Is Arya Really at War with Sansa?
Could Arya Be Playing a ‘Game of Sisters’ at Littlefinger’s expense?
Very few things have disappointed me about Season 7 of Game of Thrones as the ongoing suspicion that, after hardship has kept them apart for years and years, Arya and Sansa are heading towards war with each other (all with Littlefinger calling the battle tune).
In particular, it was tough to watch Arya, trained by the best and oldest school of assassins in the world of Westeros, so easily scammed by Baelish that I (a well-renowned idiot) would have been suspicious if I were in the same position.
But what if it is Arya that is tricking Littlefinger? And what if Arya were also trying to let Sansa know without tipping him off?
The other day, I was noodling around on Reddit (I am ypsifactj) and came a theory by a Redditor named ScienceMuddafucka suggesting that it has been Arya Stark playing Peter Baelish (and not the other way around).
I will admit it, he might have convinced me that I have been fooled entirely by the Sisters Stark storyline (Let me rephrase, I HOPE that I have been fooled entirely by the Sisters Stark storyline).
So what arguments convinced me (or, gave me hope) that Arya was playing Baelish in his article?
The Arya-Guments (Yes, I know, that was terrible)
Let’s examine his arguments in order and I will let you know what I think of each one as we go:
First he argues that their are quotes from as far back as S6 suggesting that Arya will protect Sansa. He highlights:
“No one can protect me.” Sansa, S6E9
“You need better guards.” Arya to Sansa, S7E4
My response: Okay, this is pretty weak evidence that Arya has arrived at Winterfell ready to protect Sansa, and Arya was just stating the obvious (those guards seemed to be morons). Grade: C
Protecting each other:
“After LF suggests Sansa use Brienne to intervene in the Arya-Sansa catfight, Sansa sends Brienne away and says that she has trusted guards here already. Sansa is not afraid of Arya, nor Littlefinger, and she doesn’t want the honorable Brienne involved in their lying and schemes.”
My Response: Honestly, I thought Littlefinger was suggesting that Sansa use Brienne because he wanted Sansa to send her away (by suggesting Brienne would be good to intervene, he was really saying Brienne would possibly stand between Sansa and any action against Arya). This made sense to me because it would be a way LF could make Sansa more dependent on his (the Vail’s) protection and get rid of a potential competitor for strategic advice (in Brienne). I guess it is possible Sansa was just declaring her independence, but I doubt it. Grade: D
Arya Is Trained in Stealth
Next, ScienceMuddafucka says:
“Arya was trained by assassins. She is far too stealthy to let LF know that he is being followed, unless she did this deliberately. In S7E4, Arya walks onto Brienne and Pod sparring just as Brienne says, “Don’t go where your enemy leads you.” In S7E6, the directors deliberately show us Sansa opening and closing a very squeaky door as she goes into Arya’s bedchamber. Yet Arya is able to sneak up on Sansa without a single noise.”
My Response: This is an excellent point, and it was the main reason I was super frustrated with Benioff and Weiss. My response at the time was actually to scream “Arya is a an expert Assassin” at the television set.
<Strangely enough, to date, screaming at the television set never once has worked to changing events on television shows or in sporting events yet I persist (sigh)>
The squeaky door is a “tell” that I missed entirely and suggests that Arya’s stealth is intentionally deployed (Great catch by SM). I would absolutely LOVE to find out Arya had been playing a double game on Littlefinger and applying spycraft to continually give him false confidence. I will tip my cap to Benoiff and Weiss if this turns out to be true and I will be HAPPY to have been wrong in my recaps. How awesome would it be to have Baelish walk in to a room surrounded by guards and facing BOTH Stark sisters united (Yes! Make it So) Grade A+++
“When Arya confronts Sansa about the Northern lords talking badly about Jon in S7E5, the door is wide open. Similarly, when Arya confronts Sansa about the letter from S1, Arya projects her voice just as she is reading the letter. It’s almost as if they want someone to hear their fights.”
Another good catch by SM (Kudos!).
My only divergence is that I suspect Arya is putting on staged fights to keep Littlefinger believing his own press (as if Arya were saying, you are such a genius, the smartest man on earth, don’t worry about little ole immature me). In other words, I don’t think it is as if “they” want someone to hear their fights, I believe Arya wants someone to hear their fights (Arya tries to clue Sansa in AFTER the public fights, not before). Grade B+.
