[SPOILER ALERT: This article will discuss Season 5, episode 6, “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken.”]
In the sixth episode of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” Season 5, there was a very powerful moment that hinged on the relationship between two very different characters who many viewers forgot were related. Fans watched as Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) learned that his father, Jeor Mormont (James Cosmo), died at the hands of his own men.
Although the scene was played for dramatic effect, the relationship between Jeor and Jorah was only offhandedly mentioned once or twice throughout the series’ run. The people of Bear Island have hardly ever been seen, but their backstory looms large over the show. The two are father and son, but bad blood separated them from each other by nearly the entire known world.
Fans will remember Jeor Mormont as the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch before Jon Snow (Kit Harington) took over this season. He led the men on an expedition north of The Wall, where he was stabbed in the back at Craster’s Keep by mutineers of the Night’s Watch. Meanwhile, his son had been exiled from Westeros by none other than Ned Stark (Sean Bean). This brought shame to the Mormont household and disappointed his father to the point of almost never acknowledging him. As a result, many fans were taken aback last night when they were reminded that these two characters are related.
The Bear father offhandedly mentions their relation while giving his son’s old sword to Jon Snow. Prior to the first episode of the series, Jeor Mormont had volunteered to renounce his title as Lord of the Bear Islands to fight for the Night’s Watch. According to the official Game of Thrones wiki, he quickly rose to the ranks of Lord Commander.
In the ninth episode of “Game of Thrones,” he revealed that he’s the father to Jorah, who was traveling with Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and the Dothraki. After Jeor abdicated his seat as the Mormont household leader, he gave the position to his son. Unfortunately, Jorah didn’t marry well and his wife’s expensive tastes forced him to sell poachers into slavery, an act that’s illegal in Westeros. Ned Stark, to whom the Mormonts were always loyal, found out and allowed Jorah to flee to the Free Cities in lieu of execution. Before he left, Jorah had the decency to send his father the Mormont’s ancestral sword, Longclaw. After saving his life from a wight, Jeor repurposed the bear on the end of the blade to a wolf and gave it to Jon Snow, who would later use it to avenge his Lord Commander’s death.
Given the years of bad blood between the two, Jorah didn’t seem to take the news of his father’s death that hard. Then again, it’s possible he’s preoccupied with his own mortality. In Season 5, episode 5, Jorah contracted grayscale in a fight at the ruins of Old Valyria – a fate alluded to in Season 2, Vanity Fair notes. Glen remained tight-lipped about whether or not this means the end for Ser Jorah when asked by Entertainment Weekly how bad things are.
“You wouldn’t think good,” he said. “But in this story, people have died from it and they have been saved from it. So who knows? It’s a slow burn, greyscale, and there are ways to intervene.”