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Four Time Continuum Scenarios


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The "hold the door" moment was sad and spectacular. It gave us a sense that Bran and Bloodraven are far more powerful players than we could have thought. They may even have the ability to change the past, though (as you'll see below) perhaps not.

I want to present four theories for how this seemingly time travel moment will play out in the books. I say books, because I find the show may have simplified things to make it quick / low-budget / dramatic. I think there's a good chance we may never get a satisfying answer to what exactly happened and how time travel works in the show. The books, however, will likely have to give more details and clarity about what happened and why.

I believe there are four possible continuum explanations for how this time travel works. Each may give us clues to what happened. These explanations are as follows:

(1) Casual Loops

The biggest issue with time travel is what is known as the "grandfather paradox". If you go back in time and kill your grandfather, than your father (and therefore you) can never be born. But if you are never born, there is no one to travel back in time to kill your grandfather...

Casual loops avoid this by only allowing time travel that creates a closed loop. Hodor carries Bran north so that he can train > Bran time travels to create Hodor, so Hodor can carry him north so he can train. In this theory, ALL time travel must create casual loops. Bran can't go back and kill Walder Frey before he kills Rob (for example). Not just because this would make problems for the storyline, but also because it's simply impossible. His attempt to kill Walder would fail and the experience of the event might be what convinces Walder to distrust / hate the Starks and betray them.

Implications: You can't change the present by altering the past. All you are doing, no matter how you might try, is ensuring the present is just as it already is. This makes time travel great for learning, but it is futile to try and change the way the world is.

(2) Multi-verse

What if Bran-in-another-universe grew up healthy (along with a healthy Willace). The two journeyed to the North and joined Bloodraven. They eventually were overrun by Others and Willace tried to hold them off, but was unable. Bran, in a last ditch effort went into the past and warged Willace to show him the future and try to help him. This Bran-in-another-universe still dies in his universe, but his time travel creates a second universe. In this universe, Willace becomes Hodor because of the side-effects of being warged. As Hodor "holds the door" Bran watches Willace become Hodor as Bran-in-another-universe wargs him.

Implications: Every time you time travel you create a new timeline in which things went differently. In fact, Bloodraven may have already created thousands of different timelines with different histories by going back and altering the past over-and-over again. Of course, this sort of power wouldn't make for much tension in the story... for example, Bran can just go back and stop the Others from ever being made.

I also find the idea a tiny bit too abstract considering what the rest of the series is about.

(3) No Backwards Time Travel

There is no backwards time travel. The past has already been written and Bran ISN'T wargging Willace. Instead, a younger Bloodraven is wargging into Willace from a distance (he, Bran, and Arya have already shown this "long-distance" warging ability in the book). Bran's vision of Willace being warged is simply Bloodraven showing Bran what he did, perhaps apologizing and explaining his actions to Bran.

Younger Bloodraven may have also visited Jojen Reed to give him his green dreams (which is supported by the text), as well as Patchface.

For this to work, young Bloodraven needs to be aware of the future need for a "Hodor" to exist. This is entirely possible though considering there are many ways to see the future presented in the books: obsidian candles, dragon dreams, and greensight. Bloodraven could likely access any of these methods.

(4) Magic, M*ther F*ckers

The last option is what I'll call suspended belief. GRRM doesn't necessarily have to offer a tight explanation for everything. Back to the Future does this when McFly's photograph slowly fades (why does the image fade? Wouldn't that photo just never exist, so the entire object should just disappear? Shouldn't this just happen instantly too?) or when he goes back to the future to find his family altered, there isn't a second version of him walking around that alternate future.

Our job as the audience is simply to accept it and move on.

Which of the above do you think is most likely?

Personally, I think they are all pretty likely. That said, option #1 fits best with what was seen in the show (it seems to me as Bran wargs Willace). Option #3, however, would fit best with the evidence given in the books around Bloodraven having been manipulating a huge number of events for a very long time.

My best guess for the books is that it is a little bit of option #1 and a little bit of option #3. In other words, Bloodraven may have tried to alter the past a couple of times but quickly learned it was futile and so began working from the present. The three-eyed-crows manipulation of Bran, Jojen, and others seen in the show/books comes from Bloodraven's work in the present. Hodor is Bran's learning moment, where he sees that changing the past is futile and that he needs to move forward by working to shape things from the present, using the past only as a source of knowledge.

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  • 1 month later...

I really hope it is #1. I hate number 1. With a passion. It is stupid and makes no sense. So the show will probably use #1

I like number 3 the best. It makes sense, fits with the story and gives BR some point to the story.

Number 2 would work as well, but as you said it removes any tension from the story, because if you can simply create a new future continuously until you get the result you want, where is the drama?

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  • 11 months later...

Obviously 1 and 3 make sense. I think both are supported by the above quotes and the rest of the show. People do have precognition....

 I always took the problem, why Hodor had a life altering seizure, is because Bran was timeworging with Hodor while Hodor was being worged into, so something about the two switching places in consciousness at the same two times overpowered him, it was too much. (Like how Bran minorly connected to young Ned when he stayed too long). 


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