9:00am PT by Aaron Couch
'Game of Thrones': Where Will Sansa Go From Here?
Game of Thrones is under the microscope after Sunday's episode.
It delivered perhaps its most controversial episode yet, with Sansa (Sophie Turner) raped by Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) on their wedding night, as her former foster brother Theon/Reek (Alfie Allen) was forced to look on.
The scene sparked an uproar, with both a U.S. senator and the geek-centric website The Mary Sue among those washing their hands of the series. Among the chief complaints critics lobbed at the show was that the rape scene, which wasn't included in author George R.R. Martin's books, was added for shock value and continued a pattern of the series using rape as a plot device. Others defended its inclusion as a necessary evil, with the rape a deplorable act of war, not something added simply for shock value.
In the books, Ramsay marries a different character, a girl posing as Arya named Jeyne Poole, who ends up being brutalized by her new husband. Sansa, meanwhile, remains safe at her aunt's home in The Eyrie.
Going forward, Sansa's storyline will undoubtedly be heavily scrutinized. Thrones has proved to be unpredictable, killing off characters who live in the books, so it's difficult to predict if Sana's storyline will follow that of Jeyne's in the book. There seem to be two potential paths — one based on what has occurred so far this season, and the other based on Jeyne Pool's story.
Sansa Star, Wardeness of the North
The series has increasingly been making Sansa into a player, rather than a pawn, in the game of thrones. She chose to marry Ramsay as a power play, spoke up for herself at that horrible family dinner with the Boltons, and didn't allow Ramsay's lover Myranda (Charlotte Hope) to bully her in the bathtub. She grew to become a far cry from the young girl who spent years being terrorized by Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) in King's Landing.
Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) said his ultimate goal is for Stannis (Stephen Delane) to take Winterfell from the Boltons. He believes Stannis would reward Sansa with the title of Wardeness of the North, which would put her in control of her ancestral homeland.
Many who criticized the rape scene argued that it once again diminished Sansa's power, knocking her back down to the victim she was when she was in Joffrey's control. But it does seem likely that the show will continue to pursue the prospect of Sansa asserting herself as a leader. When Sansa first arrived at Winterfell, an older serving woman told Sansa, "The North remembers," meaning its people recognize her as Eddard Stark's (Sean Bean) and Winterfell's true heir.
What about Jeyne?
Jeyne Poole's story from the books could provide clues as to Sansa's arc in the show.
Warning: Book spoilers ahead.
After marrying Ramsay, it's hinted that he routinely abuses her. He also forces her to stay locked in a tower. She begs Theon to help her escape, and her abuse is noticed by Stark loyalists in Winterfell, with her mistreatment helping fuel resentment against the Boltons.
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Here's where her book story goes strongly against the realm of possibility for the show: Mance Rayder (the Wildling leader who was executed in the season premiere) leads a raiding party to rescue Jeyne — believing she is Arya. It's unclear what happened to Mance, with Ramsay writing a letter to Jon letting him know the Wildling leader has been captured. but Theon and Jeyne escape, ultimately making their way to Stannis' camp.
In the show, it is possible that Sansa's brother Jon (Kit Harington) could learn that she is being held in Winterfell and send a different man to mount her rescue, though in order to redeem itself in the eyes of its critics, it might work better for Sansa to be the agent of her own rescue.
It's worth noting that in the books, Littlefinger has not yet left Sansa's side, while in the show she is now fending for herself. This presents Sansa's character with an opportunity to show she can operate effectively without outside help from Littlefinger.
"Because of who she is, I don't think Roose Bolton will stand for too much slapping around. I think the mental side of it will be horrendous. That's going to be the difficult bit," Rheon previously told The Hollywood Reporter — though it's worth noting he gave those comments several weeks before the controversial rape scene aired and was not commenting on that scene specifically.
What are your thoughts on how the show might move forward with Sansa's storyline? Share your theories in the comments.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO. Stay tuned to The Live Feed for more from the series.