This story contains spoilers through Season 8, Episode 1 of Game of Thrones.
It was Sam who shared the news. Reeling from the discovery that Daenerys had summarily executed his father and brother after they had refused to pledge their loyalty to her, Game of Thrones’ resident intellectual finds Jon in the crypt of Winterfell, where the bodies are buried and the myths of the dead live on. Sam, his voice cracking with rage, relays the political consequences of his family’s tragedy: that the queen who has portrayed herself as an agent of justice might be, also, the opposite. Had Jon been in Daenerys’s position, Sam insists, pivoting to the reason he has sought Jon among the tombs, Jon would have prioritized mercy over vengeance. He has done that before, after all.
“I wasn’t a king,” Jon replies, rejecting Sam’s assessment.
“But you were,” Sam says. “You’ve always been.”
“I gave up my crown, Sam. I bent the knee. I’m not King in the North anymore.”
“I’m not talking about the King in the North. I’m talking about the king of the bloody Seven Kingdoms.”
If you, on your Game of Thrones final-season prediction ballot, had marked “In the very first episode” under “When does Jon find out about his true parentage?,” this was probably the point in Sunday’s Season 8 premiere when you began to do your gloating. Sam, in the flickering candlelight of the Stark family crypt, proceeds to explain what he knows to the man who both is and is not at all Jon Snow: the love between the children of rival houses; the kidnapping that wasn’t; the annulled marriage; the new marriage; the High Septon’s diary; the promise Ned made to his sister, as she lay dying; Bran, newly minted with magic, seeing it all in a vision. “Your mother was Lyanna Stark,” Sam tells his friend. “And your father—your real father—was Rhaegar Targaryen. You’ve never been a bastard. You’re Aegon Targaryen, true heir to the Iron Throne.”