Aidan Gillen discusses Littlefinger’s tactics: “He’s still pretending to be something that he’s not”

littlefinger
Aidan Gillen is in high demand these days. Recently, he spoke to Irish Central about his many upcoming projects, Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Peaky Blinders, the final installment of the Maze Runner franchise … and, of course, the seventh season of Game of Thrones.


Gillen’s chat about Game of Thrones focused less on juicy plot details for the upcoming season and more on the psychology of Gillen’s multifaceted character.

When asked if he drew inspiration from his Irish identity – and its integral legacy of hardship – to get into Littlefinger’s headspace, Gillen declined to get into the intricacies of “800 years of oppression” but conceded that there could be some commonalities.

“I know the Irish did use language, as did any oppressed people. But … I’ve never really thought about it in terms of Game of Thrones,” he said.

“The thing about Baelish is that he definitely is an outsider and he has worked his way up and out of his class and into the higher echelons of the courts. He is very much still an outsider though, and he’s still pretending to be something that he’s not. We are never really sure where he came from and what he originally sounded like or what his family situation was. It’s not really explored in the show, although a lot of people are familiar with those and the books.”

As tight-lipped as Baelish is about his motivations, we’ve seen again and again that Catelyn and, now, Sansa Stark hold some sway over him. What little vulnerability he’s shown has been, in some way, connected to the two Stark women.

“I don’t know that [his heart’s] been exposed,” Gillen said. “I think we see a little bit of that. I think we saw a little of it with Sansa and her mother Catelyn Stark, he’d be a little less guarded. The one weakness that he has, the one era where he could be exposed or trip up is the emotional one regarding Sansa or Catelyn. But it hasn’t really been an issue. He hasn’t slipped up.”

74 responses

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    1. Interesting that he thinks that Littlefinger hasn’t slippped up. He lost Sansa’s trust by handing her to Ramsay. Even if she still feels some affinity for him, she ultimately knows not to trust him and she knows his endgame desire. That’s huge ammunition and will likely cost him in the end.

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    2. Ive long since given up trying to decipher show Littlefinger… Since his intelligence and ability to play the game wavers depending on plot necessity…

      When they need him to be brilliant enough to orchestrate the war of five kings, hes brilliant enough…
      When they need him to be dumb enough to sell Sansa to Boltons, or to kill Lysa with no backup plan, hes dumb enough..

      Before people attack me, I still think this show is brilliant and love it… I just find LF to be the biggest weakness among the main players from the story in the screen adaptation

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    3. Perhaps Gillen thinks that Littlefinger can overcome the Ramsay debacle. If so, that’s hubris on Littlefinger’s part. However, I figure that Gillen talking about “slipping up” means exactly that. That Littlefinger will, indeed, slip up this season with Sansa.

      I figure the show will try a ‘reset’ with Littlefinger and Sansa, since none of the Ramsay nonsense made sense anyway.

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    4. I don’t root for Littlefinger the character honestly but I do love the unique voice he uses in the show and I think Aiden is a brilliant actor so i’m glad GOT has opened up more doors for him. I saw him in a indie Irish film “Sing Street” it was a really good movie and it was good to hear his more native accent.

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    5. I still find it interesting that Littlefinger didn’t reveal to Cersei that he found Arya (well, possibly found her). I know that it was kind of vague as to whether or not he recognized Arya as Tywin’s cup bearer in season 2, but a handful of episodes later he reveals to Sansa that Arya is still alive. How would he know that unless he recognized Arya back in season 2? And why wouldn’t he tell Cersei or Tywin? He would’ve received one hell of a promotion for doing so, wouldn’t he? Or, maybe he was simply lying to Sansa about Arya in the first place?

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    6. Mr Derp:
      Or, maybe he was simply lying to Sansa about Arya in the first place?

      That’s the answer, I assume (among other things, if he had actually recognized Arya, he would have done something with that information).

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    7. Well we know that Petyr’s great-grandfather came from Braavos. Whether that is in any way important or just background though…

      That was narrated by AG himself in the Histories & Lore on the Blu-Ray!

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    8. I do love Gillens portrayal of LF but have to say that the Ramsay-Sansa marriage was my least favorite diversion from the books. It made no sense and completely changed Sansa’s character arc and took a lot of the best subplot away from Theon.

