Mild spoilers ahead for “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” season 8, episode 2 of Game of Thrones.
We’re barreling toward a big battle in next week’s Game of Thrones, and if there was one part of the plan that this week’s episode, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” went to great pains to underline, it was that all of the non-fighters would be safest in the crypts underneath Winterfell. Davos says it, Gilly says it, Daenerys says it, Jon says it: if you don’t want want to become a wight snack, the crypts are apparently the place to be. But given the near-Chekov’s Gun levels of emphasis on how safe the crypts are, the crypts of Winterfell are obviously extremely not safe.
Let’s walk through this quickly. Given that the crypts are, well, crypts, there’s basically only one thing down there: corpses of dead Starks. (Okay, and statues of those dead Starks. And maybe some dragon eggs, according to some of the more out-there theories. But I digress.) On the other side, we have an invading force of ice monsters, whose main power lies in… resurrecting corpses to fight for them. Put those together, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Remember, every innocent person who hides in the crypts and gets cut down by zombified Stark ancestors will only bolster the numbers of the dead.
There are a few major questions here: how close does a White Walker need to be to resurrect a corpse? Is there any limit on how old a corpse can be before it can’t be brought back? There are currently thousands of years’ worth of dead Starks buried down there. Even discounting that some of the more ancient bones are probably dust by now and that some of the more recently dead Starks aren’t down there — like Catelyn and Robb, whose corpses never made their way back to Winterfell after the Red Wedding — there are still plenty of potential wights down there. (Yet, with Catelyn’s body having not been recovered, we’re still not heading for the big Lady Stoneheart reveal that fans have been clamoring for over several seasons.)
We do know that Ned Stark’s remains were buried in the crypts, as the return of his body was one of Robb’s demands when he first declared himself King in the North back in season 2. Also in the crypts: Ned’s sister (and Jon Snow’s real mother), Lyanna Stark, and Rickon Stark, who died in the Battle of the Bastards in season 6.
Jon Snow isn’t in the best place emotionally after the revelation of his true parentage and his face-off with Daenerys as she realizes he has a claim to rule the Seven Kingdoms. Facing down the undead bodies of the mother Jon never met, the man who upheld a lifelong lie about being Jon’s father, and the brother (er, cousin) who Jon failed to save probably isn’t the best thing for his psyche, especially with the fate of the world on the line.
Take that potential army of zombie Stark soldiers, which could serve as an ace in the hole for the White Walker army, together with the intense foreshadowing in this week’s episode, and the only real question left is: “Is Game of Thrones self-indulgent enough to have the headless corpse of Sean Bean come back to life, serving as a callback to the show’s first and most shocking death, and then attack his remaining family members?”
If you’re still watching the show at this point, you probably already know the answer to that.