Game of Thrones: What Is the Significance of Podrick’s Song ‘Jenny of Oldstones’?

Warning: this article contains spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 2!

The second episode of Game of Thrones’ final season ended on a fittingly somber note. As the inhabitants of Winterfell settled down for what very well might be their final night together, Podrick Payne serenaded his friends with a rendition of “Jenny of Oldstones,” a popular folk tune among the people of Westeros. The episode also featured a reprise of the song over the ending credits, this time performed by Florence + The Machine.

As is pretty much always the case whenever we hear a new bit of music in the series, this tune has deep thematic implications. It’s more than just a sweet, sad song about a bygone age. It speaks to the heart of the conflict between Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen as the series finale looms.

Read on to learn more about the origin of this sad song and why it’s so relevant to the battles to come.

Drawing From the Books

Even though the TV series has long since passed the point where George R.R. Martin’s novels left off, “Jenny of Oldstones” is an example of the writers finding ways to work in unused elements from the source material. The song appears in A Storm of Swords, the third book in the Song of Ice and Fire series. Arya hears the song while travelling with the Brotherhood Without Banners. Tom of Sevenstreams sings the song to an elderly woman known as the Ghost of High Heart in repayment for her revealing her prophetic dreams to the group.

That clash between love and duty encapsulates Jon’s struggle this season. Now that he knows the truth about his parentage and his own claim to the iron Throne, he has a difficult choice to make. Does he keep quiet and remain faithful to Dany, or does he reveal his Targaryen blood and rally the armies of Westeros behind the Stark banner? As we’ve seen over the past two episodes, many in the North are reluctant to embrace Daenerys and her army. They would be far more willing to accept a Targaryen king who actually hails from the North.

“Jenny of Oldstones” highlights the importance of this dilemma even as the White Walkers draw near. Had Duncan done his royal duty, the downfall of the Targaryen family and the events of Robert’s Rebellion may never have happened. Jon already chose duty over love once before when he sided with the Night’s Watch over Ygritte and the Wildlings – can he bring himself to do so a second time?

At the same time, it’s also worth remembering that the Ghost of High Heart is also the woman who made the prophecy about Azor Ahai, “the prince that was promised.” Had Duncan not fallen in love with Jenny and brought both her and her companion to court, Duncan’s brother Jaehaerys II might never have heard the witch’s prophecy and arranged for his children to marry and attempt to produce Azor Ahai. So perhaps the true lesson to take from this song is that only a ruler who follows their heart can truly become the savior of Westeros. If Dany is the one destined to defeat the White Walkers and usher in a new spring, the best thing Jon can do is love and convince others to do the same.

Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter, or Kicksplode on MyIGN.

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