Explaining Bran’s Powers & Revisiting Hodor
Earlier today, someone on Twitter today casually suggested a theory that Bran Stark was the Night King.
Now, obviously that couldn’t be the case because the entire disaster with Hodor happened because the Night King can sense Bran whenever Bran is searching for him in time (more on this in a few minutes). But, there are other reasons that I doubt Bran is the Night King.
Here was my response:
They retorted that, “As a time-traveler, Bran can be both.”
No, not exactly.
Bran Is Not A Time Traveler
I can understand why people might think Bran was a “Time-Traveler” but he is not (at least not in the sense that was being suggested).
Bran is a Warg which means he can inhabit the consciousness of animals (and Bran, being an uncommon Warg, can occasionally inhabit human’s too) and a Greenseer which means he can see what the Weirwood trees have seen in real time.
Think of it like having unlimited access to a streaming library of everything that has ever happened in front of trees (Treeflix) and the ability to experience it as if he were wearing a VR headset. He feels like he is there, he sees things as they happen, but only his consciousness is actually there (and even that might be an exaggeration).
You might mention that it seemed, at one point in his journeys through that streaming library, like young Ned senses the presence of the Greenseeing Bran during a flashback.
Totally true, and also covered in the books, this is why I said his consciousness could be there (or not, the books suggest it is an illusion).
Next you might ask, but what about the famous Hodor scene from “The Door?” He has to be time-traveling for that to happen, right?
No, not exactly.
Okay, this is where the intersection of Warging and Greenseeing gets interesting and why it appears that Bran can actually influence events in the past even if he can’t literally time travel.
In the critical scene, Bran was Greenseeing young Willis/Hodor (past tense)when the Three Eyed Raven tells him to “Listen to his Friend” and take control of Hodor in the present tense (to save them from the oncoming White Walkers).
Because Bran controlled Hodor in the present, and Willis (aka Hodor) was present in the past that he was visiting, what happened to Hodor imprinted on Willis permanently changing his present and future (like a time paradox).
Willis was literally turned into Hodor because his consciousness could not handle, mediated through Bran, seeing himself die “Holding The Door” to hold off the White Walkers (fyi GRRM gets credit for one of the best/worst puns in history).
Willis became, more of less, forever trapped in the last moment of his life which he experienced (because of Bran) as a young boy (and his brain short-circuited as a result).
Did Bran time-travel? Not exactly.
Did Bran influence events in the past? Most certainly.
Does this mean Bran could use Greenseeing + Warging to change other events in the present? Most certainly.
Basically, all he has to do is take control of someone who exists in the past he is visiting and figure out ways to imprint what he does to them in the future on their past consciousness (and as a result changing timelines).
I wrote a long piece about this at the time but the important thing to remember is that we have probably not seen the last of Bran displaying his unique (and confusing) combination of abilities.
Anyway, Bran’s consciousness is more present than it should be in the past and he can influence events in the present and past when Warging, but he can’t technically travel back and forth in time.
But, What About The Night King?
Bran could, however, still takeover or change the Night King and the entire history of Westeros (Or as I suggested in last week’s recap, he could become more like tree than human and stop caring about humans entirely).
Anyway, Bran could, for instance, meet the Night King (present tense) and Warg the Night King while visiting a critical moment in the NK’s history, and therefore change both the present (or at least the present of the Night King) and the NK’s past (which would change everything that ever happened in Westeros).
It is possible, but not probable (probably too confusing).
Hope that was helpful.
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