Does 'Game Of Thrones' Littlefinger Love Sansa? A Deep Dive Into This Messed Up Relationship
Game Of Thrones — especially in its onscreen iteration — is well-known for placing its characters in unlikely pairings, and then watching the conflicting personalities play off of each other. Think of Arya and The Hound, Brienne and Podrick, Tyrion and Varys. But there's perhaps no pair with a more complex dynamic than Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish and Sansa Stark. While the other odd-couples I mentioned are often played for laughs, the Littlefinger/Sansa relationship can be downright squirm-inducing. Is he just using her for his own gains, as he's used countless people before her? Or does creepy middle-aged Petyr really love beautiful young Sansa?
While it's natural to distrust the master manipulator's motivations, it would appear that his feelings for Sansa are genuine. The roots of his obsession with the Stark girl can be traced all the way back to his childhood, well before Sansa was even born. While we've gotten bits of Petyr's backstory on the show, it's easier to miss or forget exposition in the midst of all the other onscreen drama than it is on the page. So here's a brief refresher course:
When he was very young, Petyr was sent to be fostered at Riverrun under Lord Hoster Tully. There, he grew up alongside Catelyn, Lysa, and Edmure Tully. They were all good friends, but Petyr harbored a secret love for Catelyn. When she was betrothed to Brandon Stark (Ned's older brother who was eventually killed by Mad King Aerys), little Petyr couldn't hide his feelings anymore and challenged the strapping Stark boy to a duel. Unsurprisingly, Brandon won and Petyr was humiliated. Lysa, who in turn had been harboring a secret love Petyr, nursed the boy's wounds and even slipped into his bed. When Lysa became pregnant with Petyr's child, Hoster Tully sent the boy away and forced his daughter to abort the baby. Lysa has loved Petyr ever since, but — as he told her just before shoving her out the Moon Door — Petyr has only ever loved her sister, Catelyn.
But that's no longer quite true. With Catelyn dead, murdered by the Freys at the Red Wedding, all of Petyr's unrequited affection for beautiful, auburn-haired Starks has transferred to her eldest daughter. He's always had a creepily leering expression when staring at Sansa — now that she's flowered and come of age, it seems that Petyr's unhealthy interest in the girl has transitioned into full-blown lust. Season 4 featured one of the ickiest kisses in Thrones history (and that's saying something on a show with incest), when Petyr planted a smooch on Sansa right in the middle of the Eyrie's courtyard.
So what exactly are Littlefinger's intentions with Sansa? We know from the Season 5 premiere that the pair is headed somewhere Cersei won't find them. Where is that exactly? In the books, Littlefinger's plot involves marrying Sansa to the heir to the Vale and then revealing her true lineage and reclaiming Winterfell in the Stark name. But seeing as how the heir, Harrold Hardyng, is a new character and Thrones already has a few dozen too many, it seems as though the writers have wisely chose to head in a different direction — quite literally, too.
Thanks to some eagle-eyed viewers, we know that Sansa is on her way to Winterfell. (She can be glimpsed in the castle's crypts in the Season 5 trailer.) So who's taking the place of Harrold Hardyng? Who will Sansa marry? Remember that Winterfell is currently in the clutches of House Bolton: Lord Roose and his recently-legitimized bastard son, Ramsay. In the books, the Boltons arrange a sham marriage between Ramsay and a fake Arya Stark (who turns out to actually be Sansa's childhood friend Jeyne Poole). It would seem that the writers have decided to swap out one fake Stark girl for another real one.
It will admittedly be much easier for Sansa to claim ownership over Winterfell if she's already inside it rather from way over in the Vale of Arryn. But will Petyr truly be happy watching the woman he loves marry another man — especially a sick, twisted man like Ramsay who will likely delight in tormenting and torturing his new bride? Littlefinger has proven himself very adept at climbing the social ladder — he's gone from the nobody son of a nobody lord to the Master of Coin to the Lord Protector of the Vale. He doesn't have any family, he doesn't have any friends, he has no attachments to stand in the way of his meteoric ascent... except for Sansa.
Everyone has a fatal flaw and Petyr's is certainly Sansa. Littlefinger can be a cold-hearted manipulator in every other aspect of his life, but not where Sansa's concerned. Will he regret his decision to marry her off to Ramsay? Or does he already have a plan in store to rescue her from the clutches of an enemy house, just as he rescued her from the Lannisters in the aftermath of Joffrey's death? Will Sansa aid Petyr in his climb to the top, wittingly or unwittingly? Or will his love for the Stark girl prove to be Littlefinger's undoing?
Images: Helen Sloan/HBO (3)