(For those who have immense difficulty understanding headlines, allow us to confirm that yes, the following post is full of massive spoilers for last night’s Game Of Thrones episode “Hardhome.” So only read on if you’ve already seen it, or don’t give a crap because you find it embarrassing that grown-ups are so into what’s basically Dallas with dragons, so you just read about it instead. Cool move.)
If you’re anything like most people discussing the show on social media, you basically lost your shit last night when the last 20 minutes of Game Of Thrones delivered one of the best zombie movies of the past decade. “Holy crap, Jon’s sword just demolished that seemingly invincible White Walker,” you probably also said, because you like to narrate obvious things out loud to yourself when no one is around. But there was also a character that turned up during those final moments who has got people speculating wildly on just what his whole deal is. We’re referring, of course, to this guy.
Given all the discussion about what’s going on with Mr. I’m-In-Charge-Of-Dead-People, Hitfix addressed the questions by combining information from the series, George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire books, and the companion book The World Of Ice And Fire to clue everyone in. That’s the Night’s King, you see, and there’s a bit of background available on him, if you don’t mind delving into yawn-inducing minutiae to get to it. (Happily, we don’t have to, because they did it for us.)
According to the fictional world’s legends, the Night’s King was “the 13th Commander of the Night’s Watch in an era of Westeros history known as the Age of Heroes.” So he lived thousands of years before any of the current realm was even a glint in a Targaryen’s eye. He fell in love with and married a woman who may or may not have been a White Walker, and they moved to the Nightfort and declared themselves king and queen. Which supposedly led to the following events:
Their bloody and terrible reign lasted for 13 years. During that time, the Night’s King used “sorcery” to bend his former Brothers to his will and sacrifices were made to the Others—much as Crastor was doing with his own children. The Night’s King may have been the one who had steps hewed straight into the Wall and set up a secret passage from the Nightfort to the lands of the Wildlings, assumedly to bolster the White Walker numbers. It was only when the Stark King and the King-Beyond-The-Wall joined forces that they were able to defeat the Night’s King and strike all records of his identity from annals of history. No one knows what happened to his Queen.
Now, it’s suggested the Night’s King was originally a Stark of Winterfell, meaning that Jon Snow is confronting a long lost relative, and that whole battle was basically an uncomfortable family reunion. Not only that, but it means that even the undead nemesis of the living thinks he has a birthright claim to rule Westeros. From here, it’s anyone’s guess as to why he’s chosen now to make his attack, though the relative chaos that has engulfed the seven kingdoms would seem to offer one reason. But if he knows about all that, he’s got some other gifts besides just being undead, because last time we checked, there was a 700 foot-high wall keeping him from getting a look inside Westeros. In other words, speculate away.