Acronyms, Acronyms, Acronyms: A G.O.T. R.O.I. & S.W.O.T. Analysis - Jon Snow
The number of characters jostling for the Iron Throne fluctuates faster than the relevance of Dorne. For seven full seasons now, it hasn’t really changed hands; the Baratheon-but-really-Lannister line has held it from Winter is Coming to The Dragon and the Wolf. With a handful of Starks in Winterfell, the Night King leading a zombie army, and Dany commanding a Dothraki horde, an Unsullied army, and
three two dragons, we’re closer than ever to a real power shift. But who’s best positioned to wind up on top of the special spiky seat when all is said and done? I’ll turn to my whopping 10 years of corporate experience to conduct a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis for each character and predict the ROI (return on investment) for the kingdom should they end up in the hotseat.
Let’s take a look at everyone’s favorite emo kid-turned-Prince of Prophecy, Jon Snow (Aegon Targaryen).
Since some early difficulty committing to the Night’s Watch, Jon has been a rock for his followers to cling to in the building storm. He stepped up to fill a critical role in the Battle Beneath the Wall, rallying the Night’s Watch troops to hold the gate until the surprise arrival of Stannis Baratheon. Good leaders can’t make everyone happy, and his decision to bring Wildlings through the Wall led to his assassination, but it remains the right decision. He later traveled to Hardhome, where he convinced hostile Wildlings to follow his evacuation plan. His masterstroke was forming an army of Wildlings, the Mormonts, and other Northern houses to ride on Winterfell and fight the Boltons. Wherever Jon has gone, he’s reluctantly stepped into leadership roles and achieved greater-than-expected results.
Longclaw is one of the few Valyrian steel weapons in the realm, and if he ever decides to utilize Ghost’s abilities, Jon has a mental link with a direwolf as well.
We know followers of R’hllor can resurrect people multiple times (see: Beric Dondarrion), and we know Melisandre will try to resurrect Jon again if it comes to that. He’s also experienced some suspiciously good luck since being brought back the first time, evading hails of arrows and mounted charges in the Battle of the Bastards. Depending on your view of destiny, he may have a bit of supernatural armor protecting him.
Formally trained in Winterfell, Jon has steadily progressed into one of the story’s most fearsome fighters. Since getting an assist against Qhorin Halfhand, Jon has escaped Wildlings, killed Orell and two White Walkers, survived the front lines of the Battle of the Bastards, and defeated Ramsay Bolton in a shield-versus-bow showdown.
I don’t want to fault Jon too much for the Season 7 plan to sail from Dragonstone to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, walk from the Wall to no specific location Beyond-the-Wall, capture a wight alive, walk it back to the Wall, hope the magical wards don’t destroy it, and sail it back to Dragonstone. After all, everyone somehow agreed this plan made more sense than asking Dany to do a reconnaissance mission on her dragon. His tactical acumen has been questionable in other situations, though, most notably in the Battle of the Bastards. Not only did he abandon his battle plan in an attempt to rescue Rickon, but their planning seemed to involve a standard battle across an open field. Before he gets killed by his son, Roose warns Ramsay that Jon knows Winterfell better than they ever will; no effort seems to be made to take advantage of this knowledge and weaken the Bolton army before meeting them in the field.
“I’ve looked into His eyes”
As much as anyone “knows” the White Walkers, Jon has faced them down on multiple occasions. He’s the only person to defeat more than one of them, and he’s encountered the Night King in person. If anyone is prepared to face him in open combat and not hesitate, it’s Jon.
Claim to the Iron Throne
With the combined knowledge of Sam (really Gilly) and Bran, we now know Jon is in fact the legitimate son of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Based on historical precedence, this would place him ahead of Dany in the Targaryen line of inheritance, if Westeros still cares about such things.
Aunt/Lover not keen on competition
Jon and his Aunt Dany hooked up to end Season 7, and Daenerys “titles, titles, titles” Targaryen hasn’t appreciated competition to her claim on the throne in the past. She certainly hasn’t come all this way to casually cede the Seven Kingdoms to Jon just because he’s Rhaegar’s surviving son, leaving an alliance (read: marriage…ew) as perhaps the only path to peace between our two primary players.
Night King’s favorite target
The Night King definitely seems to have a thing for AeJon SnoGaryen. He was watching closely when Jon escaped Hardhome and issued the extremely meme-able “Come at me, Snow” rather than throwing one of his Olympic-class javelins at his boat. If the Night King is the big bad, and Jon is the Prince that was Promised, you can bet they’re headed for a direct showdown.
Return on Investment
I don’t think there’s much doubt that Jon can rule a kingdom capably. Stern, fair, and willing to make difficult choices for the greater good, Jon learned much from his supposed father, Ned Stark. But does this approach benefit the Seven Kingdoms in times of prosperity the same way it perfectly suits the North and their “Winter is Coming” mentality? If we’re talking investment, this is going to be your nice low-risk, medium-reward option. He’ll make the right choices and help keep the realm pointed in the right direction, but I don’t see him enacting sweeping reformations like, say, Jaeharys I. You’ll get a positive return with Jon, which immediately places him among the top 5 rulers since Aegon’s Conquest (seriously y’all, this inheritance-through-incest thing has not worked out well), but it won’t be exciting. ROI: steady 10% per year.
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