Friday, June 22, 2018
TV and Media

Is Jon Snow dead? Obama will know before you do, 'Game of Thrones' fans

Being the leader of the free world isn't a bad gig. You get a nice house (with ample parking, right in the middle of Washington), your own jet and, perhaps most importantly, early access to the year's most-anticipated show.

HBO and Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have made it abundantly clear that they won't be releasing screeners of the new season, which is a decision TV Guide called "unprecedented."

One man, though, knows how to play the game of thrones.

Last week during HBO's red carpet premiere of Season 6's first episode, the showrunners confirmed that the president will receive advance episodes of the show.

"When the commander in chief says, 'I want to see advanced episodes,' what are you going to do?" Benioff said.

This might not seem like particularly striking news, unless you consider the work that HBO has put in during the past year to maintain what the Wrap called the year's biggest cliffhanger. It matters so deeply to some that one impassioned fan has created an online petition on the White House's official website demanding that President Barack Obama release information from the screeners.

The Season 5 finale of Game of Thrones was the show's most-watched episode, drawing 8.11 million viewers even though it aired against the NBA Finals, Variety reported. In it, something happened that left fans' mouths agape and their hearts pounding.

(Note: Stop reading here if you haven't seen the end of Season 5.)

The show has dispatched its characters with the ease of tossing a used Kleenex into the garbage, but one beloved protagonist kept his neck from the blade (an awfully difficult task in a world where "you win, or you die"). Jon Snow, played by British actor Kit Harington, can be seen as the moral center of the show. Unrelentingly good, no matter the circumstances, Snow quickly became a fan favorite.

Which led to some displeasure and disbelief on Twitter when the finale on June 14 left him lying in the show, blood pouring from several stab wounds to his abdomen, blank eyes staring at … nothing.

Some were not convinced of his demise. One Twitter user wrote, "I'm sure he will rise again." Another wrote he knows they're "going to bring back Jon Snow from the dead."

TV critic Andy Greenwald agreed with this camp in the now-defunct Grantland, writing simply, "He's not dead." In a live Q&A on washington post.com, the Washington Post's TV critic Hank Stuever wrote that it's a "safe bet Jon Snow will come back from the dead."

Thus began a year of secrecy, spying and potentially outright lies.

Because, for the first time, no one knows what's happening next in the series. It's based on a series of books by George R.R. Martin, but for the first time, the TV show is running ahead of the books.

In an interview that Entertainment Weekly posted minutes after the finale, Harington bluntly said, "I've been told I'm dead. I'm dead."

He drove the point home: "I'm not coming back next season."

He's been repeating this ever since, telling BBC in January, "(Fans) should tune in and watch (Game of Thrones) because whatever happens in the next season will be very exciting. But Jon Snow is dead I'm afraid," prompting headlines such as "Poor Kit Harington Really Wants Us to Believe Jon Snow Is Dead" from Time and "Adorable Kit Harington tries to convince us Jon Snow is dead" from USA Today.

One reason for all the denial? Harington didn't cut his hair, a fact the A.V. Club called "real evidence."

See, Harington often complained of the haircut he was forced to maintain for the show, such as in an interview with Metro in which he said, "If you look a certain way or you have a certain look, it dominates what people think you are. So I'll cut it off quite soon. As soon as I'm allowed."

When ET asked why he hadn't yet, considering that he seemed to despise the haircut, he said, "I can chop it off right now."

The plot then thickened when Watchers of the Wall, an online fan community dedicated to all things Game of Thrones, posted a candid photo sent in by a fan. It showed Harington in the Belfast, Northern Ireland, airport, which just happens to reside in the same city where Season 6 of the show was being filmed.

It could be speculated that the poor man just wanted a vacation away from all the chatter about his hair. But that theory might not hold water, since he had insulted the city on Late Night With Seth Meyers in 2015.

Then paparazzi captured photos of Harington on the Belfast set, in full costume, which the Daily Mail published.

Just last month, though, Harington obliquely confronted those photos, somewhat. "Look, I'm not in the show anymore," the beleaguered actor said, once again, this time to Time Out London. "I'm definitely not in the new series."

When pressed, he said, "I filmed some scenes of me being dead. It's some of my best work."

For its part, HBO has stuck to its guns, just last week releasing a statement that said, "Jon Snow is dead," TV Line reports.

Fans will have to wait until the April 24 premiere of Season 6. Well, all fans but one.

Well played, Mr. President.

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