The Dragon Has Three Heads: Why Rhaegal Watched Jon Snow and Daenerys Make Out During the ‘Game of Thrones’ Premiere

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

We’ve almost had a full day to marinate on the season-eight premiere of Game of Thrones and the single shot from last night’s episode that has stuck with me was the stare, and slight smile of a dragon. Oh what a world where that is a sentence I’m writing at 5:42 a.m. Pacific time.

jon snow daenerys waterfall season 8
Helen Sloan/HBO

After Daenerys and Jon go for their joyride and land in front of a northern waterfall and cave (reminiscent of the location where Jon and Ygritte hid their love from the rest of their army), we see the two of them embrace and start making out. But somewhat oddly, the show cuts to a shot of the two literal dragons watching the two Targaryen dragons as they kiss. Then, perhaps even more oddly, Rhaegal, the dragon Jon rode in the episode, almost smiles at the two of them. Then, perhaps even more oddly, Jon notices Rhaegal smiling/staring and is distracted by it.

Why did this moment stand out to me? Because it sparked what should have been an obvious realization about season two when Daenerys first named all three of her dragons: Her dragons are literal reincarnations of the three people they’re named after.

Rhaegal, the dragon that smiled, is Rhaegar Targaryen, Jon Snow’s actual father, reincarnated. It’s why Rhaegal approached Jon when he and Daenerys first approached the dragons, and it’s why Jon cringed almost as if he spotted one of his parents spying on him while he was making out with a girl when he saw Rhaegal. Rhaegal is Jon’s father. And maybe if he could speak he’d have told his son he was making out with his aunt, but that’s a different article for a different time.

rhaegal drogon season 8 ep 1
Helen Sloan/HBO

Drogon, Daenerys’ dragon, is named after her first husband Khal Drogo. And what was perhaps the most iconic scene of the series featuring Drogon? Well, of course it was Drogon riding into battle with the Dothraki in one of season seven’s iconic episodes, “The Spoils of War.” In that battle Drogon also got shot in the chest with a bolt from Qyburn’s scorpion, in almost the identical place on the body that Khal Drogo suffered his fatal wound. Drogon is the largest of the three dragons, much like Khal Drogo was the largest of the three men the dragons are named after. He’s the darkest of them. He’s the most ferocious and primal of them. He’s the one Daenerys had the strongest connection with first. He is Khal Drogo. 

And finally we have Viserion, the now undead dragon, named after Daenerys’ older brother from season one, Viserys. We all thought Viserys was a “true dragon,” but in season one Daenerys literally told us that he wasn’t after he was burned to death: “He was no dragon. Fire cannot kill a dragon.” Similarly, we all thought Viserion was a true dragon, but after last season’s “Beyond the Wall” episode we saw Viserion killed and reborn as something else. He’s no longer a “true” dragon. And if you remember closely, as soon as he was hit with the Night King’s icy spear, Viserion burst into flames. “Fire cannot kill a dragon.”

People were quick to wonder why Jon believed Sam so quickly regarding the reveal of his true heritage. I believe it’s because he already knew. And part of already knowing was the feeling he got when he saw his father staring at him through the eyes of a dragon.

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