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In Game of Thrones S07E01, (from the Wiki)

Thinking they are wildlings, Edd confronts Meera Reed and Bran Stark on the Northern side of the Wall. Even after revealing their identities, Edd is still suspicious, until Bran reveals reveals his knowledge of Edd's time at the Fist of the First Men and Hardhome. Allowing them to enter Castle Black, Edd looks ominously at the lands which will soon be filled with White Walkers.

Edd asked Bran to identify himself; none of this is identifying information. Does he believe that the person he is speaking to is Bran?

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    I found it odd that he asked if they were wildlings.... after they had already let most of them through anyway, what would two more be. As long as they weren't White Walkers it should be free passage.
    – Skooba
    Jul 24, 2017 at 18:33
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    I don't know if you like the video being in your answer. I think that's the best placement for it, but it looks a little strange. Feel free to edit it around or delete it entirely if you wish!
    – Edlothiad
    Jul 24, 2017 at 18:58
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    I was going to include it in my answer, but thought it suited the question better
    – Edlothiad
    Jul 24, 2017 at 18:58
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    "You were at fist of the first men and hardhome"...."Okay this doesn't answer my question but you're creepy af, get in"
    – Aegon
    Jul 25, 2017 at 6:11
  • @Skooba I assumed he ask if they were wildlings because he would tell straggler wildlings where to find their kinfolk that already passed the wall.
    – RichS
    Jul 26, 2017 at 15:43

4 Answers 4

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While Edlothiad makes good points, I think it is very important to note that this is a war between humans and Others. It doesn't matter who Bran is or what powers he has, he is a human and belongs on the Other side of the wall.

BRAN: You were at the Fist of the First Men. You were at Hardhome. You've seen the Army of the Dead. You've seen the Night King. He's coming for us. For all of us.

[EDD pauses and looks down, then looks to his men.]

EDD: Okay, come on. Let's get them inside.

How it seems to me is, Bran is not bragging that hey look at my awesome powers which may in fact be rumors I heard from other folks as far as you are concerned. He is making the point that the dead are coming for all the living. It doesn't matter if he is really a Stark, what matters is, he is a human and alive. So he belongs in the camp of the living, not in the camp of the dead.

This can be rephrased as:

Listen mate! You have seen what happens to people who have the pleasure of meeting his Frozen majesty, the Night's King. Do you want me to come back for you, all blue-eyes and black-hands, and smash your head in with my bloody sled?

This is already the policy of Night's Watch for the war. They evacuated the wildlings from Hardhome and Jon made it clear to his followers that Wildlings need to be saved in order to leave as few recruits as possible for the Others. Every man, woman and child counts.

In Kill the Boy Jon said this to his fellow men:

Jon: They killed 50 of our brothers. I can't forget that. I can't forgive it. You were at the Fist of the First Men. If we abandon them, you know what they become. We can learn to live with the wildlings or we can add them to the army of the dead. Whatever they are now, they're better than that.

As Jon told the Wildlings at Hardhome:

Jon: My name's Jon Snow. I'm Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. We're not friends. We've never been friends. We won't become friends today. This isn't about friendship. This is about survival. This is about putting a 700-foot wall between you and what's out there.

Wildlings: You built that wall to keep us out. Since when do the crows give two shits if we live?

Jon: In normal times we wouldn't. But these aren't normal times. The white walkers don't care if a man's free folk or crow. We're all the same to them, meat for their army. But together we can beat them.

He also said:

I'm not asking you to forget your dead. I'll never forget mine. I lost 50 brothers the night that Mance attacked the Wall. But I'm asking you to think about your children now. They'll never have children of their own if we don't band together. The Long Night is coming and the dead come with it. No clan can stop them. The free folk can't stop them. The Night's Watch can't stop them. And all the southern kings can't stop them. Only together, all of us. And even then it may not be enough, but at least we'll give the fuckers a fight.

So in conclusion, no he isn't sure and he doesn't need to be sure to let Bran into the realm. He's a human and that's his ticket inside. The confirmation of his identity comes next and can be easily verified by sending a raven to Winterfell and Greywater Watch.

