Warning: This post contains spoilers for season seven of Game of Thrones.
With an undead dragon now under his control, the Night King seems poised to wreak complete havoc on the people of Westeros. However, the motivations behind his vendetta against the living may not be what they seem.
Based on similarities between the Night King's attire in Sunday's episode and the outfit Bran Stark wears in his visions — a detail spotted by Reddit user Trivial-Savoir-Faire — some fans are speculating that Bran is actually the Night King himself.
While this concept may seem a bit far fetched, it wouldn't be the first time that Thrones has used a character's costume to signal a turn of events. In the season six episode following Jon Snow's renouncement of his Night's Watch vows, he appeared in a Stark-inspired outfit that seemed to hint at his future as King in the North.
This discovery also comes on the heels of a detailed theory explaining exactly how the twist could come to pass. Reddit user turm0il26 posits that Bran will try to rewrite history in a number of ways, including going back in time to construct the Wall as Bran the Builder — an idea that seems to be greatly foreshadowed in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. Bran will then make a last-ditch effort to prevent the destruction of Westeros by warging into the man the Children of the Forest eventually turn into the first White Walker in an attempt to convince them not to go through with the process.
However, since time in the Thrones universe seems to operate in a closed loop — meaning Bran cannot change the past through time travel, he can only fulfill it — he is predestined to fail and his consciousness will end up trapped inside the body of the Night King. Present-day Bran has technically not yet made this mistake, which would explain why both he and the Night King can exist at the same time.
"When he realizes he failed again, he tries to go back in the current timeline, but can't because he's too deep into the past and stayed too long," turmoil26 wrote. "From here, Bran gets stuck in the past (exactly as [the Three-Eyed Raven] and Jojen warned him not to) and becomes the Night King. With the combination of the Childrens' magic and Bran's power, he becomes the villian instead of the hero he tried to be, resulting in [him] turning against the Children for creating him and getting stuck behind the magical Wall he later builds as Bran the builder."
This theory would also explain how the Night King always seems to be in the right place at the right time.
"Immortal as he is, he waits for himself to be born thousands of years later, knowing when and where he has to be to mark the young Bran, personally kill [the Three-Eyed Raven] for hiding the truth about what would happen with him, and eventually being able to destroy the Wall with a certain dragon," the Redditor explained. "The reason the Night king doesn't end his misery by killing his younger self is that he has finally learnt the ink is dry and he would fail again. The reason he doesn't kill Jon Snow, and instead observes him at Hardhome, will be covered in the end."
Sunday's episode also seemed to provide further evidence to support this outcome. The Night King showed up to the frozen lake not only with ice spears capable of killing a dragon but chains big enough to drag one out of the water, indicating that he may have orchestrated the entire battle to force Daenerys to fly north.
"Wasn’t it super-convenient when Jon & Co. attacked the White Walker patrol, that one wight in this patrol was reanimated personally by the Night King and didn’t decay when Jon killed the White Walker?" Quora user Ralph Lengler wrote. "The island on the frozen lake is clearly visible from the place where they captured the wight. This led me to believe that the Night King had a plan. It was crucial for the Night King’s plan that Gendry knew they had captured a wight in a good condition and that his companions were safely trapped on an island of a frozen lake. And that he made it back. The Night King carefully chose this setup in order to increase the likelihood that Dany with her dragons would intervene. It wasn’t coincidence that he waited hours, if not days, and only attacked ten minutes before Dany’s arrival."
If the Night King did know all of this ahead of time, then he is most likely a greenseer. And that could be the final piece of the Bran Stark puzzle.
"The Dragon and the Wolf," the finale of Game of Thrones' seventh season, airs Aug. 27 at 9 p.m. on HBO.