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In Season 8 Episode 1, when Lyanna Mormont asks for an explanation for why Jon

bent the knee to Daenerys

Jon's answer is:

I had a choice, keep my crown or protect the north. I chose the North.

Is this an accurate statement on his part?

I ask because in Season 7 Episode 6, on their way back from their expedition beyond the wall, Daenerys tells Jon:

We are going to destroy the Night King and his army, and we'll do it together. You have my word.

In a departure from her previous statements on this subject, she does not attach to this promise the condition that Jon bends the knee. Rather, Jon volunteers to do so right afterwards.

So, did he really have to choose? Could he not have accepted Daenerys' offer of help while also keeping the North independent?

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Daenerys realized the threat that was the Night King, and she pledged to fight him without attaching anything to that promise due to the threat he was posing to the whole realm of Westeros, and maybe even beyond.

But her ultimate goal has always been to get the Iron Throne and rule as Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Fighting the Night King was, for her, fighting to protect her queendom, even though she had yet to become the official Queen of Westeros.

If Jon hadn't bent the knee, and the North had tried to remain independent from the crown, then Daenerys would have had no choice but to wage war on the North, since the North is one of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, and part of what she has always deemed as her realm. Jon witnessed first hand what the dragons and the Unsullied could do, and he knew that the North couldn't win against them.

Basically, the choice was between bending the knee and keeping the North safe, or staying independent and watching the North burned and razed to the ground by the dragons and the Unsullied.

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