Communication and Jonsa
One thing you’ll notice about Jon and Sansa is that they work really hard to communicate with each other. It’s the foundation of their entire relationship after reuniting at the Wall, and something borne out of a need to really be with someone that matters.
Of course, they struggle to do so in the beginning. It’s been years since they had seen each other last and both weren’t exactly great at communicating to anyone. Jon was a brooder, and Sansa was lost in the clouds.
But when they do reunite the focus the showrunners choose to put on this communication is how important it is for them to be a team. From the very beginning there is this driving narrative undercurrent that Jon and Sansa are partners, and thus a pair. They rush into each other’s arms, crashing into one another and seeming to melt into each other as if they were a single person that was suddenly whole. Very melodramatic, and no reunion in the show is quite to that level, before or after.
But it’s not enough to talk at each other or even be close to one another. They also need to understand each other, and this becomes an important facet of their relationship in season six and seven. Some people analyze this as the struggle of their relationship, but I think it is their strength.
Jon initially thinks he can just run away with Sansa and forget the troubles of the world, but Sansa tells him why they can’t do this. They build from this moment and Jon is able to later realize that Sansa, despite what she has suffered, can handle hearing Ramsay’s letter. I don’t think anyone else in the room would have read that letter to Sansa, but Jon did because he knew she could handle it.
In the infamous tent scene this trust seems to erode, but as Jonsa fam have pointed out lately, Sansa made it clear to Jon was Ramsay was and what defeat by him would be like. If Jon failed, she was going to commit suicide rather than return as his prisoner. I don’t think she realized Jon could be revived. And Jon, perhaps knowing he might be brought back by Melisandre again, asked her not to do it.
With Winterfell lost and Ramsay the winner, the Starks have also lost. This was their last stand, and they were going to fall together. And Jon agreed, because fundamentally, the two had decided and communicated they were a pair that cannot be separated.
The writers want you to draw this conclusion. That’s why they spelled it out to us directly instead of implied it. Neither are driven by revenge. Neither are driven to take back the North. They really just want to return home… together. And at that moment, it looked impossible.
Fortunately, they won the battle. People often blame Sansa for not telling Jon about the Knights of the Vale, but I don’t think she told him because she wasn’t sure if they were loyal, if they were coming, and what she would be exchanging in order to get their support. It was a bargain that was not in her favor, and we know this because of Littlefinger’s cryptic comments after retaking Winterfell.
Jon being declared King in the North was her only reprieve, because it weakened Littlefinger’s potential actions. If you watch Sansa during the proclamation, she’s happy, not upset, and I think she realized what Jon being king meant for whatever she owed to Littlefinger being delayed. It wasn’t until she noticed Littlefinger’s unhappiness that she realized Jon was a target too, and because Jon and Sansa are a pair as much as they are a team, she was now Littlefinger’s target as well.
But other than the infamous parallels to other couples in the show, the emphasis on communication never ceases. At the end of season six, Jon reminds Sansa that they need to trust each other… not that they didn’t before, but that it was them against the world.
Rewatch that scene and you’ll notice a few things. The first is to remember the context of the scene because we so often take it out of the temporal context. The scene takes places after the Battle of the Bastards, but before Jon was declared King in the North. It was also directly after Jon ends Melisandre away, a mercy but his attempt to prevent her from bringing him back to life again or committing any other terrible crimes. Interestingly, Sansa is there as he watches her ride off.
The scene that comes after the battlements is Sansa in the Godswood with Littlefinger, and Sansa is no longer certain of Littlefinger’s intentions. It appears she expected something different to happy with Littlefinger after Winterfell was retaken, and it didn’t. She is disturbed, however, when she learns his intentions remain the same and she rejects his kiss. The end scene in Winterfell is Jon being declared King in the North.
Now that I’ve gone to the context the scene is in, let’s go back to Jon and Sansa’s conversation on the battlements. She wants him to take their parents chambers, effectively placing him above her despite winning Winterfell and Jon recognizing that. That’s interesting, considering what we know about Sansa liking nice things (which has never changed) and wanting to retake her home (she is Lady of Winterfell).
Jon gives the room to her anyway, which she accepts, and reminds him he is a Stark to her. Remember: Jon never stops being a bastard after this scene in the eyes of the North, but to Sansa he is a Stark. This communication between them is interesting, because it establishes a few things: they are equals. Their relationship is about giving and receiving to and from each other.
