How I Learned To Love Sansa Stark

The Baddest B*tch In Westeros At The Moment*

*Lyanna Mormont not withstanding.

Warning: Major plot spoilers ahead.

I started out Season 1 of the show and Season 1 of the book (book one, it was just book one) absolutely loathing Sansa. I was mad that in a sea of strong female characters, George R.R. Martin managed to sneak in this naive and ditzy millennial not capable of harboring ambitions longer than a 140 characters, but boy did he prove me wrong.

One could argue that Sansa has had the most complex character growth out of all. She started out hated by all, abused, tricked, used, picked-on, exploited and overall taken advantage of but ended up being the one to turn the tide in the penultimate episode of season 6 with some clever backroom dealings and cunning. If you blow up her character arc large enough, it's basically the microcosm of my high school experience (minus that last part about the cunning), so maybe that's why I sympathize so much.

Overall, it's a good time to be a woman in Game of Thrones...

Overall, it's a good time to be a woman in Game of Thrones (unless you're Cersei, in which case everything is well deserved). Dany is out there actively trying to come back to land of Mead and Honey that is Westeros (FINALLY!) dragons in tow. Asha is establishing herself as a strong female leader, Arya has always been a bad-ass and I'm fairly sure we can crown Lyanna Mormont based off her 5 minutes of screen time. George R.R. Martin has always had this wild notion of writing female characters as actual people  --  meaningful characters with complex motivations and ambitions  --  and it seems to be paying off.

Sansa is at the head of it and it seems that she is finally learning to play the game. While some of the main characters remained stoically unmoved in their motivations (Jon, Arya, Dany), Sansa has learned from all of the bad things that happened to her, she is a survivor, who understands the way the game is played better than anyone at this point (shout out to Petyr Baelish). We have seen her character suffer at the hands of pretty much every dastardly reject this side of Mos Eisley Spaceport and emerge an entirely different creature.

The Sansa that had dreams of marrying a prince and living happily ever after is gone. Now is the time of Sansa who is concerned only with living, at any cost. Just look at how quickly she dismisses Rickon and accepts that he is lost (SERPENTINE RICKY, SERPENTINE! JUKE!), but also withholds valuable information from Jon that could have, oh, I don't know, saved a couple thousand lives. But this Sansa is not concerned for warrior lives, she's concerned for her own, and that of her kin (which, in this case, once again  --  her own).

Sansa has learned to keep her cards close to her chest and play the game for herself only.

Game of Thrones excels in highlighting characters' fatal flaws and having others take advantage of them. Whether it's Ned Stark's pride, Cersei's overconfidence, Tyrion's weakness for women and liquor (Tyrion is all of us) or Arya's inclination to repeatedly stab them with the pointy end, the show takes these things and turns them against people. It teaches you to hide even your smallest flaw. Sansa knows this, withholding the news of the Knights of the Vale from Jon who would quite potentially ruin the element of surprise.

Sansa to Jon in a DM: Hey man, just sent a few texts. We should chill for a minute see who comes.


Sansa has learned to keep her cards close to her chest and play the game for herself only. Giving up news of Knights of the Vale would also mean giving up control of them to the leader of the rebellion, which at this moment happens to be Jon Snow. Keeping mum on the other hand let's her keep a relative amount of autonomy along with the biggest army, which as we can see, kind of matters. Does she trust Littlefinger? Probably not, but she needs him, and the recognition of this necessity is a fundamental part of her character growth. Will she try to play the little Lord of the Vale against his assumed protector? At this point, I wouldn't put it past her.

Over the past six seasons we've watched Sansa grow from a forgetful and naive girl into a woman as cold as the North she hails from and one would argue as the pooches ate the last of Ramsay Bolton, they also indirectly ate the last of the old Sansa Stark we remember.

Originally written for Armchair Society.