Hello, friends and bannermen. On Sunday's Game of Thrones, we didn't only have a new convergence of characters, but an entirely new plot for Sansa Stark! How did it match up with the books? How did it differ?
This weekly chat series is for fans of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books, upon which HBO's fantasy drama is based. It's meant to be a safe haven to discuss spoilers and changes from the novels and how they have played out or will play out in the TV series. Hanh Nguyen and Sadie Gennis are longtime fantasy fans of varying levels of geekiness who will sound off on all things Westerosi (and beyond!).
[Warning: If you're a Game of Thrones fan who has stumbled upon this chat and haven't read the books yet, begone! Instead, check out our recap of "High Sparrow" for a spoiler-free discussion.]
Hanh: Wow, what an episode! The biggest change from the books, of course, is that Sansa, not Jeyne "fake Arya," is going to marry Ramsay, and therefore be positioned to get revenge for the Red Wedding. When we left Sansa in the novels, she was still masquerading as Littlefinger's bastard "Alayne," and had a more convoluted route to reclaim Winterfell that involved marrying some other heir that we've never heard about. This story line is far more straightforward, and dare we say, potentially bloodier!
Sadie: Obviously this Dark Sansa marriage theory has been floating around for a while, but it didn't hamper my excitement at all to see it confirmed. I have clearly been Team Sansa for a while, and the idea of her fully completing her transformation from pawn to player this season is everything I've ever wanted. Before I saw this scene play out, part of me groaned at the idea of Sansa once again being forced into a political marriage to a psychopath, but it was so wonderful to see Littlefinger really give Sansa the power to decide whether this was something she wanted to do. This will be the first of her three weddings where she's ever had any agency in the matter. And the fact that she's going to use this power to avenge her family makes it that much better!
Hanh: I also feel that with Sansa in the picture, we care so much more than with Jeyne, whom we never really get to know in the books. Also, this means a possible reunion with Theon/Reek, whom of course Sansa thinks killed her two little brothers. And then her soon to be father-in-law Roose had a hand in the Red Wedding. I love to see Sansa "act" — it's so delicious.
Sadie: Yes! Jeyne was so whiny and meek. I know she was in a terrible situation against her will (and I would probably react the same if it was me), but this will all be so much more satisfying with Sansa in the role. Though, I can't help but wonder how her reunion with Theon will play out. Do you think she will allign herself with him to carry out the plan and presumed eventual escape? Or do you think the show is building towards an even bigger deviation and leaving Theon in the dust?
Hanh: At this point, I can't even pretend to predict. Of course, I want poor Reek to just escape and live as happily as he can with the few teeth he has left, drinking a multitude of broths and strained peas, away from Ramsay's tortures. But, then again, Sansa is savvy now and if there's a way she can use him, she probably will. I hope this also means that Sansa won't meet the same fate as Jeyne, whom Ramsay horribly rapes and tortures.
Sadie: Now that Sansa will seemingly be playing a major role in the Fake Arya and Frey Pie plots, I keep trying to parse out how hands-on I expect her to be and what aspects will be more Littlefinger's or perhaps Theon's orchestration. Because as much as Sansa evolves in the books, she always remains very sly, preferring to get her way through subtle schemes rather than murder, let alone cannibalism. It would be interesting to see her develop into someone more akin to Cersei and Arya, who will do whatever necessary, whereas Book Sansa is closer to Margaery.
Hanh: Right, she never got her hands quite that dirty in the books. Also... we do assume that the Freys will get pie, right? I really hope they will, but so far, I've only seen Walda there. Maybe they need more time for the other Freys — including Walder — to arrive for the wedding?
Sadie: Good point! I really have no idea who will be in the pies, but I'm betting the Boltons will be eating mouthfuls of it — such perfect revenge on Ramsay in particular, after his sausage taunt.
Hanh: Simultaneously the most entertaining and disturbing Game of Thrones GIF! Yeah, they have to do it!
Sadie: Another huge new road this Sansa change opens up is the repercussions of her going public. As Littlefinger points out to Roose, Margaery adores Sansa and that adoration is reciprocal. If Sansa truly does emerge as a public figure once again, there's a chance she might have the support of the crown, which could be a real game-changer.
Hanh: Oh, yes, I would love to see them combine forces, Avengers-style! I am worried about the outcome of that Faith trial though. I'm wondering if Sansa can in some way save her, maybe "help" her to atone. This also changes things with Stannis enclosing on Winterfell. With Sansa as the Lady of Winterfell, she'll want it for herself. It's not Stannis' to have.
Sadie: I don't think this will have too many effects on the siege on Winterfell. Mainly because we have no concrete proof of the actual results of the battle. All we know from the books is that Ramsay (or someone claiming to be Ramsay) sends a letter announcing that Stannis is dead and his army is broken, prompting Jon to muster his own band of men to take down the Boltons. But the legitimacy of any or all of those claims have not been proven.
Hanh: Yeah, that off-page action/epistolary exposition was always so frustrating! The one other deviation I was kind of disturbed by — not because it will have far-reaching effects — was Tommen and Margaery's relationship. I guess he's legal and all since he's the king, but he still strikes me as incredibly young. I am happy that there's an oasis of joy in his life — other than Ser Pounce of course. Then again, Sansa was married before and she was young. She just never consummated, which is key for her marriage with Ramsay.
Sadie: In the show, both Sansa and Tommen are teenagers so I could care less whether or not they have sex, as long as they don't do it under duress. And Tommen and Margaery are probably only four or so years apart, which is something I saw countless times in high school, so it seemed pretty natural to me. In fact, I kind of liked seeing how kind Margaery was towards him (though it verged on condescending now and then).
Hanh: Ah, I was not aware that was supposed to be the age difference. She struck me as so much older. (In real life, the actor is 17, and she's 33, but apparently not on the show?). As for Sansa, well, we'll see what she has to endure with her marriage. She's changed so much, become so strong, but sort of in a metaphorical Lady Stoneheart way, I hope she doesn't give up too much of her humanity. There is one thing I did notice, though: Right after Sansa is introduced to Ramsay, did you see the camera pan over to that girl? She is NOT happy! A jealous rival is definitely not something we saw in the books, so I wonder how that will play out.
Sadie: I completely missed that girl's reaction! Was it Myranda, by chance? She definitely would have reason to be jealous as one of Ramsay's main bedwarmers, and her role is being increased this season. I hope Game of Thrones finds a way to put a unique spin on this love triangle, though I'm a little burnt out on the trope.
Hanh: Maybe she'll become a pie filling?
Sadie: Myranda pie could definitely do the trick!
Hanh: Agreed. I don't want the usual love triangle either, especially since Sansa is just using Ramsay anyway. It wouldn't make sense. Oh, one last quick thing sort of related to Sansa, but not really. I am so happy that Brienne and Pod had that heart-to-heart, which means that they're building trust with each other. AND she's going to teach him to fight, which gives me hope because I do worry over Pod. If he has some skills, maybe he'll be able to survive whatever is coming.
Sadie: The heart-to-heart was super sweet, but I wouldn't stop worrying about Pod just yet. Now that they're trailing Sansa, even if the duo doesn't get caught by the Brotherhood without Banners, getting involved with everything that's building at Winterfell could prove to be just as deadly.
Hanh: Ugh, seriously. It's horrible, but it makes me think of other people I hope die instead. OK, let's see what the readers think!
What did you think of the big Sansa twist? How do you predict it will play out?
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.
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