The Season 8 episode starts with a series of emotional farewells for those who fell during the Battle of Winterfell. It’s then that the King in the North says a few words that have people talking:
We’re here to say goodbye to our brothers and sisters, to our fathers and mothers, to our friends, our fellow men and women who set aside their differences to fight together and die together so that others might live. Everyone in this world owes them a debt that can never be repaid. It is our duty and our honor to keep them alive in memory for those who come after us and those who come after them for as long as men draw breath. They were the shields that guarded the realms of men, and we shall never see their like again.
As speeches go, it was pretty solid. However, following the scene, viewers seemed less interested in what Jon was saying and more interested in how he said it.
Is a new voice coming?
Tonally, it did seem there was something different about Jon Snow. However, no one seemed to agree whether Jon was trying to sound more like Ned Stark (Sean Bean), the man who raised him, or, you know, if he just had a cold. (There probably aren’t a lot of throat lozenges in the North.)
HuffPost recently spoke to Samwell Tarly actor John Bradley, who believed it was more of the former.
Bradley told us that all the characters were reaching a “new level of maturity” in Season 8 as the culmination of all of their experiences.
“I think [Jon’s] almost looking for a touchstone in his life for morality of being noble and doing the right thing, being strong and being compassionate, all those things that he learned from Ned Stark, so I think he’s taking on the spirit of Ned Stark,” John said.
He added: “I think there’s something in that speech, and in that moment, of Jon channeling Ned a little bit and letting the Ned in him come through ... All of those great lessons he learned from Ned about being noble, about doing the right thing — he’s taking them onboard.”
Sean told HuffPost in 2018 that his accent was the basis for all the Northern accents on the show, so really Jon’s been talking like Ned this whole time.
But as John explained, with Jon taking on more responsibilities — including the upcoming assault on King’s Landing — he was leaning on Ned even more.
“All of his life, Jon’s followed in the footsteps of Ned and trying to attain that level that made him hold Ned in such high regard. I think that now he knows that he needed Ned more than ever, and he feels like Ned’s living through that speech,” said John.
Jon probably also needed Ned’s strength when he says his goodbyes to the North in the episode, leaving to lead the Stark army in support of Queen Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). Those goodbyes included an emotional farewell with Sam, which Bradley said felt like “one of those moments where you know somebody is going out of your life”.
“You know this is the last chance you have to tell them what you feel about them and tell them what they mean to you,” he added.
Jon and Sam have said goodbye multiple times on the show before, and, subsequently enjoyed multiple reunions. In Season 5, Sam famously told Olly (Brenock O’Connor) that Jon “always comes back.” But Bradley explained that this goodbye was different.
“It really did feel like two characters who felt they were never going to see each other again, and as a result of that, Sam decides to tell Jon what he means to him, and he says, ‘You’re the best friend I’ve ever had.’ He’s never said that to him before,” John told us. “He didn’t say that when [Sam] was leaving for the Citadel. He didn’t say that when Jon is going off to fight the battles that he fought because he always assume he was going to see him again.”
With cast members teasing that the battle in the upcoming Episode 5 is even bigger than the one with the army of the dead, there’s a real possibility this was the last time we’ll see Sam and Jon together on screen.
John continued: “I think that’s what happens you look somebody in the eye when you’re about to say goodbye and think this is the last chance I really have to express what an important part this person has played in my life, because if he doesn’t say it now, he’ll never say it.”