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Here's Why Jon Did What He Did In The Latest "Game Of Thrones"

They've been building to this all season. Warning: Contains spoilers.

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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.

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Well, not actually, because he was still in bed recovering from his trip north of the Wall. But emotionally and politically, he did. Which is huge. He's had very good reasons for refusing to do so all season – but at the same time, those reasons have slowly been chipped away, and replaced with reasons to bend the knee.

Before we get into that, let's get one thing out of the way: Jon is clearly in love with Dany at this point. And she has feelings for him, too. Did this affect his decision? I don't really think so. It might have made him a little more moony-eyed in the delivery of his pledge, but his reason to do it is not just because he's in love with her. We've seen him choose honour over love in the past, like he did with Ygritte; Jon is not the type of person who would bend the knee just because he's fallen for someone. It's more likely that the reason he loves Dany is the same reason he feels he should bend the knee: He has come to see her for what she is, not just as a woman, but as a leader. With that in mind, let's take a look at every moment that led Jon here...

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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.

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This runs completely counter to his own values, and to those of his people. After all, Jon Snow, to his knowledge, is a bastard with no claim, who only became a king because his people believed in him – because of his actions, not his words or his name, as Davos highlights in this scene.

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.

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Torrhen bent the knee and forfeited his title of King in the North – instead becoming Warden of the North – after he saw the damage Aegon did at the Field of Fire battle (more on that here).

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.

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Daenerys is already displaying similar values to him. It's not enough for him to bend the knee at this point, but it's enough to set him on that track.

By the way, for more on the many layers in this meeting scene, check out this post.

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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.

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He tells Jon that Dany protects people from monsters "just as you do", again highlighting their similarities, and suggests he talks to the other people on the island about why they follow Dany.

Also interesting to note here is that Tyrion says Dany isn't giving in to Jon's request to fight with him in the North because, basically, she doesn't know him. It's the very same reasoning Jon is using regarding her demands. And, like Jon, in Episode 6 she will come to do as he asks because she's gotten to know him (and love him).

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.

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Despite the fact they're both sticking to their guns about the whole bending the knee thing, he's clearly pleasantly surprised and grateful that she's compromising somewhat and being reasonable. His respect for her begins to grow.

Note: In this scene, he also demonstrates awe at the dragons, which will become important later.

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.

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It's significant that Jon's response this time is not about Dany herself, or even his own thoughts and feelings, as it was the first time – now, it's the fact that the Northerners "won't accept a Southern ruler, not after everything they've been through". This suggests that Jon himself is coming around to the idea, even if it's not at a conscious level at this point.

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.

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Jon is visibly shaken by this comment, and it clearly would have made him begin to reconsider his stance, all while once again highlighting the parallels between these two.

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).

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This is followed by a scene in which Dany's similarities to Jon are again apparent.

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As Jon has done before and will do again, she is determined to put her life at risk and fight her enemies herself, for the good of her people. They will each see this value in action in the other in Episode 6.

Here, Dany also asks for Jon's advice. He revisits the awe he feels about her dragons, and shows that he recognises the hope Dany and her dragons inspire in others – hope that they can build a better future. He wants her to prove she IS different to the other shitty rulers of Westeros by not using the dragons to "melt castles and burn cities". And she does listen to him – rather than flying straight to the Red Keep, she attacks an army.

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.

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It also serves as another parallel between the two rulers – as Davos pointed out when Jon and Dany met, Jon is also a chosen leader. Put all this together with the fact that Jon says Dany has a ~good heart~ (and perhaps also his dismissal of Davos's questioning about his correct title), and it's clear that Jon is already moving towards not only falling for Dany, but also pledging allegiance to her. The moment the two share with Drogon after this serves to bind their connection, and their mutual admiration.

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.

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But there's a lot of personal subtext in this scene (their feelings for each other; Jon's jealousy of Jorah). On a political level it actually works to prove to Dany that like her, Jon will risk his life for his people, while for Jon it again shows that despite her blustering speeches, Dany is willing to compromise and be reasonable (even when she really, really doesn't want to). Jon talks a lot about trust in this scene, and by the end of the episode it's clear that they do trust each other.

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.

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Tormund also seems to give his tacit approval of Jon kneeling, which may seem odd, but remember that Tormund was at Hardhome. That event forever changed both him and Jon, and might explain why he's more open to the idea of Jon kneeling. At this point, these characters are focused on survival, and avoiding more massacres like they saw at Hardhome.

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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.

For Dany's part, she gets to see Jon doing the same. This scene changes everything. Or rather, it cements them on the path they've been headed towards all season.

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.

The connection between them, and the respect they have for each other, suggests that even when the truth comes out about Jon's parentage, their dynamic won't change too drastically. If anything, it might further cement it, and make a marriage alliance all the more likely. Whatever happens next, one thing seems certain – Jon and Dany are now in this together.

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