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Could Daenerys Targaryen’s most loyal subject’s days be numbered?
In order to make it all the way to Game of Thrones season 8, you’ve pretty much had to have survived more than anyone should have to endure, and as the longtime advisor and friend of a queen, Jorah Mormont has endured more than most. Now that he’s at the center of the chaos, there’s no telling just how much more he’ll have to face.
Jorah has come a long way over the course of Game of Thrones. The once-disgraced heir to Bear Island who was ready to sell out Daenerys Targaryen to return home is now one of her most loyal advisors. He’s faced off with words against Viserys Targaryen and Ser Barristan Selmy and taken his sword into Meereen’s fighting pits and north of the Wall. He’s survived exile and banishment, the stone men in the ruins of Valyria, an onslaught of White Walkers and wights, and even a brush with some greyscale. And all the while, he’s harbored a one-sided crush on the woman he’s vowed to follow until the ends of the earth.
His return to Daenerys at Dragonstone in season 7 offered little doubt about where he’d spend much of his time in season 8: right by his queen’s side as long as long as he can. But how long will that be, and—if his time is limited—how much can he accomplish before he’s stricken down?
What will happen to Jorah Mormont in Game of Thrones season 8?
Will Jorah Mormont be redeemed, or has he already achieved redemption?
On the surface, Jorah Mormont is not a character we should like. He betrayed Daenerys Targaryen from the get-go by spying on her for Varys, he harbors a one-sided and somewhat unhealthy crush on the queen (which edges even more on the creepy side in A Song of Ice and Fire), he’s a dick to Barristan Selmy as they fight for Daenerys’ ear, and he ignores her order for him to leave Meereen and never return; a banishment is about as good as you can get over there. And this is all on top of his original sin of selling poachers into slavery to pay the debt racked up by his first wife—which had been illegal in Westeros for thousands of years—and fleeing Westeros to avoid being executed by Ned Stark for it.
Yet we do. He’s has benefited more than most from the TV adaptation largely due to the utter charm of actor Iain Glen, aged up from his book counterparts his hard edges smoothed over. (Jorah’s one-sided love for Daenerys does not land the same way in the books as it does the show.)
Apart from season 1, he’s proven himself to be loyal to a fault. He brought Daenerys her newest advisor, Tyrion Lannister. He helped rescue her at Vaes Dothrak (although she arguably didn’t need much saving). He found a cure for greyscale, making him only the second person we’ve met to have survived it. (Shireen Baratheon is the other.) He risked life and limb to venture beyond the Wall, and he even got Jon Snow, who is just as stubborn and morally strict as Ned Stark always was, to soften on him.
The question that remains for season 8: Is it enough? Have his actions for most of the series erased all of the harm he’s caused? By season 6, Daenerys has pretty much forgiven Jorah; she ordered him to cure himself of greyscale, something that’s no small feat. She was relieved to see that he did find a cure a season later when Jorah returned to her in “Eastwatch” and when she rescued him from the wrath of the Night King’s army in “Beyond the Wall.” Jon Snow has also seen what kind of man Jorah has become; Jorah believed he forfeited his claim to Longclaw as a Mormont when Jon tried to give it back to him and handed it back to Jon.
Given that season 8 has the potential to focus and expand on on another redemption story—that of Jaime Lannister, newly separated from his sister and lover—so featuring both in a jam-packed season might be too much. But don’t rule out the potential for a redemptive ending for Jorah anyway.
Will Jorah Mormont’s greyscale act up again?
For about a season-and-a-half, Jorah was basically an extremely contagious ticking time bomb. Although as harrowing as Jorah’s prognosis was, it’s not a fate that was bestowed upon him in the books: that unfortunate fate went to Jon Connington, a book-only character who had ties to Rhaegar Targaryen.
But the greyscale origin is very similar. Jorah contracted it after he saved Tyrion’s life, which gradually grew worse the closer he got to Meereen. What started as a small patch on his wrist traveled up his left forearm by the time he revealed his diagnosis to Daenerys in the middle of season 6.
