"Ah, the Starks, quick tempers, slow minds."
While Littlefinger's sentiment doesn't always ring true, there are, unfortunately, a few too many examples where it does. The Starks have borne some of the most honorable characters in Game of Thrones, characters that may have made noble decisions, but ones that ultimately led them to their demise.
However, Season 7 is looking brighter than ever for Westeros' most unlucky House. This could be the season where the Starks finally find justice, taking back what is theirs and rising to the top. They stand more powerful and united than they have been since the first season. That being said, they also have more to lose. The Starks are currently balanced on the edge of a knife, and it is up to each of them — Jon, Sansa, Arya and Bran — to bring glory or death to their noble house. Which will it be?
The King In The North Is Strong But Blinded By Honor
Jon Snow has always been a fan favorite and a vital character, so it was no surprise when he miraculously returned to us from the dead. Having reclaimed Winterfell and, with the help of Sansa, defeated the Boltons, Jon has been claimed the new King in the North. According to Kit Harington, he's stronger than he's ever been before.
"He’s more sure of himself. He doesn’t just know what he’s got to do but he’s more sure of what he’s saying — whereas before there was always some fear and doubt."
A strong, surefooted leader is exactly what the Starks need right now. Being the most experienced, he'll be leading the charge against the White Walkers. Not only that, but it looks like he will be negotiating with the Mother of Dragons herself. This alliance is a necessary one, and while some think Jon and Dany will become enemies, it's more likely they will become the greatest of allies. After all, they both seek justice and honor, but honor may be the thing that destroys Jon.
Jon takes after Ned in many ways, and perhaps those similarities are what draw us to him. Ned put honor and duty above all else, and it was one of the reasons we loved him, but his honor blinded him and ultimately led to his death. Jon followed in Ned's footsteps; he chose duty over love and honor in the face of betrayal. He has a habit, like Ned, of getting too invested in the honorable or right choice. In these times of war, this is a very dangerous way of thinking.
If Jon becomes too invested in the battle against the White Walkers, he may turn a blind eye to his other enemies. The Lannisters certainly still have debts to settle with the Starks. If Jon does not keep a weather eye, the Starks could find themselves trapped by the Lannisters or even the Targaryens. Luckily for him, he isn't on his own. If Jon is, as it seems, on the front lines and away from Winterfell for the majority of Season 7, who will rule in his stead?
Sansa Is The Heir To Winterfell, But Will She Stay In The North?
Oh, Sansa Stark. If you ever want a good example of character development, look no further. We met Sansa when she was young, naive and hopelessly in love with Joffrey. Since, we have watched her undergo unimaginable horrors and come out stronger each time. She has led her family to victory and reclaimed her home. Sansa is one of the strongest characters on the show, and as the eldest remaining Stark — Winterfell is her birthright.
Jon also trusts her, for now, at least. They are family after all. She is the clear choice to rule Winterfell while Jon is away at war. She is loyal, but does not let it blind her. After all that she has lived through, she knows politics and how their enemies in Westeros think smarter than Jon does. Not to mention that she has the Knights of the Vale at her disposal. Sansa is the perfect candidate for Lady of Winterfell with only one exception: Littlefinger.
Petyr Baelish is crafty, to say the least. He is, without a question, the most manipulative character in Westeros. He also happens to be Sansa's right hand. However, as we saw in the now infamous sixth season confrontation, she's no longer putting up with his games. That being said, she also knows his worth. Littlefinger may be a snake, but he's an incredibly powerful ally. After all, he helped her escape King's Landing as well as helped her secure the Knights of the Vale. He cares for her, that much is clear, but he cares for power more.
Season 6 ended with Sansa being underappreciated, and if this lack of credit continues, it's possible Littlefinger could sway Sansa away from Jon, breaking a bond that is necessary for the Starks to maintain. Sansa is smart, but Littlefinger is deadly. Moreover, he's been playing the game a lot longer than she has. Yet, Sophie Turner feels that though it may be difficult for Sansa, she'll never lose sight of who she truly is.