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    9. Dee Stark,

      I’m with you on that one, Dee. Kill, KILL, KIIIIIIIL him. If someone in the show doesn’t manage it (or he doesn’t do it himself), I’m more than happy to oblige. Now THAT would be fan service!

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    10. HelloThere,

      I’ve never considered Littlefinger a genius in either the book or the show. All he really does is throw a wrench into the works, stands back, and sees what happens. The only difference between his plan to kill Jon Arryn and his plan to marry Sansa off to the Boltons was that he got incredibly lucky with the Jin Arryn plot.

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    11. Show Littlefinger remains a puzzle and enigma to me. His goals and ambitions in any given season seem difficult to define. As the seasons go by, in my opinion, Littlefinger became a rather weak adaptation. Handing Sansa over to the Boltons will probably wind up the strangest writing decision in the show’s run and in their adaptation.

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    12. Mr Derp,

      AGREED!

      Not that it was waning any, but after having recently rewatched season 1, I’m pouring as much coal as possible on the ‘Please have Littlefinger FINALLY die a horrible, suffering death in season 7.”

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    13. Dee Stark,
      I second that thought. 🙂

      To be honest, there are very few Littlefinger specific scenes in the series that I don’t watch and think, “I could have done without that (or less of that).” That pretty much started from the season one fifteen minute brothel sexposition scene. Still, I was able to suffer him while he was in KL scenes with various people, but now that most of his scenes are generally with just Sansa… When those two show up alone in a scene I hear my mind scream “BLEH!!”

      I personally think his necessary role in the series is very, very close to being finished, if it hasn’t passed already.

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    14. Chreechree,

      That was a stumble, but not a full-fledged slip: he wound up getting back to where he wanted to be in the end. After all, the entire gambit was to get the Vale to seize Winterfell with the blessings of the Lannisters. The other potentially important plot and character point that now has come up twice is that for all LF knows about the people and machinations in the south, he knows nothing about the North! This has nipped him twice now: the question is, will there be a third time? In particular, I have a real tough time seeing LF buying any of this nonsense about White Walkers: when you peddle in secrets, you rapidly learn how to separate the husks of propaganda and lies that encase the nuggets of truth: and the WW stuff would seem like a ridiculous cover-story for something else.

      orange: Handing Sansa over to the Boltons will probably wind up the strangest writing decision in the show’s run and in their adaptation.

      In retrospect, it was a very sensible adaptation for three reasons. One, the show has elevated Sansa to one of the primary protagonists. However, Sansa is basically absent from the Crows/Dragons story: she gets three desultory chapters in which nothing close to the “kill the girl, let the woman be born” arc is realized. Sansa really needed to be written into the story somehow. Two, the plot details happening around Winterfell probably are very important to the overall plot of the series: but the biggest character there is a 2nd tier protagonist.

      The third reason is simply a dove-tailing of these: you have a main character with no part in the story and an important plot line with no primary protagonist. Positive ion, meet electron!

      This probably is giving us a taste for what Sansa has coming up in the Winter book, too. In there, LF has her tentatively betrothed to someone who is written like the classic date-raping quarterback from a story set in modern times. And LF almost certainly has designs on using the Vale to seize Winterfell and trying to establish some sort of puppet alliance under his control. I am betting that we will wind up reading a very similar scene of LF, Sansa & the Vale playing Riders of Rohan outside the Gates of Winterfell! (I can see LF riding up the flanks screaming “Better you than me!” as he whacks his sword against the Vale-riders spears….)

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    15. HelloThere,

      I agree. I have absolutely no idea what Littlefinger wants at this point. Apparently it’s the Iron Throne with Sansa at his side, but right now he seems to be very very far away from his goal.
      With Dany arriving to challenge Cersei and Jon concentrating on the white walker apocalypse, it’s very hard to see how LF can have any major impact on the power play in the coming seasons.

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    16. “.We are never really sure where he came from and what he originally sounded like.” .

      We are never really sure what he sounds like now either. It changes from episode to episode.

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    17. I wished they incorporate more of Sansa’s arc from the Vale, like picking out Cobray in the books, she could do that in the North on someone trying to take advantage, or LF buying up all the food they could do that in the North.

      I love to hate LF can’t wait for his hopeful demise.

