“Jon Snow is dead.” And with those four words, HBO and “Game of Thrones” may have just settled the single biggest driver of Internet posts, Snapchats, Tweets, Instagrams and any other means of expressing fear, outrage, distress, or outright confusion in the social media age.
To wit, is Jon Snow -- Kit Harington -- dead?
To wit, he apparently is.
While nothing is official in the world of Westeros, especially with the White Walkers now on the move, Jon Snow’s fate at the end of the fifth season seemed reasonably sealed. Killed by fellow members of the Night’s Watch, outraged by his betrayal to his oath -- by embracing the free folk as allies -- he was repeatedly stabbed, and lay bleeding to death in the (where else) snow.
But is dead dead?
Per HBO, dead is now dead.
Here’s what the new season description of the first episode, arriving April 24, says: “Jon Snow is dead. Daenerys meets a strong man. Cersei sees her daughter again.”
The episode and season description does not go into further details but notes: “Following the shocking developments at the conclusion of season five, including Jon Snow’s bloody fate at the hands of Castle Black mutineers, Daenerys’ near-demise at the fighting pits of Meereen, and Cersei’s public humiliation in the streets of King’s Landing, survivors from all parts of Westeros and Essos regroup to press forward, inexorably, towards their uncertain individual fates. Familiar faces will forge new alliances to bolster their strategic chances at survival, while new characters will emerge to challenge the balance of power in the east, west, north and south.”
Snow's -- and Harington’s -- fate has galvanized series and book fans alike. George R.R. Martin, at the end of “A Dance with Dragons,” almost appeared to leave a door for continuation ever so slightly ajar: “Jon fell to his knees...When the third dagger took him between the shoulder blades, he gave a grunt and fell face-first into the snow. He never felt the fourth knife, only the cold...”
And that was that. (Or was that that?)
So is Jon Snow dead? Fans of course will go on believing otherwise (and given what they know about some elements of "A Song of Ice and Fire," probably should.) But at this point, best to go to HBO for answers, and a little while ago, a definitive one appeared to arrive.
Affirmative. He is.