Game of Thrones Griping 2: Completely Bonkers

By Bob Case Posted Friday Feb 3, 2017

Filed under: Game of Thrones 157 comments

This series analyzes the show, but sometimes references the books as well. If you read it, expect spoilers for both.

In last week’s post, I talked about the critical backlash against the season five Winterfell storyline, and about how the decision to move Littlefinger and Sansa from the Vale to the North created a host of narrative problems. Now it’s time to get into what those narrative problems are.

The next two seasons (five and six) of this storyline are kicked off by a typical Littlefinger scheme: he plans to marry Sansa Stark to Roose Bolton’s newly-legitimized son Ramsay, thereby securing an alliance with the new Warden of the North. This is the sort of thing we expect from Petyr Baelish, who’s always angling for his own advantage. In fact, the show portrays him so clearly as the “wily schemer” type that it’s possible not to notice that…

Littlefinger’s “plan,” to the extent he even has one, is completely bonkers

His accent is also completely bonkers.
His accent is also completely bonkers.

Littlefinger’s “plan,” to the extent he even has one, is completely bonkers. Let’s take a look at the backdrop here: first, Sansa was recently married to Tyrion Lannister, who is believed to have poisoned the King, and Sansa is suspected by many, including Cersei, to have been his accomplice.A suspicion reinforced by the fact that she abruptly vanished from the capital immediately after Joffrey’s death. So for Sansa to be in Littlefinger’s company at all would raise highly uncomfortable questions for him.

Second, consider that while they make a token attempt to conceal her on the roadWhich doesn’t stop Pod from recognizing her anyway., once at Winterfell her presence will be known to all, since this is supposed to be a highly publicized wedding – and Littlefinger, who made no attempt to conceal his presence at the castle, will have been seen there by dozens if not hundreds of people. Both he and Roose admit that this marriage will scupper both of their alliances with the Lannisters.Later, we’ll learn that this is not necessarily true for Littlefinger, who is banking on everyone he deals with remaining completely oblivious to what’s happening around them. But more on that later.

Third, this deal is hilariously one-sided in favor of the Boltons. They get the legitimacy of a marriage to what is, as far the public knows, the last remaining Stark. Littlefinger gets… well, I’m not sure. He and Sansa are not blood relativesHe’s her uncle by marriage, which in terms of succession means approximately zilch., so there’s no dynastic tie being formed here. Once they have Sansa in their possession, the Boltons can (and do) simply make a captive of her, and are perfectly free to tell Littlefinger to go pound sand if he wants their help later. And remember that Roose Bolton is one of the co-orchestrators of the most famous betrayal in the entire series, so he’s not exactly known for his trustworthiness.

So in short, Littlefinger is willing to poke his finger in the eye of the Lannisters and the Crown, implicate himself in a regicide, and bargain away a valuable political asset in exchange for a flimsy alliance with a famously untrustworthy Lord that he expects to shortly be deposed anyway. Oh right! I hadn’t even gotten to that last bit. See, Stannis Baratheon has an army at the Wall and intends to march south, and Littlefinger predicts that King Stannis will defeat Lord Roose. And then, as he explains to Sansa, “Grateful for your late father’s courageous support for his claim, he names you Wardeness of the North.”

You might be forgiven for thinking that Littlefinger has rather too much confidence in the gratitude of the not-exactly-magnamious Stannis Baratheon. You might also be forgiven for thinking that the whole Stannis thing obviates the need for a marriage at all – in fact, by bolstering Bolton legitimacy among the Northern lords, isn’t Sansa just making Stannis’ job harder and torpedoing his opinion of her before the two even meet? You might also be forgiven for thinking that if events play out the way Baelish thinks they will, he loses both Sansa and the support of the Lannisters and gains nothing in return, so why is he doing any of this at all?Stannis is not likely to thank him for brokering an advantageous marriage for his recently-defeated enemy. You might be forgiven for thinking these things, but I suggest that you avoid thinking about this whole mess anyway, because the more you do the likelier you are to develop a pounding headache.

I suppose you could interpret the marriage as a hedge on Littlefinger’s part, just in case the Boltons do win. But Sansa could just as easily – and much more safely – be married off after the Roose/Stannis battle instead of before. Even setting that aside, he has no discernible plan for a Bolton victory – he tells Sansa to “take this Bolton boy, Ramsay, and make him yours.” He’s unperturbed by the fact that she says she doesn’t know how to do that and is visibly uncomfortable at the thought of trying. Even if she can, what next? What is she supposed to do with him once he’s “hers”? Littlefinger never explains, which is why I used quotation marks when I referred to his “plan” in the section title. I like to think of a “plan” as something that has a beginning, a middle, and an end – but this one doesn’t even have an identifiable middle, let alone an end, and the beginning makes no sense.

One possible defense of Littlefinger’s actions is that complicated schemes aren’t actually his M.O. – instead, he prefers to stir up chaos and then improvise to his own advantage. But, as we’ll see going forward, he never really does that either. Two seasons’ worth of shenanigans later, he won’t have improved his position in any measurable way, and will arguably have made it worse.

“A hardened woman making a choice”

See how hardened she looks?
See how hardened she looks?

The writers’ pet description of Sansa during this time was that she was “a hardened woman making a choice” – a description that doesn’t stand up to any scrutiny at all. You can believe them or your own lying eyes â€" if you have an HBO subscription, or a copy of season five on DVD lying around, go ahead and watch the scene (it’s in episode 3, “High Sparrow”) where the “choice” is made. Ask yourself afterwards if that looked more like “a hardened woman making a choice” or “an older man browbeats a teenage girl into doing something she clearly doesn’t want to do.”

I remembered the reasoning Littlefinger gave as being a little silly, but upon rewatching the scene I realized that it was in fact completely ridiculous. Here is his final line: “You’ve been a bystander to tragedy from the day they executed your father. Stop being a bystander, do you hear me? Stop running. There’s no justice in the world. Not unless we make it. You loved your family. Avenge them.”

A revenge marriage! It’s brilliant! There is the niggling question of how on earth marrying a man’s son, and in the process doing him a significant political favor, constitutes anything resembling revenge. But Littlefinger addresses this question by never even attempting to explain. If, at this point, you still have some lingering trust in Littlefinger (and, by extension, the writer), you may expect that the full brilliance of his scheming will be revealed later. Well, something will be revealed later, that’s for sure. Your mileage may vary on whether it’s brilliance or more head-scratching unlogic, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

The galling thing about this is that despite its absurdity it might have even worked. At the end of season four the show debuted the brand-new “goth Sansa,” who wore dark clothing and smirked a lot and who, for all her cheesiness, might have been up to the task of somehow manipulating Ramsay. But that character was abandoned by the start of season five and hasn’t been seen since.

The potentially interesting character direction they of course abandoned.
The potentially interesting character direction they of course abandoned.

She’s replaced with do-nothing Sansa, who never even attempts to get her hooks into the man she’s supposed to make “hers.” It’d be one thing if she tried and failed, but she never even tries. There’s never any equivalent of Margaery snuggling up to Joffrey and faking a convincing interest in crossbows. Instead, she spends her time in Winterfall launching passive-aggressive barbs at the only other women she comes across. (One thing you’ll notice about this show as we go on is that the women in it are nearly always hostile to each other, regardless of whether they have any reason to be.)

In summary, herding Sansa and Littlefinger into Winterfell requires them to embark on a mission that’s almost indescribably stupid and only gets stupider the more you think about it. Sansa’s rape at the hands of Ramsay, far from being the innocent victim of narrative inevitability, was in fact the deliberate product of an entire assembly line’s worth of clumsy contrivances. Benioff and Weiss wanted a rape-revenge storyline, and they got one.

However, there’s one thing the two of them weren’t counting on: the Gitchy feeling. Stay tuned to learn what the Gitchy feeling is, and how it made itself known during season five.



[1] A suspicion reinforced by the fact that she abruptly vanished from the capital immediately after Joffrey’s death.

[2] Which doesn’t stop Pod from recognizing her anyway.

[3] Later, we’ll learn that this is not necessarily true for Littlefinger, who is banking on everyone he deals with remaining completely oblivious to what’s happening around them. But more on that later.

[4] He’s her uncle by marriage, which in terms of succession means approximately zilch.

[5] Stannis is not likely to thank him for brokering an advantageous marriage for his recently-defeated enemy.

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157 thoughts on “Game of Thrones Griping 2: Completely Bonkers

  1. Corsair says:

    I don’t suppose the hardened woman was someone in the writing room deciding to turn Game of Thrones into I Spit On Your Sept?

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      He is a true Shamusite now.

      1. Writiosity says:

        It’s about time Shamus had some competition on this front *nod*

  2. Echo Tango says:

    I was on the fence about whether or not to continue watching this show. (I’ve only seen up to…season three? Two?) Now I’ve got a much easier decision to make! :D

    1. Nick says:

      I mean, this is definitely the worst part of the plot in the later seasons but there’s a lot of really cool stuff that happens as well.

      1. newplan says:

        It’s only about the third stupidest plot.

        Cersei is the queen or something because Westeros switched over to Klingon promotion – she killed a bunch of lords and ladies, controls no army except maybe having some partial influence over the city watch of the capital and crowned herself queen. What? House Tyrell was supposed to be feeding the capital – she murdered all of their lords and ladies. She has no levers of control over the forces of House Lannister. Her assets are a zombie giant and a necromancer. Her liabilities are that literally everyone with an army near the city she apparently rules hates her – oh, and the people of the city hate her too because the Sparrows were popular (or they were hated and a ham-fisted political metaphor and rule through terror – who really knows – it’s not like the show is the slightest bit consistent).

        Second dumbest plot line is the Arya story.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          No,she is the queen because her sons are kings.Who are the sons of the former king,so naturally first in line to be successors to the throne.And while she holds no official power,she holds power in that people know that her sons will do what she tells them to do.But it often backfires,when we see her sons disobeying her.

          1. newplan says:

            I was referring to the end of the most recent season when she crows herself queen (well, her necromancer technically does the crowning).

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              She still is the queen regent,and plenty of people do follow her.If she wants to officially take over,not many would stop her.After all,thats precisely why so many people stood behind the others who challenged joeffrys rule.

              1. Chris says:

                The show seems to imply that she’s Queen because she crowned herself in the absence of any competition.

                That being an unsatisfying answer to me I decided to Google around and see who SHOULD be the rightful Monarch on the event of Tommen’s death, and it does actually turn out that Cersei is the rightful Queen, but not in the way you’d expect, you need to go back to Robert’s Grandfather (IIRC) who was married to a Lannister and thus when the Baratheon line is broken, it goes, by birthright, to the nearest living (eligible ie not ‘officially Regicidal’ Tyrion) relative….which is Cersei.

                I suspect that was just luck on behalf of the showrunners rather than planned though.

                1. EmmEnnEff says:

                  It’s quite likely to have been planned by GRRM – I honestly don’t see book Tommen or Mycella to be around for too much longer.

        2. Mr Compassionate says:

          Klingon is a great way to describe season 6. Ramsey shamelessly kills Roose which makes him leader despite being a relative nobody with a flimsy claim. Greyjoy’s bro kills him thus bro is now leader of a nation he hasn’t lived in for ages. The Sand Snakes kill daddy, nobody complains. Cersea overtly murders the entire clergy of her city then her son suspiciously falls off a balcony on the same day (I know he actually DID commit suicide but still) and she declares herself queen without issue.

          The politics of this world have slowly been simplified into raw succession laws and nothing much else. Legitimacy, popularity, connections, alliances, respect, manipulation, wealth, military might. None of it matters now. Anybody with a half decent title and a knife can run up to their local leader and off them to immediately claim their title, army, allies and demanse. No fussy bookkeepers working out the legitimacy of it or claimant disputes. Oh wait uncle Greyjoy had to talk about his c**k for a bit to seal the deal never mind.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Ramsay killed roose in front of people who supported him(and would lie for him),and he is rooses legitimate son,so no problem there.

            Old greyjoy was old and was found drowned after going out to the rickety bridge,and his children are a cockless loser and a woman,so no problem there either.

