I have a thought bubbling in my mind, but I don't really know how to put it together properly. I wanted to write about it today, so I'm going to do that anyway, but for anybody who's at all interested in avoiding Game of Thrones spoilers, I warn you: This goes right up into the most recent episode, and the payoff of my insight is almost guaranteed to be not worth it.
I've been thinking about the white walkers as a disease metaphor. Like, that's not a huge stretch, right? Because the Children created them and now they spread from human to human. What this makes me wonder about, and I really hope this is where something in the show or books is going (I really need to go and read the damned books), is whether it parallels grayscale at all -- since in the episode where we see Patient Zero of White Walkers, we also see Jorah commanded to seek a cure for grayscale.
Grayscale apparently turns its survivors into some kind of supernatural entity, though the motives of the stone men could be more mundane in attacking Jorah and Tyrion (like: they're stranded in the middle of nowhere and those two on the boat probably have some food that isn't moss). The long-term survivors of grayscale live in the ruins of Valyria, which is, like, the geographic opposite of the land of Always Winter, in terms of the themes of Game of Thrones.
Both can cause mass death. Both are broadly unheard of in recent years. Both have another sibling pathology that affects people at greater scale (gray plague, and the wights).
I'm interested to see if grayscale turns out to be magical in nature, and if it turns out to be important -- whether as a tool in the arsenal against the white walkers, or as a separate but no less significant threat to humanity.
I also really hope we get to find out where grayscale comes from.