Let's talk about Sansa and Littlefinger
Im rewatching season 1-6 slowly lately, and Ive just finished S4.
Ok, I wanna talk about Sansa and Littlefinger. A lot of people confuse this story line or flat out twist it to fit their “I hate Sansa” narrative. The scenes are there, so lets go through them.
I think LF has always given Sansa the creeps. The first thing he ever says to her is a creepy, gory story about The Hound and The Mountain. She looks frightened, and LF looks so goddamn pleased to have freaked her out. He wanted her to feel scared. Paraphrasing - “Don’t tell anyone I just told you that or you’ll be a dead little girl.”
Is this him starting to groom her to keep secrets? To listen to him? To desensitize her to horrible acts?
While shes stuck as a hostage in KL, LF offers her a way out. Going with him on his boat. Their conversation is off screen so we don’t know what was said or how Sansa reacted. She has to politefully let him down later when she decides to marry Loras instead. Petyr knows about the marriage plot, and he *punishes her* for choosing someone else over him.
Think about it - Sansa has two options: go on a ship out of KL with Petyr, who she barely knows and gives her the creeps, or marry Loras, who is the handsome knight shes always dreamed of but means she cant go back home right away. She chooses marriage over Petyr. And it angers him, because its not what he wants, and he punishes her by ruining her plan.
He sets it up to make sure she *regrets* not going with him. When she hears shes to marry Tyrion, she cries and watches Petyr leave, regretting turning him down and watching her chance for escape float away.
When she flees The Purple Wedding, she doesn’t know where shes going. She just knows that this once-a-knight wants to help her because she saved his life. When someone you think “owes you” offers you safety and a chance to escape - you take it. Especially after you have seen chance after chance slip through your fingers because you made the wrong choices. She wasn’t about to let another chance slip through her fingers. So she went with him - not even knowing what was on the other side.
When she finally sees who was behind her escape, shes confused - not elated. And the very first thing LF does when shes on his boat is KILL Dontos right in front of her. And shes horrified. Shes seen death dozens of times, and she still screams.
Not only did this once-a-knight trick her and betray her *for money*, not loyalty, shes see what kind of person LF is. Petyrs very first act is one to cement in Sansa’s mind that he would lie to and kill anyone he pleases if it benefitted him. This is NOT a man she would “admire”. This is an act of intimidation and control.
So I want to make a few points here before continuing. 1 - Sansa has never fully trusted LF. 2 - Sansa didn’t even know she was going with LF when she escaped with Dontos. 3 - LF *does not* have her best interest at heart and doesn’t even try to hide his ruthlessness anymore.
Petyr full on *framed* Sansa for Joffreys murder. This was premeditated and fully zoned in on Sansa after she turned down his first offer at escaping. He has her now only by intimidation, manipulation and blackmail. She cant go anywhere else or with anyone else because LF has all the cards. If she were to go back to KL, she would die. Everyone in Westeros is looking for her. Her husband is on trial about to die. And no one would believe she was innocent.
Sansa is no less a hostage than when Arya is passed between hands, all hoping to get a reward for bringing her home or to relatives. Shes not with him by choice, unless her choice is “whelp, if I go anywhere else I’ll surely die. Might as well sit here and wait this out.”
Her discussions with Petyr are very guarded. She asks questions, tries to find answers. And when she asks him what he wants, theres always this little unspoken question behind her tone. All her life shes heard about raping and danger, been told shes so beautiful every man would love to have her, Joffrey threatened to rape her, she was nearly raped by peasants in KL… She is wary of LF true intentions. Surely, this older man who owns a brothel, wants *her*. He doesn’t even deny this.
She has lots of time to think about her situation, and think about Petyrs answers to her questions. Shes becoming more observant just to survive.
I think Sansa genuinely thought she was going to be safe and happy in The Vale. She had her mothers sister, she was in an impenetrable tower, she didn’t have to lie and hide anymore…she was really happy and felt safe for the first time in a long time. It looked like Petyr *really had* done her a huge favor. He saved her from KL. She must have been a fool to doubt him.
Important lines here, me thinks. “What do we do to those who hurt the ones we love?” This would sound so lovely to hear after your entire family is murdered and you’ve been held captive and tortured. It sounds like he’s on her side. He will protect her. His loyalty is just because he loved her mother. Aw, thats so sweet. And refreshing to hear after years of being in KL having to say her father was a traitor.
When in reality, Petyrs responsible for her fathers death, for her misery, framing her for murder and conspiring against her family. He definitely has not protected the one he loves, or even protected Catelyn. Ever see a tear shed for Catelyns death? Nope. Not a one. This line is utter horse shit said only to make Sansa trust him more. Even if he *believes* he means it - its so so so not true and he’s deluding himself.
