Remember my belly-aching months ago about how marrying Sansa to Ramsay fucking Bolton was such a preposterous idea because Littlefinger would never do anything so incredibly dangerous to her?
Yeah, well. I still think my logic was sound, but much of my outrage had to do with having already made predictions that precluded this turn of events. Also, my argument against the marriage plan was based on the assumption that Littlefinger knew perfectly well that Ramsay fucking Bolton was a disgusting sadistic monster. According to writer/producer Bryan Cogman, he didn’t know that:
The writer producer also confirmed that, for those suspecting Littlefinger might have known about Ramsay’s sadism, that Baelish was definitely ignorant of the situation. “The difference between the Ramsay Snow of the books and the show is the Ramsay of the show is not a famous psycho,” he said. “He’s not known everywhere as a psycho. So Littlefinger doesn’t have the intelligence on him. He knows they’re scary and creepy and not to be fully trusted and it’s part of a larger plan.”
He knows they’re scary and creepy and not to be fully trusted, but he doesn’t know about Ramsay’s hobby of destroying lives. He has no idea of what Ramsay did to Theon, for example. While he’s down in King’s Landing making a deal with Cersei, he doesn’t know about Sansa being locked in her room all day and having new bruises every morning. If he’d known to expect that from her marriage to Ramsay, Littlefinger probably would not have made the deal.
Not for a moment am I suggesting that he cares so much about Sansa’s feelings, or respects her ability to make decisions for herself. He sees Sansa as a thing he can use, but she’s a very valuable thing and he wants to keep her in one piece. He knew the Boltons betrayed the Starks, but since Littlefinger also played an instrumental role in Ned’s death, that doesn’t bother him. He doesn’t really trust anyone so much as view them in terms of how he can manipulate them. He didn’t know Ramsay was a full-time sadist, so he didn’t have the situation under control nearly as much as he thinks he did. Sansa found out soon enough what kind of monster she was dealing with. Roose has always known. Theon’s known for a long time. Littlefinger still doesn’t know.
Sansa still doesn’t know that Littlefinger betrayed her father. I will go ahead and suppose that Catelyn told Robb about how Littlefinger helped Ned into the situation that won him a date with Ser Ilyn Payne. Once she told Robb, it makes sense that he would tell everyone close to him—all his bannermen, advisors and allies—about everyone involved in his father’s death. That includes the Boltons, and Theon. Since Roose Bolton later drove his sword through Robb Stark’s chest, he doesn’t really mind that Littlefinger screwed Ned over in that business with the gold cloaks, but he knows Littlefinger isn’t entirely trustworthy, because Roose is not stupid.
While we’re at it, Catelyn probably told Brienne about Littlefinger’s betrayal of Ned. When Brienne approached Sansa at the inn and asked to speak to her alone a bit, what was she trying to tell her, that she couldn’t say in front of Littlefinger? Probably trying to tell her about that business with the gold cloaks in the throne room. Point is, everyone knows Littlefinger screwed Ned Stark over, except for Sansa. If she’d known, she probably wouldn’t have trusted Littlefinger enough to let him put her back at Winterfell. If she hadn’t trusted him, he wouldn’t have set Tyrion up to be arrested for Joffrey’s murder. I think Sansa will soon find out that the man who put her with the Boltons also helped her father into an early grave. If she and Theon have a chance to talk about anything except where they’re running, he very well may mention something about the gold cloaks in the throne room.
Meanwhile, Littlefinger still has no idea how horrible Ramsay is. If he finds out Sansa is missing from Winterfell, he probably won’t know why. First off, I don’t think the Boltons will allow the news to get around that Sansa was last seen jumping off the wall along with Loyal Reek. Roose may not know for sure, but probably suspects that Sansa got the hell outta Dodge, and took Theon with her, because of Ramsay’s abuse. He doesn’t want anyone else to know about those bruises on her arms, though. If Littlefinger hears about her disappearance, he’ll be unaware of the how or why. The Boltons want to get her back, so they’ll spread the word that she was abducted from the castle, not that she took desperate measures to escape. Or maybe just tell people she simply disappeared, and let them make up their own scenarios of abduction.
This will be a new and strange predicament for Littlefinger. He’s not used to not knowing things about the people he’s dealing with. If he finds out Sansa disappeared from the castle during the battle with Stannis, I suspect he will trot straight back up to Winterfell to search for her, and when he does, he’ll be at a disadvantage to the Boltons, because they know more about him than he does about them. He’ll be acting like he’s on their side, still thinking he can control them, and meanwhile, they’ll know important things about the situation that he doesn’t. They’ll go on encouraging him to think some third party got into the castle during the battle and made off with their pretty Stark, perhaps with help from Reek. I don’t think Littlefinger ever saw Theon at Winterfell, as he dropped off Sansa with the Boltons. They can tell him about Reek’s place in the castle ecosystem without letting him know they were keeping the Greyjoy boy as a servant. They’ll want to keep him as ignorant as possible.
While they’re all pretending to be on the same side, I can’t help but think Ramsay will inevitably show his true colors, and then Littlefinger will see that he’s made a terrible mistake. He’ll figure out that he made big plans without sufficiently understanding the conditions. This is the guy who once said to Cersei that knowledge is power. And he knew what he was talking about! He certainly made a career of using knowledge as power. I wonder how he’ll react when he finds out he’s finally gotten into a predicament in which he doesn’t have that power.