All season Jon and Sansa have been the dream team of the North. After seasons of mutual abuse, Jon and Sansa fought back and won the respect that their family had lost over the years on Game of Thrones. Though they had never actually shared a screen before season 6, Game of Thrones made us care so deeply about the brother and sister bond between the two. So naturally in the last moment of their part of the finale Game of Thrones decided to throw all of that into question and hint that the happy family reunion will end in bloodshed. Sansa doesn’t look entirely pleased with Jon becoming the new King of the North. Could there be a new civil war on the rise in the North?
Out of The Mouths of Producers
There are many ways to read Sansa’s expression when Jon is named the new King of the North. Initially she appears happy for her brother and is wholeheartedly supportive of his new position of power. Earlier in the episode Sansa even told Jon that she didn’t want to be seen as the leader of the Starks. Sansa gave up the option to sleep in her parents’ chambers and thereby passed the title to Jon.
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Yet as Sansa makes eye contact with Littlefinger following Jon’s crowning, her expression quickly changes to contentment to something else entirely. While Sophie Turner is a competent actress the expression is somewhat hard to interpret. The only thing that is entirely clear is that it’s a far from happy look. In a video interview with Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (embedded below) they confirm that Sansa’s not thrilled with Jon’s new position.
After confirming that Sansa does love her brother Jon, David Benioff says, “Over the course of this season they’ve come to really rely upon each other, but she doesn’t really trust him completely. She didn’t tell him about the meeting with Littlefinger, she didn’t tell him that she summoned the Knights of the Vale. There’s definitely a little hint of conflict there. We see that come out in Episode 9 where she’s at the war council where no one asks her opinion despite the fact that she knows Ramsay better than anyone. So I think there’s a little bit of anger about that and a little bit of jealousy, and that relationship will be crucial to watch.” I’ve watched enough of Game of Thrones and interviews to know “crucial to watch” is code for going to come to a terrible, bloody end.
A Twist Too Far
Yet even considering Benioff’s ominous words and Game of Thrones‘ tendency to rip out the audience’s heart, Sansa betraying Jon or vice versa seems too cruel and out of place. It’s certainly within Sansa’s character to be confused and feel like she is being passed over. She might not want the title of Queen of the North immediately. It is one thing, however, to not be the leader and another to be completely ignored. When Jon is proclaimed the King of the North, Sansa and everything she has done to secure this victory for her family is forgotten.
Without Sansa’s planning and recruitment of the Kings of the Vale, Winterfell would still be in Ramsay’s hands. Benioff is right when he says that Sansa was dismissed before the Battle of the Bastards. Sansa knew exactly what Ramsay would do and Jon refused to listen. Jon might have led the Night’s Watch and is an accomplished fighter but Sansa is far more experienced in politics. Not to mention Jon left the Night’s Watch because his followers brutally murdered him. He does not have the best track record as a leader.
When Sansa makes eye contact with Littlefinger in “The Winds of Winter” it really appears that some, if not all, of this information comes rushing down on her. Jon should lead the army because he has the most experience fighting White Walkers but Sansa would be a far better Queen of Winterfell. Littlefinger’s devious, I “told-you-so” smile seems to suggest he is thinking the exact same thing.
Yet even if Sansa is jealous of Jon, which would be reasonable, and their relationship contains a hint of conflict because of it, it would be a terrible mistake to turn them against one another in an armed conflict. Not only would it make Sansa appear cruel and unreasonable, it would also be stupid. Sansa has no hope of actually gaining the people’s support. She might have the Stark name but a whole group of Northern families named Jon the new king. Sansa was sitting right there. If they wanted her to be Queen, they would have done so. Even if Sansa really won the Battle of the Bastards, Jon has the support of the people. He’s the “White Wolf” to Robb’s “Young Wolf.” Thanks to the totally misogynistic times, Sansa is viewed as nothing.
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Game of Thrones has progressively made Sansa shrewder and more capable of grabbing power but they’ve never been putting her on a track to become the next Cersei, grabbing power and control for the sake of power and control. Sansa is still fundamentally a good person and taking control from Jon would undoubtedly be viewed as a vile act. Yet there is another who is vile, power-hungry and fully ready to take control.
Never Trust Littlefinger
There has to be a reason we see Sansa’s twinge of anger and disappointment in the season 6 finale. It has to go somewhere and it’s probably equally significant that Sansa shares that look with Littlefinger. While it would be disappointing for Littlefinger to succeed in twisting Sansa to his side against Jon, that doesn’t mean he can’t try. There’s no way that the wheels in Littlefinger’s rat-face mind aren’t turning when Jon is made the King of the North and Sansa is ignored. Littlefinger wants power no matter the cost and he’s sly, slimy and smart.
It’s incredibly likely that season 7 (and possibly 8) will see Littlefinger doing his best Iago impression from Othello. He’ll be firmly entrenched the court of the North, doing his best to drive a wedge between the King and his sister. The only thing Littlefinger will be looking for is to make sure that he ends up on top. He may want to marry Sansa but he wants power more. He’ll likely start out with Sansa but will undoubtedly move over to Jon in time. Hopefully, though, Jon and Sansa will be smart enough to see through it all and put Littlefinger’s head on the pike where it belongs.
But what do you think? How do you see Sansa’s jealously playing out? Do you think she should be the leader of the North? How will Littlefinger react to Jon being named the new King of the North? Can they possibly stand against Dany when she invades?
(Images courtesy of HBO)