8:48am PT by Josh Wigler
Why 'Game of Thrones' Can't Kill Sansa Stark
[Warning: This story contains potential spoilers for Game of Thrones season six.]
Whether it's posters or video teasers, the Game of Thrones marketing machine's recent emphasis on lifeless faces suggests what viewers have known all along: No one is safe in the world of Westeros — especially the heroes.
The question of who will live and who will die hangs heavier in the air than usual right now, not only due to Jon Snow's season five "death," but also because the show's upcoming sixth season is itself a great unknown. This year, for the first time ever, the story of Thrones will move faster than the story of A Song of Ice and Fire, the novels on which the show is based, leaving book-reading fans without any edge on predicting the next Red Wedding-level event. Anyone can die at any time for any reason on this coming season… although now, it appears we can remove one name from the proverbial dead pool.
During an interview on the red carpet at the 2016 Oscars, actress Sophie Turner opened up about her future on Game of Thrones. Perhaps she opened up too much, when she strongly suggested that her character, Sansa Stark, will survive through the next ten episodes and into season seven: "I was flicking through [the scripts] and I'm like, 'Death, death, death… okay, I'm good for this season.'"
Did Turner just drop a bombshell about Sansa's future? That depends on your read on the current state of affairs in the Seven Kingdoms. There's certainly reason to worry about Sansa, the eldest daughter of the late Eddard and Catelyn Stark, who has been through Seven Hells and back during her run on Thrones. She went from one sociopathic fiance to an arguably even worse husband, with little hope for peace and serenity in sight. When we last saw Sansa, she was so desperate to escape her living nightmare that she plunged off the side of a castle wall into a snow bank far below, her fate far from certain. It was an "anywhere is better than here" moment, even if "anywhere" meant an immediate frozen death.
It's no surprise that Sansa will have survived that fall when season six begins. Really, it's no surprise at all to assume she will live through the season, if we're to take Turner's remarks about Sansa's future as an authentic overshare. Because here's the truth: Game of Thrones wants viewers to believe that anyone can be killed, as Arya might say — but there are a few people who can't be touched, including Sansa.
Perhaps it's brazen to grant immunity to any member of House Stark, given the noble family's track record when presented with the Stranger. But at a certain point, there's such a thing as too much hardship for one family to endure, let alone one young girl. Indeed, endurance is the name of the game for not just Sansa, but fans of the show. She began the story as a youth brimming with Disney princess dreams and schemes, only to jarringly realize her fantasy husband was less Prince Charming, and more Hans from Frozen, with a good bit of the vicious lion Scar thrown in for good measure. Since that revelation, Sansa has passed through countless crucibles, keeping her head down and her heart armored, learning all about the political wheeling-and-dealing required to survive in the Seven Kingdoms.
Sansa's journey on Thrones initially produced cringes and eye rolls. These days, however, she's decisively one of the most sympathetic figures on the show — and one of the most transformed. No, she's not a face-changing assassin, a body-hopping magician, or a zombie-slaying warrior. But Sansa is a warrior all the same, the most tried and tested Stark as far as politics are concerned — and her story cannot end until she's allowed the chance to wield her weapon.
Even before Turner's latest comments, there was reason to believe Sansa's luck would change in season six. The actress recently described the new year of Thrones as Sansa's "best season yet," the one where she finally comes into her own and "commands the respect that she deserves and she grabs hold of it and runs with it."
No matter how Sansa's story ultimately shakes out — whether she lives and wins, or loses and dies — all signs are pointing to at least a momentary stay of execution in her story. Anything less would be deeply unsatisfying given the character's journey, even in the face of the trigger-happy stakes of Thrones, and even without new book material to guide the story forward. As for this writer's two cents? Fans have long waited for Daenerys Targaryen to arrive in Westeros, but perhaps it's worth considering that the rightful queen is already here — the Queen in the North.
Game of Thrones returns on April 24.