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    18. I find it interesting to view Littlefinger’s character development, as well as what Sansa learns from him, as an illustration of how effective passive aggression can be in a society that only really understands active aggression. Like many childhood trauma survivors, young Petyr was taught very clearly (by Uncle Brandon) that active aggression would never be his forte and would only backfire on him. So he set his cap to master an alternative approach: discerning other people’s desires and weaknesses, then using those to manipulate others into serving his ends while thinking that it was their own idea – including using other people to do his killing for him.

      If you can’t be brawny, be brainy. He’s like Tyrion’s shadow twin. However repellent, he’s quite a fascinating character! And I relish the cognitive dissonance of hoping he gets his just desserts ASAP and at the same time, knowing that the story will be less rich and juicy once he is gone.

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    19. Firannion,

      Nah. That dude needs to go. ASAP. I bet the story won’t suffer a bit. White Walkers and their army and an even-nuttier-than-squirrel-turds Cersei state it as so.

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    20. HelloThere,

      It’s ok. I’m not hurt. I think you are correct in the way you see the show’s treatment of LF at times.

      HOWEVER, I ❤️ Aidan’s LF. Basically my fave selfish, power hungry, money -grabber, chaos-maker, ladder-climber, opportunistic character of all.

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    21. Meh, I think someone will rejoice at a prequel and some won’t. I’d have to know more about what stories will be specifically targeted before I feel one way or the other, but generally speaking, prequels tend to do nothing but disappoint. We will see in time.

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    22. Pigeon:
      Mark me as spam as much as you want, lol.

      Pigeon,

      Let me give you some advice spam. Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.

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    23. Mr Derp: Pigeon,

      Let me give you some advice spam. Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.

      Truer, wiser words were never spoken. Now I want to wear a can of Spam on my head with pride. *sniff*

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    24. Wimsey:
      This probably is giving us a taste for what Sansa has coming up in the Winter book, too.

      Seeing as the writers apparently had this in mind from Season 2, before they knew much of anything about the series beyond what had been published, there’s no reason to think that.

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    25. Mr Derp,

      Excellent catch! I missed this!! Rewatch. I still think he’s very much in control & weaving things here as much as I dislike the character. The show changed the Ramsey/Sansa plot line… not a book reader but i thought LF passed someone else to Ramsey as Arya, if so then it looks like he’s definitely in control of his chess pieces. I could be wrong.

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    26. Ten Bears:
      Matthew The Dragon knight,

      “Spinoffs in development with GRRM involved”

      …And …..Downpour of “Finish the goddamn books already, FatMan!” in 10, 9, 8, ……

      Really ?
      i’m waiting for the Thank god D&D aren’t writing XD
      also i’m expecting the words idiots, hacks, ect to be thrown around XD

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    27. Matthew The Dragon knight,

      Robert’s Rebellion if they want a sure shot; Dunk & Egg if they want to bring in younger viewers without the violence; and Dance of Dragons, if they’re giving them massive budgets. Also may depend on how the main series ends.

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    28. Jade Joon:
      Matthew The Dragon knight,

      Robert’s Rebellion if they want a sure shot; Dunk & Egg if they want to bring in younger viewers without the violence; and Dance of Dragons, if they’re giving them massive budgets. Also may depend on how the main series ends.

      Roberts rebellion is much more likely, a nice tie in to the main series.
      Dance of the Dragons, and Aegons conquest would make for some epic tv 🙂

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    29. Robert’s Rebellion probably has the juiciest potential due to the amount of major characters and plots involved, however, I’d rather they not go there because we kind of know about this story already. I’m not sure that I’d want to tune in every week to a show where I already know what’s going to happen, especially if the remaining 2 seasons of GoT connect all of the dots that are still out there like why Rhaegar and Lyanna ran away together, had a child, etc…

      I just hope now that a prequel is definitely going to happen it won’t require the current show to hold back any reveals in order to keep plot points in a potential prequel a secret.

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    30. I’ll continue to say it… I don’t need or want a Robert’s Rebellion series. I don’t know why people would be more interested in that over other options to be honest. ….. I’ll join further discussion in the new thread…

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    31. Matthew The Dragon knight,

      Well, along those lines, I’m waiting for….

      “Oh no, Dumb & Dumberer are going to be executive producers?!”;

      “They’re going to ruin Dunk’s character !”