“You’re more beautiful than she ever was.” Is basically LFs way of saying “I love you”. Because he values pretty things, the finest things. He confesses his love/lust for her here. No doubt. Whats odd is that Sansa kind of *returns* his kiss for a moment before she pulls away. Whether this was a mistake by Sophie or actually meant to happen, I don’t know. He says he wants to protect her because he loved her mother, basically says he loves/wants her and then takes a kiss. Sansa thinks he pretty much just laid all of his cards on the table. She finally knows what he wants and why.
The “what do we do to those who hurt the ones we love line” IS KEY to what happens next. When Petyr kills Lysa, Sansa thinks its because Lysa was threatening Sansa’s life. She thinks Petyr is protecting her because he loves her. To a girl, this is also a form of power. “he’ll never hurt me, because he loves me.” or “he only did it because he loves me so much.” When in reality, Petyr was probably planning on killing Lysa the entire time.
Actually, he only agreed to marry Lysa ASAP when she started spouting off about how she killed Jon Arryn for him. She started talking and Petyr was like “oh this bitch is going to blab everything to everyone if I dont shut her up soon” so he marries her ASAP to confirm his claim on The Vale and to get rid of her before she opens her crazy mouth again. Her threatening Sansa was only icing on the cake to make Sansa more indebted to him.
People always yell about why she lied for LF at the trial. Why didn’t she just tell the whole story and stay with these people who loved her father in The Vale?
So why does Sansa lie to save LF? Because she thinks she owes him one. He just saved her life, so she will save his. And maybe she is started to return his feelings - maybe she thinks she can use his lust for her against him, too. Theres nothing for her in The Vale anymore - no more family except gross little Robin, no more friends, no real reason to stay. Sansa wants to continue down the path LF has started. She wants to go home. She wants revenge against those who hurt her family - and she likes what LF is cooking.
She thinks shes on to him. This scene plainly lays it out. She doesn’t trust strangers - and why should she after all shes been through? - and she thinks she knows what Petyr really wants. He wants her, he loves her. So he would NEVER hurt her, and only protect her. Shes making a bet against his feelings for her. Love is the death of duty, and men die protecting the ones they love. Staying with a rich and powerful Lord who is hopelessly in love with you is actually not a bad idea. Shes been fully manipulated at this point.
And Petyrs last words “Do you?” plant a HUGE seed of doubt. She was sure he wanted her - but oh shit, what if shes wrong? Shes already saved him, theres no turning back now.
IMHO, this isnt where Sansa starts playing the game, like many think. Sansa started playing the game when KotV rode in on BotB.
Petyrs creepy boner is now only raging after she lied to save him and went with him out of The Vale.
He’s more brave about taking kisses and speaking openly. He has her under his thumb completely. But she still never fully trusts him. She notices when he hides letters. She questions him when it looks like he’s ready to leave at a moments notice. She freaks out when it finally dawns on her that LF is marrying her to Ramsay. But… LF loves her, right? He would never intentionally put her in danger. He must have a plan. So she actually trusts him and married Ramsay.
When Petyr mentions that he was a penniless boy from nowhere amongst kings and lords - she smiles. Because Petyr started from nothing and has built himself up to a rich man in KL. This is another line told to Sansa to reinforce this idea that Petyr knows what hes doing. Hes smarter than her, more powerful and more cunning. And if he did it for himself, he can help her do it, too. With his help he can take her from a traitors daughter with no name or family to a powerful lady just like him.
Petyr promises her its only temporary, and he will return soon and Stannis will save her and soon she will be Wardeness of the North and have her home back to herself. Notice how she doesn’t smile at the idea of being Wardeness - she actually seems fearful of it. She doesn’t want to be Wardeness - its almost like shes about to say “I cant”. People think Sansa wants power and to be Queen. This reaction to Petyr telling her to be Wardeness says the exact opposite - it wasn’t on her mind and she doesn’t want it. Petyr plants that seed - Petyr wants it for her. Not the other way around.
Then, LF leaves her to Ramsay and fucks off. She escapes because its way WAY worse than she could have imagined. Stannis failed - how stupid was she for listening to LF - and Petyr is nowhere to be found.
When LF shows up in Moles Town to offer her KotV she is fully and completely enraged with him. She is angry that she trusted him. She sees him now for what he is - a liar and only out for himself. He hurt he. He must not truly love her. She was wrong to trust him.
And Ive spoken a lot about WHY Sansa goes to him for aid for BotB and, frankly, I dont have enough space or time to explain why here. Lets just say, Petyr is that toxic boyfriend you run back to when times get tough because you know them. It wasnt because she didnt trust Jon and she did trust LF - it was because she didnt trust FATE and she took her safety and Jons safety into her own hands since no one listened to her.
So, remember when Sansa said “I know what you want” to LF after the trial and LF made her doubt it? Everything he did since made her doubt it. Now, directly mirror it with this scene.
“You know what I want”
“I was wrong.”
“No. You weren’t.”
Maybe we’ll see Sansa use Petyr’s affection toward her even more so in Season 7. I sure hope so.