There are certainly characters on Game of Thrones who have suffered more than Gilly, but are there any that are as underserved as she is? While Samwell Tarly’s time at the Citadel has been memorable thanks to clever editing and an endless supply of bedpans that need cleaning, Gilly has been kept on the sidelines, presumably raising little Sam (the offspring of Gilly and her father Craster — best not think about it too much, the kid is cute) and checking out a book or two that Sam leaves in her quarters. It’s a sad fate to be an afterthought in what is, arguably, Thrones’ least compelling subplot.
But in the show’s most recent episode, Gilly appears to stumble upon one of the most important secrets in Westeros — a discovery that could potentially affect the fate of the Seven Kingdoms. Too bad Gilly couldn’t even relay the information to Sam, because he rudely cut her off.
I’m referring to the secret of Jon Snow’s true parentage, a mystery that was basically solved in season six, when it’s all but stated that Jon’s parents are actually Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. That makes Jon a bit more than a Northern bastard — it might make him a legitimate heir to the Iron Throne.
As Gilly is reciting innocuous stats from the diary of High Septon Maynard, who recorded things like the amount of steps in the Citadel and details about his own bowel movements, she asks Sam what an “annulment” means. Sam, rather impatiently, explains to her that an annulment means stopping one marriage so you can marry someone else. Truth be told, I didn’t know Westeros did annulments, and fans seem confused on the fact, too.
Gilly says the annulment pertains to a “Prince Raggar” — clearly she’s mispronouncing Rhaegar — and also mentions that he was involved in another marriage ceremony that was done in secret in Dorne. Unfortunately, before Gilly can give any further details or mention who else was involved in the secret ceremony, Sam interrupts her and says he doesn’t want to hear about any bathroom diaries; he’s preoccupied with his superiors’ refusal to believe him about the White Walkers. But the audience knows enough to put the pieces together.
Rhaegar probably annulled his marriage to Elia Martell — if you recall, that’s Oberyn’s sister, who was murdered by the Mountain — so he could wed Lyanna. And if the marriage to Lyanna was indeed legit, that means their child was born of wedlock, making Jon a legitimate half-Stark, half-Targaryen son and not a bastard. That gives Jon a mighty impressive claim to the Iron Throne, if he’s interested. In fact, he has an even better claim than Daenerys, since Rhaegar was her older brother.
However, since Sam ignored Gilly, there are still no characters in Thrones who are aware of Jon’s parentage and legitimacy — except for Bran Stark, who at the very least knows about Lyanna. (Still there’s the pesky issue of Bran being awful now, since he’s the all-seeing and deeply unsettling Three-Eyed Raven.)
There’s still hope, though: Sam and Gilly are leaving behind the Citadel, and its books and bedpans, and heading back north. After getting patronized by Oscar-winning actor Jim Broadbent for five episodes, Sam’s accepted that training to become a maester is pretty pointless if nobody believes him about the White Walker threat. So he snags some of the Citadel’s most valuable books, with the hope that a secret to defeating the White Walkers is hidden somewhere in those pages.
What he probably isn’t counting on is that the diary of a High Septon — who kept careful notes about his poop, no less — might hold the biggest reveal of all, and that Gilly would be the one to find it. It’s looking more and more likely that Jon’s true lineage will be properly unveiled.
And maybe after that, Sam will actually start listening to Gilly again.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. Eastern on HBO.
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