For seven seasons now, we've watched the Stark children grow and change as they have progressed through their individual trials and tribulations. But in the past few seasons, while we've focused mostly on Jon Snow, Arya, Sansa, and Bran, there is one Stark that we should not forget: Theon Greyjoy.
Yes, he may be the son of Balon Greyjoy, but he was raised in the Stark household as if he were the Ned and Catelyn Stark's own son. While the other Starks may get all the glory through their bravado and revenge stories, Theon is out there trying to find his place in the Seven Kingdoms. In a world full of magic, bloody battles, and flying dragons, Theon's arc represents the last of the Starks finding themselves. He may not have a special sword or magic powers, but his road to redemption is important for the entire story of #GameofThrones. He is proof that even the most messed up and beaten down person on the show can change for the better.
Theon Grejoy Has Yet To Find Himself
Up until Season 7, each of the Stark children have gone their separate ways, each enduring through their own form of suffering that has helped them hone their skills and temper their personalities. Bran was carried by Hodor beyond the Wall and learned of his destiny to become the Three-Eyed Raven. Jon Snow was shuttled off to defend the Wall as part of the Night's Watch and from there, turned into a true leader as the King in the North. Arya was left to fend for herself and sailed across the sea to become an assassin by training with the Faceless Men. Then there was Sansa, who went through the most nightmarish treatment at the hands of Joffrey Lannister and Ramsay Bolton. Through enduring the pain and manipulation of snakes like Littlefinger and Cersei, she learned how to take their lessons and apply them to being the new, politically savvy Lady of Winterfell.
Yet #TheonGreyjoy has suffered his fair share of hardships, gruesome physical and mental torture that has left him forever changed and broken. Theon doesn't exactly have a past to be proud of. He took over Winterfell, turned on his best friend Robb Stark and murdered two helpless farm boys to fool everyone into thinking he killed Bran and Rickon, all in the misguided attempt to win the affection of his real father. We hated him almost as much as we hated Joffrey then. As our collective loathing for Theon boiled, it eventually simmered down when he fell into the clutches of Ramsay Bolton. Sure, we wanted justice for Theon's crimes. But did the bodily mutilation and the brainwashing that turned him into the slave renamed Reek fit his crime? Watching him turn into Reek, that shell of his former self, caused a great deal of empathy for his character. Just as we were ready to bring out the pitchforks, we suddenly wanted to reach out and help Theon.
The Importance Of Theon's Road To Redemption
We could always see in his face just how much guilt he carried for betraying his adopted family, the Starks. And he didn't get a chance to exact revenge on Ramsay Bolton. Sansa took care of that, and rightfully so. But she wouldn't have been able to had it not been for Theon's help. Before Theon Greyjoy was freed from Ramsay Bolton's control, we saw a glimmer of the hope for redemption when he helped Sansa escape from Ramsay.
From there, his Reek persona started to give way to his former self as he finally started to shed everything that had happened to him. He joined his birth family, admitted his sister Yara was a better fit to rule and said he would do everything he could to protect Ellaria Sand. However, because of his previous ordeals (and what we can only imagine is the Game of Thrones version of PTSD), Theon momentarily reverted back to his Reek identity when confronted with saving Yara when Euron held a blade to her throat. Euron's cruelty reminded him of his time with Ramsay as Theon watched the ambushed soldiers get their tongues cut out in the episode "Stormborn", and he quickly jumped off the ship in an act of cowardice. Once again, we started to dislike him.
However, his emotional roller coaster came to a halt when he watched #JonSnow stand by his word and pledge allegiance to Daenerys and defy Cersei's orders, knowing that refusing to swear fealty to Cersei could ruin their plans to fight the White Walkers. Jon's speech and commitment inspired Theon to confront his own crimes and apologize to Jon about everything he'd done wrong. Jon, who has changed in his own way after everything that's happened to him, forgave Theon. Jon even absolved Theon of some of his guilt by saying Theon was both a Stark and a Greyjoy, and he should never have to pick a side. In that moment, Theon makes the decision — perhaps the decision that will save his soul — to go and save Yara. After waiting so long for Theon to grow a pair, he finally grows a spine in one of the most defining fights of the season and convinces his people to follow him and go after Yara.
It's at this moment, after years of torment and anguish, that Theon has hopefully begun his full redemption. Some speculate that he will sacrifice himself for Yara. Others believe that he will somehow aid Jon Snow. No matter what Theon does, he will be the last Stark to discover his true purpose.
In a way, Theon Greyjoy's dismemberment and stripping of his identity represents how we as viewers have been trained to clap and applaud during those fantastic, otherworldly moments: Jon coming back to life, Dany attacking with her dragons, Arya disguising herself to murder an entire room full of enemies. But Theon's arc brings us back to the inherent humanity that is at the bedrock of the show. While Jon and Dany are out saving the world, Theon is just trying to save his humanity. Without Theon, then all we have left are flying dragons, frozen zombies and incest jokes.
Who is ready to root for Theon Greyjoy's redemption? Leave your comments below!