            We did not see any complaints against the sand snakes,but I doubt that therell be none,although their former ruler was a spineless dude who let his enemies slaughter practically his whole family,and then broke bread with them,so no problem there either.

            Cersei is a queen regent,she has plenty of followers,she has wealth,and is from a very wealthy,famous family,so no problem there either.Also,you say no issue,but the thing is that practically anyone who had issue with her also had issues with her sons,thus already went to war over the throne while joeffry was in power.Not to mention that most of those people are dead now.

          2. Brendan says:

            I’m reminded of the story arc in the fantasy comic Nodwick where everybody in town had their own clever plan to usurp the throne that clashed with everybody ELSE’S clever plans to do the same. So the main characters turned the whole thing into a battle royale and charged admittance.

            This was, what? A decade ago? Something like that. No idea what it was parodying at the time (if anything), but it seems oddly prescient now.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    She's replaced with do-nothing Sansa, who never even attempts to get her hooks into the man she's supposed to make “hers.” It'd be one thing if she tried and failed, but she never even tries.

    Agreed.I expected that littlefinger got her there so she could assassinate ramsay and thus make sure that stanis wins.But nope,did not happen.

    1. Geebs says:

      Arguably, Sansa is Littlefinger’s weakness, because he’s in love with her as a proxy for Catelyn. That would explain why he screws up a perfectly good position as lord of the Vale, and why he overestimates her ability to influence Ramsay.

      As for the Stannis / Bolton thing – it’s pretty obvious that he’s playing both sides. That’s kind of his thing.

      1. Vermander says:

        But it doesn’t explain why he would deliver her into the hands of a man known for being a brutal psychopath who tortures women. If anything, his creepy obsession and need to control Sansa makes it less likely that he’d allow that to happen to her.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          To be fair,up to that point the show shows ramsay as being cruel only towards men.

          1. Mike S. says:

            I think Tansy would take issue with that proposition.

          2. neothoron says:

            The woman who was fleeing with Theon at the start of Season 3? Who was eaten by Ramsay’s dogs?

            1. newplan says:

              Meh, eaten by a ravenous pack of dogs is one of the best ways to die. Like falling asleep in a warm bath.

        2. Shoeboxjeddy says:

          He CLAIMS to have NOT known about Ramsay’s reputation. It’s unclear whether he’s lying. It’s also unclear if a) having not heard about it is reasonable for a man with his reputation of having spies and knowledge resources. Has Roose put a lot of effort into hiding what Ramsay does?


          b) if he’s lying… then why DID he deliver a girl he loves into the hands of a rapist murderer?

          1. Not sure if it’s shown in the show, but in the books it’s heavily implied that Roose is about as loving of his fellow humans; he’s just smart enough and devious enough to keep it hidden, unlike the Bastard of Bolton who lacks both of those characteristics.

            Roose even directly tells Ramsey that he needs to learn to keep his proclivities better-hidden so he doesn’t find himself on the wrong end of a blade.

            1. Dev Null says:

              Roose does, in fact, seem to be just setting Ramsay up as the fall guy before his legitimate heir rides in as the saviour (in a baby buggy, presumably.)

      2. Dev Null says:

        So I agree with the assessment that Littlefinger’s plan is bonkers, and out of character (or at least, out of the character they tried to set him up as.) No argument. But I did kind of half-excuse it in my head because of this irrationality about Catelyn _and_ his own self-centered nature. He sees the position he puts Sansa in only as he (thinks he) would in her place; suffer through some odious behavior and end up the spider in the middle of a web controlling the North. Take Bolton’s son away from him for revenge. So he actually thinks he’s giving up a personal advantage in order to set Sansa up in a position of power. And the fact that he doesn’t send her directly to Stannis also ties back to his self-centered wolrdview; because he isn’t really sure who’ll win, he’s hedging Sansa’s bets for her, and doesn’t envisage Ramsay would damage such a valuable power piece, because he wouldn’t have.

        I’m not saying it’s entirely believable, and certainly doesn’t make a good plan in the long view, but I didn’t see him as behaving entirely rationally here, so I half-bought it.

        1. Geebs says:

          I excused it as Littlefinger needing to have some sort of flaw. Without a flaw, any character becomes deeply boring. Would it have made for good television if he just sat around monologuing at prostitutes while his plans played out perfectly? I think not.

          Supporting either Bolton or Stannis makes no sense from the perspective of Littlefinger, because a) they’re both dicks and b) neither of them like him anyway. Better to get them to fight each other. Arguably marrying Sansa to Ramsay made him bold enough to off his father.

          I guess he might also want to punish Sansa, because he’s a twisted little weirdo. He loves Catelyn as much as he hates Ned, and Sansa is a bit of both.

          1. Vermander says:

            Littlefinger already has lots of flaws though. He’s a jealous, insecure, narcissistic little man who is deeply resentful of his family’s low status compared to their peers. He’s also unable to get over his humiliating failure at courting Cat when he was young. He’s convinced himself that he “deserved” her more than Brandon (or Ned for that matter) and has basically devoted his life to proving he’s smarter and better than all the people he sees as having wronged him.

            Obviously his own arrogance is going to result in his downfall eventually.

          2. Paul Spooner says:

            Well, sure character flaws can help drive interest, but there’s a difference between being a mastermind whose plans sometimes fail due to circumstances beyond your control, and being a mastermind who makes materially unsound plans that nearly work anyway.

    2. Harper says:

      Even that would’ve made no sense, Littlefinger wants no part in helping Stannis because he knows he would execute him for corruption and treason if he ever had the chance.
      There’s no way D&D could’ve pulled off a logical plotline after sending Sansa out of the Vale even if they tried.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        It does make sense to have such a big debt over stannis however.A much larger one than he ever had over the lannisters.That,couple with the poisoning of joeffry would be more than enough to be pardoned for whatever he did against the starks earlier.

        1. guy says:

          That’s normally true, but this is Stannis we’re talking about. He owed Davos for using his smuggling talents to keep his army supplied and made him a lord, and cut off some of his fingers because that’s the penalty for smuggling. Stannis doesn’t give people pardons.

        2. Harper says:

          Stannis knows the corruption he introduced to King’s Landing, he won’t let that go and Littlefinger is WELL aware of that

    3. Alex Broadhead says:

      Yeah, the only thing I could make of that speech was that Littlefinger was encouraging her to lull Ramsay into a false sense of security and kill him. But Ramsay is the expert in that field, and Sansa is the hopeless novice, so I’m not sure how anyone could expect that plan to work?

  4. Joshua says:

    I’m glad I stopped watching after Season 3. This problem goes all the way back to the 1st (?) season where Littlefinger provokes Cersei into almost murdering him by taunting her about the incest, for some bizarre reason. I guess the scene was supposed to be character revealing for her, but it comes across as way out of character for him.

    1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

      To me, that scene wasn’t about Littlefinger making a mistake, it was a point about how unreasonable and basically insane Cersei is. Which culminates in her idiotic diversion with the Sparrows. Which she “fixes” in an even more stupid way.

      Note: I’m not saying Cersei’s storyline was bad writing like btongue is up to in his posts. I think it was in-character, fitting storytelling for her.

  5. Grudgeal says:

    I really can’t understand the whole North plotline in the show. It makes almost no sense. Much like the Dorne storyline. And the Iron Isles storyline. And the Mereen storyline. And the… You know what, I’ll stop there.

    The point is, the North plotline in the books is about how the Boltons have basically tainted their reputations forever and despite ‘winning’ in the War of Five Kings the whole north hates them and plots their demise, while a Sothron king is able to get a third of the North behind him on the sole promise of “let’s go f*** up them Bolton boys!” At the same time it’s a redemption narrative for Theon trying to reconcile his identity as an Ironborn who was raised a Stark, and using him as a vehicle to show how the North is falling apart. Also, the whole “winter is coming” theme that foreshadows the horrors beyond the wall possibly coming through to devastate an already devastated North.

    D&D (the writers of GoT) seemed to want to have Jeyne Poole in the show because all the horribleness that happened to her in the book would make for great TV, but without apparently getting the *point* of Jeyne Poole (in-universe she helps strengthen the Bolton-Lannister alliance, and as a theme she helps underline the horrors of the War of Five Kings in a way that the nobility main-characters won’t experience, and makes Theon reconnect with his humanity). So they clumsily rip Sansa Stark out of her story and dress her up as Jeyne, and oh look how horrible this is, that it happens to a main character don’t you feel sad now, oh and Brienne is up here too somehow, for reasons.

    1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

      Brienne is here for reasons? You mean… for the reason of her primary motivation to fulfill her knightly vows she made to Catelyn Stark? Because… that makes perfect sense.

      1. Harper says:

        Yeah, that great and noble vow to avenge the death of a man who helped destabilize the Seven Kingdoms and if he had won throne would have further destabilized the Kingdoms by throwing out the right of primogeniture, inevitably leading to succession crises for years to come!

        1. Soldierhawk says:

          Your opinion of her vow is irrelevant. The fact is she made it, and is honor bound to follow it. You’re trying to have a different conversation.

          The fact that the vow was made gives her perfect reason to be where she is.

          1. Harper says:

            She made that vow in the books as well but it was clear the character was naive and idealistic and the journey she took to save Catelyn’s daughters has challenged her whole outlook.
            And it doesn’t even make sense for the show’s characterization, she’s there explicitly to protect Sansa Stark, and yet shirks her duty to take a detour

            1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

              Brienne has two vows, of basically equal importance in her mind.

              Vow 1: Avenge King Renly, who was her first sworn Lord. She has VERY good evidence that Stannis was behind this, so this vow would take the form of kill Stannis if possible, aid those who want to kill Stannis if that seems honorable, and kill anyone Stannis plotted with to make this happen.

              Vow 2: Protect Catelyn Stark and her kids, as her second sworn Lady(ies). Unfortunately, Cat died while Brienne was performing a task for her, so she can’t help that part. But helping any living Stark counts as fulfilling this vow.

              In the next to most recent season, Brienne had a conflict between Vow 1 and 2. She had to decide to act on a chance to kill Stannis or to wait for the POSSIBILITY that Sansa would change her mind and request a rescue. It would have gone to Vow 2 if Sansa had asked for help in time because Brienne is more in love with the idea of saving and helping than vengeance and murder, but since she didn’t know Sansa’s status (and her initial offer was firmly rejected), she went and fulfilled Vow 1.

              No part of this sequence was illogical or out of character in any way.

              1. Harper says:

                Brienne abandoned Sansa when she needed her the most, it was only by sheer plot-hole-level happenstance( the same that led her to find the show’s worst adapted character, Stannis) that she actually managed to protect Sansa

                1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

                  You’re doing that thing where “I didn’t like this event” is somehow equivalent to “plot hole” or “out of character.” It’s not. They’re not the same thing.

                  Stannis was in the proximity of Ramsay because he was there to fight the Bolton army and destroy it. So Brienne, being in proximity to Ramsay also, in the hopes of saving Sansa, is LOGICALLY also within travelling distance of Stannis. As discussed in the prior comment, Brienne offered Sansa her help FIRST and Sansa REFUSED it. Brienne left Sansa an out, but after waiting several days had no idea of knowing whether Sansa would even want to take it. Under this circumstance, going to serve the honor of her first Sworn Lord Renly by killing Stannis makes clear sense by her honor code.

                  As far as Brienne saving Sansa in the woods afterwards, again, she was in the correct general area and was looking for her. It’s convenient that Brienne found her before Ramsay’s hunting party, but not ludicrous or unbelievable in any way. It’s kind of like Robb showing up to save Bran in the woods at the precise moment where things could have gone badly in the first season. In both cases, a character who is searching for another character is able to find them, not a ridiculous stretch by any means.

                  1. Harper says:

                    They’re partially the same thing in the fact that the changes to the characters and plotlines are illogical and therefore give way to illogical and out-of-character moments.
                    Show!Brienne had never mentioned Renly much at all since season 2, there’s nothing driving her to find his killer as much as there is helping Sansa.
                    After spending most of season 5 waiting for her signal, she chooses to go out of Winterfell when the Boltons fight Stannis, on the off chance that she might meet him after the battle and his head is not on a pike or he hasn’t succeeded against Ramsay to kill him, rather than use that moment when most of the Bolton men are gone and the castle is at it emptiest to help Sansa.
                    THAT is not in character. Regardless of of all the ways they destroyed the characterizations of Stannis, Renly, Brienne, etc and regardless of how awful the season was in general, going only by the characters as they were written Brienne using that moment to find Stannis in a battlefield of thousands of soldiers/corpses rather than utilizing the enormous opportunity( the same that Reek used) of an emptier castle to rescue Sansa is not in-character.

