Warning: This post contains spoilers for the sixth season of Game of Thrones.
Although the season six finale of Game of Thrones finally confirmed the R+L=J theory — that Jon Snow is not Ned Stark's bastard, but rather the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen — many viewers still have questions surrounding the events that transpired as Jon was being born in the Tower of Joy.
One point in particular that has given fans pause is why Rhaegar Targaryen sent his best swordsman, Ser Arthur Dayne, to guard Lyanna from her brother rather than having him fight against Robert Baratheon and his army. Reddit user therapy does a good job of laying out the conundrum in a recent post:
A few things about the Tower of Joy scene puzzled me:
- Why is there any fighting at all? Ned is Lyanna's sister and can be trusted with her and her baby.
- Before fighting, Arthur Dayne tells Ned, 'Good luck in the wars to come,' a strange thing to say to someone you are about to fight to the death with.
- When only Dayne and Ned are left, Dayne could easily kill Ned at any time (as the Three Eyed Raven said, he wasn't just better than Ned, but far better) - why delay?
However, the Redditor then posits that Dayne never intended on defeating Ned. Instead, he only wanted to ensure that Ned was the only one who would know about Lyanna and Rhaegar's baby. "My theory is that Arthur Dayne's commands were to leave Ned, and only Ned, alive," therapy writes. "The reason is simple: Rhaegar knew that Ned could be trusted with Lyanna and her baby, but also that the identity of the baby must be kept a secret. Ned can keep a secret, but if 5 other men see Ned come down out of the tower with a baby, the secret is much more likely to get out eventually. The best course of action is for Ned to return North alone, with no one else seeing where the baby came from."
Therapy goes on to explain why this makes sense in relation to everything viewers saw occur during the scene.
If true, then regarding the three puzzling points above,
- Fighting is necessary because Dayne can't just tell Ned, "Your men need to die in order for an important secret to be kept." Even after seeing Lyanna and promising her to keep the baby safe, Ned wouldn't have his men murdered - it's not in his nature. Therefore Dayne must kill them.
- Dayne knows Ned will survive the battle, since he won't kill him. Ned's life was never in peril. But Dayne doesn't know if he himself will survive (he's amazing, but you never know for sure). So he takes the opportunity to wish Ned luck, since he and Rhaegar honestly do hope he succeeds.
- I'm less sure of why Dayne keeps fighting after only Ned is left. I would guess that Dayne is trying to prove to Ned that he could easily kill him, for example, by disarming him and then sparing his life (which is harder than killing him and takes more time). Then Ned would believe what he tells him about his orders from Rhaegar, after which Dayne would "vanish", leaving Ned with Lyanna and the baby.
Instead, Howland Reed wasn't actually dead, and he surprised Dayne, leading to his death. But Rhaegar's plan still worked, since Ned promised Lyanna to keep the baby safe, as expected, and while another person knew the secret, Reed could in fact be trusted with it.
Considering how season six ended, it seems like only a matter of time until Jon discovers his true parentage. This hopefully also means we'll get our answers about everything that happened leading up to the fight at the Tower.