ASoIaF vs. GoT, Eighth: Sansa’s New Marriage Proposal

New episode gives us crazy shit happening with Littlefinger and Sansa. I’m grousing about it below the jump.

Ever since we first saw her, Sansa Stark’s been the girl that everyone wants to marry. If not by the prospective husband himself, then by his family. She’s reacted to all these potential matches with everything from to utter delight to utter revulsion. First King Robert wanted her for Joffrey, and Sansa was all in favor of that for a while, but then Joffrey showed his true colors and Sansa didn’t have the option of calling off the wedding. Then the Blackwater happened, the Tyrells showed up, the Lannister-Baratheons set her aside, and suddenly somebody else wanted her sweet little ass on their family’s lap. Littlefinger wanted her for himself, because he’s a creepy fucker who’s been obsessed with her mother for decades, and if he can’t have his beloved Cat, then he’ll content himself with her pretty daughter.

The Tyrells heard about that, and they decided they wanted her for their son Willas (the show has cut the four Tyrell siblings down to Margaery and Loras, but in the books they have two older brothers, and Willas is the heir to Highgarden), and Sansa was already getting buddy-buddy with Margaery, so she figured she could be happy as a Tyrell wife. But of course the Lannisters heard about that, so Tywin arranged a quick wedding and Cersei smirked like a mofo as she bundled poor little Sansa into a maiden’s cloak and shoved her into the throne room to marry Tyrion. (“I am the Queen Regent, not some brood mare!” she says as she’s happily on board with making Sansa her family’s new brood mare.) A Stark girl could do worse than being Tyrion Lannister’s wife, but she could also do a lot better than being Tywin Lannister’s daughter-in-law.

That was the first match to get as far as the ceremony, but because Tyrion prefers his partners to enjoy fucking him, or at least do a convincing impression of enjoying it, he did not insist on getting between her legs. Because they have not consummated their marriage, it can easily be annulled. They need to go in front of a Septon, though.

The Tyrell and Lannister matches were arranged with the assumption that Bran and Rickon Stark were dead, which makes Sansa the heir to Winterfell. Anyone who marries Sansa will also be in control of Winterfell and by extension has a position of authority over the North. Lord Tywin framed the marriage as a reward for Tyrion, but really he did it as a way to get the North under the control of the Lannisters. I’m sure he also relished the chance to make one final act of conquest on the Starks. Because in Westerosi patriarchy, marriage is a sort of conquest, at least among the nobility. Sansa’s been tossed between a constant succession of powerful families who want to access her lands and titles through her uterus. Wed her, bed her, get a child in her, and rule the North in your son’s name.

There was another act of conquest on the Starks in progress that we didn’t see on the show: Lord Tywin offered Arya Stark as a bride to Ramsay Bolton as part of their alliance in planning the Red Wedding. By that point, Arya was well away from the Red Keep and none of the royal family had the slightest clue of whether she was even still alive, but they had a Northern girl in their custody who was close enough in age, close enough in coloring and knew her way around Winterfell. The girl was Jeyne Poole, the steward’s daughter and Sansa’s best friend until Ned’s execution, when the girls were separated.

With me so far? The Lannisters had already claimed Sansa for Tyrion, but they also promised Arya Stark (or someone who can sort of pass for her) to the Boltons.

The whole time she was married to Tyrion, Sansa was planning her escape from King’s Landing, but she wasn’t in on the plot to murder Joffrey and she didn’t want anything horrible done to our God of Tits and Wine. But of course we all saw what happened there! Joffrey was poisoned, Tyrion was arrested, and Sansa was unwittingly involved. She would have been arrested along with her husband if she’d stuck around any longer.

Next stop is the Eyrie, in the tender care of Littlefinger and Aunt Lysa Arryn. As soon as they’re safely situated in the Eyrie, Aunt Lysa has yet another marriage in mind for Sansa: her little cousin Robert Arryn. And as gross as the boy appears on the show, in the books he’s plenty worse. This is what Aunt Lysa has in mind:

“I…can scarcely wait to meet him, my lady. But he is still a child, is he not?”
“He is eight. And not robust. But such a good boy, so bright and clever. He will be a great man, Alayne. The seed is strong, my lord husband said before he died. His last words. The gods sometimes let us glimpse the future as we lay dying. I see no reason why you should not be wed as soon as we know that your Lannister husband is dead. A secret wedding, to be sure. The Lord of the Eyrie could scarcely be thought to have married a bastard, that would not be fitting. The ravens should bring us the word from King’s Landing once the Imp’s head rolls. You and Robert can be wed the next day, won’t that be joyous?”

Note: according to Aunt Lysa, they need to wait for Tyrion’s death before Sansa can be married again. And how does Sansa feel about the idea of getting married to her cousin?

Sansa felt sorry for her little cousin sometimes, but she could not imagine ever wanting to be his wife. I would sooner be married to Tyrion again.

…and soon enough Aunt Lysa catches her new husband Petyr smooching on her niece, and she takes out her anger on the girl rather than the grown-ass man who should know better. Littlefinger deals with the situation by chucking his new wife out the Moon Door, which leaves him with sole custody of little Sweetrobin Arryn and easier access to Sansa. As Robin is the sole living child of Jon Arryn, he is the Lord of the Vale, but he’s a sickly little boy and nobody really expects him to live to adulthood. If he dies young (which…yeah), the Vale of Arryn passes to his nearest blood relative. Which brings us to Littlefinger arranging yet another marriage for Sansa:

Her eyes widened. “He is not Lady Waynwood’s heir. He’s Robert’s heir. If Robert were to die…”

Petyr arched an eyebrow. “When Robert dies. Our poor brave Sweetrobin is such a sickly boy, it is only a matter of time. When Robert dies, Harry the Heir becomes Lord Harrold, Defender of the Vale and Lord of the Eyrie. Jon Arryn’s bannermen will never love me, nor our silly, shaking Robert, but they will love their Young Falcon…and when they come together for his wedding, and you come out with your long auburn hair, clad in a maiden’s cloak of white and grey with a direwolf emblazoned on the back…why, every knight in the Vale will pledge his sword to win you back your birthright. So those are your gifts from me, my sweet Sansa…Harry, the Eyrie, and Winterfell. That’s worth another kiss now, don’t you think?”