                    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Show!Brienne had never mentioned Renly much at all since season 2, there's nothing driving her to find his killer as much as there is helping Sansa.

                      Um,what?So because she didnt mention it means that she has somehow forgotten?This is the same logic that when a character is off camera they are invisible to everyone on camera.Good for comedy,sure,but ridiculous for anything serious.

                    2. Harper says:

                      “So because she didnt mention it means that she has somehow forgotten?”

                      –In a tv show, yes. Especially when the vow was made in season 2, produced 6 years ago and 3 years after the deed was done in the tail end of season 5. The audience has to be reminded about motivations driving the characters and those motivations have to inform the character.
                      Having it come up again after 3 seasons is basically a brick joke rather than chekhov’s gun.

                    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Not all of us suffer from adhd,so we can remember stuff that happened more than 5 minutes ago.

                    4. Harper says:

                      Your debating tactics seemed to have gone downhill…
                      As I said, vows like that have to inform the character, its not about forgetting a minute detail from 3 seasons ago. That detail has to serve the story like Brienne’s vow to Jaime to help the Stark girls which brings her into contact with both of them.
                      And again, the choice she made still made no sense character-wise

    2. JakeyKakey says:

      “I really can't understand the whole North plotline in the show. It makes almost no sense. Much like the Dorne storyline. And the Iron Isles storyline. And the Mereen storyline. And the… You know what, I'll stop there.”

      It makes perfect sense, you’re just not letting yourself see it. D&D are very good when it comes to adapting from an existing source, but can’t actually write or plot to save their lives.

      This show has had four seasons of well set-up political intrigue based on the first three tightly-plotted books in the form of AGoT, ACoK and ASoS.

      Since then they’ve pretty much had to write their own original material as all they’ve had to go on was the awfully bloated AFfF & ADwD and whatever half-assed rough outline of an ending G.R.R.M provided them with, all while getting hit by this slow dawning realisiation of ‘HOLY CRAP WE HAVE TO SORT ALL THIS SHIT OUT IN 13 EPISODES’.

      None of the storylines make any sense on anything beyond a very superficial level because nowadays they’re a Frankenstein mish-mash of two panicked showrunners desperately trying to merge more than a dozen detailed intricate storylines into 3-5 easily digestible plots.

      In the previous part, Bob talked about ‘story collapse’. I’ll be impressed if by the end of GoT there’ll be any coherent story at all.

      1. Grudgeal says:

        “The writers are terrible” is not a defence of the plotline.

        The Dorne storyline in the book is about Arianne Martell, heir of the last big house to not have a public stake in the conflict, discovering how House Martell under her father Doran has been attempting to play a much longer game than anyone else (and fail, but that was hardly Doran’s fault) and has to come into her own as a member of the house and reconcile with her father while their plans go up in smoke. Arianne is a very interesting character study, a half-baked political manipulator trying to play outside her league who serves as a foil for Cersei (who is doing the same thing in the same book) by being essentially good at heart and by actually managing to reconcile with her father and realize her own follies.

        The writers turned this, which is a complex storyline I agree, into Larry and Moe going to Dorne and fighting some hookers because they can’t write a letter, and then everybody dies because women are crazy. There’s no sign of Doran playing the Lannisters, there’s no sign of Quintin trying to make an alliance with Daenarys, there are no politics present. Basically Doran is exactly what he looks like in the beginning, and because the plot can’t do anything interesting with him he dies in the most ham-fisted and stupid way that ignores everything the show has implied so far about lines of succession and the legitimacy of royalty.

        Now, you may see this as the writers ‘doing their best’ with a very complex plot. I see this as ignoring that plot wholesale. Besides some names and superficialities, the entire plot in the series has absolutely nothing to do with the plot in the books, and if ‘doing their best’ from the writers’ side was spending all that money and putting on a lot of new sets and costumes into making that avalance of sex and violence out of a political plotlne I think they’d be better off dropping Dorne wholesale. I mean, if you don’t think Dorne is going to have a meaningful pay-off you may as well just ignore the whole thing instead of butchering it.

  6. Matt Downie says:

    Maybe he planned to wait until the dust died down, then assassinate the Boltons so Sansa could peacefully reclaim Winterfell, then marry her himself?

    1. 4th Dimension says:

      It has been a long while since I read the books, and I did not watch the show, but who at this point would back her? She is just this young girl with NO supporters. And however the readers and viewers are made to like the Northerners, and no matter how much Starks are shown to be respected up there, in the North ultimately what they respect is STRENGTH. Starks ruled not so much because of their honor, but because they knew how to balance the fear and respect, but fear/strength was still a big part of it. The history of the Stark family is filled with quite ruthless characters too.
      Sansa at this point is just some weak girl with no supporters. In a way she is the worst choice for a ruler of the North, because noone will respect her in the end if she can not back up her threats.

      1. Commonpleb says:

        There are still a few houses still very much loyal to house stark. Additionally there are a number of houses who caff under the boltons(a number of house lost people in the red wedding)(Ramsay book antics have alienated a ton of houses), who would defect if offered good terms. And finally sansa would a tempting prospect for a marriage alliance, essentially whoever would marry her would have a claim as Lord Paramount, so any ambitious houses.

        Honestly you are kinda overstating the Northerner’s “savagery”, they northern lords aren’t klingons, they honestly have some respect for hereditary rule.(Which is at least partily derived from the lord’s self interest in maintain this status quo.)

  7. Vermander says:

    Another thing I hate about this storyline on the show is how Bronze Yohn Royce and the other Lords Declarant are such a non factor. Yohn is portrayed as being as a tired, doughy old man who Littlefinger easily cows into submission rather than medieval Lee Marvin like he is in the books.

    When Littlefinger reveals that he has Sansa Stark the lords declarant barely react, even the ones like Royce who might have been allies of her family and command powerful armies of their own. None of them attempt to take custody of her, and they make almost no effort at stopping him from taking over the Vale. At the very least he should have been angling for her to marry Robin Arryn, thus strengthening his control over the Vale and the ties between the Vale and the North.

    He doesn’t really hatch schemes or have secret plans on the show anymore. He just boldly announces that he’s committed a bunch of crimes and plans to betray various people, and no one can be bothered to stop him.

    1. Syal says:

      Too clever by half.

  8. Matt says:

    Another thing that always bothered my about this plot line in the show is that Littlefinger seemingly had no idea that Ramsay was a psychopath. He says as much later on and I suppose it is up to the viewer whether or not you believe him. But given his obsession with Sansa, I can’t believe he would knowingly deliver her to a sadistic monster.

    That means that Littlefinger didn’t do his homework on something that was supposed to be a cornerstone of his plan. That doesn’t sound like the Littlefinger of the books, or even the show. His whole shtick is knowing people’s secrets and weaknesses and exploiting them – he runs a brothel for that very purpose! To suggest that he is totally unaware of the worst-kept secret in the North is just sloppy, I think.

    1. Vermander says:

      In the books Ramsay’s reputation is well known, at least in the North, where the Starks were already planning to have him arrested for the murder of Lady Hornwood even before the Red Wedding happened. He probably isn’t very well known in the rest of the Seven Kingdoms, but you’re right, I refuse to believe Littlefinger would make to no effort to gather intel before marrying her to this guy.

      At the very least, he knows the Boltons were key players in one of the most heinous and grisly murder pacts in history. Plus they live in a place called “the Dreadfort,” which they decorate with pictures of mutilated corpses (and sometimes actual mutilated corpses).

    2. Dev Null says:

      _That_ was the bit I found hardest to buy. I could sort of patch together a narrative that half made sense (see elsewhere in this comment thread) but only on the assumption that Littlefinger was unaware that the family who openly hunt peasants on their land, and use a flayed man as their freaking coat of arms, are a pack of psychos.

      1. Mike S. says:

        “What’s the problem with that? Seven Gods, half the nobles I know hunt pheasants!”


        “Wait, what?”

    3. Tom says:

      Not to mention, Littlefinger is undoubtedly a psychopath himself, and if there’s one thing he should be able to spot, it’s another psychopath (i.e. someone who emphatically would not be an easy target for abuse or manipulation).

    4. Abnaxis says:

      As someone who’s only seen the show and not the books: is the Boltons’ crest really a dude stung up on a torture rack upside-down? How is that even remotely a secret–I mean, every troop in their army marches with banners that say “we’re a family that tortures people for kicks.” Or am I not reading the imagery correctly?

      1. Dev Null says:

        Nope. That’s pretty much it. I’m failing to remember whether that’s a recent thing or not – i.e. whether Roose instituted it himself, or whether he inherited it from his grandfather or something. I want to say the former though. If true then yeah; SNEAK SNEAK SNEAK!

        1. Commonpleb says:

          inherited it from his grandfather

          Yup, the boltons are traditionally known for flaying. They were among the last to bend the knee to the starks, but before that they were known for flaying starks. There is hearsay of a room in the dreadfort(yes, there castle is called the Dreadfort*readinskeletorvoice) where captured starks were skinned.(Why these fuckers were allowed to bend the knee baffles me)

  9. ehlijen says:

    The thing about Littlefinger, I think, is that his big plan failed when Geoffry had Ned’s head lopped off. Had that not happened, he’d have gotten his crush out her marriage, and able to be scooped up by him. But now he’s the guy who got Ned killed and the realm thrown into a war.

    Ever since then, he’s been in full salvage mode, trying to get back on top of the game. In the books that’s more apparent than in the show though, where the writers keep trying to sell him as smug and in control, when he really hasn’t been since that beheading.

    1. Harper says:

      Littlefinger is almost certainly the one who goaded Joffrey into killing Ned, that was a key part of his plans. Kill the man married to his childhood obsession/crush and destroy an chance of keeping the peace between the Starks and Lannisters.
      Varys makes it quite clear when he talks about the nature of power( moreso in the books), the small man casting a large shadow is not Tyrion, as he assumes himself to be

      1. ehlijen says:

        He doesn’t need Ned dead, just taking the black. In fact, a dead Ned would lessen his chances with Catelyn.

        1. neothoron says:

          He does not care about Catelyn’s life.

          He cares about his image of Catelyn, and about taking revenge over the man who “stole” her.

        2. Harper says:

          What neothoron said! Ned needs to die for marrying Catelyn, its purely spite.
          And Ned taking the Black will be much easier for the Starks to stomach than Ned losing his head, there’s actually a chance for peace eventually if that happens

    2. Grudgeal says:

      I think the books make it more of an open question if Littlefinger was as thrown off as everyone else when Joffrey threw his little temper tantrum, or if he’d been actively applying himself into making it happen and had already transferred his interests to Sansa — Cersei at one point mentions that Littlefinger had tried to get her permission to marry Sansa after Ned died (but before Sansa got married off to Tyrion). And honestly, the plan to ingratiate himself with Lysa and move to the Vale before allying with the Tyrells to assassinate Joffrey wouldn’t make much sense if there wasn’t a crisis ongoing to justify him going to the Vale in the first place, although it’s possible that was just another one of his salvage plans. From what Tyrion discovered during his (short) tenure as Master of Coin about Littlefinger’s managing of the kingdom’s finances (which was going on for about a decade before the War started), I find it almost entirely in-character for Littlefinger to have intentionally messed up Westeros, knowing he’d find *some* way to get ahead in the process. From what I see of Littlefinger (at least book Littlefinger) seems to have rather bad impulse control in certain, selective, manners, given that he spun that yarn about Tyron’s dagger (which made Catelyn kidnap Tyrion, which made Tywin burn the Riverlands, hence starting the whole debacle) on the spot just to sow discord.

      1. Bloodsquirrel says:

        The books make it pretty explicit that Littlefinger doesn’t go for long, overly complicated plans. He creates conflict, then snaps up whatever he has an opportunity to snap up.

