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Podrick’s song has ties to the books and a Game of Thrones prophecy

It’s a clever reference and a complicated nod to prophecy

tyrion and podrick song - game of thrones season 8 HBO

Music plays an integral role in Game of Thrones. Whether it be folksy songs written for the show or real-life musicians popping up in the world of Westeros, there are more than a few examples of real-world music intersecting with the show.

But in the case of season 8, episode 2, the big musical moment centers on a song that draws inspiration from George R.R. Martin’s books and hints at one of the series’ most important mysteries.

[Ed. note: This post contains major spoilers for Game of Thrones through season 8, episode 2.]

During the episode, Podrick, Brienne’s squire, sings a song while a few characters sit around the fire at Winterfell, waiting for the dead to arrive. This is likely the last time all of these characters will be together, and for some, perhaps even the last night they’ll be alive. So, this is a brief moment of camaraderie and fellowship before the end. While the song is certainly haunting, and serves as a melancholy way for both the characters and the audience to remember the stakes of what’s ahead, there’s a little more to it than that.

For particularly observant book readers, there’s a very specific line in the song that might seem familiar:

High in the halls of the kings who are gone, Jenny would dance with her ghosts ...

This is the only line from one of the books’ most mysterious songs: “Jenny’s Song.” In the actual events of the books, the song is mentioned a few times, most prominently when the Ghost of High Heart requests it to be sung to her in the third book, A Storm of Swords. She calls the song “my Jenny’s song.” As soon as the old woman hears it, she begins to weep.

The song itself is most likely about Jenny of Oldstones, an apparent descendant of the First Men who eventually tied the knot with Duncan Targaryen. Duncan loved Jenny so much that he broke off his betrothal to the daughter of Lyonel Baratheon to marry Jenny. While the king, Duncan’s father, attempted to have the marriage undone, Duncan gave up his claim to the throne to remain with Jenny. Eventually — after a brief Baratheon rebellion — Jenny was accepted into court. She brought with her a woman she was friends with, a woods witch, who was either a dwarf or a one of the Children of the Forest, depending on whose version of the story you believe.

While we only have the one line of the song from the book, there’s plenty of mystery about what exactly it may mean, and the show might have helped out a bit.

Duncan, and likely Jenny, died in the Tragedy of Summerhall, an accident reportedly caused by King Aegon’s attempt to bring dragons back to the Seven Kingdoms long after they had gone extinct. The castle exploded, ending the lives of many of the people there. However, among the likely survivors was the woods witch that Jenny brought with her to court. In fact, based on their physical descriptions and their connection to Jenny, this witch is likely the same woman who requests to hear Jenny’s song from Arya in A Storm of Swords: the Ghost of High Heart.

This where things get somewhat complicated. The woods witch that Jenny brought with her to court had an important hand in the shaping of modern Westerosi history. She prophesied — something woods witches often do — that The Prince Who Was Promised would come from the line of Prince Aerys and Princess Rhaella, Daenerys and Rhaegar’s mother, and Jon’s grandparents. As soon as the king, Jaehaerys II, who only took the throne because his older brother Duncan chose Jenny over the crown, had his two children, Aerys — the man we would later know as the Mad King — and Rhaella married.

If the Ghost of High Heart and the woods witch who made the prophecy, are indeed the same person, then Jenny’s song is not only a story of a legendary love, but a direct reference to the prophecy of the Prince Who Was Promised. It’s also an indirect reminder of the events that led to Jon’s and Dany’s births. Lending even more credence to this idea is the fact that no one knows the original author of the song, but the most prominent theory is that it was Rhaegar Targaryen — Dany even mentions that Rhaegar liked to sing songs in her scene with Jon just after Jenny’s song ends.

Rhaegar was Jon’s father, of course, but also obsessed with the idea that either he himself was The Prince Who Was Promised or that one of his children would be. As such, it’s more than likely that whatever the rest of the lyrics might be, Jenny’s song — based on its subject’s proximity to a piece of the prophecy — was always intended to be about The Prince Who Was Promised.

As one of the most subtle hints of this idea yet, after Pod sings the song, the episode immediately jumps to the scene in which Jon lets Dany know who his true parents were. In other words, we have a song, indirectly related to The Prince Who Was Promised by suggesting that the “prince” would be born of the line of Rhaella and Aerys, setting up a scene in which the couple’s only living descendants realize their true relationship. What’s more, it’s a song about a rightful heir giving up his right to be king for love, which could end up being relevant based on Jon and Dany’s conversations.

Outside of the in-universe place of the song, there’s also a brief discussion of the song in the “Inside the Episode” segment. According to David Benioff, the show’s writers penned the rest of the lyrics for the song, outside of the first line that came from the books, while series composer Ramin Djawadi wrote the music. Also included in the episode is a unique version of the song by Florence + The Machine — it’s officially called “Jenny of Oldstones“ — that plays behind the credits. This isn’t the first time that the band has been involved in the show. One of the early trailers for season 2 was accompanied by a Florence + The Machine song as well.

Of all the various coded references to the prophecies and secrets of the books, this one might be the show’s most clever and complicated. While it’s impossible to say if the show will ever directly address the topic of prophecies like The Prince Who Was Promised or answer our lingering questions, the end of this episode proves that the creators certainly haven’t forgotten about them.