Season 6, Episode 9 was probably one of, if not THE best episode of the series- and this wasn’t simply because of Ramsay’s death, or Rickon getting avenged, or the Khaleesi and Yara’s flirting, or a much-desired battle or even DRAGONS.
The episode was one of the best because we finally saw the Sansa we’ve been waiting for. All through the six GOT seasons, Sansa evolved from being the spoilt, bratty Stark we disliked to becoming, well, Queen in the North.
Here’s a quick recap of Sansa through six (almost complete) GOT seasons:
Much like her dog, Sansa in Season 1 was quite the lady. Of course, this is what annoyed us the most- she only fixated around marriage, knitting and having Joffrey (of all people) like her. We all hated her for lying by saying she didn’t know what happened when Joffrey attacked Arya and the butcher boy. As Ned Stark later told Arya, she had to do it out of duty, and this should have hinted at where her story arc would lead her for nearly four seasons- wielded like a puppet by royalty. Nevertheless, we couldn’t help but feel admiration for her, as she stares at her father’s head, saying, ‘How long do I have to watch?’ after realizing her fiancé is a grade-A you-know-what.
We felt nothing but pity for her in this season, as she was held captive in King’s Landing. Through all the beating, brutality, getting nearly raped and getting stripped and beaten before the court (and that little part where she would have to marry he who ordered her father’s murder), Sansa evoked our sympathy and made us hate the Lannisters (except Tyrion, of course) a little more.
Sansa’s character followed a set trajectory even in Season 3- where any glimmer of hope would turn out to be a mirage. Just when she thought that she could escape the Lannister clutches, Sansa was married off to Tyrion- and like Margaery said, there could be ‘worse Lannisters’ she could be married to, being made to marry a man in love with her handmaid (remember Shae?), even if he didn’t know it, was bad enough. Of course, the end of Season 3 also meant that two more of her family were dead, not counting her sister-in-law and her unborn child.
Season 4 was an uneventful season in the Sansa trajectory until Season 4- which is to say, in the regard of Sansa being physically or mentally abused. Sansa escapes with her life intact following the Purple Wedding, in which she had become an unknowing pawn thanks to Petyr Baelish and Olenna Tyrell. In the Vale, however, there is little respite when she recognizes that Littlefinger sees her mother in her, just like Lysa Arryn- one is attracted to her, and the other is jealous of this attraction. We start seeing the faint shade of the Sansa who says, ‘No one can protect anyone’ in this season when she helps Baelish escape by testifying that he didn’t kill Lysa Arryn. Just as the now dark-haired Sansa begins playing the game of thrones, Ramsay happens.
What we felt for Sansa went beyond words in this season. Not only has she married to the bastard of bastards himself, Ramsay Bolton (whose father killed Robb, who had taken hold of the North and let’s not even get started on Theon), he brutally raped her, with Theon watching. What seemed like the absolute breaking point of Sansa Stark, after all, this torture and brutality, left fans bewildered and angry. Fortunately, GOT believed in a degree of karmic retribution, because Sansa managed to escape, despite all odds, and Season 6 happened.
Remember how we all wanted a return of Lady Stoneheart? Lady Stoneheart came all right, but not by re-animation, but metaphorically, within Sansa. This season, not only did Sansa escape, she reunited with Jon and made for a brilliant strategist. The show was building her character, which had seen and survived so much, to that pivotal moment when she looked at Ramsay before the battle and said, ‘You’re going to die tomorrow, Lord Bolton.’ Sansa hardened enough to allow her youngest brother to not be used, to call on Baelish and call forth the army from the Vale. Of course, Littlefinger has his finger in the pie but one thing’s for sure. The real Lady Stoneheart is Sansa, and she’s here to stay.