        He certainly isn’t in “salvage mode”- he has the Vale, which is far more than he could have reasonably expected to get without the chaos of the War of Five Kings. He’s currently positioning himself to come out of the war unscathed no matter who wins- he’s been loyal to the Lannisters, but he’s kept his name out of any dirty business (like the red wedding) that would invite retribution if Stannis wins. He can convincingly kneel to whoever wins without anyone knowing about his betrayals, schemes, and murders.

        I’ve seen some people speculate that he wants to be king, but I think he knows better than that. He doesn’t have any royal blood that he can appeal to, and it puts too big a target on his back. Littlefinger works by hiding the scope of his ambition, and he can’t do that if he makes a play for the crown itself.

        1. ehlijen says:

          He had position and power in King’s Landing as Master of Coin. What he wanted was the woman he obsessed over.

          1. Vermander says:

            I think what he really wanted was to prove to her, and everyone else, that he was better than all of them. He basically has a massive grudge against the whole world for all the slights and injustices he believes he’s suffered. I don’t think he actually loves Cat as a person, he just believes that he deserved her and she didn’t appreciate him.

          2. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

            Baelish’s character has been clearly established in this regard: “He would burn the kingdom to the ground if he could be king of the ashes.”

            Baelish wants more. He doesn’t care what, more, just more. Catlyn, Sansa, the Iron Throne, the lump of melted metal that used to the be the Iron Throne…

            Whatever he gets won’t be enough.

            1. Bloodsquirrel says:

              I don’t recall who said that quote, but they’re clearly wrong (characters are actually allowed to do that in ASOIAF). Littlefinger wants as much as he can get, but a key part of his success is that he understands what limitations he’s working under and even turns them to his advantage.

              That’s why he holds Cersei in such low regards. Cersei’s ambition outstrips her means and she can’t recognize it. Meanwhile, Littlefinger saw that it was time to get out of King’s Landing before it burned down around her. He’d much rather have his current position in the Vale than jockey over the ashes of the royal palace.

              1. Grudgeal says:

                That quote is from the TV show, and does not apply to Littlefinger as he appears in the book. Book Littlefinger seems to have a lot of ambition, but being king very clearly isn’t his goal because, as you mention, it would clearly be more trouble than it’s worth for someone like him.

  10. topazwolf says:

    From the books, it’s implied that Littlefinger’s plan is much more intricate and a sort of Xanatos Gambit that will likely end with him in control of a much-diminished state, but still in control. The above problems (while still somewhat in the book) are magnified by the writers not being sure about the details of his plans and simultaneously not being good enough to invent logical reasons for his known actions. The merging of completely separate plotlines doesn’t help. So the show seems to just be going the path of giving the appearance of being intricate plotting, without the actual plotting and scheming. A trend that is on the rise everywhere in the new seasons.

    1. Joe Informatico says:

      At the end of the third book, I didn’t really get that sense at all. I read it more as, Littlefinger was stuck in a game of move-countermove with Varys with no one gaining real advantage, so he decided it was better to upend the board and scatter the pieces just to break the stalemate. I figured he was planning on improvising after that.

    2. Cubic says:

      Since GRRM has spent so much time on the TV show, it ought to be fairly clear to the writers. Or maybe GRRM doesn’t know either. The last scene could be a boy looking into a snow globe.

  11. MarsLineman says:

    I strongly disagree. There is clear strategic thinking in play here.

    Littlefinger controls the Vale. He wants to be king. How can he gain control of the North? Not by an alliance with Roose Bolton or Stannis Baratheon. He needs someone he can manipulate, someone who will be in need of his aid.

    The Lannisters are losing power. With Tywin gone, it’s a matter of time before the Lannister house of cards falls. Several characters understand and state openly how precarious is House Lannister’s position, including Littlefinger. As usual, he is acting pre-emptively, and in his best interests.

    He knows that the Boltons are torturers. He knows that Sansa will be treated horribly by her new husband- Ramsay can’t contain his cruelty.

    He knows that Stannis is on the move towards Winterfell with a large army. Whoever wins between Stannis and Bolton will be weakened through battle.

    By placing Sansa at Winterfell in the hands of a torturer, he is putting her in position to need his aid. He therefore positions his knights of the Vale to ‘aid Sansa’ , at which time he will be treated as liberator (from either the Boltons or from Stannis (who is not a northener)).

    1. Harper says:

      Except Littlefinger is the one who put her in the torturer’s hands, how does he deflect that? Everybody knows the Bolton Bastard stole Winterfell and killed Lady Hornwood and they know the rumors of his psychopathy

      1. MarsLineman says:

        Because Littlefinger is the one ‘liberating’ her. And theoretically, she would be under his direct control, with his army at Winterfell.

        1. Harper says:

          Liberating her from a situation HE put her in, so again, how does he excuse that from the Vale lords and knights?

          1. MarsLineman says:

            Littlefinger likely assumed that Sansa would be thankful for her liberation, and would consider herself in his debt. He is also a master manipulator, who could theoretically convince Sansa that he was previously ignorant of Ramsay’s nature. If Littlefinger succeeded in bringing Sansa to his side, she would rule the North as his proxy.

            And if his manipulations failed, he would still have Sansa under his direct control, with his army present at Winterfell.

            edit- as for the Vale knights, it’s established how he controls them. I’m not going to re-play scenes from the show, but Littlefinger controls Robin- he tells him that Sansa, his cousin, is in need of aid. Robin is a dull-witted boy, easily manipulated.

            1. Harper says:

              And what was to stop Ramsay from locking Sansa up in a tower and starving her to death a la Lady Hornwood in the meantime?
              And how would have Littlefinger kept his army under control to keep Sansa under control when she was the one who helped him manipulate the Vale lords?
              Do you understand how many logical hoops you have to jump through to make some sense of this plot?
              And what about Sansa? She has been through SOME of the character development she’s had in the books( though Book!Sansa was nowhere near as passive even when she was in King’s Landing), she wouldn’t logically accept the idea of marrying into the family that betrayed hers

              1. MarsLineman says:

                “And what was to stop Ramsay from locking Sansa up in a tower and starving her to death a la Lady Hornwood in the meantime?”

                Seriously? Because Ramsay needed an heir, and for legitimacy sake, it needed to come from a Stark. Sansa needed to live long enough to give Ramsay a son- that was the entire point of their arranged marriage.

                I agree that Sansa accepting the marriage was a bit of a stretch. But again, it’s not like she had a choice- she was essentially a captive, as she was when she was married to Tyrion Lannister.

                edit- Sansa is not the one who gives Littlefinger control of the Vale- that’s Robin. Once established, Littlefinger’s control is absolute- there is no-one who is able to defy him (there is even a scene showing him cowing the military commander for the Vale knights).

                1. Syal says:

                  If there’s one word I would use to describe Ramsay Bolton, it’s “long-term planner”.

                  1. MarsLineman says:

                    It’s stated over and over in the show that Sansa needed to live long enough to give Ramsay an heir. Even in Sansa’s escape scene, the kennel-master’s daughter tells Sansa she only needs to live long enough to give Ramsay an heir (meant as a threat).

                    Ramsay is also shown to have patience in his cruelty. Such as when he poses as Theon’s ally and helps him escape so as to learn his secrets.

                2. Harper says:

                  “Sansa needed to live long enough to give Ramsay a son- that was the entire point of their arranged marriage.”
                  -Except within the show a Stark heir is meaningless, none of the Norther Lords particularly care that the Boltons have Winterfell, there’s no active resistance against their rule even after the Red Wedding and the Lannister/Frey alliance. Ramsay could have just as easily raped a peasant and told the world their child was a Stark, would the show’s stupid portrayal of Smalljon Umber give a crap? He didn’t care when Ramsay killed his own father and kinslaying is kind of a big deal…
                  In other words if you throw some of the rules out, what justifies the others staying in?

                  “…she was essentially a captive, as she was when she was married to Tyrion Lannister.”
                  -Was she? She was “rescued” by Littlefinger and I’m sure Sansa realized the implication of owing her life to his, but after Lysa’s death is she really beneath him on the totem pole? She’s his secret-keeper, season 4 in fact implied she would use that to her advantage.

                  “Sansa is not the one who gives Littlefinger control of the Vale- that's Robin”
                  -She’s the one keeping his secret, she’s the one that saved him with her lie. If she says the truth, the Vale lords will want Littlefinger’s head on a spike for killing Lysa.

                  1. MarsLineman says:

                    Sansa already stated that Littlefinger is innocent (quite strongly). If she turns around and says the opposite, her word is rendered moot and no-one will know what to believe (since she will have already compromised her honor and established herself as a convincing liar). She has no choice but to stay with her story. And Robin has shown obvious affection for his ‘Uncle Peyter’ in the show. It’s clear that between Sansa and Littlefinger, Robin would choose Littlefinger.

                    The Starks have held the North for 1000 years (and are shown to have supernatural abilities gifted to no other Northern lord). Without a Stark in Winterfell (and with other living Starks out there) the Boltons will always fear other Northern lords rising up against them- as stated by Roose Bolton in the show, and as shown when Jon Snow is able to rouse a small army of Northern lords against the Boltons.

                    Sansa is known personally by the other Northern Lords. If she is conspicuously absent before her child is born, they will know that the child isn’t a Stark.

                    1. Harper says:

                      Sansa could just as easily say Littlefinger forced her to lie, you’re vastly overestimating Littlefinger’s position in the Vale, especially in the Show.
                      Book!Littlefinger actually had somewhat of a plan before he threw Lysa out of the Moon Door

                      And again, nobody in the North gives a damn the Starks are dead and betrayed, there’s no great Northern Conspiracy like there is in the books, they’ve all given up or become complicit. And if they did care, they would certainly be against Littlefinger for putting her in Bolton hands.

                      And furthermore, Littlefinger would never logically put Sansa through that sort of experience( and as I’ve said before, Sansa would never logically agree to it) because he wants her to be his “New Catelyn”, he’s grooming her for that purpose. He’s not going to let the embodiment of the woman he sowed so much discord for be tortured or even mutilated by an obvious psychopath.

                      And few people in the books genuinely believed Jeyne Pool was actually Arya, yet Ramsay and Roose still presented her as such

                    2. MarsLineman says:

                      “Sansa could just as easily say Littlefinger forced her to lie”. Except that the person in command of the knights of the Vale (Lord Royce) is the same person she already told a very convincing story (with tears, etc). If she turns around and says it was a lie, she loses all credibility (and honor) with the military commander of the Vale- the person she would most need to convince.

                      Roose Bolton specifically warns Ramsay of the Northern Lords rising up against them in a scene in the show. Where are the scenes showing the Northern Lords as complicit (other than Littlejon Umber and the Karstarks). Several houses *do* rise against the Boltons in season 6.

                      How do you know that Littlefinger would never put Sansa through torture in order to be her ‘savior’? What scenes support your argument? To me, this theory fits his character profile quite nicely- a man who will profit by any means necessary. Remember- he was the one who drove Catelyn Stark to begin a war that ended with her dying
                      (he convinced Lysa to poison Jon Aryn, he planted the Lannister knife, etc).

                    3. Harper says:

                      “Except that the person in command of the knights of the Vale (Lord Royce) is the same person she already told a very convincing story”
                      -This doesn’t contradict my point at all, she could easily say she was under duress from Littlefinger when she spoke to Royce. She doesn’t lose her honor for being a young highborn girl threatened by a lowborn usurper.

                      “Roose Bolton specifically warns Ramsay of the Northern Lords rising up against them in a scene in the show…….Several houses *do* rise against the Boltons in season 6.”
                      -One sentence doesn’t constitute support for a Northern Resistance, its a vague threat that the narrative doesn’t show. And only the Mormonts are shown to support the Starks retaking Winterfell with only a sliver of actual soldiers to add to that nonsensical battle. Almost everyone else is cowed into submission.
                      In the books even with their positions under threat, the Northern Lords STILL conspire to take back Winterfell and rescue “Arya Stark”. Most of them offer their support to Stannis, a Southron King on the condition that he helps the Starks.

