Warning: this article contains spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 2, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.”
The second episode of Game of Thrones’ final season ended on a fittingly somber note. As the inhabitants of Winterfell settled down for what very well might be their final night together, Podrick Payne serenaded his friends with a rendition of “Jenny of Oldstones,” a popular folk tune among the people of Westeros. The episode also featured a reprise of the song over the ending credits, this time performed by Florence + The Machine.
In the end, Duncan elected to forfeit his claim to the Iron Throne in favor of marrying Jenny. And as it turns out, Jenny’s closest friend and companion was the woman who eventually came to be known as the Ghost of High Heart. That’s why the song is so important to her, even as an old woman.
The Importance of Jenny’s Story
While “Jenny of Oldstones” makes for perfect accompaniment as this episode closes out and we see the last defenders of Westeros preparing for their greatest battle, it has some deeper implications for two characters in particular. It’s surely no coincidence that a song connected to a Targaryen forced to choose between love and duty makes its debut even as Jon and Dany face the ultimate test of their relationship.
That clash between love and duty encapsulates Jon’s struggle this season. Now that he knows the truth about his parentage and his own claim to the Iron Throne, he has a difficult choice to make. Does he keep quiet and remain faithful to Dany, or does he reveal his Targaryen blood and rally the armies of Westeros behind the Stark banner? As we’ve seen over the past two episodes, many in the North are reluctant to embrace Daenerys and her army. They would be far more willing to accept a Targaryen king who actually hails from the North.
“Jenny of Oldstones” highlights the importance of this dilemma even as the White Walkers draw near. Had Duncan done his royal duty, the downfall of the Targaryen family and the events of Robert’s Rebellion may never have happened. Jon already chose duty over love once before when he sided with the Night’s Watch over Ygritte and the Wildlings – can he bring himself to do so a second time?
At the same time, it’s also worth remembering that the Ghost of High Heart is also the woman who made the prophecy about Azor Ahai, “the prince that was promised.” Had Duncan not fallen in love with Jenny and brought both her and her companion to court, Duncan’s brother Jaehaerys II might never have heard the witch’s prophecy and arranged for his children to marry and attempt to produce Azor Ahai. So perhaps the true lesson to take from this song is that only a ruler who follows their heart can truly become the savior of Westeros. If Dany is the one destined to defeat the White Walkers and usher in a new spring, the best thing Jon can do is love and convince others to do the same.
For more from “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” learn why Bran’s battle plan may be significant, read about the hidden meaning of Podrick’s song about Jenny of Oldstones, and find out what Maisie Williams thought about Arya and Gendry’s sex scene.
Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter, or Kicksplode on MyIGN.
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