Warning! SPOILERS ahead for Game of Thrones season 8, episode 2.
Game of Thrones season 8, episode 2 “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” focuses on all those gathered at Winterfell on the eve of battle. As they wait out the night before battle, Podrick Payne sings a beautifully sad ballad – but what song is it and what might it mean for the rest of season 8?
The final season of Game of Thrones is now in full swing, and though there are many theories which try to predict it, no one actually knows how the epic story will end. There a few things expected to happen, like next week’s Battle of Winterfell and the final reveal of who will sit upon the Iron Throne (if anyone). But other than those few details, what’s to come in Game of Thrones season 8 remains largely a mystery. However, the song Podrick is singing may be a clue.
As they await the coming battle against the Night King and his army of the dead, several characters gather around a fire in one of Winterfell’s halls: Tyrion, Jaime, Davos, Tormund, Brienne, and Podrick. Wanting to keep the evening going, Tyrion asks for a song. After most refuse, Podrick begins singing a slow and sorrowful song. The song then plays over scenes of how the many characters in Winterfell are spending what may be their final night, ending just before Jon reveals who he truly is to Daenerys. It’s a beautiful song that perfectly fits the mood of the moment, but could there be a deeper meaning to why Podrick is singing this particular song?
- This Page: What Song is Podrick Singing?
- Page 2: What Does It Mean for Season 8?
What Song is Podrick Singing?
The song Podrick sings on the eve of battle in Game of Thrones season 8, episode 2 is known in the books as Jenny’s song but the show has titled it, “Jenny of Oldstones”. The song refers to Jenny of Oldstones, a peasant woman who marries Prince Duncan Targaryen. The eldest son of Aegon V, Duncan was heir to the Iron Throne and already betrothed to a Baratheon daughter, but he forfeited his claim to the throne by going against his father’s wishes and marrying Jenny, the woman he loved. The full lyrics to Jenny’s song never appear in the A Song of Ice of Fire novels, but for Game of Thrones, Podrick sings the full lyrics to “Jenny of Oldstones”:
High in the halls of the kings who are gone
Jenny would dance with her ghosts
The ones she had lost and the ones she had found
And the ones who had loved her the most
The ones who’d been gone for so very long
She couldn’t remember their names
They spun her around on the damp old stones
Spun away all her sorrow and pain
And she never wanted to leave
Never wanted to leave (x5)
The lyrics of the song likely refer to the Tragedy at Summerhall, a summer retreat for the Targaryens which was destroyed by a terrible fire. At the time of the fire, King Aegon V, Prince Duncan, and Ser Duncan the Tall, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, were all present as well as much of the court. They had gathered at Summerhall to celebrate the impending birth of Aegon V’s great-grandchild – Rhaegar, who was born to Rhaella and Aerys (later crowned Aerys II and better known as the Mad King) on the very same day as the Tragedy. What exactly caused the fire isn’t known, but it’s suspected Aegon V had enlisted sorcerers and pyromancers in an attempt at resurrecting dragons and the ceremony went awry. Almost everyone present at Summerhall died in the fire – the King, Prince Duncan, the Lord Commander – with one of the few exceptions being Rhaella and her newborn son, Rhaegar.
With this in mind, it’s possible that the lyrics of “Jenny of Oldstones” are in reference to Jenny’s grief and pain over the death of her beloved husband. What happened to Jenny after Summerhall isn’t known, so it’s equally possibly she died in the fire as well and is then also one of the many ghosts in the song. In the novels, Jenny’s song is first mentioned in A Storm of Swords when the Brotherhood Without Banners visit a woods witch known as the Ghost of High Hart (a tall hill near the ruins of Summerhall and once considered sacred by The Children of the Forest). They come to her to ask her about what she’s seen in her dreams, believing them to contain prophecies. As payment, the Ghost asks that they sing for her Jenny’s song.
This woods witch is thought to be the same woods witch who was a friend of Jenny’s and joined her at court after she married Prince Duncan. While at court, the woods witch makes a prediction that the Prince That Was Promised will be born of Aerys and Rhaella’s line, beginning in earnest the belief that this promised prince is their soon-to-be-born son, Rhaegar. As he grew older, Rhaegar would often visit the Summerhall ruins, bringing along his harp and composing sad songs – one which may, in fact, be Jenny’s song, “Jenny of Oldstones”. Though it’s impossible to know for sure, it’s entirely plausible that it was Rhaegar who first played the song for the Ghost at High Hart in memory of her long lost friend and all those who lost their lives in the tragedy.
Page 2 of 2: The Real Meaning Of Podrick’s Song
What Does The Song Mean?
There is quite a lot of history wrapped up in this one sad song, and while not all of it may matter to the story Game of Thrones is telling in season 8 – after all, the Ghost of High Hart and her prophecies aren’t in the TV show – the inclusion of “Jenny of Oldstones” still feels intentional. On the surface level, it’s a song about love and loss, which makes it a prime choice for those awaiting a battle which many of them may not survive. Like earlier songs featured on Game of Thrones, “The Rains of Castamere” or “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”, “Jenny of Oldstones” is surely also a song which most in Westeros are familiar with and may even find comfort in on the eve of battle. (And of course, audiences may also find Podrick’s singing of it similar to a scene of another song being sung before battle in the film, The Return of the King.)
On a more symbolic level, however, “Jenny of Oldstones” comes directly before the scene in where Jon reveals to Daenerys the truth about his lineage – that he is actually Aegon Targaryen, the son of her brother, Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark, and therefor the true heir to the Iron Throne. Relaying this news to Daenerys is a big step for Jon, and she reacts as many could have guessed (which is to say rightfully suspicious even if we, the audience, know it’s the truth), but Jon has yet to give any indication of how he plans to act on it. Predictably, this scene between them is cut short by the arrival of the White Walkers, which means it’s very likely Game of Thrones won’t reveal what Jon decides to do about being the rightful heir until after the Battle of Winterfell. But the inclusion of “Jenny of Oldstones” may offer a clue.
Prince Duncan gave up his crown to marry Jenny, the woman he loved, which may hint that Jon could very well choose to do the same for the woman he loves. It’d be a controversial choice, to be sure, but it’s in line with the sort of person Jon is – someone who has never sought that kind of power for himself and a man who keeps his promises. Jon has already given up one crown for Daenerys, what’s to stop him from doing it again? Plus, he not only loves Daenerys, he swore an oath of fealty to her and it’s possible that even this bombshell won’t make him break it.
Then again, the strong ties between “Jenny of Oldstones” and Jon’s father, Rhaegar as well the Prince That Was Promised prophecy could be a hint of Jon fulfilling some grand destiny. Whether that means sitting the Iron Throne, or being the promised prince who brings the dawn by slaying the Night King – or even both! – remains to be seen. But this old, sad song comes with a lot a meaning, and it’s only being sung at this moment on Game of Thrones for a reason.
Next: Game of Thrones: Every Season 1 Callback in The Season 8 Premiere
Game of Thrones season 8 continues next Sunday, April 28 at 9:00pm on HBO.