SPOILER ALERT: Game of Thrones plot lines, character development
Now that it’s been a few months since season 6 of Game of Thrones has wrapped, I’m still not sure what to do with myself on Sunday nights. To fill this tangible void, like most fans, I’ve basically read every Thrones theory, character analysis, and listicle there is.
Recently, I re-watched “Battle of the Bastards,” the penultimate episode of season 6, which stands out as one of the show’s best. It was sad and poignant and provocative.
While Rickon was running to Jon, desperate for his brother’s embrace, I kept saying “No, he’s a baby. No, no, no Game of Thrones DON’T DO THIS TO ME!!!” and then cried my eyes out when Ramsay-dog-chow-Bolton shot an arrow through Rickon’s beautiful, pure, perfect heart and the littlest Stark took his final breath.
It made narrative sense. I still don’t care. I didn’t watch a 30-minute explosion of toxic masculinity for nothing, I thought.
Thankfully, though, the show gave us something great — something worth celebrating.
Sansa Stark, the oldest sister in the family, finally got revenge on her abusive, violent ex-husband by feeding him to his own hounds. After seasons of consistently using rape as plot device, Game of Thrones decided to somewhat redeem itself by providing a survivor with agency. It’s about damn time.
From the beginning, I have always loved Sansa and have felt strongly protective of her. When many fans bemoaned the character’s femininity, her desire to marry and become a princess as annoying, I defended her. She has always been smart and strong and her feminine qualities do not discount this fact.
In many ways, I identify with Sansa. When I was young, I loved all things pink and feminine. As I became older, however, I began adopting more masculine qualities during my tomboy phase. On some level, I was conscious that femininity equates to weakness in a sexist society. I played sports, rejected “girly” clothes, and told myself I wasn’t like “those other girls.” I didn’t want to be subjected to the same hate Sansa endures.
Ultimately, “Sansa hate” is indicative of how we live in a sexist society that teaches girls from an extremely young age to embody femininity, then shame and call them weak for doing so.
Regardless, Sansa has proven time and time again that she is one of the most nuanced, complex characters on the award-winning series. She learned to adapt in King’s Landing in order to stay alive. She learned how to play the Game of Thrones and expertly read people during her time with Little Finger. She escaped Ramsay and correctly explained to Jon how her ex-husband would manipulate him in battle.
Clearly, this character should be celebrated. It’s only after the past couple of seasons, though, that viewers are finally beginning to believe Sansa is worthy of their affection. Now, she’s strong, they say. She’s been through so much and is still playing the game, still fighting. Which is true, but y’all should have been on the bandwagon a long time ago.
It’s as if seeing your father murdered isn’t enough to warrant compassion. As if surviving King’s Landing, surrounded by people who wanted you dead for years, isn’t enough. As if existing as a young girl in a patriarchal world isn’t enough.
I’ve stuck with Sansa from the start, and I can’t wait to see how she grows. If you watch Game of Thrones, you know she’s the True Queen of the North. All hail.