We all saw that look that passed between Sansa and Littlefinger in “The Winds of Winter,” the one he gave her right after the Northern lords made Jon Snow their new king. He didn’t look pleased. What did it mean? What is he up to? After seeing him plot scheme for six seasons, it doesn’t take much from him to make us nervous.
Vulture tried to dig some insight out of actor Aidan Gillen, but he wasn’t budging. “As an actor, I never say, “This is what I’m trying to say here …” I don’t want you to know what I’m thinking.” Thanks, Aidan. That helps. He did, however, reflect on what Littlefinger was trying to do throughout the season, particularly in regards to Sansa.
We only had a few scenes with Littlefinger in season six. But one thing he was trying to do consistently was sow some kind of seed of disquiet with Sansa in terms of Jon, and how closely related they really are, and how valid he really is as a king, or a leader, or a brother, while at the same time encouraging what might be her own position. There’s a certain amount of, “I told you so. Is this what you want? Can you trust him?”
As Gillen points out, Littlefinger basically laid out all these concerns to Sansa in the scene in the godswood. (Interestingly, he also says that we may want to take what Littlefinger said about wanting the Iron Throne with a pinch of salt—you can never tell with this guy.) The look he gave her in Winterfell’s great hall may have been reinforcing those concerns. And they could soon become very important, as that scene immediately after didn’t go the way Littlefinger wanted. He was hoping Sansa would be made the leader in the North, and will now have to deal with this Jon Snow guy instead.
Speaking for Littlefinger, it was one of those moments where you go, “Fuck! Maybe this is a bigger thing than I thought it would be. How are we going to deal with this?” Given that he enjoys chaos and uncertainty and the thrill of all of that, it was a big moment for him.
So if Littlefinger is going to have to work with Jon Snow, what does he think of him? Gillen weighed in on Jon Snow’s bastard heritage, and from the way he talks, it’s sounding more and more like there could be a confrontation between these two in the future.
I don’t think Littlefinger would differentiate between who is highborn and who is not, but it’s a lot harder to rise if you’re not. So there would be a certain respect and admiration, but also wariness about people who made it under difficult circumstance, because if they’ve fought hard for it, they must really want it, and they’re going to fight harder to hold on to it. They’re going to be clever, more ruthless, more adversarial, possibly. Littlefinger has a keen awareness of where people are coming from, and what they want, and what they’ll do to get what they want, and using that awareness for his own benefit while seemingly promoting their cause.
But Littlefinger’s main focus is Sansa. In some ways, it always has been. And if Gillen can be believed, her tutelage under Littlefinger is coming along nicely. After all, she never told Jon about the letter she wrote Littlefinger asking for help. Could she have done with a strategy in mind?
She really is becoming more like me. More Baelish–like in the way she’s operating, and the fact that she’s operating at all. She has become a player under my tutelage, and that’s what I wanted. There’s a scene way back when we’re discussing a battle, a scene with Cersei, and we’re talking about Stannis and the Boltons, and letting the two of them tear each other apart, and coming in at the last minute with the Knights of the Vale. Who’s to say that Sansa wasn’t thinking of doing something like that as well? Let them kill each other. Again, it’s not likely, but not impossible.
That scene with Cersei, from Season 5’s “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” could become very important soon. Back then, Littlefinger promised to take Winterfell with the Knights of the Vale in exchange for being named Warden of the North, and Cersei demanded Sansa’s head on a spike. Well, Cersei is queen now, and Littlefinger is in position to take what he wants. “And I might bring her Sansa’s head on a spike!” he said. Uh oh.
Littlefinger’s deal with Cersei isn’t the only thing from Littlefinger’s past waiting in the wings. Vulture points out that the Stark kids, so far as we know, still don’t know that Littlefinger betrayed their dad way back in Season 1. Might that come home to roost?
But that one was so public, how could they not have heard? I guess in times like that, it would be difficult to know what information would be widely, readily, quickly available. By the time a story gets out, there might be 40 different versions of it. And if you are a manipulative, political type, you’ll make sure to get your counterstory out immediately. And then you can assume there’s some leeway — if you ever are confronted with it, you can say, “Yeah, but it wasn’t quite the way you heard it.” I very obviously held a dagger to Ned Stark’s throat, which as television viewers saw in massive close-up, but the part of the story that’s the most damning evidence of betrayal — my holding a dagger to his throat — may not be out there. Everybody didn’t see it. But yeah, things come home to roost, and we are approaching the endgame, and things are going to get trickier for everyone, but particularly for people who have spun webs of lies and deceit.
You’d figure that Sansa, who was in King’s Landing at the time, would have heard about it by now, but then again, she was kept on a pretty tight leash back then.
As for what’s next for Littlefinger, he hasn’t yet been given the “reward” Sansa promised him when she wrote him for aid back in “The Broken Man.” “[I]t could be a place of great influence in her regime, or it could be marriage, or it could be material, lands, wealth.”
I don’t know. But does he not deserve a reward? That would seem like a standard thing in this world. Some people do things out of honor, but it tends to be that you get something for it.
We’ll have to wait a year before finding out what, exactly, Littlefinger gets, although I’m sure we already have opinions about what he deserves.