Also about the context of this scene is that before, Jon turns away the person who gave him his life. The scene that follows in Sansa turning away the person who gave her life. Both powerful people who can continue giving Jon and Sansa more power, and they turn it away. We are reminded what they need is each other and nothing else, supernatural or political, dragons or a marriage alliance, will save them from everything that is to come.
Within the scene, you’ll also notice that Jon asks Sansa if Littlefinger really sold her to the Boltons. Sansa says yes. It’s always been implied in this season and in the next that Littlefinger didn’t know what would happen to Sansa, and I don’t think Jon believes Littlefinger did either, however, he is horrified after asking if Sansa trusts him. Truly, absolutely horrified.
The focus of the camera in that moment is Jon’s reaction to that thought and his reaction to what she says. He looks a little relieved when Sansa tells him only a fool would trust Littlefinger, but it is established in this one moment between the two of them that Littlefinger is a threat. Something they both understand, but something they can’t yet deal with.
After that moment, the camera switches to Sansa and her apology about the Knights of the Vale. But I don’t think she is apologizing about hiding a potential army (remember, she didn’t know if they were coming) she is apologizing after a comment about Littlefinger and if they can trust him. I think what Sansa is apologizing about is making a deal with Littlefinger, possibly a marriage deal (why else would the Vale come to the aid of a foreign kingdom in the midst of winter and a war with the Iron Throne?),
And what does Jon do?
He reminds her they are a pair. That they are in this together. That they have to trust each other. And I believe this is not because they didn’t before, but that they have to continue acting as they are in defiance of the obstacles and opportunities in their path. Like Cersei told Joffrey in season 1, anyone who isn’t them is the enemy. While Jon and Sansa don’t see things as so black and white, Jon makes it clear that what matters is each other. That they have to rely on each other, no anyone else, in order to see it through.
He gives her a tender kiss on the forehead, one that reminds Jonsa fam of the reunion in the beginning of the season. They meld together, and become one again, and when they part, they share a sweet moment about the coming of winter. It should be a warning and one they lament, but it reminds them of the time of wolves before with their family. That moment, and Jon’s crowning that is soon to follow, is all about communicating to each other and the audience that they are going to see Winter through together, and will come out of Winter as a pack without relying on anyone else to do so.
Everything that comes after that moment is built on that promise to remain together. They continue to try and navigate the political waters they have found each other in, still stumbling, but always arriving at a point in which they choose to trust each other - that same polite correction and affirmation we saw at the Wall.
Sansa accepts that he is going to make an alliance with Daenerys, and Jon leaves her in charge of Winterfell and the North in his absence. That would only generally be left to a wife, child, or regent. But in context, leaving Sansa in charge of the North is because she is the other half of the pair they have formed. They already ruled it together. Apart, they’ll continue doing so.
We also see Jon furious over Littlefinger, threatening to hurt him, but he doesn’t kill Littlefinger. I think for two reasons: the first it would be political suicide, and the second in that Sansa has demanded that Jon let her protect herself, and I think their relationship hasn’t just been built on communication, but a recognition that both skills and a handle of certain things. Sansa can’t wield a sword, but she can handle Littlefinger.
We are reminded of this all through season seven, and she eventually sentences him to death. Instead of Jon saving Sansa, as I’m sure many people expected regardless of shipping, Sansa saved the future they have promised between Jon and Sansa - the same future they agreed to fight for back at the Wall, the same future they agreed to die for if they failed at the Battle of the Bastards.
Jon being apart from Sansa in season seven isn’t because they are separated from the promise they made each other. That promise continues, from the moment Jon steps onto Dragonstone. We are reminded that he thinks about her, that he respects her, and that he misses her. So too, are we reminded with Sansa back in Winterfell, who defends his rule (their rule).
Later, the show continues to focus on that promise to the future. Jon is told to keep Longclaw for his children, and the Stark song plays in the background, and then moves back to Sansa as she continues to try and protect their future in Winterfell, just as Jon is trying to protect their future by finding a way to defeat the White Walkers.
Whether you believe in undercover Jon or not, it’s clear what the showrunners have been saying: Jon and Sansa are working together, despite being apart, to build a future for their family, and everything about that promised future to each other seems to be echoed as destiny in the show by the characters and the narrative construct of the plot.
The future has been communicated to be a Time for Wolves, with Jon and Sansa at the head of the pack.