The Moment: Jon and Daenerys grow closer
Setting the Scene: After Daenerys rescues the wight hunting crew but loses Viserion to the Night King in the process, she and a recovering Jon swear allegiances to one another.
Why It’s Awesome: Game of Thrones is not known for its gentle moments. Scenes of tender, sincere intimacy are few and far between. So when a moment of genuine connection happens between characters, it’s worth celebrating. Say what you will about the romance between Daenerys and Jon being rushed due to this season’s shorter episode count or being strange because we all know (even though they don’t) that they’re related—there’s no denying that watching them pledge themselves to each other in their own way (Daenerys pledging to help him defeat the Night King and Jon pledging to call her his queen) was beautiful in its rare sense of softness.
Ever since I started reading A Song of Ice and Fire years ago, I knew Jon and Daenerys would get together at some point. (It was right there in the title! Although I suppose it could be argued—and probably will ultimately be true—that the “Ice and Fire” actually refers to Jon’s parentage.) They were the first couple in the series I read fan fiction for, the first couple I really “shipped” as I read the first book. Over time—and with the introduction of other love interests for the two of them and other couples in the series for me to care about—my interest in a potential pairing between those two characters faded, but watching them interact this season made all those initial “shipper” feelings I felt so long ago come rushing back, now with the added bonus of getting to see them actually become the partners I spent so long hoping they’d become.
More than just “shipper” gratification, the main feeling I got watching this moment unfold was a sense of happiness for both of these characters—who have lost so much, who have been betrayed, and who have struggled at times under the weight of being leaders. To see Daenerys so openly emotional with Jon was stunning; the moment when she told him the dragons were the only children she’d ever have broke my heart, and I loved that Jon immediately made her feel understood without having to say a word. Emilia Clarke and Kit Harrington were both quite good in this moment, projecting a true tenderness that made the moment stand out.
It’s a rare thing for these characters to find someone they can be vulnerable with, to find someone they can trust with their truest self. And in a show where power plays are often the basis of relationships, trust is hard to come by. But Daenerys and Jon trust one another; they’re true partners. And if there is one thing I took away from this scene more than any other, it’s that there is no character more trustworthy when it comes to a woman’s heart than Jon Snow. From the moment he woke up, immediately apologizing with the kind of sincerity that put tears in my eyes, to the moment he made his adorably lame little joke about bending the knee, I was struck by the idea that Jon is just inherently good. He’s a good person—no ifs, ands, or buts about it. And there is nothing more attractive in this morally complex universe than that—the genuine goodness Harrington has effortlessly infused into his performance as Jon.
When it comes to fictional relationships, I have a weak spot for fierce female leaders and the men who support them. And now these two characters have joined that list. Daenerys’s tearful confession that she hopes she deserves Jon’s support was the most vulnerable I’ve ever seen her when it comes to her leadership abilities, and that vulnerability was met with steadfast support from Jon, whose belief in her is lovely because there is no doubt about its sincerity. Daenerys has someone to go to now when she’s doubting herself without having to worry that he’ll judge her or think less of her for it. She has found someone she respects who respects her in return. And Jon has found someone who will fight beside him in the battles to come.
As these two characters held hands, I was struck by the idea that we rarely see physical touch being used in a soft way in this series. Even love scenes are often approached with heated passion rather than gentle intimacy. So when two characters have a moment that focuses on this kind of gentle, slowly building intimacy that has its foundations in respect and understanding, it means something special. It certainly felt special to watch it unfold.
I’m not sure what the future will bring for these two characters, especially after the truth of Jon’s parentage is revealed. But if this show has taught me anything, it’s to enjoy the moments of true connection, real respect, and sincere intimacy when we see them, and that’s exactly what I’m doing with this moment. I’ve watched it many times in the last six days, and I don’t plan to stop any time soon.
Honorable Mentions: Jorah and Jon talk about Longclaw, Jon and Beric talk about the real enemy, the Night King claims Viserion for his own, Sansa instructs Brienne to go to King’s Landing (if only because that meant she’ll be reuniting with Jaime!)