Ever since returning to Game of Thrones in season 6, Bran Stark has been a bit of a mystery. He trained with the Three-Eyed Raven, who showed him critical moments of Westeros’ past, but it was never quite clear why he needed the training — and, for that matter, who exactly the Three-Eyed Raven was. All we really knew going into the final season was that he stood in opposition to the Night King. At least, until now. In episode 2 of Game of Thrones’ final season, Bran revealed what the Three-Eyed Raven is and why the Night King wants him dead.
[Ed. note: This post contains major spoilers for Game of Thrones through season 8, episode 2.]
With most of the central cast gathered around a table in Winterfell, planning for the Night King’s attack, Bran reveals that he has a plan. According to Jon, there’s no way to beat the dead head-on, so they’ll have to develop a strategy to hit the Night King himself. In order to do this, Bran suggests that he camp out in the Godswood alone in order to draw the Night King to him. After a moment of shock subsides, Bran explains exactly what he means.
The Night King, he reveals, has one goal: to erase Westeros, their world. As Bran reveals, “I am its memory.” This idea is helpfully clarified just moments later by Sam, who explains that Bran’s “memories don’t come from books. And your stories aren’t just stories. If I wanted to erase the world, I’d start with you.”
The Three-Eyed Raven, according to Bran, is a living history of Westeros: a force whose job it is to watch over the world and keep it safe, but also to keep its secrets. For this reason, the Night King wants to hunt down Bran — now officially the Three-Eyed Raven — not only to destroy the world’s present, but its past as well.
With this explanation, we finally understand why it seems like the Night King has been hunting the youngest Stark. And, as Bran tells Tyrion, the Night King will know right where he is thanks to the mark he left on Bran’s arm when the two met in Bran’s visions. So the plan will be to lure the Night King in so the humans can ultimately defeat the army of the dead.
Now that we finally understand, to some extent, the role and relationship between the Three-Eyed Raven and the Night King, it seems likely that their story could come to an end in the next episode. This could mean that the Night King will be vanquished in battle, or that Bran will be killed, leaving Westeros’ long memory lost. But we’ll have to wait until the Battle of Winterfell to find out for sure.