As we well know by now, Bran Stark has a tendency to roll his eyes back in his head and check out of the action while others do the fighting for him. (RIP Hodor.)
He did this once again during Sunday’s episode of “Game of Thrones,” when he told Theon, “I’m going to go now.”
Go where? We saw him embark on what appeared to be a little raven-based reconnaissance, and he remained in his do-not-disturb state for quite some time. All the while, the Battle of Winterfell raged, and in the end he came back with no obvious intel.
So what was he up to? We can only speculate. But here are some possibilities, along with a look at their relative likelihood.
Bran Warged the Night King
Doubtful. It takes a lot to skin change or warg into another human being, and doing it to Hodor worked only because the big guy’s brain had been fried in a time loop. (Don’t think about this too long lest you overheat your own.) Every time we’ve seen Bran try to use his magic anywhere near the Night King, the White Walker proved to be more powerful. So Bran probably wasn’t penetrating those fearsome lobes.
Bran Warged a Dragon
Well, maybe he tried? But if so, he doesn’t appear to have succeeded. We didn’t see whether he made a direct connection with any of the living or dead dragons, or whether he was able to alter their flight plans. It also isn’t clear that he in any way helped when they were fighting low visibility. So ... probably not.
Bran Used the Weirwood Net to Look Up Things
Possible. Usually, Bran has to touch the weirwood tree to do this, but perhaps he doesn’t need to touch it anymore so long as he has proximity. He could have been scrolling through visions of the past, present or future. Or maybe he was following the battle from multiple vantage points, as a form of omni-reconnaissance. (Although if so, who did he report it to?) Maybe he was recording it for posterity. Or perhaps he was entirely checked out and contemplating a leaked trailer for Episode 4.
Bran Used the Weirwood Net to Change the Past
Theoretically possible, but not likely. Bran learned his lesson with Hodor, and he was heartbroken. Granted, he doesn’t exhibit as much human emotion now, but he doesn’t seem that interested in meddling anymore. He doesn’t volunteer information very often, and he treats most people — Jaime, Theon — as if he were so far beyond whatever they did to hurt him that it doesn’t even register anymore. What past does he care enough to change if he doesn’t care about his own?
Bran Plugged In to Help Lure the Night King
Ah . likely! Time and time again, in these latter seasons of “Game of Thrones,” the old Occam’s razor proposition comes into play: The simplest explanation is the most likely to be correct. All the conspiracy theories so beloved by fans usually turns out to be off base. Remember the theory that Arya was really the Waif? Or that Littlefinger wasn’t actually dead? Or that Bran, himself, was the Night King?
The books encouraged fans to play detective and deduce clues from the story, which, after all, could support many readings. But the series showrunners haven’t demonstrated much interest in playing this game. The simplest, most likely explanation is that Bran is easier to track when he’s in his psychic space, and so he was trying to serve as bait; he stopped when the Night King rolled up. This would not be an explanation likely to satisfy the most conspiracy-minded fans, but they probably shouldn’t be expecting the show to enlarge its mysteries as it tries to close shop.
The New York Times