Littlefinger is playing a long game, but what’s he really after?

Not just marrying Sansaaaa, apparently

Words by Jadie Troy-Pryde

We’re seven seasons into Game of Thrones, and yet we still don’t quite know exactly what Littlefinger is playing at. He’s currently holed up in Winterfell, whispering creepy nothings into Sansa Stark’s ear and dishing out Valerian steel daggers like there’s no tomorrow. Throughout the show, he has managed to snake his way through Westeros, dodging death and pledging allegiance to everyone and anyone as long as it suits his master plan.

But what is his master plan?

Lord Petyr Baelish has already confessed to Sansa that he wants them to take their (bizarre) relationship to the next level, but surely all his conniving is for something more than bagging a wife? After all, Sansa recently cleared her wardrobe to make way for outfits that specifically warn Littlefinger to back off.

Thankfully, one smart Game of Thrones Reddit user thinks they’ve cracked his long game. And, FYI, it is long, so prepare yourself.

The superfan, squirrelwoman, makes a sound case for the master manipulator, claiming that he is trying to drive a wedge between Sansa and the rest of the reunited Starks so that, essentially, she is forced to lean on him. And then what?

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‘Right now, if Littlefinger tried to poison Sansa against Jon, Arya could talk some sense into her… but Arya will lose all her power to do that if Sansa no longer trusts her,’ they write.

‘If Arya thinks Sansa is plotting against Jon, Arya would likely start undermining Sansa… and since Sansa is actually trying to help Jon, Arya will be making Jon’s situation worse. And if Sansa finds out, they’d be even madder at each other.’

Furthermore, squirrelwoman notes that Littlefinger is ultimately trying to oust Jon so that he can pop himself on the Iron Throne – but how? Well, the detailed explanation goes a little like this…

‘Littlefinger wants Sansa and the Iron Throne; Jon is the roadblock in the way of both goals,’ squirrelwoman starts.

‘Littlefinger’s already told us what his basic strategy is; he lets his enemies destroy each other for him while he acquires more territory and an ever-larger army. Adding the North to his pile is his next step, and while he seems to be sitting around Winterfell twiddling his thumbs, he’s actually positioned exactly where he wants to be, with a fantastic excuse for staying out of the fiery bloodbath to the south.

‘While Littlefinger and his army are parked safely at Winterfell, his rivals are dropping like flies: the Martells and Tyrells are gone, half the Greyjoy fleet just sunk the other half, and Team Cersei and Team Daenerys are hacking away huge chunks of each other’s military might every time they clash.

‘In Littlefinger’s plan, it doesn’t matter much whether it’s Cersei or Daenerys who wins; whichever one sits on the Iron Throne at the end will do so with heavy martial losses and a serious public relations problem. People hated Targaryens before one unleashed a Dothraki horde and burned the countryside… and they hated Cersei before she blew up their religion and strutted around pregnant with her brother’s baby, thus proving the rumours true that Joffrey and Tommen were never legitimate kings.

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Credit: HBO

‘And just imagine… into this mess rides the Queen in the North, trueborn supermodel daughter of the famously noble, recently vindicated Ned Stark, with the united armies (and food!) of the North, the Vale, and the Riverlands behind her, to be hailed as the liberator of the Seven Kingdoms. It would be sweet justice immortalized in a thousand songs. Once Littlefinger has Sansa installed, Littlefinger can either be the power behind the throne or marry her to claim it himself.

‘But then Jon threw a wrench in this plan by not dying during the Battle of the Bastards… and another by being so impressive that no one in the North cared that Sansa outranked him… and yet another when he crowned himself King of the Cockblock.

‘But to Littlefinger, there’s something even worse and more dangerous about Jon: if Jon isn’t stopped soon, Jon is going to completely destroy Littlefinger’s throne-taking army by marching it north to die fighting magical snow zombies.

‘So when Bran shows up, Littlefinger tries to turn him into an asset. Bran is physically weak and seems like he might have some mental problems to boot; at first glance, he seems like he might be as easy to manipulate as Sweetrobin. That could even be a sweet shortcut for Littlefinger; instead of having to painstakingly chip away at Sansa’s defenses, he could just get Bran to command Sansa to marry him.

‘So Littlefinger gives Bran a neat present, tries to ingratiate himself, and starts working the “Hey, y’know, YOU’RE the rightful Lord of Winterfell, not that bastard brother of yours” angle. If he can get Bran to challenge Jon, either outcome is a win; even if Jon stays in power, Jon will take a massive hit to his reputation and the loyalty of his Stark-sworn bannermen.

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Credit: HBO

‘But instead, of course, Bran looks right through Littlefinger and tells him that “chaos is a ladder”. And while it’s plenty unsettling on the “I know about shit you said to Varys in private” level, it also implies that Bran knows exactly what Littlefinger is trying to do at Winterfell… create chaos so that he can climb the ladder.

‘And now Arya shows up. And Arya is a problem. Not just because Littlefinger recognizes that fighting style, but because any of the folks currently at Winterfell who spent time around the Stark kids before the war could have told him that Arya and Jon were best buddies. That’d be dangerous to have around even before you threw Arya’s currently unknown badass capabilities into the mix.

‘But if Littlefinger can set up a situation where Sansa and Arya are at odds with each other, the potential benefits to him are huge.

‘Right now, if Littlefinger tried to poison Sansa against Jon, Arya could talk some sense into her… but Arya will lose all her power to do that if Sansa no longer trusts her.

‘If Arya thinks Sansa is plotting against Jon, Arya would likely start undermining Sansa… and since Sansa is actually trying to help Jon, Arya will be making Jon’s situation worse. And if Sansa finds out, they’d be even madder at each other.

game of thrones

Credit: HBO

‘Moreover, if shit goes down before Jon returns, he’d be asked to choose sides… either pissing off a terrifying little No One, or the woman half his army are more loyal to than him.

‘And maybe more importantly than any of that in Littlefinger’s eyes, the situation has the potential to cause Sansa to feel utter despair. For years, Sansa has longed to go home, to escape backstabbing and intrigue and return to a place where she can truly feel safe, surrounded by love and honesty. If Sansa has finally gotten back to Winterfell, finally gotten back to the Starks, only to have the Bran-bot stare at a tree while Jon and Arya betray her… after everything Sansa’s been through, that could be the thing that truly breaks her and sends her running into Littlefinger’s arms.

‘So with all those potential benefits held in his mind, Littlefinger’s doing what he was already planning to do… exploit Jon’s absence to sow doubt among Jon’s bannermen and try to flip their loyalty over to Sansa… while attempting to set up Arya to believe that it was Sansa’s idea.’

Convinced? We are. And now we’re counting down the hours to Monday’s episode.

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