This post contains spoilers through Season 7, Episode 7 of Game of Thrones.
“Out of all the people in Thrones, Jon, of all people, is probably the least up for incest,” Kit Harington told Entertainment Tonight last month. “But we don’t know whether they’re related.”
The actor was talking about the romantic tension between his character, Jon Snow, and Daenerys Targaryen—a tension that Game of Thrones, sometimes gracefully and sometimes awkwardly, has been meticulously building over the course of its seventh season. It’s been a tension complicated by the fact that while, as Harrington suggested, viewers didn’t know for sure whether the two were related … we have also been preeeeetty sure that the two are related. Sunday’s episode, “The Dragon and the Wolf,” confirmed it: Jon is not, in fact, the illegitimate son of Ned Stark; he is in fact the legitimate son of Ned’s sister, Lyanna, and her husband Rhaegar Targaryen. Who was also the older brother of one Daenerys Targaryen. Which would, yep, make Jon Snow, né Aegon Targaryen … Dany’s nephew. Which would make the consummation of their attraction, as one of the final scenes of the season … extremely complicated.
Game of Thrones is a show that has depicted slaughtered children, and sexual violence, and martial violence, and torture both psychological and physical; it is a show that, often, looks at conventional notions of morality and scoffs at their quaintness. Incest in some ways is no different: It’s a taboo that Thrones has generally regarded with a mixture of horror and shoulder-shrugging acceptance. Dany herself is the product of incest—her parents were brother and sister—as were Joffrey, Myrcella, Tommen, and Cersei’s (alleged) unborn child. Cersei and Jaime represent one of the longest-standing romantic partnerships of the series. Gilly is both the mother and the half-sister of baby Sam. Yara Greyjoy, having not seen Theon since they were children, initially flirted with him—an elaborate prank meant primarily to remind her brother of his diminished power on the Iron Islands.