"She hasn’t been with her family and had those Stark morals reiterated to her on a daily basis. She’s had to do that herself and over this period of five years she’s been away from her family, she will have one way or another been swept up in this world of betrayal and revenge. I do wonder if she’ll falter a little. She’s spent so long trying to survive and see her family again — it’s the only thing that’s kept her going and motivated, when so many times, she could have given up. So I think she may change a little, but at the end of the day, I think her heart is still good."
Turner reiterates how much Sansa is underappreciated. She truly has been on her own for years, but with multiple reunions in the nearby future, this may be Sansa's year, especially if she can reunite with her sister.
As Long As Arya Remains Focused, She Will Strengthen The Bond Between Each Stark
After trying to get as far away from Westeros as possible, Arya Stark has finally realized that there is only one place she can find peace, and that's home. She is making the journey back to Winterfell, and wreaking havoc along the way. However, if she makes it there, as many are speculating, she will combat any evil that Littlefinger inflicts.
Arya and Sansa may never have been close growing up, but their time apart has taught them that family is more important than anything. This reunion is necessary for countless reasons. Not only will Arya see through any scheme of Littlefinger's, but she will also bring Jon and Sansa closer together, repairing any damage inflicted by Petyr. Don't forget that they have a common enemy: Cersei Lannister. However, this enemy may, in fact, be Arya's downfall.
If Arya makes it to Winterfell, there is no doubt in my mind that things will go smoothly. Well, as smoothly as anything in Westeros can go. However, Arya has a strong thirst for justice and revenge. She's proven time and time again that her emotions can get in the way of reason. This was why she could not become a Faceless man. Even when she was young, we all remember her hitting Joffrey. Granted, he deserved it, but not everyone has the guts to hit a Prince.
If Arya comes across anyone on her list, or sees an opportunity that could lead to this outcome, it is uncertain whether she'll take it. If she remains focused on the end goal — returning home and reuniting with her family — Arya will be fine. However, if she allows herself to get distracted, we may find her name among Season 7's victims.
What About Bran?
Though fans are torn on their opinions on this particular Stark (especially since #GameOfThrones Season 6), there's no denying that Bran's power is a force to be reckoned with. The second trailer basically confirmed that Bran will be returning to Winterfell this season. We know he and Meera reach the Wall, and later in the trailer we see a flash of Bran sitting in what looks to be the Godswood. But what will his role be?
Believe it or not, Bran has the potential to be the North's most strategic defense against the White Walkers. With his Sight, he could discover where they are, where they will be, and even their biggest weaknesses. Bran always wanted to be a great warrior, and now he may get the chance to be the most renowned battle commander in the history of the Seven Kingdoms. But first, he must learn to control his power.
We have seen just how much can go wrong with the Sight. Bran has altered time, controlling Hodor's future by meddling in his past. The truly frightening part is that he did this without realization. If Bran continues to allow the Sight to control him, the Walkers will win. If he is not careful, he could destroy House Stark in one swift move. Bran also has a difficult choice to make — how and if he should tell Jon about his true parentage. If he chooses the wrong moment, Jon's rationality and emotional state could be compromised. Bran has a lot of power in his hands. The slightest misstep will lead to catastrophe.
The Starks are currently stronger than ever. They have grown in more ways than one since the first season, and if there was ever a time for them to rise up, it's now. They each have a part to play, and they must allow themselves to rely on each other. Jon must put his faith in Sansa; she's earned it. In turn, Sansa must trust Jon, allowing Littlefinger's influence to lessen. Arya must not be blinded by revenge. The sisters can balance each other out. Arya will weaken Littlefinger, and Sansa shall help Arya to keep a more level head. Bran has perhaps the most powerful and dangerous position of all. It is up to all of them to work together and remain united. If they succeed, perhaps House Stark will finally reach their happy ending.
Season 7 of Game of Thrones airs on July 16th on HBO. Do you think the Starks will rise to the challenge?