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Much Like John Tucker, Jon Snow Must Die

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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Kit Harington
Valar morghulis. It means “all men must die” in High Valyrian. If we’re playing by the rules of the real world, it’s a true statement. We’re all born, we shuffle along on this mortal coil, and then we succumb to death.

If we’re going according to the world of Game of Thrones, however, the facts of life — and what can happen after it — get a little murkier. In George R.R. Martin’s fantastical realm, all men must die, but they can continue to exist after they’re dead. It’s a bit of a loophole and it’s most likely the reason that Jon Snow (Kit Harington) will appear on season 6 of Game of Thrones.
This is a show with white walkers, smoke monsters, and dragons. Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) walked through fire and survived. Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) has been resurrected six times. In Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) is resurrected in the form of Lady Stoneheart, a corpse focused on avenging those who have wronged the Starks. One of the posters for GoT season 6 features Catelyn in the Hall of Faces. Could this hint at Lady Stoneheart’s appearance in the upcoming season? Only time will tell.

The point here is that ever since our boy Jon Snow was betrayed by his fellow Night’s Watchmen, stabbed, and left for dead in the season 5 finale, all anyone (and by that I mean everyone, including President Obama) wants to know is whether or not Jon Snow is: A. alive or dead and B. appearing in season 6.

HBO has been teasing fans to this effect, doing things like releasing a new character poster of Jon Snow, his face bloodied, to promote the show’s return. As many eagle-eyed viewers have already pointed out, Jon Snow does appear in season 6 trailers, potentially with his eyes open and possibly fighting in a battle. He might even be warging through his direwolf, Ghost. He could be doing all of this while dead. Game of Thrones characters may frequently repeat valar morghulis, but a person’s death isn’t always the last time we see or hear from them.

Kit Harington has technically addressed the whole “Is he appearing in season 6?” question. In March, he told Time Out London that he did film some scenes for the upcoming season.

At first, Harington tried to deny any involvement in the show following his character’s death. “Look, I’m not in the show anymore. I’m definitely not in [season 6],” Harington says in the interview. When pressed as to why he was spotted on set, though, Harington responds, “I filmed some scenes of me being dead — [jokily] it’s some of my best work.”

Harington also claims that he doesn’t know what happens in the forthcoming season. “I don’t have a clue. I know how long I’m a corpse for, but I can’t tell you that!”

Other Thrones actors get asked constantly about Jon Snow’s dead-or-alive status and they all have similar answers: dead as a doornail. “If you get stabbed that many times, you're dead, you know. There are some basic medical rules that even apply in Westeros,” Natalie Dormer, who plays Margaery Tyrell, told Channel 5 news. When pushed, however, she said, “Jon Snow is dead right now.”
Again, it doesn’t matter that he’s dead “right now.” This is a show where dead characters can fully get up and do things. It’s like Weekend at Bernie’s 2, but you don’t even need music playing to reanimate his corpse.

The season 5 finale aired on June 14, 2015, and by now, the whole “Is Jon Snow dead?” question really feels like beating a dead white walker. GoT’s showrunners, D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, have reached the point where they’re just having fun with their response to the question, having been asked it so many times at this point.

In a new interview with Variety, Weiss first offers the serious answer of why fans can’t quite say goodbye to Jon Snow. “I think the shock of Ned Stark dying [in season 1] was a new phenomenon. No one saw that coming. This was a slightly different thing where everybody got the sense that anybody could die at any time. [Jon Snow] was somebody who was so central to the story and had been for so long and their investment in him was so tremendous that, yeah, I think we knew that people would maybe be displeased.”

Benioff gives a slightly cheekier take. “People have to understand, though, that at a certain point, Kit Harington became such a monster, that writing him off the show was imperative to our sanity and the well-being of the crew — the safety of the crew — because he’s, frankly, abusive.”

And once he gets going, Weiss chimes in, “There’s a certain level of violence, physical and mental, in a human being that you just can’t abide by anymore.”

“People look at him and they’re like, ‘Oh, he’s so cute. He must be really nice.' Nope. Monster,” Benioff finishes.

Listen, it’s all fun and games to joke around like this. Plus, we’ll finally have our answer about whether or not Jon Snow will return as a reanimated corpse on season 6 of Game of Thrones rather imminently, as the show returns on April 25. What I’m here to tell you today, though, is the cold, hard truth, which is that just like John Tucker (he of John Tucker Must Die), Jon Snow must die. And I don’t mean die in the GoT can-be-reincarnated or can-exist-as-a-corpse sense. I mean die as in the “Kit Harington should no longer be on the show and we all need to move on with our lives” one.

Allow me to present some evidence. Take a look at Harington’s IMDb page before Game of Thrones started airing in 2011. It’s an empty wasteland. Once Thrones premiered, the offers obviously started coming in. Suddenly, he was landing lead roles in movies. He headlined Pompeii in 2014. He appeared in Testament of Youth that same year. He even got the chance to show off his comedic chops in HBO’s 7 Days in Hell. Would he have catapulted directly into leading roles had he not been Jon Snow? Probably not.

It really is in Harington’s best interest to take his shocking Game of Thrones slaying and go out on an extremely talked-about high note. Ever since Jon Snow was stabbed and left for dead, Harington must have been flooded with offers, much like the blood pouring out of Snow’s lifeless body onto the snow. This really is the apex of his career. Everyone knows who he is and wants to see where he’ll turn up next. He should take the notoriety and run, because it’s never going to be like this again. The President of the United States is asking about his character’s well-being and job security. I know Harington is British, so someone might need to tell him that this isn’t something that happens to most of us.

There’s also a major risk involved in Jon Snow returning to the show. Since the TV series has now exhausted its literary source material, it’s venturing into unscripted territory as to what will happen in the wake of Jon Snow’s death. No matter what the show’s writers decide to do about the demise of such a beloved character, some fans will support the decision while many others will be unhappy with it. They’ll probably take to internet comment boards to express this dissatisfaction in droves. You can’t please all of the people all of the time, as the famous quote goes.

Even if the fan response to Jon Snow’s return (should it happen) is more positive than negative, the buzz will die down quickly, for our attention span is short and fickle in this age of Twitter and 24/7 infotainment. Game of Thrones, which thrives on shock value, will appear to have caved to fan pressure to keep Snow on the show, instead of continuing to cement its legacy as one of TV’s most callous and unforgiving series of all time. By kicking Harington off the show, Benioff and Weiss would be giving that cute monster the biggest career boost of his life.

Just like John Tucker, Jon Snow must die. And stay dead — in the real-world sense of the word.
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