Even though HBO’s fantasy drama Game of Thrones has never been a traditional story like The Lord of the Rings with focus on one major character and a large supporting cast, but in the last few seasons, there can be no two ways about the fact that Jon Snow has become the central protagonist.
Previously pretty one-note (as compared to books), Jon Snow has emerged as a compelling if fairly traditional hero in later seasons, thanks in no small part to Kit Harington blossoming into a genuinely fine actor.
Jon Snow was introduced as an angsty young man at Winterfell who feels unwanted in his own home. Assuming himself to be a bastard son and fed up of Lady Catelyn’s continuous rude behaviour towards him, he makes peace with the truth that he will never be a lord or even something equivalent to it. This is why he enlists himself in the Night’s Watch, believing it to be full of brave warriors who man the biggest man-made structure in the world and face threats that even anointed knights would not balk at.
However, he finds himself among thieves, rapists and murderers who have been sent to the Wall as a sort of penance. The Wall has a climate that is akin to our world’s Siberia. The food is bad. And if that weren’t enough, beyond the Wall live the wildlings, Westeros’ version of barbarians. To top it all, there is a new threat rising — a threat that has not been seen for thousands of years.
Things become worse and worse for Jon as his father, then his brother and his half-mother are murdered all thanks to the Lannisters. Jon wants to exact vengeance, but the brothers of Night’s Watch swear vows to not concern themselves with the affairs of the rest of the realm. They cannot marry and have children. The only family they have is other brothers of the Night’s Watch.
After an intervention by Tyrion, Jon starts to befriend some of the other brothers, initially dismissing them as unwashed smallfolk. Grenn and Pyp become his brothers in truth. Jon then meets his best friend, the clumsy and fat Samwell Tarly of Hornhill, who calls himself a coward, not realising that admitting that one is a coward is an act of bravery. And when Jon tries to desert the Night’s Watch, it is his new friends who bring him back to the Wall by reminding him of his vows.
Lord Commander Jeor Mormont tells Jon he knows he tried to desert. Jeor goes on to permanently shame Jon into becoming a reliable brother of the Night’s Watch, taunting him by asking whether he thinks the war being fought down south is more important than the war against the White Walkers.
“When dead men and worse come hunting for us in the night, you think it matters who sits on the Iron Throne?” Jeor puts things in perspective.
The majority of Night’s Watch goes beyond the Wall in order to discover whether the threat of the White Walkers is real. They stay at Craster’s house. Jon is shocked to learn that Craster marries his daughters. He tries to find out what he does with the sons. Shockingly, he learns that he gives his sons to the White Walkers, where the Night King turns them into the White Walkers. And the Lord Commander knows about it — and chooses to ignore it.
Later on, Jon meets Qhorin Halfhand, one of the best rangers of the Night’s Watch. Halfhand, Jon and others go on a stealth mission to find out why the wildings are massing together under the King-Beyond-the-Wall Mance Rayder. They are captured by wildlings, and it is then Jon first meets the fiery wilding Ygritte.
Halfhand starts a fight with Jon, tricking him into killing him. With his dying words, he reminds Jon of the Night’s Watch’s words: We are the watcher of the walls. Jon assimilates himself into the wildlings, fooling them into believing that he does not want anything to do with the “crows” and, unwittingly, falls in love with Ygritte.
Jon learns what the wildlings want. They wish to cross the Wall and enter Westeros proper to escape the White Walkers. Jon, Ygritte and others are sent to attack Castle Black under the command of Tormund Giantsbane. Jon runs away to warn the Night’s Watch. He is shot through with arrows by Ygritte, who is aghast at his betrayal.
Due to Jon’s warning, the Night’s Watch wins the battle. Since the Lord Commander is dead, an election is called, and Jon Snow becomes the new leader of the Night’s Watch. He leads a group of his reliable brothers beyond the Wall to gather the remnants of Mance Rayder’s wildling army and to bring them over to their side before the White Walkers massacre them and increase the numbers of the Army of the Dead.
Jon and others barely come out alive when the Night King invaded with his army at Hardhome. However, Jon learns one crucial thing: Valyrian steel can kill the White Walkers. Back at Wall, Jon is assassinated by some of the Night’s Watch due to his decision to treat wildings as humans.
And that’s where his story should have ended. Except…
Melisandre revives him and dubs him the saviour of humanity against the White Walkers. Jon hangs those who killed (tried?) him and reunites with Sansa, who has run to Castle Black form Ramsay Snow.
Later, Jon and Ramsay fight in the Battle of Bastards. Jon, with a little help from Littlefinger’s knights from Vale, defeats Ramsay and lets Sansa feed him to his hounds. We discover Jon is a Targaryen and his real name is Aegon. Jon is crowned King in the North — because that turned out so well for the last one.
Jon, realising the whole realm needs to come together against the imminent invasion from the Night King, goes to Dragonstone to meet Daenerys. They decide to include Cersei too. But she would need evidence, and to gather that Jon, the Hound, Gendre, Beric Dondarrion, Thoros of Myr, Tormund Giantsbane — basically the Avengers of Westeros go beyond the Wall. Things go awry when they are surrounded by the White Walkers and the Army of the Dead.
Daenerys arrives with her three dragons, and all of them, except Jon, leave with one dragon less — who is now Night King’s property. Jon is saved by — surprise, surprise — Benjen Stark, who has been absent from the show from the first season and was presumed dead. Jon reaches the Wall and leads a contingent to King’s Landing with the Wight they have captured. Cersei seems convinced.
On the way back, Jon and Dany, um, consummate their relationship, unaware that they are aunt and nephew. Sam arrives at Winterfell. He and Bran realise that not only is Jon a Targaryen, he is also the heir to the Iron Throne.
Just when Jon thought he knew himself, things are taking a one-eighty for him.
Game of Thrones season 8 premieres on April 14. The show will air on Star World in India.