Welcome to The Hollywood Reporter’s “Everything to Know” series. Starting with Game of Thrones, THR’s Westeros guru Josh Wigler will offer an in-depth guide about, well, everything there is to know about one particular topic within the complex universe.
Game of Thrones has not been kind on House Stark over the years, what with Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) falling out of a Winterfell window in the pilot, through the dreaded Red Wedding and beyond. But few members of the family have sustained such consistent brutality as Sansa (Sophie Turner), who endured multiple monstrous suitors and somehow lived to tell the tale.
In this week’s Everything to Know video, we’re stooping down for a closer look at the eldest surviving Stark sibling, starting with her original fairy tale aspirations and charting through her return to the North over the past couple of seasons. But it’s that last point that’s caused some raised eyebrows, given how much Sansa’s seasons five and onward stories veered away from her path in A Song of Ice and Fire, the George R.R. Martin novel series on which Game of Thrones is based.
Through four seasons of Thrones, Sansa’s story was a faithful adaptation of her trials and tribulations from the books. Martin puts her through her paces there, what with Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) and his wicked tactics, Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann) and his creepy obsession, and Littlefinger’s (Aidan Gillen) even creepier obsession with the young Stark. It’s through Littlefinger and season five where Sansa starts to travel down a different path.
In the books, Sansa and Littlefinger’s stories haven’t moved much at all since A Feast for Crows, the fourth novel in the series, in which both characters dig their heels into The Vale and work to hold on to their power there. There are no immediate designs on returning to Winterfell, and certainly no plans to marry Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon).
However, there is a Bolton-Stark union of sorts: Ramsay marries Jeyne Poole, Sansa’s childhood friend who only exists in the pilot episode of Game of Thrones, and tries to convince the world that she’s actually Arya Stark (Maisie Williams). Both he and we know better, as does Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), who finally breaks free from the Reek of it all when he rescues “Fake Arya,” aka Jeyne, in a daring escape that plays out like the final moments of season five — albeit without Sansa.
Since Sansa’s story in the novel hasn’t moved forward much at all since the mid 2000s, it’s very hard to use the source material as a road map for where the character will go next on Game of Thrones. At the end of season six, she looks as unhappy as Littlefinger does when Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is crowned King in the North. Are we reading too much into that, or has the show’s Sansa stepped toward the dark side? The answer will come to light either way when the series returns for season seven this summer.
Check in with THR.com/GameOfThrones for everything else you need to know about the show, and keep the conversation going with me on Twitter @roundhoward. We’ll return in two weeks with a closer look at another corner of the world of ice and fire. In the meantime, check out our previous “Everything to Know” Game of Thrones coverage:
1. ‘Game of Thrones’ Everything to Know: A Guide for New Viewers
2. ‘Game of Thrones’ Everything to Know: An Overview of Westeros
3. ‘Game of Thrones’ Everything to Know: An Overview of Jon Snow
4. ‘Game of Thrones’ Everything to Know: The Rise of Daenerys Targaryen
5. ‘Game of Thrones’ Everything to Know: The Life and Times of Tyrion Lannister
6. ‘Game of Thrones’ Everything to Know: On Bran Stark and Time Travel
7. ‘Game of Thrones’ Everything to Know: Arya Stark and Her History of Violence