* Here there lurks DRAGON-SIZED SPOILERS for the Game of Thrones Season 6 finale — you have been warned *
There has been a cry echoing across the Seven Kingdoms and the Seven Continents as of late, and its name as it's caught upon the wind was #SlaySansaSlay
When Sophie Turner first promised us that Season 6 of Game of Thrones was going to be the season of Sansa Stark we weren't quite sure how well we believed that statement. After all, the ginger-est of the Stark children hadn't exactly had the best run of it over the series at that point.
OK, we know, she was really irritating in Season 1, playing the starry-eyed princess in love with the dashing (read: dickhead) prince. But that irritating, innocent, spoiled and selfish girl was the perfect setup for the earth-shattering character development that lay ahead for Sansa Stark, and Season 6 was the time for her to come into her own — as a woman, as a ruler, and as a savage badass.
And now that the finale episode "The Winds of Winter" has come, gone, and ostensibly broken the internet, it's time to begin looking forward to the fabled Season 7 and try not to remember how close we are to the end of the series as a whole.
Let's Talk Sansa And Jon
One of the great moments of Season 6 was two of the little lost Stark children finally catching a break and finding each other again after their family was fractured by the death of Eddard "Ned" Stark (Sean Bean) way back in Season 1.
The final episode saw Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Sansa finally deciding to put aside the troubles of the past and work together towards the mutual goal of fucking shit up all over Westeros.
And we got this great moment where the eldest Stark daughter acknowledged Jon as a true member of her House for the first time, putting aside the prejudices of her mother, which Turner says Sansa still carries within herself.
It was a huge episode for Jon Snow — the little bastard boy of Winterfell — as not only was R+L = J finally confirmed to a fandom-breaking response, but he was crowned King in the North in the footsteps of his brother Robb Stark (Richard Madden) and "father" Ned, with the acknowledgement of his sister at his side.
It was an incredible moment, especially given the long struggle that has been Jon's entire life searching for acceptance and a measure of familial respect. But some fans were a little surprised to see Sansa taking this sitting down (literally).
The telling moment was the glance that passed between Littlefinger/Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen), who is now moving his own plans into place as he revealed his true intentions to Sansa — to sit upon the Iron Throne with her at his side as Queen.
Sansa Stark: Queen Of The Seven Kingdoms?
As much as we've wanted to see Sansa taking the throne for a good few seasons now, it doesn't seem all that likely — although we would be absolutely on board to see a throwdown between Sansa and Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), who just stepped up as the first female leader of Westeros.
There's been a lot of speculation that Sansa's glance at Littlefinger means that she's considering his power-hungry offer to join him as his Queen in King's Landing, and perhaps in a different context this would be a reasonable assumption.
But consider Sansa's character arc thus far.
From Princess To Ruler
Beginning as the archetypal princess, Sansa's fall from grace and innocence was sharp and shocking as she witnessed the man she idolized and believed to love order her father beheaded.
From there she became a bird in a cage, and pretty much every character she's come into contact with since has only been interested in using her a symbol of her House. She's been used, beaten, psychologically tortured, married off more than once, sexually abused and broken down — and this season has been concerned with Sansa seizing a control she never had.
As Sophie Turner herself said: "You can only suffer so much before [Sansa] finally gets the respect that she deserves."
King's Landing shattered her naïvety and made her wise, and from Littlefinger she learned cunning — though it's true to say that she's now in debt to Petyr Baelish after "Battle of the Bastards." While the cryptic look exchanged between the two when Jon is crowned King in the North doesn't necessarily mean she's going to go along with his plans, her reaction to his earlier claim that she deserves to be the one to rule Winterfell suggested that there's still some doubt and unrest there.
After everything she's been through — her whole adult life used as a tool for the political whims of others — you have to wonder if Season 7 may be when Sansa reaches the breaking point.
If not the Seven Kingdoms, then perhaps we could see a Queen in the North?
R+L = J Could Cause Problems
Of course this would mean that Sansa would likely have to betray Jon Snow to usurp his position, something which would be surprising — though not impossible — after this week's episode.
How the relationship between Sansa and Jon will play out in Game of Thrones Season 7 is likely largely dependent upon how the R+L = J reveal is handled. Depending on the how and why of Sansa's discovery of this fact, the reveal could tear apart the bond that is slowly growing between the two.
After a life of manipulation and betrayal by men to further their own political gain this could become a point of contention for Sansa, even if Jon himself professes his own lack of awareness regarding his true parentage.
Because — as we saw in "The Winds of Winter" — it is now trust which connects the two, and if Sansa feels like Jon has betrayed her and tricked her into believing that he is a son of Ned Stark in order to rule Winterfell, the consequences could be disastrous for both of them.
It's also worth noting that, in the above scene when Jon waxes lyrical about trust and kisses Sansa's forehead, she doesn't seem all that receptive or reactive to what he's saying. And after Sansa has been used and betrayed by so many men, a seeming betrayal by her own brother could be the spark that ignites her vengeance once again.
What Do The Cast Think?
And this isn't just our own rampant speculation at play here, the Game of Thrones cast members themselves have spoken out about the rocky road which lies ahead for both Jon and Sansa in the next season, and it's already sounding a little like there's going to be trouble in paradise.
Harington: "[Jon] hasn’t actually learned his lesson…He’s asking [Sansa] to trust him, but he’s not listening and watching and observing her. I think that could be a real problem for him."
So, Jon is trying but he's still not quite able to understand what it is that Sansa is thinking and feeling. Typical bloke eh, amiright?
Turner: "[Jon is] named King in the North and [Sansa] kind of gets no credit for it. ...it’s not that she’s looking for praise or anything. She did it because she wants revenge and also because she wants her home back. Jon is so naïve. So Sansa is just a little bit agitated is all."
Naïvety is a dangerous thing in the world of Game of Thrones, and it sounds like there are dangerous roads ahead for the infamous "know nothing" Jon Snow in Season 7, especially if he still fails to understand his sister.
Because, as Littlefinger tells Sansa, "You, my love, are the future of House Stark."
And Winter has finally arrived, which means the time of House Stark has come.