The Game of Faces
“In what seems to be the most psychotic Arya scene, Arya basically threatens to cut off Sansa’s face and pretend to be her. The entire scene is Arya playing the Game of Faces, presenting lies as truths. She even says that they are playing! She plays this game when she tells Sansa that she remembers Sansa standing on Ned’s execution stage Sansa fought and screamed, and Arya knows this. Arya played the game when she told Sansa “she would never serve the Lannisters,” Arya served as Tywin’s cupbearer. Arya tells Sansa she wonders what it would be like to wear her face and her pretty dresses, to be Lady of Winterfell “ we are beaten over the head since S1 that Arya HAS NEVER WANTED ANY OF THESE THINGS. Arya is playing the game of faces, and when she realizes Sansa hasn’t caught on to her lies, she hands her Littlefinger’s dagger, symbolically saying, I trust you and want you to protect yourself from LF’s lies”
Brilliant, and I spent a lot of time thinking about this scene as well. Arya doesn’t just hand Sansa the dagger, she hands Sansa the dagger then shows her back as if inviting Sansa to kill her. Arya clearly wanted Sansa to know what she was capable of (the faces) and to clue her into to the double-game she is playing on Littlefinger (please God let this be true, redeem the season for me B & W). Also an amazing call on the Game of Faces (where you get someone to find the truth among a series of lies, the truth is that Sansa can trust Arya now) Grade A+++
The Third Eye:
Do we really think there hasn’t been a single off-script scene where Bran tells them, “Hey, uh, LF kinda started the war of the Five Kings by lying about this dagger, betrayed our father, and is essentially the reason our whole family is dead.” We hear crows when LF comes out of the crypts with Jon, when Arya enters LF’s bedchambers, and again when LF and Sansa are talking in S7E6. These noises are very deliberate.
Sadly, yes, I do believe that Bran is so lost in tree-time that he probably would forget to share this information with his Sisters (see my posts about why Bran is NOT the Night King for more context, he doesn’t experience time like normal Westerosi folks anymore). I do, however, expect that Sansa will go to him for confirmation. The detail about the crows is interesting and could prove his theory. Grade C+.
There was also a recent Time Magazine online post that made different versions of many of the same arguments without attributing them to SM (I have seen this happen several times with my Mr. Robot posts on Reddit).
I don’t know the authors, and both posts were originally posted on 8/22, so maybe they reached the same conclusions separately (certainly possible)? Anyway, I am going add one of the nuances from this article as well.
Sansa is Smarter Than This Too
Ms. Doctorman makes a great point here, she says that:
“Sansa has studied at the Cersei Institute for deceit and the Littlefinger School of manipulation. Nobody knows Littlefinger better…she probably doesn’t plan to trust him now.”
Great point, add in that she also was forced to serve at the Bolton school of cruelty and trickery and she has more than earned a PhD in effective brutality from three of the Masters of the form. Grade A+.
I am reenergized by this Arya vs. Littlefinger theory.
I am very hopeful it bears out to be true. In many ways, it will redeem some of the decisions B & W have made this season in my eyes (much like their treatment of Cersei’s revenges rang true to me at the end of Season 6).
There was an odd take a few days ago in the popular press about Game of Thrones after “Beyond The Wall” Director Alan Taylor said:
“I love the fact that these two come back, they’re both lethal, and I just wanted to give the impression, as much as possible, that one of them is going to die. But you’re not sure which one.”
The take was that either Arya or Sansa was going to die by the end of the season but my guess is that giving the “impression, as much as possible” was the point to distract from Arya’s double game and to make her game more convincing (as if the audience perspective WAS Littlefinger’s, as he watches Arya and Sansa fighting).
One other problem, it is possible that once Sansa “knows” that Arya played Littlefinger it is also possible that she could turn on Arya and align with Littlefinger (but at least that would be an interesting twist that didn’t mess with the internal logic of the characters).
I want to close with a small criticism of the popular press, virtually every week I see tons of snarky comments from media members about social media and particularly about Reddit. Unfortunately, many of these calls are starting to bear fruit in the form of censorship.
I am vociferously against white supremacy, anti-Semitism, discrimination against LGBTQ folks, and a litany of other problems that can be instigated or fanned online. However, I believe the curative for bad speech is counter-speech not censorship. I am a Civil Libertarian to the core. I believe pushing unpopular speech underground makes things worse and not better.
Anyway, at the same time, every week, I see more and more writers in the popular press mining the theories and ideas that we Redditors generate about shows and politics (FYI I am a very active Redditor).
You can’t have it both ways.
Either accept us and use us to generate your stories, or fight us over who has the right to speak. At the end of the day, I wish the Free Press was as committed to Free Speech as they are protected by it. And, in case everyone has forgotten, defending speech is really important right now.
Have a great day!
Much of this was verified last night, here is my recap of the finale:
Neither Snow nor Sand: Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 7 "The Dragon and the Wolf" (HBO)
"The Dragon and the Wolf" includes betrayals (big and small), reunions, and legendary theories verified for once and…
The Ongoing Guide to Game of Thrones Season 7
Everything Josh H has written about Game of Thrones Season 2017
Josh is a 100% reader-funded blogger and freelance writer. Please consider following him on Twitter, throwing a tip into his hat on Patreon, or adding his blog OnPirateSatellite to your feeds. Medium is also thinking about paying for claps, so I welcome all clapping (especially in excess).