His next on-screen appearance in the season 7 premiere revealed that the greyscale had gotten far worse, but just one episode later, Jorah received a miracle cure after the maesters of Oldtown doomed him to live out his life with the stone men. Samwell Tarly, who is driven to save Jorah by loyalty to Jorah’s father (and the former Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch) Jeor Mormont, snuck into Jorah’s room to attempt a dangerous procedure that involved peeling off infected skin and putting an ointment on it. After he tells Daenerys that he found a cure, his greyscale isn’t mentioned again for the rest of the season.
Is it that easy? Is Sam’s cure permanent or more of a temporary reprieve? Given that there is so little information on those who’ve survived greyscale, it’s hard to know. For now, Jorah seems to have been cured, but if you asked some in Westeros, anyone with greyscale is dead even if it seems to have been stopped in its tracks.
In A Dance With Dragons, the wildling Val (Mance Rayder’s sister-in-law) generally gets along with Jon Snow; she even assists him in contacting Tormund Giantsbane (whose story diverges a bit from the show). But the moment she lays her eyes on Shireen Baratheon, who had greyscale as a baby, she urges Jon to have her killed. Val explained that greyscale, or “the grey death,” is fatal north of the Wall even if you manage to stop it, and even if you stop it, it’s only a matter of time before it could emerge again to kill everyone.
“The maesters may believe what they wish,” Val tells Jon. “Ask a woods witch if you would know the truth. The grey death sleeps, only to wake again. The child is not clean!”
So far, there has been no indication that wildlings hold that same viewpoint regarding greyscale, and Tormund doesn’t have any issues working alongside Jorah in “Beyond the Wall.” (If he even knows about it, that is.) And introducing the idea of greyscale resurging after hanging out beyond the Wall with only six episodes left might be a bit too much for Game of Thrones to juggle, not to mention Shireen spent most of season 5 there without any issues from her greyscale. On the other hand, the Wall had magical barriers when Shireen stayed at Castle Black, which is not as strong as they used to be. But if something like that could end Jorah’s remission? A stony epidemic would add one more card stacked against the army of the living.
How likely is it that Jorah Mormont will survive Game of Thrones season 8?
Although all bets are off on whether any character will make it out of the final Game of Thrones season alive, some believed that Glen confirmed that Jorah would survive the series in an October 2018 interview with the Daily Express.
“[Working on Game of Thrones] allowed me to travel all the world,” he said. “I am one of the lucky ones who made it through!”
But given the context of the interview, it seems more likely that Glen is referring to himself as one of the “lucky ones” who made it to the final Game of Thrones season. Which leaves us with one big question: Will Jorah live or die?
The argument is strong for both sides. Like Gendry, Jorah could easily be a character with an early-season death that pushes the heroes even further—something that could be even more monumental if his death occurs while he tries to save Daenerys or Jon from their own deaths. If it’s Daenerys, his final act is to save the woman he loves. If it’s Jon, he’s saving the man who’s in love with that the woman he loves. (That’s assuming Jon and Daenerys work out the kinks of their relationship.)
If Jorah dies early on, it serves as another major blow to Daenerys after losing Viserion last season, who would be a stranger in a strange land with even fewer allies than before. And if he dies toward the end of the series and Daenerys survives, it makes her victory without her most loyal subject all the more bittersweet. Or, if both Jorah and Daenerys die, he’ll have fulfilled his duty.
But if Jorah lives? He could end up anywhere from King’s Landing to Bear Island, but no matter where he may be physically located, the more fitting answer is “by his queen’s side.” (He appears to be one of the few characters who hasn’t sought power far beyond the position he currently holds.) Of course, Jorah could have a bittersweet ending of his own if he lives but the woman who he swore an oath to protect, doesn’t make it out alive.
As Game of Thrones’ remaining players will likely trade even more barbs, threaten one another, and try to one-up one another even in the midst of an apocalypse, Jorah’s place in all of this is one of the few things we won’t have to question. He’ll be in the same place he’s always been for the majority of the series for as long as he can, even if he could feasibly one day return to his ancestral homeland: right by his queen’s side.
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Michelle Jaworski is a staff writer and the resident Game of Thrones expert at the Daily Dot. She covers entertainment, geek culture, and pop culture and has brought her knowledge to conventions like Con of Thrones. She is based in New Jersey.