This article contains open discussion about everything we've seen on the HBO series Game of Thrones so far, but it doesn't spoil the twist hinted at in the headline. If you aren't caught up with the show, turn back now.
By now it's common knowledge that Game of Thrones has diverged from George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels in numerous ways — so many ways, in fact, that we can't even list them all, because in some storylines, the show has moved beyond what Martin has published thus far.
A couple of years ago, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss sat down with Martin and he told them the broad strokes of the ending of the book saga, and they've taken that information and incorporated it into their own way of telling the story that they think works best for the television medium. During that meeting, he revealed three major plot twists or revelations (what the showrunners called "holy shit moments") to them, and it turns out we've already seen two of them play out on the small screen. The first was Stannis burning his daughter Shireen at the stake, and the second was the devastating origin and fate of Hodor in the most recent episode. So what about the third moment? That one "… is from the very end…,” Benioff told EW.
That doesn't give us much, but at least it leaves us with the hope that something truly surprising is coming. It's unclear whether the revelation in the fan theory R+L=J is what the showrunners are referring to, but (I'll try to be as vague as possible since I don't want to spoil that for you if you don't know anything about it) the identity of Jon Snow's mother was an important factor in Benioff and Weiss getting the job as showrunners in the first place. Before the show began, they sat down with Martin and he asked them who Jon's mom was, and though they won't publicly reveal their answer, it satisfied the author enough to give them his blessing. I'm really hoping that's not what they're talking about here, and that the final big moment is something entirely different. But the showrunners remain convinced about one thing: even with those big moments, the show won't really spoil the books:
“People are talking about whether the books are going to be spoiled – and it’s really not true,” Benioff said. “So much of what we’re doing diverges from the books at this point. And while there are certain key elements that will be the same, we’re not going to talk so much about that – and I don’t think George is either. People are going to be very surprised when they read the books after the show. They’re quite divergent in so many respects for the remainder of the show.”
Sound off in the comments with your theories about how Game of Thrones (and A Song of Ice and Fire) will come to an epic end! This article's comment section should be considered a full-on spoiler zone, so know what you're getting yourself into before you weigh in.