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  • Hi highly doubt there were many survivors to tell "rumours" which may in fact be rumors I heard from other folks as far as you are concerned.
    – Edlothiad
    Jul 25, 2017 at 10:34
  • @Edlothiad That's true hence the "May in fact". Not all the Wildlings were at Hardhome, nor did all the remnants of Mance's army flee there. There's no way for Edd to be sure that there are no broken men still wandering the woods
    – Aegon
    Jul 25, 2017 at 10:38
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Edd doesn't get any information that allows him to identify Bran beyond Meera informing him that it is

Bran Stark, son of Ned Stark

The reason Edd lets him into the wall is most likely because he was able to identify that "Bran" was aware of information that wouldn't be readily available to someone who is confined to a sled. Edd did not need to know it was Bran to let him into the wall, but likely saw no reason in them lying about the name if he could identify where Edd had been.

Edd may have thought one of the following things to allow Bran through the wall.

  • Had Bran been at either the Fist of the First Men or Hardhome he'd likely have been killed by the White Walkers or the Wights. Unless he was magical of some sort, a great reason to bring him in, he must be invincible against them.
  • Bran was somehow able to see what they were doing without being there himself. This is a great gift to the Night's Watch as with Bran they can track the White Walkers and prepare their defence.

It would seem that for these two reasons, Edd would be inclined to invite him through the gates regardless of whether or not he would know that it was Bran.

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    Edd may have thought alot of things, but we'll never know. What's more likely is he wanted to get them inside before they all got turned into zombies.
    – John Bell
    Jul 26, 2017 at 11:56
  • That's a valid point.
    – Edlothiad
    Jul 26, 2017 at 12:03
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When I watched it I read into the scene like this.

  1. Bran and Meera are well spoken, not like the more common accent that a typical Wildling would have. Since they are both born of nobility, they are educated to a level that otherwise would be unattainable by commoners unless they joined the Maesters. Edd would identify this. Earlier in the series Tywin notes how Arya has an accent of nobility when she is serving him, since both Arya and Bran grew up together, they probably had the same education and similar notable accents of nobility.

  2. They're obviously not White Walkers. Edd is under orders from Jon to let people through, lest they come back as the undead to the aid of the Night's King.

  3. Bran talked about the battle at The Fist, and also that Edd was there and the Night's King was there. Noting these things would give Edd some reassurance that at the least Bran is one of the Wildling's that was to be saved by Jon and that he should really be at the other side of the wall by now.

So to answer the question. It's irrelevant that Edd does or doesn't believe he has verified Bran's identity. Edd's priority is to guard the wall and stop the dead, up to and including preventing adding to the dead.

My instincts would tell me that he doesn't believe him otherwise he would've probably sent a Raven to Jon saying "Hey man your bro just rocked up at the wall dude, come get him." But this is ambiguous at best.

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  • +1 for Point 1 and 3. Noble Speech is very easily distinguishable in Westeros.
    – Aegon
    Jul 26, 2017 at 10:07
  • Under command from Jon? IIRC Jon left the night's watch and is no longer Lord Commander.
    – Edlothiad
    Jul 26, 2017 at 11:07
  • @Edlothiad Jon is de-facto Warden of the North and therefore the Commander of the Night's Watch answers to Jon. Also Edd wasn't elected Lord Commander and Jon has broken his vow. Essentially there is no watch at the moment, and Edd being a strong follower of Jon's is likely to lead with Jon in mind, always doing what he thinks Jon would do.
    – John Bell
    Jul 26, 2017 at 11:44
  • Jon is King in the North, he's not Warden of anything.
    – Edlothiad
    Jul 26, 2017 at 11:49
  • You're being a bit facetious I think. He's in charge of the North, including Edd and the Night's Watch. He's been chosen by all of them to lead them in the fight against the undead. Edd takes his orders from Jon. Is that clear enough?
    – John Bell
    Jul 26, 2017 at 11:52
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Good answers all, with Humans vs Others perspective and Noble way of speaking being noticeable.

I just wanted to add another one: Edd was present when Jon got news by raven that Bran had woken up and that he is crippled and would never walk again. He was also present when Jon received the news that Bran was killed. Now, a few months later, a crippled boy with a noble way of speaking claims that he is the allegedly dead brother of Edd's Lord Commander and friend. Of course you'll let him in and try to confirm his identity later!

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