                      “How do you know that Littlefinger would never put Sansa through torture in order to be her “˜savior'?”
                      -Littlefinger favors psychological abuse rather than torture, he’s grooming an underage girl to become his wife, that much is clear. He’s not going to put her in Ramsay’s hands when his last wife chewed her fingers to the bone and who’s House has a known penchant for flaying people. Again, the logic of the whole thing is flimsy and makes no sense for any of their characters.
                      Littlefinger isn’t a military strategist, he won’t put everything on the line for a battle he himself would have to plan

                    4. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

                      The moment Sansa admits dishonesty, her status as a Lady is compromised. These aren’t modern Americans -these aren’t even ancient Romans who had a certain honorable flexibility. These are lunkheaded stereotyped medievals. If she couldn’t handle Littlefinger herself, and couldn’t honorably come to Lord Royce for help, he’s not going to help her now. He’s not Ned Stark -he doesn’t have sentimentality.

                    5. MarsLineman says:

                      “only the Mormonts are shown to support the Starks retaking Winterfell with only a sliver of actual soldiers to add to that nonsensical battle. Almost everyone else is cowed into submission.”

                      This is incorrect. House Hornwood and House Mazin also support Jon Snow in rising up against the Boltons. And Jon Snow isn’t even a Stark.

                      It’s clearly established on the show that the Northern Lords are honor-bound to serve the Starks. Those who don’t support Snow (again, not even a Stark) are said to have disgraced themselves. And there is an entire scene in which Roose Bolton states clearly that the Boltons won’t hold the North without a Stark in Winterfell.

                      Littlefinger isn’t torturing Sansa directly, but he has no compunctions about placing her in a position where she will need his rescue. Baelish is shown to be hugely ambitious, and without any moral compass whatsoever.

                    6. Harper says:

                      -You’re assuming something that isn’t a part of the Westerosi culture, the words of a highborn Lady, especially a Stark would have more weight than the lowborn Littlefinger who Royce is clearly suspicious of( even hostile to in the books). If she says she was threatened by Littlefinger into lying, that doesn’t “dishonor” her it just means Royce will want LF’s head on a spike.
                      In that scenario the heavy paternalism would only help her.

                    7. Harper says:


                      “House Hornwood and House Mazin also support Jon Snow in rising up against the Boltons. And Jon Snow isn't even a Stark.”
                      -Three Houses, three SMALL houses do not equal the great Northern Conspiracy and resistance that rises up in the books in response the Red Wedding, the burning of the Riverlands, Bolton betrayal, etc, etc. And none of these houses contribute more than a hundred or so soldiers.
                      And you, perhaps unintentionally, referenced another problem with the show narrative- the Northern Lords consistently dismiss Sansa and her claim to Winterfell, all because of her marriages, when the first season of the show gave us Catelyn Stark rallying her father’s bannermen to take Tyrion. And Sansa consistently folds under their criticism.

                      “Those who don't support Snow (again, not even a Stark) are said to have disgraced themselves.”
                      -They’re shamed AFTER Winterfell is taken and they’re inaction is barely commented upon and in fact supported by the narrative.

                      “Littlefinger isn't torturing Sansa directly, but he has no compunctions about placing her in a position where she will need his rescue. Baelish is shown to be hugely ambitious, and without any moral compass whatsoever.”
                      -He is by putting her in a known psychopath’s hands, he knowingly gives her over to the House with a flayed man as their sigil. As a man obsessed with his childhood crush and her lookalike daughter, he would never let his future bride be physically tortured or mutilated. There’s no moral compass necessary for that, just an obsession

                    8. MarsLineman says:

                      We’re going in circles. You’re making assumptions that are in direct conflict with events depicted clearly by the show.

                      1. The absence of an overt Northern Conspiracy (as depicted in the books) leads you to assume that the Boltons have no fear of the Northern Lords rising against them. This is in direct conflict with the scene in which Roose Bolton clearly states that they will never hold the North without a Stark in Winterfell (the scene where he tells Ramsay of the arranged marriage to Sansa). You can’t ignore this direct evidence from the show of their fears. There is also the scene in which Roose Bolton says the Northern Lords will rise up against them if they storm Castle Black and kill Jon Snow. Holding the North (for generations- not just the immediate future) is clearly not easy, and Roose Bolton expresses fear of uprising on two occasions on the show. Again, you can’t ignore this direct evidence.

                      2. You state that Littlefinger would never put the object of his obsession in harm’s way- again in direct conflict with events as depicted in the show. Aside from the fact that Litlefinger *did* put Sansa in harm’s way (as depicted on the show), we can look to his treatment of Catelyn ( in Baelish’s own words, the only women he ever loved) to see if this is consistent with his character.

                      – He manipulated Catelyn into starting a war with the most powerful house in the kingdoms (a war that ended with her death), so as to advance his position. He did this by:

                      a. convincing Lysa to murder her husband and then send Catelyn a letter blaming the most powerful house in the 7 kingdoms
                      b. sending an assassin to kill Bran, and arming the assassin with a Lannister knife. It would be reasonable for Baelish to assume that Catelyn would be watching over her son, and this assassin almost killed Catelyn. In fact, as depicted on the show, the assassin would’ve certainly killed Catelyn if not for the direwolf in the room.

                      If Littlefinger is willing to put Catelyn (again, the only women he ever loved) in such danger, simply to advance his position via attrition to the stronger houses, how is it out-of-character for him to put Sansa in mild danger when it gives him a chance to take direct control of the North (and the Vale)? You’re again ignoring direct evidence from the show, that Littlefinger is capable of putting anyone in jeopardy (even his only love) to satisfy his ambition.

                      I also suggest you re-watch the scene in which Sansa proclaims Littlefinger’s innocence. Sansa sells the story magnificently, with tears and an obvious affection/ gratitude for Littlefinger. If anyone told me such a story and then turned around and said it was a lie, I would never trust their words again- they would have exposed themselves as a liar of the highest order. Once such a lie is stated, in such convincing manner, and to such important people, there is no walking it back- not without irreversible damage to credibility and honor (in any universe- fictional or otherwise). Sansa is trapped at Littlefinger’s side by her own words- which she acknowledges, saying that it is better to choose the evil you know than one which is unknown. She willingly puts herself under his control.

                    9. Harper says:

                      “You're making assumptions that are in direct conflict with events depicted clearly by the show.”
                      -At this point you’re more guilty of that than I am, you’ve used the same arguments to defend one of the silliest plotlines of the show, the same show that depicts Ellaria Sand and the Sand snakes committing child-murder and then kinslaying without repercussions, and Cersei blowing up the Westerosi equivalent to the Vatican with the heads of major Houses and THEN declaring herself queen without all the smallfolk storming the Red Keep and killing her.
                      This is not a show that deserves this kind of illogical defense.

                      “You can't ignore this direct evidence from the show of their fears.”
                      -I can because it is NOT direct evidence of any kind, its empty words from writers trying to cover their ass over the lack of any real response from the North over the Red Wedding and sack of Winterfell. What would truly back up the idea of a Northern resistance is an actual resistance!
                      Not just an old woman waiting for a candle to be lit and then getting brutally murdered, or a few of the smaller Houses giving up a hundred or so soldiers for the silly Battle of the Bastards, but an actual resistance.
                      And it would be much better evidence if Roose Bolton’s warning didn’t come before getting killed by his son in full view of the Karstarks. Kinslaying is kind of a big deal in Westeros, D&D forget that whenever its convenient to them.

                      “Aside from the fact that Litlefinger *did* put Sansa in harm's way (as depicted on the show)”
                      -This is when the conversation goes in circles, I’m obviously not arguing over what happened in the show, I’m arguing over whether what happened on the show was logical, and it clearly wasn’t.

                      “…we can look to his treatment of Catelyn ( in Baelish's own words, the only women he ever loved) to see if this is consistent with his character.”
                      -He never put her directly in harm’s way except perhaps when he lied about Tyrion’s connection to the dagger and even then he never expected her to take Tyrion herself. His goal was always to kill off Ned to get to her, when she died he moved onto her daughter.

                      “sending an assassin to kill Bran, and arming the assassin with a Lannister knife. It would be reasonable for Baelish to assume that Catelyn would be watching over her son, and this assassin almost killed Catelyn.”
                      -Littlefinger did NOT do this. The show presented it as ambiguously as the books did, but somewhere along the way the show dropped that particular mystery like a whole lot of other plot lines the writers stopped caring about. In the books, its strongly hinted that it was Joffrey’s work after he heard his father talk about how it would have been a mercy if the fall had killed Bran rather than cripple him.

                      “…how is it out-of-character for him to put Sansa in mild danger when it gives him a chance to take direct control of the North”
                      -Again, that is not “mild danger” that is full blown flayed-alive-after-being-raped kind of danger. That is not something Littlefinger, the psychopath who covets the mirror-image of Catelyn would put her through that.

                      “If anyone told me such a story and then turned around and said it was a lie, I would never trust their words again- they would have exposed themselves as a liar of the highest order.”
                      -And this is an example of you making assumptions in direct contradiction to the show and the books. So again, regardless of your own feelings, a highborn Lady, daughter of Ned and Catelyn Stark who Royce and the other Vale lords greatly respect says her past confession was a lie coerced from her under threat of the man who killed Lysa Arryn, brought more corruption to Kings Landing and allied with the Lannisters, they will believe her.
                      Hell, even the show acknowledges Littlefinger is in much a debt to Sansa as she is to him, did you forget the shot of her walking down the stairs in the Evil Queen getup?

                    10. MarsLineman says:

                      Again, I suggest you re-watch the Sansa testimonial scene. Watch Lord Royce’s face- he is clearly moved by her testimony. He starts the scene openly distrustful, verging on rage. During her testimony, there are several shots of his face as his emotions change. By the end of her testimonial, he is genuinely grateful to Baelish, stammering out an emotional apology.

                      It is human nature to distrust someone who is so convincing with their lie as to cause you to have such an emotional reaction (with a 360 degree about-face). As far as I’m concerned, her inability to walk back this lie falls into the ‘universal human truth’ category

                      “He never put (Catelyn) directly in harm's way”
                      Except when he manipulated her into starting a war against the wealthiest family in the kingdoms? How are woman treated in wartime in the GoT universe? Ask Catelyn- she died as a result of this war (or ask Cersei during the battle for King’s Landing).

                      “that is not “mild danger” that is full blown flayed-alive-after-being-raped kind of danger”
                      Again, you are ignoring the many times it is stated by Ramsay (and his mistress) that Sansa must live long enough to bear him a son. Which gives Littlefinger plenty of time to rescue Sansa- he only needs to wait until after Ramsay and Stannis do battle. In the meantime she is only in mild danger.

                      “it is NOT direct evidence of any kind, its empty words from writers ”

                      Words from the writers, spoken by characters on-screen = direct evidence. Your assumptions about how the North *should’ve* reacted, but didn’t (on the show) are irrelevant.

                      What is perhaps relevant is that in the books, the Boltons do not possess a Stark and face Northern resistance, whereas in the show they
                      do hold a Stark and face no real resistance. This supports Roose Bolton’s statement, that there must be a Stark at Winterfell for them to hold the North (an actual statement, vs your headcannon of how the fictional peasants should’ve reacted). Sansa was safe at Winterfell until she bore Ramsay a son.

                    11. Harper says:

                      “Again, I suggest you re-watch the Sansa testimonial scene. Watch Lord Royce's face- he is clearly moved by her testimony”
                      -I’ve already addressed this ad nauseum, its just not logical to apply your own thinking to a character that is very clearly established as distrusting and even prejudiced against the lowborn Littlefinger, Sansa could very easily make the truth work better than the lie she improvised.
                      And making this argument even more silly is the show itself treated Sansa aiding Littlefinger as a character development and mini-triumph, a moment where she steps into that political manipulator akin to Littlefinger and her own book counterpart( which was promptly dropped like a hot potato after she was raped).

                      “How are woman treated in wartime in the GoT universe?”
                      -The question is how are highborn women treated in the GoT universe? Catelyn as the daughter of Hoster Tully and husband of Ned Stark should have been relatively safe barring an extreme act that went against Westerosi culture and was in fact heavily condemned a la the Red Wedding.
                      Littlefinger set up Ned’s execution and the Lannister/ Stark war to get Catelyn and once she clearly rejected him he changed plans very quickly.

