This post contains spoilers for Season 7, Episode 6 of Game of Thrones.
In an episode full of pretty significant moments between Jon and Dany, one stood out: The King in the North actually bent the knee to the Mother of Dragons.
As we know, the tension between Jon and Dany over him bending the knee was set up in their very first meeting.
Jon made his reasoning for not bending the knee pretty clear: He didn't know Daenerys. The only thing she had going for her in terms of claiming the crown, as far as he was aware, was her name.
But this scene does more than establish Jon's reasons for not bending the knee. It also begins to chip away at them. Dany brings up Torrhen Stark, Jon's ancestor who bent the knee (to, uh, Jon's other ancestor) in order to protect his people from Aegon the Conquerer and his dragons.
The show has mentioned this before, subtly, when Greatjon Umber declared Robb the King in the North way back in Season 1.
By tying the legitimacy of the King in the North title to the fact that the dragons are dead, the seeds were already planted to suggest that if the dragons rose again, the Northerners could potentially bend the knee once more.
But back to the scene of Jon and Dany meeting. The whole show has been full of parallels between the two, but when they meet it's the first inkling – for Jon, at least – that the pair might have more in common than they believe.
Immediately following this scene, Tyrion has a nice chat with Jon and asks him to look deeper than face value when it comes to Daenerys.
At this point, Tyrion tells Jon to ask for something "reasonable", which is to mine for dragonglass. In Jon's next meeting with Dany, she agrees to let him do so.
Next we have the cave scene, a pivotal moment in Jon and Dany's relationship. Here, Dany is already coming around to Jon and his tale of the Night King, although she is still insistent that he bend the knee.
Of course, Dany chases this up by unknowingly quoting Jon back to himself verbatim, using the same reasoning with him that he used with Mance Rayder when he tried to get him to bend the knee to Stannis.
The fact that Jon and Dany are seen walking out of the cave in perfect sync works to reinforce how much this little interaction has impacted their connection, and put them on the path to a strong alliance (on multiple levels).
This is followed by a scene in which Dany's similarities to Jon are again apparent.
While Jon later admits he's not sure how he feels about her using the dragons in battle, she has heeded his advice enough to the extent that he is clearly not completely put off by her actions. She also counters his mixed feelings by focusing on the similarities between the two of them, especially regarding how they want to help people.
In the meantime, Jon has followed Tyrion's advice and asked Missandei about Dany. The way Missandei talks about Dany is so convincing that Davos jokes about switching sides. For Jon, it's another step forward in understanding and respecting the dragon queen.
Of course, we then have Jon planning to go north of the Wall to capture a wight, which visibly freaks Dany out. He throws his title at her, and on the surface seems further away from bending the knee than ever.
In Episode 6, Jon's chat with Tormund calls back to both Dany's argument for kneeling, and Jon's own with Mance, further reinforcing what Jon was already no doubt thinking about the connection, and the potential.
Later, when shit hits the fan, Jon's trust in Dany really comes in to play. He sends for help from her immediately – and as they wait, he maintains his faith that she will answer the call.
His faith is rewarded when Dany does show up to save the day – against the wishes of her most trusted adviser (just as Davos protested Jon's heroism in Episode 5). She risks her life and her dragons – and, indeed, loses one – to protect people from monsters, like Tyrion promised.
In the scene where Jon pledges his allegiance to Dany, she says "you have to see it to know", talking about the White Walkers. But the line also works for the relationship between Jon and Dany.
For Jon, a man of action rather than words, seeing Dany's selflessness and heroism is what pushes him over the line that he was already leaning towards (Dany, meanwhile, not only sees him in action but also sees his scars and realises everything she's heard about him – about his selflessness and heroism – is true).
Importantly, Jon's pledge comes after Dany vows to help him with the Night King. He bends the knee not out of obligation, or fear, or even love or gratitude, but because he genuinely wants to. Because he thinks she's deserving of it.
It closes the circle that began in their first meeting when Jon questioned why she deserved his fealty. Now he knows her, and he believes in her. So much so that he trusts the Northerners will also see what he sees in her. I'm not so sure about that, considering how angry they've been about him merely travelling South, but hopefully he's right and they do come around – because there really isn't much time left for Jon to deal with a rebellion AND the Night King.
For her part, Dany has also come a long way from that initial meeting with Jon – gone is the reliance on her titles, and the absolute faith in herself. Having come to know Jon, and having seen just what kind of man he is, she understands the weight of his choice, and it humbles her.