      “I’ve started a campaign to have them replaced”

      “Lovely. They’re going to turn the She-Wolves of Winterfell into [Disney princesses] or [Sand Snakes, the First Generation] or [cartooon characters like Jem & The Holograms];

      “They’re butchering Egg!”

      and…

      “Fan Fiction!”; “FanBoys!”; “They don’t understand Martin’s world!”

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    32. Dee Stark,

      100% agree.
      And I’m still hoping we get prequels featuring some of the older, legendary GoT characters in their glory days, eg Barristan “The Bold” Selmy; Olenna “Oh, I was good. I was very, very good” Tyrell; and Maester Aemon.

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    33. Dee Stark,

      Executive producer credits don’t generally mean that much. GRRM is an executive producer of the show now and he has no real involvement in it. The important creative job in a TV show is the showrunner (or showrunners, in this case).

      If HBO’s goal is to have an ongoing series, I’ve never understood why people think Robert’s Rebellion is an obvious choice. Sure, there’s the lure of using familiar characters, but most of them don’t do much of anything, and we know (or will know) all the really important stuff. Most importantly, it’s a very limited storyline that could not be made to last for several seasons.

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    34. Mr Derp: I’m not sure that I’d want to tune in every week to a show where I already know what’s going to happen,

      Agreed. A rehash of Robert’s Rebellion is the least interesting to me of the commonly suggested options.

      For me, a prequel doesn’t need to be ‘epic.’ Dunk & Egg, because it’s essentially a picaresque tale, wouldn’t require a huge budget for most episodes. Since my favorite scenes in GoT often involve wisecracking mismatched road buddies, I know I could enjoy a series set in Planetos without big flashy battle scenes.

      Plus, the fluidity of the premise would allow enough room for the writing team to keep coming up with new adventures beyond what GRRM has already plotted out. Such a series could go on for years, with the aging-up of the kid who plays Aegon the only real structural challenge.

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    35. Firannion,

      Yeah, I think it would be a mistake for the network to insist that any spinoff try to be exactly like GOT, because it would be quite limiting to insist on the same scope of settings and story types.

      It’s not like it needs that kind of scope to be successful. The Walking Dead is the biggest thing on TV, and its scope is quite small by comparison (it also sucks, but that’s neither here nor there).

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    36. Amazing. I can post anything that doesn’t have to do with the topic, but topic-related disappears into the ether. Nice.

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    37. orange,

      It was a decision made to give Sophie Turner, the actress, a meatier storyline.

      I can understand the sentiments behind it… Bringing Sansa back to her old home and having her navigate this nightmare it has become.

      But the big issue… It completely makes zero sense.

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    38. Firannion: For me, a prequel doesn’t need to be ‘epic.’

      The evidence would suggest that GoT does well despite the fact that it looks “epic.” The closest show to GoT in appearance that was anywhere near this successful was the Tudors (which, like GoT, was a character drama in Renaissance Faire outfits). There really does not seem to be much of a market for “medieval costume drama” out there.

      To that end, something like Dunk & Egg might be a good candidate for a series, as it really focuses on two individuals. (Or so I recall: I read one or two of them long, long ago, and they are not easy to find!)

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    39. Mr Derp: just hope now that a prequel is definitely going to happen it won’t require the current show to hold back any reveals in order to keep plot points in a potential prequel a secret.

      My thoughts exactly. Reveals in show and book have been held back longer than the resolution to the Tristan and Isolde love death harmonies.

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    40. I love Littlefinger! He makes the political story for me, but I am afraid he may die because the political game is slowly being edged out. It is all becoming about the Long Winter and the WW. He has no place in that story line other the Valyrian Steel Dagger at his hip. On the show, he has openly declared for the Starks, which cuts him off from King’s Landing, and he is not on the Vale, which is his power base. What is he going to do in the North? If they were going to do something with him and Sansa as a couple/partnership they would have done it by now. Sansa and Baelish could have been a political powerhouse duo, and the writers ruined it for that ridiculous and pointless Ramsay marrige. I feel like the writers have taken a character who is so vital to the story and made him useless. If he dies in the 7th or 8th season, I wouldn’t be surprised.

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    41. Marlana: Reveals in show and book have been held back longer than the resolution to the Tristan and Isolde love death harmonies.