                      “Again, you are ignoring the many times it is stated by Ramsay (and his mistress) that Sansa must live long enough to bear him a son. Which gives Littlefinger plenty of time to rescue Sansa..”
                      -Littlefinger had no way of knowing Ramsay would keep his psychopathy in check for very long and he wasn’t going to risk a military rescue that he himself was in charge of. He’s not a military strategist, that isn’t part of his character, no matter how much the show likes to pretend otherwise.
                      So again, putting his future bride in the hands of a flaying psychopath with daddy issues is NOT in his character.

                      “Words from the writers, spoken by characters on-screen = direct evidence.”
                      -No, it amounts to nothing but a superficial detail that the narrative doesn’t support afterward. Ramsay still kills Roose without repercussion, and he still wields the sort of plot armor Kai Leng would be jealous of. The Northern Lords are still cowed by the Boltons, even with as few soldiers they’re able to put on the field.
                      Again the logic isn’t there, in the books the Northern Lords are either biding their time or unable to act because their family members are being held captive. Compare Wyman Manderly seeking Rickon Stark to protect him and reclaim Winterfell to Smalljon Umber killing Shaggydog and taking Rickon to Ramsay for no discernible reason and with the knowledge that Ramsay killed his own father.

                      “What is perhaps relevant is that in the books, the Boltons do not possess a Stark and face Northern resistance.”
                      -The Boltons held Jeyne Poole and publicly called her Arya Stark, which some believed and others didn’t, and there are many in the North that are committed to rescuing her.

                      “(an actual statement, vs your headcannon of how the fictional peasants should've reacted).”
                      -Again, again, again, its not head canon, its logic based upon the rules of their society, kinslaying, slaying and betrayal of liege lords, betrayal of guest right, etc, etc these things all have consequences in that world. In the books Stannis has the support of most of the Northern Lords, and the only reason the Southron King does is because he promised to take down the Boltons and restore the Starks to Winterfell.
                      And unlike the show, Stannis is actually going to win the Battle of Ice and eventually take Winterfell because D&D really wanted to name an episode “Battle of the Bastards”

    2. Gethsemani says:

      Except there’s nothing to indicate this is his line of reasoning. If anything, the show even made it seem as if Littlefinger was torn about coming to Sansa’s aid with the Knights of the Vale, even when she explicitly asked him for it.

      It also does not tell us why both Littlefinger (who was obviously creating a power base in the Vale and setting up his own marriage to Sansa in Season 4) and Sansa (who transformed from victim of to participant in the Game of Thrones Season 4) have complete changes of heart in Season 5 and decide to gamble all the security they have on marrying Sansa off to Ramsay Bolton. Both of them were safe in the Vale and could bide their time there, because if Stannis had won against the Bolton’s, he’d consider Sansa the rightful heir to Winterfell (this is the guy who’s all about Rightful Rulership), if he lost the option to marry Ramsay and gambit to gain control of Winterfell was still on the table. So why didn’t they?

      Most likely because Jeyne Poole was written out of the story, someone needed to be Ramsay’s victim and D&D felt that Sansa was the go to victim in the cast and she was located, geographically at least, in such a way that she could come in contact with Ramsay.

      1. MarsLineman says:

        Because Sansa can give Littlefinger control of the Vale
        *and* the North, if she is first established at Winterfell and then ‘rescued’.

        If Littlefinger marries Sansa in the Vale, he has nothing but a contested claim to the North
        (while the Boltons hold Winterfell), plus he has openly declared himself against the Boltons.

        By first posing as an ally to the Boltons, and only liberating the Stark held hostage after Stannis and the Boltons do battle, he would win the North from a weakened enemy, and then be free to marry Sansa in Winterfell, establishing power bases in both the Vale and the North.

        edit- I read the books. But the show’s version of the events hold together logically, even with Sansa in Jeyne Poole’s place. And I don’t remember Littlefinger being conflicted about coming to Sansa’s aid- is there a scene you can reference?

        1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

          Right -Littlefinger is a classic double agent. Everyone knows he deals with everyone else. He sells the Lanisters’ secrets to the Boltons, but Tywin is fine with this, because he also sells the Boltons’ secrets to the Lanisters.

          Littlefinger’s plan is to attach himself to whoever wins, or if he gets lucky, weaken everyone enough that he can sweep the board in the final move.

          He’s Snape. Both Dumbledore and Voldemorte believed they could control Snape because they could manipulate his love of Lily Potter. Lanister and Bolton believe they can manipulate Littlefinger’s love of power. In the end, all of them are wrong.

      2. Harper says:

        They also needed to “toughen her up” for her big out-of-character moment of setting Ramsay’s dogs on him. Let’s not forget that in the books Sansa was still haunted by Joffrey’s gruesome death despite all he had done to her.
        D&D need to have their female characters bloodthirsty or they’re not interesting…

      3. MarsLineman says:

        To add- if Stannis takes Winterfell, he would perhaps install Sansa as ruler. But Sansa would then be beholden to Stannis, not to Littlefinger. By rescuing her (or capturing her, if Stannis takes Winterfell) Littlefinger gains all the power. Plus, if Stannis wins Winterfell (and eventually the Iron Throne), Littlefinger loses his status- Stannis already considers Littlefinger a traitor for his support of the Lannisters.

        By positioning the Knights of the Vale to attack the victor of the Boltons/ Stannis battle, Littlefinger maximizes his position to gain control of both the Vale and the North.

  12. Rob says:

    (One thing you'll notice about this show as we go on is that the women in it are nearly always hostile to each other, regardless of whether they have any reason to be.)

    If this sort of thing bothers you, do yourself a favor and never read the Wheel of Time series.

    1. Godbot says:

      That’s just good advice in general.

      1. Retsam says:

        Strongly disagree.

        I do agree that the depiction of women in Wheel of Time is somewhat unfortunate and rather complicated.

        It’s clearly going for a world with “reverse sexism”; where in our world men were in power and women were marginalized, the Wheel of Time, the women are in power and men are marginalized. (Because all male magic inevitably go insane and kill people around them, due to an event in the world’s backstory)

        And that’s a cool idea, and it’s even done well in some places: you’ve get balanced gender representation in fantasy book in a way that doesn’t feel forced, it’s got some really great strong female characters (Egwene, Nyaneve, and Moiraine are some of my favorite characters in all of fantasy), and it’s an interesting look at gender politics.

        But when you have women behaving like stereotypically sexist men, power-hungry and demeaning and dismissing men due to their gender, you get into a weird territory: you end up with a bunch of female characters who act awful, which feels sexist: but since the women behave awful and the whole premise is a “gender-swap” I’ve seen it argued that the implications are actually more sexist against men than women.

        But even if you recognize the “gender swapping” premise at an intellectual level, it’s still hard to get over the fact that you’ve got a ton of female characters who are just terrible people, and relatively fewer male characters who act that way.

        Adding to the problem is that a few of the main female characters have some repetitive tics that get tiring in the narrative, and honestly, there are a few places where it does feel like the author is indulging themselves a bit.

        But I love the series overall, whereas I had no interest in continuing ASoIaF after the second book. In Wheel of Time a lot of the women are awful, but in ASoIaF everyone is awful, and I can see where someone else might enjoy that, but it sure wasn’t my cup of tea.

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          There are also uncomfortable implications from the fact that women in WoT are in a place of power due to real and obvious advantages over men (can use magic without going mad). Was that parallel supposed to be inverted from real life as well? Or, was it added to justify and highlight the inverse-sexism?

          1. Retsam says:

            I’m guessing the parallel from our world would be that men are (on average) physically stronger than women. I’d call that a “real and obvious advantage”, and I’m no anthropologist, but I’ve always rather assumed that was why men were usually in charge throughout history.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Except its not,seeing how much of history was decided by people who were smart tacticians,shreds in politics and deceit.Heck,even when the people in power were good fighters,it was more often due to agility than muscles,because we were so fond of swords and guns.Aside from maybe pirates,I cant think of a place in the last 2000 years where the strongest one was the leader.

              1. Syal says:

                I figured PMS and pregnancy were responsible for the disparity.

              2. Bloodsquirrel says:

                There have been quite a few leaders in the past 2000 years whose rise to power started on the battlefield. They might not have been the strongest, but their physical prowess and ability to hang in combat was crucial to their being accepted as leaders.

                Genghis Kahn comes to mind. Feudal kings and lords were a warrior class first and foremost, and had to be able to ride in battle. Hell, even George Washington often had to hold the continental army together with his sheer physical presence.

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Genghis Kahn comes to mind. Feudal kings and lords were a warrior class first and foremost, and had to be able to ride in battle.

                  And the thing that links them all together is:They were good riders,and they had access to a horse.But how many smiths do you know that have risen to power because they were so strong that their durability and ability to smash someones head in with a hammer has proven to be crucial in a battle?

                  As for Washington,he lived in an age when rifles were already common.Was he really the strongest?

                  Also,amongst everyone who rose to power via battles,did they rise to power due to their ability to fight,or due to their ability to rally men under their command,and think of and enact good battle strategies?How many good fighters were there that never rose beyond leading just a handful of men because they were just good fighters?

                  1. Bloodsquirrel says:

                    First off, the advent of the gun or having a horse does not remove physical hardship from combat. Riding itself is physically difficult (especially hard riding for long periods), and leaders who ride with their army are often forced to undergo harsh conditions on long marches through the elements. Washington’s abilities as an outdoorsman were necessary for his initial success in the French and Indian war, which is what put him in position to become a general in the first place. Stuff like earthworks needs to be built, trenches need to be dug. Heavy equipment needs to be hauled around.

                    Second, you’re too obsessed with “THE physically strongest coming to lead” when what’s important is that the leaders had physical strength. Replacing Washington with the physically strongest man in America might not have been a good idea, but if Washington hadn’t been physically imposing on top of his other talents and qualities he wouldn’t have been able to lead effectively. It was something that he banked on, hard. Washington wasn’t the smartest man in the colonies either, or the most educated, or the wealthiest, but if he had been dumb, uneducated, and poor we’d have never heard of him.

                    I actually can’t think of many great military leaders who weren’t at least decent physical specimens.

                    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Physical hardships is not the same as strength.Its the muscles where you can say that men are objectively better than women on average.But when it comes to stamina,agility,or any other physical attribute,they are about the same.My point was that its not (this aspect of) sexual dimorphism that led to most of the leaders being men in the real world.The whole “real and obvious advantage” that Retsam mentioned.

            2. Bloodsquirrel says:

              No, the reason for men being the historical leaders all comes down to babies.

              Men are, simply put, more expendable than women. To create one baby, you need one woman for about a year of time (usually more). Also, creating babies is dangerous for them, and they can sometimes die in the process. During their pregnancies they have a reduced ability to engage in strenuous physical activity, and such activity can even harm the baby. By contrast, a man only needs a few minutes to do his part in making a baby, and the only risk is catching a disease (which is only a factor if the woman is sleeping with a lot of other men). Furthermore, a man remains fertile for longer than a woman.

              This means that it makes more sense for men to be the warriors, hunters, explorers, and in general the risk-takers. A strong, cunning, vigorous man can create a lot more babies than any single woman could, and can do so without infringing on his fighting, hunting, exploring, and risk-taking.

              It’s only the extreme safety of modern society that has finally allowed deviation from this social order, including the reduced number of babies that women need to have in order to keep the population stable.

        2. Syal says:

          I don’t think reverse-sexism is supposed to be a theme; most of the rulers are men, as are most of the legendary heroes, and Rand treats all the women like they need protection.

          Much as I liked the Wheel of Time when I was young, I have to second Godbot’s recommendation; the characters are a hit-or-miss thing (I want to say… Anime?), but the books just get way too bloated to recommend. (Book Ten has one thousand pages and three plot advancements, one of which is in the epilogue, and one of which is retconned in Book 11.)

          1. sheer_falacy says:

            It’s not just that most of the rulers and all of the ta’veren are men, it’s also that male channelers are more powerful than female channelers. Sure, they go nuts, but they are straight up stronger.

