During one of the quieter moments in Sunday’s Game of Thrones, Sansa wandered among the dead at Winterfell, home for the first time since most of her family had fallen. Littlefinger found her in the crypts, lighting candles to the dead, as her father did way back in the premiere episode of Game of Thrones so long ago.
The conversation that followed has been one of the big talking points for fans this week, as Littlefinger recounts the story of The Tourney at Harrenhal during the Year of the False Spring. He tells Sansa about watching Rhaegar not only win the tourney, but then silence the audience in shock when—instead of crowning his wife Elia Martell (sister of Oberyn Martell) as part of his win, he rode right past her and laid a wreath of winter roses at the feet of Lyanna Stark instead.
Book spoilers ahoy!
Book readers took this as a sign that the show was finally (FINALLY) giving us clues regarding the parentage of a certain famous bastard. Unsullied recappers, on the other hand, read it differently, noting that Littlefinger “seemed to shrug off” Sansa’s insistence that, after declaring Lyanna the Queen of Love and Beauty, Rheagar “kidnapped her and raped her.”
But even though the scene was short, Making Game of Thrones wants to make sure we noticed something at the end of it: the feather Sansa picked up in Lyanna’s tomb. It’s a call back to the first time we were ever down in those crypts, when Ned found Robert at Lyanna’s grave.
“The last time we saw the statue of Lyanna was in the pilot episode,” explains series co-creator David Benioff. “King Robert Baratheon laid this exotic, tropical bird feather in her hand. As we were preparing the scene [with Sansa], we thought: That feather’s probably still there. People haven’t been going down there and cleaning up much. Certainly after Ramsay destroyed Winterfell, there hasn’t been a janitorial crew going down and vacuuming.”
“We thought it would be kind of a great thing to have Sansa wondering about it,” co-creator D.B. Weiss notes. “Hopefully viewers wonder: Where did I see that before? – and then remember that in the first episode of the show, this is something that Robert left to remember the woman he loved.”
She wasn’t only the woman that Robert loved—she was the woman he went to war for, and the reason that millions of people had to die. If my family was the one that started that war, I’d want to believe it was because the other side raped and kidnapped my aunt, and not because she ran away for true love.