Game of Thrones’ ominous two-word clue
Game of Thrones does not waste words.
Every scene serves a purpose. Every line a character utters could have some hidden significance. That is part of what makes the show so compelling - fans have spent years poring over each sentence of dialogue, searching for subtle foreshadowing.
Sam told Jon's eventual killer, Olly, that he "always comes back". A season later Jon returned from the dead.
Littlefinger said some men "die squatting over their chamber pots". Then Tywin Lannister was murdered in the privy.
And Theon ranted that he would spend the rest of his life being "treated like a fool and a eunuch" long before Ramsey chopped off his man bits.
I could go on at considerable length, but you get the point. The show's writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss often obscure important clues in seemingly innocuous moments.
RELATED: Key character confronted by his past
There appears to be more of that trademark foreshadowing in the first episode of season eight. It concerns the future of the two protagonists, Jon and Daenerys.
I'm particularly thinking of the scene involving Tyrion, Davos and Varys, in which they discuss the possibility of Jon and Daenerys marrying and ruling Westeros together.
They all agree it's an ingenious idea, but doubt the couple would listen to the advice of three "old men".
"Our queen respects the wisdom of age," Tyrion says.
"Of course she does. Respect is how the young keep us at a distance. So we don't remind them of an unpleasant truth," Varys replies.
"What is that?" Tyrion asks.
"Nothing lasts," Varys says.
Nothing lasts. Those two words, spoken as Varys looks mournfully at Jon and Daenerys over the ramparts of Winterfell, are more significant than they seem.
We already know Game of Thrones does not have a happy ending. The cryptic adjective author George R.R. Martin consistently uses to describe the conclusion of his story is "bittersweet".
So we are not going to end up with Jon and Daenerys marrying, having cute little incest babies, sharing the Iron Throne and living happily ever after. That only fulfils the "sweet" part. It's missing the bitterness.
The only question is what will go wrong.
Or maybe Jon is destined to lose his lover for other, more complicated reasons, just as he was forced to watch Ygritte die in his arms.
By the end of episode one, Jon has learned about his true parentage, and what it means. He is, in the words of his mate Samwell Tarly, the "true king" of the seven kingdoms.
Being notoriously slow on the uptake, his first reaction is denial.
"Daenerys is our queen," Jon says.
"She shouldn't be," Sam tells him.
"That's treason," says Jon.
"It's the truth," Sam replies.
How much of a bombshell is this news? Put it this way. Jon is so utterly confused, it doesn't even dawn on him that he has been fornicating with his aunt.
Sam, meanwhile, has moved on to the key question.
"You gave up your crown to save your people. Would she do the same?" he asks.
Jon has never wanted to be a king. Daenerys, by contrast, has been motivated almost solely by her drive to reclaim the Iron Throne since the end of season one.
But there have long been signs she would fail.
The classic example is her vision in the House of the Undying. It showed her standing in the throne room in King's Landing, with snow falling. She reached out towards the throne itself, and was almost touching it when she heard the cries of her dragons and turned away.
Daenerys then found herself in the north of Westeros, inside a tent with her dead husband Khal Drogo and their son, who was never born.
Was it a vision of the future? Daenerys was within reach of the Iron Throne last season, but turned away to head north and fight the white walkers. The reunion with Drogo could be a metaphor for her meeting him in the afterlife - or in other words, dying.
Jon's future is harder to predict, but I always find myself coming back to the final words of his grouchy nemesis, Alliser Thorne.
"I fought. I lost. Now I rest. But you, Lord Snow, you'll be fighting their battles forever," Thorne said.
Whose battles? I haven't the faintest idea. But I'm willing to bet we will look back on that line with a new level of understanding in a month or so.
Daenerys has always been a person of importance in this world; an ambitious and formidable woman with the right family name.
Jon started as a nobody. A bastard with no mother, who vowed to claim no crowns or titles.
Consider the often vicious streak of irony running through this story, and then ask yourself which of these two characters is really more likely to win the game of thrones.
It can't be both of them. They might be inseparable now, but as Varys said, nothing lasts.
The second episode of Game of Thrones will air next Monday on Foxtel at 11am and 8:30pm. Keep an eye out for news.com.au's recap and podcast analysing the episode.
In the meantime you can subscribe to our podcast, Winter is Here, on iTunes.