            Also sai’din (man magic) being something you have to beat into submission and sai’dar (woman magic) being something you have to surrender to is messed up.

            When I look back on Wheel of Time, I realize that the only characters I actually like are Mat and Birgitte. Rand is ok, Perrin whines way too much about how he got awesome superpowers, and most of the women are atrocious. Moiraine is cool, actually. And Tuon is a terrible person but in a much, much more interesting way than most of the women, plus she’s somehow less of a dick to Mat than the women he grew up with.

            1. Syal says:

              I’m fine with all the characters (probably helps I was an anti-social shit growing up; Rand and Squall were the heroes of my teens); a lot of them are petty and dumb, but the story was kind of about that, legends covering up people’s faults or something.

              Along with your list I liked Moghedien and Asmodeus; they’re great for the revelation that the nightmarish evildoers of legend, the Forsaken, second only to the Dark One, are just as stupid and weak-willed as the normal folk.

            2. Retsam says:

              In actuality, though men don’t have a meaningful advantage in channelling. They’ve got a bit more raw power on average, but channelling is often more about finesse, where they don’t have an advantage. And their inability to form circles on their own is a huge weakness too.

              That they appear to be a lot better in the books is a few things: the lack of the Oaths constraining them, the extreme training methods focusing entirely on sheer military power, and that Earth and Fire are the male speciality elements, which are better for flashy combat maneuvers than Water and Air.

            3. Shibbletyboops says:

              Uh.. The only thing that makes female channelers seem weaker is the Aes Sedai oaths. Free them from the oaths and they’re an absolute force to be reckoned with (just like males). This is part of the reason why the Seanchan absolutely rickroll everyone on the continent when they show up.

              1. Syal says:

                Also there’s a whole branch of Aes Sedai dedicated to stopping male channelers, and the Black Tower is only concerned with making soldiers, so the men that make it have to be stronger.

          2. Retsam says:

            Most of the rulers aren’t male. The largest kingdom in the mainland, Andor, is ruled exclusively by queens. The biggest single power in the world, Seanchan is ruled by an empress. Queen Tylin of Ebou Dar, the Panarch of Tanchico, the First of Mayene. The only male rulers I can think of are Forsaken in disguise, or Laman in Cairhein. (I’m blanking on the borderland rulers, except that there’s at least one man and at least one woman) And the whitecloak leader, if we’re counting them as a nation.

            And, given that the Aes Sedai basically hold all of the real political power anyway, the individual rulers aren’t all that important, generally. Which is another theme of the series: the Emond’s Field village council of men is basically just for show and the Women’s Circle holds the real power. (See also the Aiel Clansleaders vs. the Wise Ones)

            Sure, Rand’s tic about protecting women is more stereotypically “white knight”… which is sort of the point, everyone calls him out for how ridiculous that view is. (And even Rand I think recognizes that, at some level) Heck, that might be a manifestation of Lews Therin’s influence, from the time when men and women were on a more equal footing.

            1. Syal says:

              I’m sure I’ve forgotten a bunch of locations. I remember:

              All the Whitecloaks, the king of the city that houses the Whitecloaks (Amarillo?), the four generals, the King and Council members in Illian, the two Cairhien rulers that died in book 2, the leader of the anti-Dragon rebel force, Moradin, the Murandy Kid, Aiel Guy, Bad Aiel Guy, and Faile’s Dad. Also the Ogier if we want to count them. And Lan.

              For women, there’s the Queen of Caemlyn, Whats-Her-Name of the Seanchan (which are their own thing), Bad Aiel Gal, the Aes Sedai, Berelain, Tylin… whoever Graendal was.

  13. King Marth says:

    Hmm, I was hoping that I’d be able to get more out of this series as a bystander with no knowledge of the source material, as with the Mass Effect and Skyrim Thieves’ Guild rants. Unfortunately, the context required to see just how monumentally bad of a plan is at play here seems just too large to fit into the article, from skimming the comments. The text does a good job of spelling out what the direct consequences are, but the full intrigue map (who cares about who and where the power is) is just too big to convey without reading the books.

    I guess these Stark and Lannister people are important.

    1. Yeah! Not entirely happy with this series (of articles) so far.

      Hey! Mr. Btongue Since you know the TV series and book series, could you please point out when he TV show does something silly that the book does not (and vice versa), after all it would be unfair to complain about the show is the books is the source of the issue.

      Right now it’s hard to know if a thing you critique did not exist in the books, was changed from the books, expanded on from the books, or shortened or even removed from the books.

      Because if you are not critiquing the changes then you are critiquing R.R.Martin’s writing/plots instead (which may have their own issues).

      And as seen in the comments here people even argue that Ramsay keeping Sansa alive made no sense, while someone else state that the tv series has a character explicitly state why he would keep Sansa alive.
      And that’s just the TV series with a few, or even within the same(?) episode.
      You can’t trust you own mind to remember everything from the tv show or the books, and it get’s murkier when your own mind start blurring the lines.

      I said earlier that it would be best if you looked at the show in isolation and critiqued that without referencing the books, but it’s clear now that unless you’ve never read the books then doing that fairly is impossible.

      You basically end up with meta-knowledge (from the books) that does not any longer(!) apply to the tv show.

      I don’t expect you to be objective (reviewer or critique is able to do that), but you can avoid being biased towards or against one or the other (with some difficulty I assume).

      Just be careful that when you gripe about the show that the source of that gripe is by the writers/directors of the show and not from the books.
      Heck, some of the stuff in the show has been given R.R.Martins blessing and AFAIK they have talked with him about some things regarding the show and plotlines. None of that if public so it’s impossible to know if the showrunners can be blamed fr all the bad choices.

      But as you have the book then you can at least reference the books and make sure that you do not blame the showrunners when they just regurgitate things from the books that make no sense.

      1. Syal says:

        In the books, Littlefinger and Sansa wait in the Vale and have no interaction with anyone outside of it. Everything in this article or the last is a direct result of the show changing that part of the story.

        Book Ramsay’s marriage is set up by the Lannisters, who send a fake Stark girl (I think it’s a fake Arya) because the rest of the world doesn’t know they’ve lost both of them. The reason behind it is what it looks like; to gain an alliance with the Boltons, and Cersei’s not a good schemer anyway so there aren’t any plotholes.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      All you have to know is that Sean Bean is a stark and Charles Dance is a lanister.Then Sean Bean died,and his fans waged a war against Charles Dances fans.

      There,now you have the full context.

    3. Will says:

      I’ll make an attempt to sketch it out here, but the whole thing is immensely complicated, I’ve only read the books (and have no idea how the show diverges), and I’m sure I’ve forgotten or misremembered significant, important bits. (Fortunately, I’m equally sure someone will come along to correct me in short order. ;) Also, it is 100% legit to decide you don’t care, in which case you should stop reading this now. Also, there are (obviously) many many spoilers to follow, so be warned.

      Let’s start with the Starks. As of the start of the first book, the Starks were the ruling family of the North (one of the seven kingdoms; the Stark patriarch, now dead because that’s pretty much what happens in these books, bowed only to the king, also now dead). Their fortunes have been getting more interesting ever since, and as of the end of A Dance with Dragons, the patriarch and matriarch were dead (-ish in the latter’s case); of the five children, one is dead, one is training in magic of some sort in the wilderness north of the wall, one is missing (-ish), one is training with an assassin’s guild on a different continent, and the last is Sansa, who has been a doormat for most of the past five books, but is now a doormat, an extremely important political token, and the extremely promising protege/replacement goldfish for Petyr Belish, aka Littlefinger, who we’ll get to in a few paragraphs.

      So. Given all that, the Boltons, one of the Starks’s nastier vassals, have stepped in to attempt to fill the power vacuum, but are not in a terribly strong position because (a) the Stark children aren’t all dead yet (many are missing, but Sansa is known to live) and (b) they are extremely unpopular due to rampant sadism, backstabbing, and general terribleness. Thus, the Boltons are looking to cement their hold before somebody else bumps them off;

      Next major family. The Lannisters are the ruling family of a different sub-kingdom of Westeros (does it have a name? I can’t recall) and for a while were doing pretty well for themselves but lately have fallen prey to accumulated incest and poor parenting. (I’m not making that up, by the way, that’s essentially the cause of their downfall.) They’re relevant because they currently occupy the throne of Westeros, they are immensely wealthy, and their position is steadily growing more tenuous. Thus, they’re grabbing for influence. Except as general antagonists and motivators, they’re not super relevant to current goings-on in the North.

      Last major player before we get to the major player. Stannis Baratheon, the brother of the former king, is pretty sure he should be king (and he’s probably right, not that it matters that much), has an army, recently curbstomped a bunch of barbarians north of the North (as far as we can tell, it just keeps going north), and is now headed back south gunning for the throne he thinks is rightfully his. He’s the sort of person who has zero patience for usurpers (little surprise given his situation…) and is likely to steamroll the Boltons and put whatever Stark or Stark lookalike he can find back in charge of the North. (And then assume they’ll immediately throw everything they have into supporting him, because he thinks they’re supposed to. Stannis has an interesting and very sharp-edged view of the world.)

      And finally, The Guy of this post. Petyr Baelish, better known as Littlefinger. He’s a master schemer and magnificent bastard of the highest order. Before the start of the books, he worked his way up from a minor lordling to being treasurer for the entire kingdom; since then, he has orchestrated or kicked off basically every major event in the books and continued his stratospheric rise to be regent of the Vale, a third of the seven kingdoms. His major character flaw is an overwhelming obsessive crush on Catelyn Stark, the mother of the Stark family (she’s the one who’s dead-ish), which he has more-or-less seamlessly transferred onto her daughter Sansa. In the books, he’s grooming her for political intrigue as well as creepy underage-bridehood (the former of which may not be in his best interests, since he’s directly or indirectly involved in the death or loss of every other member of her family) and plotting moves on the North while still safely ensconced in the Vale. In the show, apparently he’s lost a bit of his touch and is acting with a bit less forethought than his character would indicate.

      I think that’s everyone who’s relevant here? Obviously, when you get in depth, damn near every major character has influenced every other, but I think those are the major links around Sansa, Littlefinger and the North as of the end of A Dance with Dragons.

      1. Syal says:

        To try to expand on Littlefinger: (also spoilers)

        Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (so called because his family owns the smallest of the Finger peninsulas) was the Master of Coin under Robert Baratheon, who was a bad king who spent far more money than he had and then Littlefinger made it work. Littlefinger is a very arrogant fellow, fond of quips and self-aggrandizement, and everyone recognizes he’s “too clever by half”.

        Ned Stark relies on him to help in exposing Cersei (Lannister) Baratheon’s incest, hoping Littlefinger’s admiration of Ned’s wife Catelyn will be enough to keep him on Ned’s side. Littlefinger betrays him, getting Ned killed and stranding Ned and Catelyn’s daughter Sansa in King’s Landing with Cersei, himself, and the new king, Cersei’s incest asshole son Joffrey god he’s such a shit!.

        During the following war between the Starks and the Lannisters/Baratheons, Littlefinger buys an empty title to a land that no one can control, then uses the title as a means of legitimacy to marry Lysa Arryn, Caitlyn’s sister and recently widowed regent ruler of the “impregnable” Vale. He hires someone to “rescue” Sansa, kills the fellow upon success, and takes Sansa to the Vale, charming Lysa into going along with it and leaving everyone else to guess at what happened.

        Once married, Littlefinger kills Lysa and blames her bard. As her surviving husband, he becomes the regent ruler of the Vale. Several of the lords object, and he convinces them to give him a year before they make any decisions. He then explains to Sansa that he expects most of the lords will succumb to age or sickness before his year runs out. Also he’s paid someone to join the opposition group and be a spy because that’s the kind of thing he does.

        In the books, that’s where we leave him, solidifying his power in the Vale while getting reports on the movements of the other major players.

        In the show, he sends Sansa (who he kidnapped from the king and the Lannisters) off to marry Ramsay Bolton, the sadistic illegitimate child of Roose Bolton, a lord in the North who invaded and massacred the Starks’ city while the soldiers were away, and who is currently being attacked by Stannis Baratheon, Robert’s unyielding older brother who believes he is the king by divine providence and has a witch who uses blood magic to slay his enemies, which he used to murder his own younger brother Renly when Renly claimed the throne*, as well as Sansa’s brother Robb when he claimed independence*. Basically it’s the most dangerous place in the world Sansa could be with no obvious advantages.

