The past is already written. The ink is dry. But who holds the pen? Ryan Colantonio explores causality in Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire.
By Ryan Colantonio // RetroZap’s Season 6 Revisited tackles last season’s biggest reveals and their implications on the story moving forward. This week looks at the introduction of causality, and whether it’s been a part of this series all along. Of course, be prepared for material from all books and seasons.
The Rules of Causality
Game of Thrones Season six provided viewers with their first real glimpse into Bran’s greenseeing abilities. In doing so, the showrunners established a few greensight ground rules.
- History cannot be changed. The past, present, and future are set.
- Interaction with the past always leads to the events in this same timeline.
In other words, when a greenseer attempts to influence the past, any action they take becomes the catalyst of events that have already occurred in the timeline.
These two principles of causality have already played out several times. Jojen Reed was aware of his death and yet powerless to stop it. While Hodor suffered his entire life due to Bran’s influence at a single predestined point in time.
Diving deeper into the series, it’s possible causality has been running its course for quite some time…
Coldhands – Bran’s Monster
Since his introduction in A Storm of Swords, there’s been a number of clues that Coldhands serves a future Bran Stark.
In fact, his entire purpose seems to revolve around delivering Bran to The Cave. By rescuing Samwell Tarly, who in turn opens the Black Gate of the Nightfort, Coldhands provides Bran with a means to pass beneath The Wall.
On top of this, he’s always accompanied by a flock of unnaturally intelligent ravens. Strangely, these ravens have the wherewithal to attack the horde of wights pursuing Sam. They’re even able to communicate without mimicking previously spoken words (more on this later).
Considering Sam’s importance to the timeline, it’s clear that a greenseer is indeed commanding Coldhands and his ravens. Coupled with references to Coldhands as “Bran’s Monster” in A Dance with Dragons, the evidence suggests this greenseer is Bran.
Like his book counterpart, the arrival of Benjen Coldhands also suggests a future Bran at work. In the show, Benjen reveals that it was in fact the Three-eyed Raven who had sent him. More importantly, he goes on to explain that BRAN IS NOW THE THREE-EYED RAVEN. As crazy as it sounds, this final claim insinuates that a future Bran sent Benjen to save his younger self. Take that Barry Allen!
The Mystery of the Dragonglass
The dragonglass at the Fist of the First Men is another key component in the timeline. Without Sam’s dragonglass dagger, he wouldn’t have escaped his encounter with a white walker. As such, there’s a noticeable air of mystery surrounding the glass in both the books and show.
On the show, both Sam and Edd specifically remark that the glass was meant for someone to find. In the season three finale, Sam even tells Bran that he found the glass at The Fist. Putting the two together, Benioff & Weiss seem to be hinting that Bran is the mysterious burier.
Likewise, the books also hint that greensight factors into this mystery. In A Clash of Kings, Martin explicitly notes that Ghost refuses to enter the ringfort at the Fist. However, the direwolf contradicts this behavior just before leading Jon to the dragonglass.
Even stranger, Ghost exhibits an odd fierceness while guiding Jon. This fierceness is very much reminiscent of how Martin describes an animal submitting to a skinchanger in A Dance with Dragons.
With this in mind, it’s quite likely that a powerful warg played a role in this mystery. Given Bran’s experience with warging direwolfs and his eventual knowledge of Sam’s lifesaving dragonglass, the evidence again points to future Bran.
Of course, none of this information explains why Bran would also bury an old war horn…
Mormont’s corn-obsessed companion has puzzled book readers for many years. The reason being, his raven exhibits the same unnatural intelligence as the ones that accompany Coldhands. Readers learn early on that ravens can repeat recently spoken words. However, Mormont’s Raven tends to blurt out independent, often causally significant, remarks.
In A Game of Thrones the raven “advises” to burn the wight that attempts to kill Jeor. In A Storm of Swords the bird “casts” its vote for Jon Snow as Lord Commander. At times, its ramblings even foreshadow Jon becoming King in the North.
While these actions don’t carry as much weight as those above, they do signal the influence of an all-knowing greenseer.
Here’s where you try to tell me he’s Bran the Builder, right?
Is Bran, son of Eddard, also Bran the Builder, the legendary founder of House Stark and supposed architect behind Winterfell and The Wall? Maybe.
It’s hard to ignore the amount of evidence in support of this theory. However, there’s still one quite large roadblock in the way. Bran has not yet proven he’s able to reliably manifest himself while greenseeing.
So far only two individuals have ever seen Bran during a vision: The Night King and young Wylis. The Night King possesses magical abilities of his own, while Hodor’s mind was in the process of being temporally-scrambled. Until Bran can physically manifest himself to non-magical, non-temporally-scrambled beings, it’s much more likely that he may have sent back some blueprints rather than himself.
In the wake of these new insights into the power of greenseers, similar theories have popped up across all corners of the fandom. Some have claimed that the Mad King’s paranoia stemmed from the influence of a greenseer, while others have proposed that greensight helped warn the Targaryens of the Doom of Valyria.
While there’s not enough evidence to prove these claims just yet, one thing’s for sure. Moving forward it will be very interesting to discover just how big of a role causality has played.