That’s the plan Littlefinger’s made for Sansa: wait for Tyrion to be confirmed dead, wait for her little cousin Robin to die of apparently natural causes (and Petyr will make sure he doesn’t stick around too much longer), and then wed her to Robin’s distant cousin Harry Hardyng. Like everyone else, he believes Bran and Rickon are dead, which makes Sansa the official Lady of Winterfell. The marriage to Harry the Heir will also make her the Lady of the Eyrie. Somehow I suspect Harry isn’t expected to stay alive for long after that. Littlefinger doesn’t do anything without some benefit to himself, especially not where Sansa is concerned. I think the plan is to get her married to Harry for long enough to get her established in her new position as Lady of the Eyrie, then find a way to put Harry in an early grave and make it look like an accident. Once Harry’s gone, Littlefinger intends to take Sansa for his own wife. Then he’ll have Winterfell and the Eyrie as well as Harrenhal, but mostly he’ll have Cat’s daughter’s sweet little ass on his greedy lap. In order to get her there, first he needs to keep her safe and close. He wants to control her, but not in a way that puts her in danger.

SO THEN WE HAVE EPISODE THREE…

I had heard the rumors of the impending marriage of Sansa to Ramsay Bolton on the show, but I thought they couldn’t possibly do that. It would be completely out of character for Littlefinger to let Sansa anywhere near anyone as dangerous and uncontrollable as Ramsay. It’s fine for Littlefinger himself to exploit and abuse her (forced kissing is sexual abuse), and it’s fine for Harry Hardyng to marry her at least for a while, because Littlefinger thinks he can keep Harry under control. Ramsay fucking Bolton, however? Not a chance.

Yeah, well, if you watched S5:E3, then you’ve seen I was mistaken about that. They’re actually having Sansa return to Winterfell to marry Ramsay fucking Bolton, of all people. They’ve cut out Jeyne Poole, totally skipped over Harry Hardyng, and they’ve decided that Sansa’s marriage to Tyrion can be cast aside with a virginity test and nothing more.

Well, okay then. I guess Littlefinger has signed his sweet Cat’s daughter to marry Ramsay fucking Bolton with the expectation that she will kill him soon after. Or set him up to let some Arryn knights kill him. I think that’s a deeply uncharacteristic move for Littlefinger, but apparently Benioff and Weiss think it’s just fine.

Littlefinger says to Sansa:

Littlefinger says to Sansa: “No, you’ll be marrying his son and heir Ramsay.” And this is the part where, if Sansa isn’t pants-shitting terrified already, she should be.

So far the program is: Sansa and Littlefinger are already at Winterfell with the Boltons, and they’re planning the Bolton/Stark marriage. Brienne and Podrick are following after. And I am pleased as fuck at the developments in Brienne and Podrick’s arrangement (they’re getting closer to the way they’re written in A Feast for Crows, and in the best possible way), but there’s not much to analyze there. It would just be me squeeing madly over how sweet their friendship is.

They will be arriving at Winterfell to keep an eye on Sansa, while Stannis and his army are marching on Winterfell to retake the North from the Bolton/Lannister alliance. And other people will be arriving at Winterfell as guests at the Bolton/Stark wedding. And Brienne is still focused on killing Stannis in revenge for his killing Renly. Which means there will be a hell of a lot of shit getting extremely real at Winterfell all at once.

So if everyone gets there at around the same time—which I think is a reasonable expectation, as the show seems to err on the side of making events more streamlined rather than more faithful to the books—then Brienne will have a choice between the girl she wants to protect and the king she wants to kill. By that point, Sansa will be much more amenable to Brienne’s protection because the situation with Ramsay will be much more heinous than Littlefinger allowed her to expect. A few minutes alone with Ramsay, and suddenly the tall armored lady with the Lannister sword starts looking like the answer to all her prayers. I’m sure Brienne would be happy to kill Stannis and also rescue Sansa if possible, but it’ll be much too chaotic to do both. When the time comes, she’ll choose Sansa. Not because she’s ready to forgive Stannis, but because she’ll serve the living rather than the dead. She made a promise to Catelyn, and she has Jaime counting on her. (“I’ll find her. For Lady Catelyn. And for you.”)

In a recent post, I predicted two things. One of those predictions has come true and then some! The other, now I’m not so sure. If I’m wrong about Jaime rejoining Brienne before she gets hold of Sansa, it was because I was convinced the rumors of the Sansa/Ramsay wedding couldn’t possibly be true. I really don’t know whether Jaime will get that far north soon enough to join up with Team Sansa before they reach their goal. And if the Bolton/Stark wedding goes the way I think it will, then Brienne won’t even need Jaime to smooth-talk Sansa into accepting their protection. I have given the name Team Sansa to the Brienne/Podrick/Jaime contingent because they are the only people in the Seven Kingdoms who want to get Sansa in their custody just to make sure she’s safe and healthy. They’re the ones who don’t care whom she marries, if anyone, and who have no interest in her claim to Winterfell. They’re the ones who want to be there for her just because she’s already suffered enough.

(On the other hand, my tag for Petyr Baelish is more fitting now than ever.)