Jon Snow’s emerging as an effective leader (a review of last night’s Game of Thrones)
We learnt several things from last night’s episode of Game of Thrones (season 5, episide 3). Firstly, and most disturbingly, Sansa is to marry Ramsay Bolton, the most evil man on television. Secondly, we learnt that no matter how dirty he gets Jorah’s neck-ties always look in pristine condition. And the final lesson from episode three is that Jon Snow is becoming more and more powerful.
May I just say that I am really pleased that Jon rejected Stannis’ offer of making him officially a Stark. ‘You know nothing, Jon Stark’ just doesn’t roll as easily off the tongue, does it? It takes a confident and self-assured person to turn down Stannis. Who knows what that creepy red witch will do to you? However, Jon’s rejection of the offer to be king of Winterfell and stay with the Night’s Watch demonstrates loyalty to his men and a commitment to lead them when they are weakest. Yes, he could be much more powerful, but he is loyal to those who took him in when he had nowhere to go. In last week’s episode the men of the Wall voted Jon to be their new leader. In the battle against Mance Rader’s army Jon proved that he has strong leadership qualities and an instinct for battle (besides being a clever little twat).
Well, clever little twat no more. Last night Jon proved not only worthy as leader of the Night’s Watch, but as having the potential for much much more. If taking Winterfell had been offered to many other characters (we’re looking at you, Lord Baelish) they would most likely have jumped at the chance, not looking ahead at the repercussions or how limited their time in power may end up being. Jon can see the bigger picture. He understands that taking Winterfell would not have ended his troubles; by now he too is aware of the Mother of Dragons.
So, in the latest instalment Jon enacted his first act of discipline as leader of the Night’s Watch. After Janos Slynt refused to obey orders Jon was forced to execute him in the courtyard of Castle Black with all eyes of the Night’s Watch upon him. Just two episodes earlier Jon showed mercy when it came to the death of Mance Rader. He had pleaded with him to surrender to Stannis and when he refused Jon spared him from the agony of being burnt alive. However, Jon’s execution of Janos not only shows him as a powerful leader who is not to be messed with, it demonstrates how much has changed in Jon since the first series. Ned Stark said at the very beginning that ‘the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword’. Jon was echoing the rhetoric of his father and proving that he was a truer son of Winterfell by rejecting Stannis than he would ever be had he accepted the offer. When Janos begged for mercy, Jon did not show it (much like Daenerys in episode two). Being an effective and trustworthy leader does not mean always keeping those you lead happy. It is about setting an example and knowing what is in the best interest of the future of your company and the safety of those you protect. For Jon Snow, the journey is just beginning.