‘Game of Thrones’: Why it’s time to stop hating on Sansa

Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark – Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO via HBO Media Relations

‘Game of Thrones’ has many characters fans love to hate, but none are so universally disliked as Sansa. But that stops now!

Listen up, Game of Thrones fans! I know that the show is intended to generate all kinds of debate because of its morally ambiguous characters. It carved a niche in creating people we have come to love and hate in equal measure. Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) started out in the series as a dishonorable knight of the Kingsguard. But we learned that wasn’t really the whole story and he has since gone on to become my most problematic fave and one of the few characters I see with potential to make it out of the whole thing alive.

Conversely, Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) lived and died as the human personification of period cramps. And yet, post-mortem he went from being the absolute worst to the best of the worst. And the competition for the title of the worst of the worst wages on as the torch was unceremoniously passed from Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) to Euron (Pilou Asbæk). There is virtually nothing to love about these Game of Thrones characters – well Euron is a bit of a jaunt in his pirate-y ways, but it’ll get old quick – and yet they’re still quite respected.

Characters like Cersei (Lena Headey) are both loved and hated in equal measure. She’s had some pretty spectacular moments. Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) has garnered the most blind faith supporters who feel she can do no wrong.

And then there’s Sansa (Sophie Turner), who gets criticized if she breathes in the wrong direction. Or goodness forbid she smile because Jon (Kit Harington) offers the only validation she’s been seeking, but we’ll get to that.

Since she first appeared on the show Sansa gained a loathsome reputation. She was naive and trusting and many still blame her for Ned’s (Sean Bean) death. So let’s get a few things straight. She was a child. And juxtaposed beside her sister Arya (Maisie Williams) her notions of fairytales and love and wanting to be Joffrey’s queen were diminished as foolish and frivolous and she never quite recovered from those characterizing blemishes despite having grown both in years and as a person. So I’ll repeat it again louder for the people in the back: Sansa. Was. A. Child.

Her character development hasn’t been as shoddy as it seems though the showrunners remain unforgiven for removing her last ounce of autonomy in the infamous wedding night scene with Ramsay by framing the scene through Theon’s (Alfie Allen) eventual redemption. And I still have thousands of words to say on that subject (thank you, grad school thesis).

Still, the young girl who told Joffrey she has seen him cry has only gotten sassier and angrier in spite all the losses (don’t make me list all the ways she’s suffered because I will and it won’t be a good time for anyone). To the point where in present day she has learned to rebuff Littlefinger (Aidan Gillan) with the most flippant of remarks.

The issue is that for all the reasons Sansa is hated, Dany is praised. And while I shouldn’t have to put down one woman to bolster another, it bears noting that Dany can threaten to burn her would-be betrayers and it’s all “Yesss Queen!”, “Fire and Blood!”, “Mother of Dragons!” While Sansa apparently makes the egregious mistake of speaking up to Jon in a room full of Northern houses and that undermines his authority.

If the Bastard Bowl was anything to go by, Jon has proven he’s a bit of a reckless leader. He made a seriously irrational choice going into the battle the way he did. And yet it’s Sansa who got crapped on because she kept Littlefinger’s potential involvement a secret. Yet, whose choice saved the day? I’m sorry what? I can’t hear you over the Knights of the Vale thundering into the scene to finish the job of restoring Winterfell to its rightful House.

Granted, the means don’t quite justify the ends of Sansa’s lie by omission, I’ll acquiesce that at the very least. But then Jon gets all pissy about her undermining him when he didn’t have the decency to consult with her about those decisions beforehand in the first place.

I guess in the interest of not lecturing everyone on why Sansa deserves some respect the question is, what does Sansa have to do to earn that respect? Fans have been vilifying her from the beginning and they’ve only found more ammunition in her admiration for Cersei and things she learned while at court. They discredit her as a Stark when she is more like Ned than Arya or Jon both in naiveté, sense of honor and the more traditional expectations of the leaders of a House.

Sansa has been through a ton and fans still expect (or is it want?) to see the worst the worst in her? Why is Arya allowed to run around like a little psychopath with no consequences or remorse but Sansa has to be up to something nefarious because she smiles when Jon leaves the North in her hands?

Game of Thrones made a huge misstep in showing Sansa as a new legitimate player in season four only to rob her of all of it and so much more in the middle of season five. She is finding her voice again. She is taking everything she has learned from her parents and Cersei and life in general and she is putting it to the best use she can that is still not enough. What should she be doing? Don’t say smile more because I swear it by the old gods and the new I will reforge Ice myself and come after you!

Every happy ending she ever saw for herself ended in absolute disaster. Every value she held dear was torn from her. This is a child who believed in knights and love and instead found her pain was a commodity to be used against her. She has striped of every right, every privilege and even her identity.  Why does none of that count for something? Why does it make her inherently suspicious? Whose interests other than her own does she have to pursue at this point? And why are those interests considered to be far more dangerous than Cersei’s? Or less than noble than Dany’s?

It’s time Game of Thrones recognized that Sansa deserves better than to constantly find her power through men validating her. She is the true heir of House Stark and there is an incredibly likely chance she will find her rightful seat on the Iron Throne. Cersei paved the way for queens to rule but Sansa is a wolf, raised by lions. And let’s not forget there are two potential women who fit within Cersei’s prophecy.

In the meantime, for all intents and purposes she is The Queen of the North and it’s a title that’s long overdue. From what we’ve seen Sansa is actually incredibly capable. There’s this misconception that she’s weak and easily manipulated but she’s just been watching, learning, waiting for her turn. She’s our best hope of ridding us (and herself) of Littlefinger once and for all. And after everything we saw in “The Queen’s Justice” (S7E3) she it is definitely Sansa’s turn!

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