Benjen Stark Returns for the Game of Thrones Finale – Vanity Fair
It would seem that the â€œpreviously onâ€ for tonightâ€™s Game of Thrones finale has leaked early. If we know anything about these videos that run before each episode of the HBO series itâ€™s that they hardcore telegraph the content of each episode they precede. This particular â€œpreviously onâ€ has a very interesting slice of information. Iâ€™ll post the video as well as some analysis of what it could mean for the finale, but first Iâ€™m going to throw up a spoiler warning. Because, hey, why not! There may be some spoilers here! Youâ€™ve officially been warned.
Are they gone? Okay, before I post the videoâ€”which was allegedly pulled from the website of German cable company Skyâ€”hereâ€™s another fair warning. This could very well be fake. The content very convincingly lines up with our expectations of the finale, but though there is a link to the site in the video description, country restrictions prevent me from checking the veracity of the source. So take this information with either a grain or, ahem, a Mountain of salt.
There are plenty of interesting details to unpack here and a lot of it is expected, especially for book readers and spoiler fiends. Weâ€™ll run through all of those details quickly before we get to the juiciest bit. First off, the stuff with Dorne could prepare us for one of several â€œextremeâ€ conclusions to that plot line. The sequence with Qyburn and the Mountain signals that characterâ€™s triumphant return. The business with Meryn Trant and Aryaâ€™s fencing master Syrio Forel could tip us into crackpot theory territory about that flamboyant First Sword of Braavos. But, more likely, it just sets up the motivation for Aryaâ€™s inevitable showdown with Trant. Itâ€™s highly probably sheâ€™ll be wearing the face of that little girl she mercy-killed earlier this year as she takes her Trant revengeâ€”hence that fountain flashback in the video above.
The Sansa sequence with the candle could signal that a deus ex Brienne is on the horizon at Winterell. The Hizdahr stabbing scene could hint at a far-fetched theory that Daenerysâ€™s betrothed is not only alive, but also behind the entire Sons of the Harpy attack. And, finally, the Davos/Stannis/Shireen/Melisandre/Selyse sequence spells out both a tragic end for the entire Baratheon line and a reminder that the Red Woman is high on royal blood magic and at the height of her powers. That may come in handy.
But, really, all of those tantalizing finale options pale in comparison to the sequence plunked right smack dab in the middle of that video. Why remind us of the existence of Jonâ€™s uncle Benjen Stark if Jonâ€™s uncle Benjen Stark isnâ€™t going to return for the finale? If Benjen is truly coming back, this is huge news.
The actor who plays Benjen, Joseph Mawle, has actually been on the IMDB cast list for the Season 10 finale for a long time now. But IMDB has proven a fairly unreliable source of Game of Thrones casting information so, once again, take that with a grain or a mountain of salt. The last time was way back in Season 1, Episode 3 when the Nightâ€™s Watch First Ranger was headed North of the Wall. This is about when Benjen takes off in the books as well and, according to the George R.R. Martin novels, Jonâ€™s uncle has yet to return. And despite some pretty popular fan theories as to where he might be, Benjenâ€™s whereabouts remain a mystery. But since the series is both skipping ahead and taking liberties with the source material, Benjenâ€™s absence in the books doesnâ€™t at all preclude his return in the show.
But why would Benjen show up now after so long away? Especially when there is so much plot for Game of Thrones to get through in its final hour? His return must be vital to the finale story somehow and hereâ€™s a pretty good theory why. You might remember this Season 1 scene (the sun is shining at the Wall! Kit Harringtonâ€™s hair is so short!) between Jon and his uncle where Benjen says heâ€™s leaving to investigate â€œdisturbing reports.â€ Itâ€™s possible Benjen is returning after years away with some pertinent White Walker intel. But, more compellingly, the clip ends with Benjen echoing the last words Ned Stark said to Jon Snow in the pilot. â€œNext time we see each other,â€ Ned said, â€weâ€™ll speak about your mother. I promise.â€ Benjen told Jon:
But unlike Ned, Benjen may actually be in a position to make good on his promise. Could Benjen be returning to finally reveal the truth behind Jon Snowâ€™s parentage? If so, hereâ€™s a book spoilery way in which that could pay off for the finale. Iâ€™ll throw up another spoiler alert here just in case.
In the books, Jon Snow receives a letter purportedly from Ramsay Bolton outlining Stannisâ€™s alleged defeat and allusions to Jonâ€™s sister. (A fake Arya in the books, but Sansa in the show.) This prompts Jon to want to march on Winterfell. While this official finale promo photo means the letter could still be coming Jonâ€™s way. . .
. . .it would be more dynamic television if his decision to march on Winterfell had an active, human catalyst. Davosâ€™s message from Stannis could play a part. But Jon Snow learning some truth about his parentage could be another motivation for his march on Winterfell. Maybe he feels a deeper connection to Sansa in light of the info? Maybe the news that heâ€™s not actually Ned Starkâ€™s son throws his sense of duty off track? We know something is coming to set Jon off, and Jonâ€™s decision to leave the Wall again will prompt someone (no doubt Olly) to start stabbing. Once again, this is a lot of information to cram into the finale, but itâ€™s nothing compared to the massive download of terrible news coming Benjen Starkâ€™s way. â€œHey, Alliser Thorne old buddy! Howâ€™s my brother Ned? And my sister-in-law Catelyn? Our old pal King Robert? Lord Commander Mormont? My nephew Robb? Little Bran and Rickon? How are the girls? Arya and Sansa?” Bad news, Benjen. Bad news.