Why the Tower of Joy Is So Important to Game of Thrones

This week's Game of Thrones episode takes us to a legendary place within the mythical world: the Tower of Joy. Fans of the book are very familiar with the location, as it's the birthplace of the R + L = J theory — literally. Before the next episode, let's go over what exactly happens at the Tower of Joy and how the show may venture from George R. R. Martin's book series.

What We've Seen

The latest episode shows young Ned Stark riding up to the Tower of Joy with his crew, looking for a fight. He and Howland Reed take down Ser Arthur Dayne (aka the Sword of the Morning) by stabbing him in the back, which is a pretty shocking revelation for Bran, who has always heard tales about how his father had honorably defeated Dayne. Ned then hears screams coming from the tower, and he rushes up the stairs. Bran calls out, and Ned pauses, as if he's heard his future son, before continuing up into the Tower.

What Happens in the Tower

Because we haven't gotten there yet on the show, we can't say for sure what will happen when Ned gets inside the Tower of Joy. In the books, Ned finds his sister inside, and it's where she dies. Her final words to him are, "Promise me, Ned." As the theory goes, Lyanna gives birth to a child before her death and Ned takes him in and raises Jon Snow as his own (bastard) son. It would be huge if Game of Thrones finally confirmed Jon's parentage, but I wouldn't put it past the writers to dangle an enormous plotline in front of us, then pull it away.

Why the Show May Veer From the Books

Now that the show is moving beyond the story in the books, giving fans of the A Song of Ice and Fire series serious anxiety, things are happening that don't happen in the books. The whole deal with Bran going back and viewing the events at the Tower of Joy? That's not a thing in the books, which means Bran calling out to his father and Ned turning around is definitely not a thing. Does the moment mean that Bran's abilities don't stop with being able to view the past? Can he also communicate with people in the past, possibly altering major events? Here's what actor Isaac Hempstead-Wright told The Hollywood Reporter about his understanding:

"It's enough of a utility to just be able to look back in time and allow that to inform your decisions in the future, but the fact that you might be able to change time? It's massive. It's unprecedented. For Bran, it presents a humongous kind of challenge, because we all know from Doctor Who that if you start messing with time, things go wrong. I think the temptation now is definitely there. Who's to say Bran couldn't go back in time and stop himself from getting pushed out of that window? It opens up a whole different world of possibilities for Bran, and a whole new set of challenges he's going to have to face."

So now not only will we possibly get to see what happens in the Tower of Joy, but we also have to worry about Bran Stark going all Marty McFly on us.