      It only takes about 16 hours to get to those!

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    42. moonlightof1982: He makes the political story for me, but I am afraid he may die because the political game is slowly being edged out. It is all becoming about the Long Winter and the WW.

      The two are intertwined. White Walkers are a northern fairy tale. LF is not going to buy this story for a moment, and neither will a lot of other people. Being who he is, LF is going to assume that this is some game that Jon is playing for Jon’s benefit: and LF will do everything he can to undercut it. After all, Jon obviously is in league with the Wildlings, and although I doubt that LF hates the Wildlings any more than do most Westerosi: 1) the Westerosi hate Wildlings; 2) Wildling invasions are not part of LF’s long con; and, 3) LF wants Catelyn’s progeny (and his puppet) in charge of Winterfell, not Ned’s. I will be surprised if he does not sow a bit of discord

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    43. Wimsey: It only takes about 16 hours to get to those!

      That’s the reason it’s my least favourite Wagner opera. Give me Das Rheingold any day. BTW, every once in a while something happened in GoT that fleetingly reminded me of Wagner. I can’t think of any examples right now, but George is an omnivorous consumer of culture. More important, ASoIaF is chock full of heros’ journeys, as is the Wagner canon. Was I hallucinating?

      Firannion:
      I find it interesting to view Littlefinger’s character development, as well as what Sansa learns from him, as an illustration of how effective passive aggression can be in a society that only really understands active aggression… And I relish the cognitive dissonance of hoping he gets his just desserts ASAP and at the same time, knowing that the story will be less rich and juicy once he is gone.

      Great insight, Firannion! For all the psychologising that goes on in our comment sections, I don’t think I’ve ever heard this so concisely summarised. It also explains a key difference between Arya and Sansa. Sansa starts passive but with LF grows to passive-aggressive. Arya is very brainy but also chose to also develop her brawn. And you’re right–we’ll miss LF and his machinations. But he’s responsible for virtually all the death and destruction, especially of Starks (Ned’s death, likely the Red Wedding, etc.). So if this saga has any morality to it, it’s about time LF meets his maker, especially at the hands of Starks. That way we can get on with the existential climax in the last season, which will probably make the Game look rather trivial.

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    44. Wimsey: The two are intertwined.White Walkers are a northern fairy tale.LF is not going to buy this story for a moment, and neither will a lot of other people.Being who he is, LF is going to assume that this is some game that Jon is playing for Jon’s benefit: and LF will do everything he can to undercut it.After all, Jon obviously is in league with the Wildlings, and although I doubt that LF hates the Wildlings any more than do most Westerosi: 1) the Westerosi hate Wildlings; 2) Wildling invasions are not part of LF’s long con; and, 3) LF wants Catelyn’s progeny (and his puppet) in charge of Winterfell, not Ned’s.I will be surprised if he does not sow a bit of discord

      If he can’t believe his eyes then he is a fool, the south believe giants don’t exist, yet there is a dead one right by his side.
      He be wise to pause his game until he and others are out of the north, I’m sure most of the north Sansa included reacted to WunWun like Jon did when he first saw them.

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    45. HelloThere:

      “It was a decision made to give Sophie Turner, the actress, a meatier storyline.”

      Of course it wasn’t.

      HelloThere:
      “I can understand the sentiments behind it… Bringing Sansa back to her old home and having her navigate this nightmare it has become.

      But the big issue… It completely makes zero sense.”

      It makes more sense than some people like to make out.

      1. Littlefinger wants to offload the smoking gun (Sansa) he’s holding after Joffrey’s murder. So he hands it to the Boltons.

      2. He wants the North to further his ambitions towards the Iron Throne. He can’t get the North without openly rebelling against the Crown/Lannisters, and both the Boltons and Stannis stand in the way of his ambitions anyway.

      By giving Sansa to the Boltons he creates a situation where Cersei actively grants him permission to defeat the Boltons / Stannis and take the North and promises to name him Warden of the North.

      3. Sansa is under the impression that she is the only living Stark. She knows nothing of Jon Snow’s situation. She’s trapped under the protection of a man who has been manipulating her for years. He succeeds in convincing her that the way to seek justice for her family is to undermine the Boltons from within.

      People can dislike the plot and take issue with elements of it, of course. But saying that it makes zero sense is just a falsehood.

