Updated: 21st February 2018

Why Sam is risking everything on Game of Thronesand what could happen next

Warning: This article contains spoilers for the most recent Game of Thrones episode, Stormborn.

Samwell Tarlymay be a lowly student at the Citadel in Oldtown, but he’s already playing a big rolein season 7 of Game of Thrones.

His letter toJon Snowsent Jon on his destined path to Daenerys Targaryen,and nowSam’s risking everything to save a character from certain death and madness with a risky and forbidden procedure thatif successfulcould be a game-changer in Westeros.

Sam first encountered Ser Jorah Mormont in the episodeDragonstone, or rather his greyscale-infected arm. This week we got a better look at just how far along Jorahs greyscale has advanced. Archmaester Ebroses diagnosis? Jorah has six months tops before he loses his mind, and about 10 years living as a kind of zombie before he dies.

Jorah is deemed a lost cause, but because hes a sworn knight of the Seven Kingdoms, hes given one more night before hes shipped off to live out his days with the Stone Men in Valyria. Samwell is sympathetic and tries to offer insight from what he knows of Shireen Baratheons own greyscale, but his motivation changes after learning Jorahs name.

Sam intends to help Jorah in whatever way he can, even if it means sneaking in Jorahs room in the dead of night to perform a risky and unsanctionedprocedure. Not only does Sam barely know what hes doing, Archmaester Ebrose told Sam that the Archmaester who cured two people with advanced greyscale using the method later died of it. The disease is highly contagious and considered a death sentence;Stannis was advised to send off Shireen to Valyria when she contracted it as an infant, but his stubbornness made him seek a cure.

Sam is also determined to at least try as he proceeds with a rather gruesome sequence that also contains one of the grosser transitions inGame of Throneshistory.

Photo via Helen Sloan/HBO

Well have to wait to see if Sams gamble was worth itat best he’ll cure Jorah, but at worst he could contract the disease himself. But his heart isin the right place, a rarity in Westeros these days.

A cure for greyscale

By the time Sam rolls his cart into Jorahs room, Jorahs given up; hes even written his final, heartbreaking letter to Daenerys to tell her that he failed.

But Sam found a possible cure in Archmaester Pylos on Rare Diseases, notas some fans believed, in a book about dragonglass. As far as we can tell, dragonglass has nothing to do with it.

Treatment for greyscale varies among maesters, but the cure in Sams book involves peeling off the infected skin and the application of a medicinal ointment, which Sam reviews briefly before going back to treating Jorah. Its hard to tell whats in the ointment, but Sam appears to understandthe formula.

Screengrab via Game of Thrones/HBO Remix by Michelle Jaworski

On another page, the bookgives us more information on greyscale, sayingthat the extremities of a man infected with greyscale are weakened, they feel no prickings on fynger or toe.

Screengrab via Game of Thrones/HBO Remix by Michelle Jaworski

Those pages also reveal an illustration ofa man with greyscale on his face and a diagram of the procedure Sam is about to perform. Even on paper it looks incredibly painful, but with Jorah’s go ahead, Sam gets to work.

Why does Sam go through with it?

If Jorah is beyond help, why is Sam risking everythingto help him? Because of Sams loyalty to Jorah’sfather.

Jeor Mormont was Lord Commander of the Nights Watch when Sam and Jon arrived at the Wall. Although Sam primarily served Maester Aemon, he followed Jeor beyond the Wall during the Great Ranging. Sam was loyal to Jeor, who died at the hands of mutinous brothers on the show. In the books, Jeor dies in a slightly different manner, and he gives Sam his final request: Tell Jorah to join the Nights Watch.

Remember, Jorah wasexiled after being disgraced for selling poachersinto slavery to support his estranged wife’s expensive tastes. Jeor wants Jorah to take the black to restore his honor.

Though Sam doesnt have a connection to Jorah aside from knowing hes the son of the lateLord Commander, Sam helps anyway. He had to watch one Mormont die, but he wouldnt let another die under his watch.

Photo via Helen Sloan/HBO

If Sam survives, could he face consequences?

If Sams efforts fail, Jorahs a goner with a one-way ticket to Valyria. And if Sam contracts greyscale whiletrying to cure Jorah, hell be right on the boat with him. But if Sam does cure Jorahwhich is the more likely optionit could prove tricky.

We dont know enough about the rules and regulations of the maesters of Oldtown to know what would happen in the case of major violation, but given that Ebrose explicitly told Sam it was forbidden, its probably not great. It might not be grounds for expulsion, as Qyburns crime of necromancy and human experimentation is much more severe in comparison, but Qyburn was a full-blown maester by then. Sam, on the other hand, is still in training, but wouldve done something forbidden for a good reason.

Expelling Sam from the Citadel after the showspent an entire season getting him to Oldtown would feel anticlimactic, but it would allow Sam to bring his knowledge to the people who need it most such as Jon or Dolorous Edd. If he’s allowed to stay he may be under closer scrutiny, but his access to the Citadel’s books could continue tohelp in the upcoming war. And that’s not to mention that some fans believe Sam’s ultimate fate will bechronicling the events ofGame of Thrones, hopefully titledsomething “more poetic” than Ebrose’sA Chronicle of the Wars Following the Death of King Robert I. May we suggestA Song of Ice and Fire?

As far as Jorah is concerned, if he’s cured, theres only one place he would be heading: right toDaenerys side.

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