game of thrones season 7 bran

George R.R. Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire novels are so dense and rich with detail that they’ve inspired hundreds of theories from fans over the years as they’ve scrutinized and re-scrutinized the text in the years between novels. HBO’s television adaptation is no different.

While Game of Thrones has dodged as many fan theories as it has embraced (where art thou, Cleganebowl?), this week’s season finale just quietly dropped something big on our laps. It turns out that one of the wackiest theories of all may be true. Or we’re just being trolled.

Naturally, spoilers for Game of Thrones season 7 begin right now.

The Giant Zombie Direwolf Head

As you may recall from the feature-length season finale, “The Dragon and the Wolf” ended with the White Walkers making good on the threat they’ve been promising since the first scene of the first episode. Using his reanimated dragon’s powerful ice breath, the Night King tore down the Wall at Eastwatch, allowing his army wights to march right into Westeros. And because we were too busy yelling at our televisions and being deeply concerned that Tormund was dead (He has to be fine, right? They wouldn’t kill him offscreen, right?), we missed something big.

Ahem. The Night King’s zombie army is marching in the shape of the House Stark sigil. Yes, those zombie hordes are forming the shape of a direwolf head.

game of thrones night king

The Theory

Okay. Let’s take one step back.

For years, Game of Thrones fans have speculated that the Night King could actually be Bran Stark. Sort of. The theory goes something like this: Bran goes back in time using his new Three-Eyed raven powers to prevent the Children of the Forest from creating the White Walkers in the first place. However, after warging into the past version of the icy Big Bad (much like how he warned into a young flashback Hodor in season 6’s heartbreaking “The Door”), he finds himself trapped within his new form. Much like how Bran’s psychic time traveling ruined Hodor, he would ruin all of Westeros, becoming the villain he set out to destroy.

I’ve never been a big fan of this theory because it’s always seemed a little too preposterous and built on flimsy evidence like “Sometimes Bran wears clothes that vaguely resembles what the Night King wears.” However, this “zombie army shaped like the Stark sigil” thing is a little too big too ignore. It could be a fun easter egg created by the visual effects team. It could be the Night King taunting the survivors of Eastwatch, letting them know where they army is marching next.

But it could be a cry for help from Bran, a message from a young psychic trapped in the body of an evil ice demon. And damn it, now I’m inclined to believe this may be the case.

The Book Evidence

For what it’s worth, George R.R. Martin’s novels do lend some credence to this theory. While there isn’t any major evidence that the Night King is Bran in the book, there is some evidence that he may be another Stark. Interestingly, the books tell legends of “the Night’s King,” the 13th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch who fell in love with a woman “with skin as white as the moon and eyes like blue stars.” He married her and embarked on a reign of terror across the North that required House Stark and the current King Beyond the Wall to team up to take him down. His name was cleared from the records and he vanished into legend.

But here’s the kicker. While not confirmed, it is heavily suggested that this version of the Night’s King is another Stark. A Stark named Brandon. Dun, dun dun! Naturally, the books and the show have diverged so much at this point that this may not matter that much. But even as they run on different tracks, they’re still parallel. Something has to be going on here, right?

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