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    46. moonlightof1982: Sansa and Baelish could have been a political powerhouse duo, and the writers ruined it for that ridiculous and pointless Ramsay marrige.

      How could they have become a political powerhouse? The Boltons hold the North and the Lannisters want Sansa’s head. Littlefinger only controls the Vale by proxy.

      Between them they actually wield very little real power. How do they become a political powerhouse when they don’t actually wield any power themselves?

      And what would this political powerhouse do anyway? How would they further their aims?

      Are they going to regain the North politically? Militarily? How do they get away with usurping the Crown-appointed Warden of the North?

      Are they going to try and undermine Walder Frey, who the Lannisters are willing to back militarily, in the Riverlands?

      Or was Sansa going to spend a couple of seasons in the Vale doing next to nothing, like in the books?

      And how does this all factor into the rest of the show and characters? Where would Jon Snow come into the equation, for example? What would prompt him to try and regain the North in the name of House Stark, for example?

      You see, I think a lot of those who bemoan the Sansa storyline from Season 5 are just moaning because the show didn’t go how they hoped/expected it to (e.g. Dark Sansa playing the Game of Thrones) and they don’t consider the actual practicalities, narrative or production-wise, of what they are suggesting.

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    47. Baelish said right from the start that he’s “not going to fight them – I’m going to fuck them.” And he has, successfully. He knows the game better than anyone, and I love to hate him.

      LF will likely die, but dang did he ever play them like a violin. And hopefully his death will be such that he fucks everyone one last time.

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    48. Pigeon,

      BAsically, I agree. But I want him to try to fuck everyone, but not succeed. That would make him feel more defeated than actual death would. Besides, there’s a chance he’d try to kill Ghost, or even Sansa in the common “If I can’t have her, nobody will” vein. I’m no Sansa fan, so I’d like to see her get a solid comeuppance in her arc, but I don’t want to see her die. We’ve seen too many Stark deaths already.

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    49. Stark Raven’ Rad,

      Oh, I meant more in the way of ‘fuck the viewers’ one last time….most people want him to die terribly, so I can see them giving us the finger as he goes. Maybe accidentally falling off a physical ladder. LOL. But I do agree with you in all respects. ? Much as I can’t stand Sansa, I don’t get the dying vibe from her.

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    50. I believe Little Finger is the big bad of the series. He will behead Sansa this season and give it to Cercei. My theory is that Little Finger is more than what he is selling, HE IS A WARLOCK. LF learned and mastered blood magic while recovering from his loss to Brandon Stark. I really feel like he is hiding much more that a scare under his outfits. I even suspect LF played a HUGE role in Robert’s Rebellion and the deaths of Brandon & Daddy Stark. Maybe LF is the reason the Mad King went crazy and NOT Bran.
      If you go back to the first book, there is a Bran chapter after his fall and Bran is dreaming. The 3 eyed raven shows him a bunch of stuff, while a huge shadowy figure engulfs Kings Landing. THIS WAS A CLUE THAT THE BIG BAD OF THE ENTIRE SERIES WILL REVEAL HIMSELF/HERSELF IN KINGS LANDING. I think LF will kill the one who sits on the Iron Throne at the end of the White Walker War and take the throne for himself. I don’t think his reign will last long, as Vary’s will undoubtedly will find a way to kill LF in the end.

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    51. HelloThere:
      LF revealing he has Sansa is basically an admission of guilt in Joffrey’s murder.

      Exactly. Which is why he needed to find a way to use her to advance his ambitions without Cersei getting wind of her ever having been in his company.

      So he gave her to the Boltons, told Cersei where she was and used it to gain permission to conquer the North.

      HelloThere: And why would Bolton even marry his son to a woman wanted for regicide?

      If the Boltons can’t hold the North then their treason was pointless. Marrying a Stark into the family gave their rule greater legitimacy.

      They also tried to give the marriage as little publicity outside the North as possible, hence Roose’s queries over what Littlefinger was communicating with Cersei about.

      The North has never been conquered and winter is on the way, so the Boltons are probably confident that the Lannisters can’t touch them even if they do find out.

      And, finally, there’s no real reason why they’d have to keep Sansa around once she’s borne a few Stark/Bolton heirs anyway. So they’re not even necessarily committed to hiding/defending their treason in perpetuity.

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