        *In the books anyway.

        1. King Marth says:

          Thanks, that helps fill in why the plan in the show is so much worse than the sort of stuff this character is supposed to be capable of.

          I’ll also note that I have no fear of spoilers here, given I’m reading the discussion to begin with.

  14. Jokerman says:

    Ha… stop making me question my love for this show…

    Seriously though, i do wonder if this is going to effect my enjoyment going forward, if i start thinking in a critical way due to losing trust in the writing.

    1. Joe Informatico says:

      I’m already resigned to the likelihood that next season will be another 5 episodes of wheel-spinning leading up to an awesome episode 6 battle scene and an awesome episode 7 climax that will make everyone forget how dull the first 5 episodes were.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      If you are like me,you are probably already aware of these problems,at least unconsciously,but you enjoy it because of HOW the story is delivered rather than WHAT it is.So you shouldnt worry.

  15. Wide And Nerdy ♤ says:

    Continued from here

    “How could you Shamus?” Chris said. “I thought we had a good thing?”

    “We did.” Shamus said. “We did. And we still can. But Bob is so confident.”

    “I am amazing.” Bob conceded.

    “But he’s completely unreliable.” Chris interjected. “You know how he is. He’ll promise to be back next week and you won’t see him for months.”

    “That was the past. I’m ready to settle down, ready to do something here. Something regular.” Bob said. He opened the sliding glass doors.

    “Really?” Shamus followed Bob onto the veranda full of hope. “You mean it?”

    “You know I do. I’m ready for something longform. Its time to be serial.”

    “Will people accept us?” Shamus said.

    “I already have just the thing. Game of Thrones. I understand everything now. Why we’ll work so well together, in exactly the ways Game of Thrones doesn’t.” Bob said.

    “I’d have never thought.” Shamus said. “But if anybody can make it work. My audience and your talent the possibilities are there. But how-”

    “Shhh. All in good time. Lets go back inside.”

    As they headed in they were startled to find a presence in the bedroom. It was Chris. He was still there.

    “Can I just say-”

    “No.” Bob said. “We’re done.” And he left. Shamus saw him out.

    As they left Chris standing there dejected, Daemian Lucifer did something too kinky to put into words.

    To be continued . . .

    “Screw it!” Chris finally said. “This series is too jokey and meta for me anyway.”

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      I never met a jockey I didnt like.So if you insist,Ill screw them.

    2. Wide And Nerdy ♤ says:

      The real question: Is it the veranda that’s full of hope, or is it Shamus?

      I’ll leave you in suspense.

      If I had a complaint so far, the writing is heavy on dialog and extremely light on action and establishing setting.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        The real question: Is it the veranda that's full of hope, or is it Shamus?

        A dangling participle!

        1. Wide And Nerdy ♤ says:

          I wonder if its ever actually valid to deliberately use bad grammar to maintain suspense. I guess the key is that it be understood as such.

          Obvious example would be if characters have received a message that is ambiguous due to poor grammar and the reader has no additional information above what the characters have.

          But could the author’s text do this too?

          1. Syal says:

            Generally someone faced with bad grammar will pick a version they like and stop questioning it, so if you don’t have a way to filter your audience the answer is no.

            1. Wide And Nerdy ♤ says:

              Thank you. So I’d need my characters to remark on the odd grammar (and probably have both of the possible meanings be somewhat equally valid to the situation.)

  16. zookeeper says:

    It’s interesting (and depressing) that if you frequent any serious fan discussions and speculations about the show before the episodes air, you’ll find a neverending supply of ideas that are infinitely better than what the show ends up giving.

    When it was clear that Sansa was going to Winterfell, people came up with all sorts of ways how such an adaptational change could work out (specifically even within the show’s constraints); perhaps Sansa keeps posing as Alayne, and/or will secretly reveal herself only to Stark-loyal northern lords, or perhaps a plot to assassinate Ramsay or Roose, or Littlefinger’s plot actually involves getting her out before the wedding, or anything. There were many plausible, clever and surprising yet sensible possibilities for where the plot might be going with that choice, and it ended up going in pretty much the only direction which had no plot at all; everything happened in the most straightforward and predictable manner possible.

    There’s countless examples of casual fan speculation completely surpassing the show’s actual plot decisions. The gap between how good/bad the show is and how good it could be without extra cost has widened massively during seasons 5 and 6, whereas previously it was, despite a lot of individual details I didn’t like, reasonably narrow.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Since the writers have access to fan speculation, I wonder if the GoT plot failure is in any degree due to the writers avoiding all the good ideas out of misguided originality. Or are they shot far enough in advance that this isn’t a factor?

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        If I remember correctly,they are shot the summer before broadcasting,so I doubt fans have much influence over it.I mean yeah,some things can be changed in the editing room and reshot,but not significantly.

  17. Nixitur says:

    I’ll be honest, I can’t follow this at all. I get the feeling that this series is aimed at people who have watched the show. That’s kind of disappointing, seeing as I could follow both your videos and Shamus’ series on various media fairly well without ever having watched/read/played them myself.
    You seem to kind of assume a fairly intricate knowledge of the show or the books on the part of the reader and I’m just sitting here, being kind of confused. For example, I wouldn’t even have known that Baelish and Littlefinger are the same character without googling him, I don’t know who Cersei or Stannis Baratheon are, I don’t know how this plan at all relates to the Lannisters and any references to the geography of the world are completely lost on me. Really, I could go on.

    I know that your aim in this series isn’t to serve as an introduction to the show or books and that you don’t want to fill it with stuff that the majority of readers already know, but… I dunno, I could follow your Blame of Thrones video perfectly well, so there must be some sort of middle ground.

    1. Reed says:

      Hmmm. Interesting.

      I’ve rarely played the games Shamus talk about, but he writes in such a way that it’s not a handicap.

      I *HAVE* watched Game of Thrones, so it hadn’t occurred on me that people who haven’t seen it, would have trouble following the articles.

      Of course, having seen Game of Thrones is STILL no guarantee you could to follow the web of characters and relationships twisting and weaving through the series…

  18. I haven’t watched the show this long, so I can’t say much. But this makes me remember one phrase and a thought about the writing of the series once they have to get past the books:

    The phrase is a quote from Kinglsey Amis (translated back to English from its translation to Spanish) “the problem with the novels about super intelligent aliens is that they can’t be more intelligent than the author”. This would be a case. I’m not necessarily saying “the writers are stupid, so the plans they make for Littlefinger are stupid”. Actually, the thought it has brought to me is along the lines that the writers have gone “Littlefinger is meant to be such a fine and great plotter, he’s meant to be able to make plots so much better than we’d do, since we can’t plot like that, we’ll make whatever plot that doesn’t have immediate sense then have them work or be close to work and let the fans try to figure out and explain them with headcanon”. The problem is that straight up making random actions that have no basis to work anywhere and then making the plan (almost) work anyway is not the right way to do it. It reminds me how 95% of surreal films and absurd humour series and films fail: they act on the belief that absurd and surreal means scenes can be followed by anything random as long as it makes no sense. Wrong. They may be random only in appearance, there must still be some sense in some point to relate what follows with the precedent scene. The simulation of so much more intelligent Pyetr would be a plot more or less simple that depends on things that aren’t obvious about the world, just that. And then when it works, point them. It doesn’t need to be anything special, it can be easy, just not blatantly obvious. Bonus points if there are obvious parts that misdirect about making you think that wouldn’t work or not notice those less obvious points.

    And it has raised a mental image: a RPG game with Peter Jackson and these writers, where Peter Jackson is the munchkin playing a half elf / half dragon / half drow / half demon cleric / monk / ranger / paladin / rogue / bard / assassin and the writers as the Han Solo player from Darths and Droids with stupid plans that make no sense.

    P.S. – In some past entries I commented and then I forgot I had commented so I didn’t go back to see anwers. Sorry about that.

  19. JDMM says:

    I feel this post has missed a problem, that is that Sansa did not fail to manipulate Ramsay but rather that she succeeded but that still didn’t do anything
    Around the middle of s5 Ramsay brings up Jon to Sansa and Sansa uses that to get under Ramsay’s skin and plant the notion that Roose is planning to replace him and to avoid this he’ll need to do something big to avoid that fate
    So later in the episode/season we see Ramsay go to Roose and propose a raid on Stannis and Roose is all “Why? We have a castle let’s just starve him out” BUT THEN! Ramsay’s raid completely succeeds, he cripples Stannis’ forces and near wins the war and that’s it, the manipulations and the warnings meant nothing and I mean that could work but the raid on the Stannis camp happened off screen, all we get to hear was that it was a huge success

  20. Bropocalypse says:

    *looks up at the length of this comment section*


    I’ve never seen the show but if it inspires Mass-Effect-level discourse, the writers probably aren’t handling things elegantly.

  21. Lalaland says:

    I really miss end-of-season-4 Sansa, she looked like a woman embarking on a plan the victim Sansa who actually showed up for seasons 5 & 6 has been a bore (at best). Completely agree the failure of writing her character represents is at the nexus of everything wrong with the past two seasons. I’m sure we’ll get there but the way they parked Gwendoline Christie to sit around staring at a window for Season 5 after a journey of incredible and fortuitous coincidence only to just miss the candle was such hackneyed bad crime serial style writing I wanted to scream.

  22. I feel like this entire series of posts is more-or-less predicated on “plot holes exist! don’t they bother you? PLOT HOLES!!! LET ME SPELL THEM OUT” Where if your sentiment is, “eh, in this case, not really; I’m just a casual fan; they didn’t bother me so much”, it’s just so much rhetoric to ignore if you don’t agree with the core premise. It has not yet been otherwise persuasive.

    Mind you, I was already put on the wrong foot by the previous post in the series. “People are not enjoying Game of Thrones as much as they think they are.” Oh, assuming that you know why I enjoy a medium? Implying that I’m enjoying it the wrong way, or for wrong reasons? That’s haughty arrogance right there. People like what they like. “No, you only THINK you like it!” is one of those things where any rudimentary psych or management course will tell why that does not resonate, and will turn folks against you right quick.

    I wanted to give this series a chance. I waited for a second entry, to see if it would be more persuasive. It has not been. I know that my opinion holds extremely limited weight, but “whenever I see something like this on a site, meh, it makes me more disinclined to visit” is my inclination, and I felt like voicing it.

    1. Benjamin Hilton says:

      I think the real problem is that they are thematic plot holes, which is of huge importance in this kind of story.

      1. I guess I might just be willing to give thematic plot holes a miss so long as there aren’t glaring characterization plot holes.

        Because it feels like the series has done a very good job at that. It’s not like anyone has done some sort of heel-face-turn. It’s not like a character has turned from an incompetent boob to a grizzled war veteran at the drop of a hat. It’s not like a raging bezerker became a compassionate gentle giant out of the blue for one episode, then resumed their aggressive ways. It’s not like a conniving backstabber renounced their conniving and backstabbing ways sheerly for the plot’s sake. That’s all been handled quite well, on the whole. And on reflection, that’s the thing I maximally care about.

        So I suppose I reject that thematic plot holes are of huge importance in this sort of story for me, anyway, given that I appear not to care. [shrug] Folks enjoy (and fail to enjoy) different things for different reasons; the reasons I “shouldn’t” be enjoying the series simply don’t hold sway with me.

        1. Benjamin Hilton says:

          I understand where your coming from. It also seems to me that Bob is falling into the trap of text vs. speech. In his videos he has a very distinct style of talking that is self deprecating, self aggrandizing, and slightly not serious all at the same time. If he were speaking this out loud it would be clear that he doesn’t actually think that you are wrong about liking the show. It’s a slightly combative statement, but through intonation, pauses and cadence it becomes a funny comment. In text none of that really comes across, so unless you are very familiar with his videos and can imagine him speaking this in your head I can certainly see how this statement could rub you the wrong way. It would probably rub me wrong too were I not familiar with his style.

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