The Children shall have their revenge.
If only The North Remembered…