Even with Jon Snow's much-anticipated revival, Season 6 could better be described as the emergence of powerful women. Arya escaping the grips of becoming No One and hell-bent on scratching off names on her hit list, Daenerys and her fleet on the way to King's Landing, and Cersei taking control of the Iron Throne.
Let us not forget Olenna Tyrell, Brienne, Yara Greyjoy, and new fan favorite, Lyanna Mormont. The most impressive character, male or female, of this season however, goes to Sansa Stark.
Early Dreams Of Leaving Winterfell
Back in Season 1 when we last saw the entire Stark family together in Winterfell, it was clear Sansa did not fit in with the rest of her family. Besides her parents, she was surrounded by all brothers while her only sister, Arya, was a bit of a tomboy. Presented as a petulant teenager, Sansa dreamed of leaving Winterfell and becoming the Queen alongside the next in line to the Iron Throne, Joffrey Baratheon.
Her wild aspirations and nothing-is-good-enough attitude made her become weak-willed and small-minded. Sansa never fully appreciated her family, which she would soon learn to regret.
The Stark Collapse And Ensuing Struggle
Sansa believed she was in a good position with her family relationship with the Baratheons and Lannisters. It was not until King Robert Baratheon's death that everything went awry for the Starks. This resulted in Joffrey's order for Ned Stark's beheading due to the charge of treason. Witnessing her father's death and being held hostage by the Lannisters was just the beginning of Sansa's sad struggle. It did not take long to learn how awful Joffrey was, but at that point there was no escape. Sansa's weakness was prevalent in her conversations with Cersei and her constant teary-eyed scenes.
Viewers like myself cast her off as someone who would not survive, considering how we saw her sister stand up for herself and use people to her advantage. Sansa was the complete opposite of Arya, constantly being used like a pawn for other people's games. Thanks to the Tyrells, she was off the hook with Joffrey but then was immediately handed off to Tyrion. Even though Tyrion has the biggest heart within his family, it was not an ideal situation for a young girl. She then gets used by Littlefinger and taken to her Aunt's for protection. Ultimately, it leads to her being sold off to the Boltons to marry Lord Ramsay Bolton who happens to be the most sadistic of them all. At this point she is rudderless with no hope.
The Tides Start To Turn
After seasons of enduring Sansa's depressing storyline, you can't help but root for her. "How can this get worse?" we asked ourselves. Then, with one of Game of Thrones' most disturbing scenes, we learn of Sansa's abuse at the hands of Ramsay, which seems like the tipping point.
There is no way someone like Sansa could overcome this abuse, but it actually gave her the strength to take back control over her own life. With Theon's presence at Bolton-controlled Winterfell, she puts trust in him and makes her move of escape — something I would not have predicted she was capable of. Finally using people to her advantage gave her the edge and a reason to keep moving forward.
Going Full Circle
Encountering and finally taking the help from Brienne and Podrick led to one of the most satisfying scenes in Game of Thrones history. The reunion of Sansa and her brother Jon was the first time we saw two Starks together in a very long time.
Sansa immediately apologized to Jon for how she treated him when she was younger, which shows how much she has grown up due to the events in her life. The terrible things that she went through made her mature fast and she now can realize how much her family meant to her. Their mission then turns into taking back Winterfell and getting revenge on the Boltons — not just from Sansa's treatment but because they have captured their brother, Rickon. Putting an army together was a great task and even though Jon was optimistic, Sansa understood that they probably will not have a chance at winning if they do not get enough help. Jon's impatience probably helped lead to Rickon's death during the fight, but it was Sansa's strategy of getting help from Littlefinger and the Knights of Vale that helped win the Battle of the Bastards and regain control over Winterfell. Sansa finally gets her revenge in the dungeon as she told Ramsay:
"Your words will disappear. Your house will disappear. Your name will disappear. All memory of you will disappear."
She then descends into darkness with a smirk on her face just after feeding him to the dogs.
The scene was powerful, but it also revealed that she will now be taking the reigns of her own future and she learned that she doesn't need to be a Queen or at the side of a powerful man. She was broken both of the previous times she lived in Winterfell, but now she is back, stronger and smarter.
What's Next For Winterfell?
Towards the end of the finale we saw Littlefinger reveal his plan of ruling the Iron Throne with the intention of having Sansa by his side. Dodging his request and another awkward kiss clearly shows that Sansa is done playing games. Jon is announced as the new King of the North by the room full of supporters, which is where we see an interesting facial expression coming from Sansa as she looks across the room at Littlefinger. Is she unhappy that Jon will now be the leader and not herself or is she worried Littlefinger has something up his sleeve? Or maybe she now wants to make her move and take revenge on Littlefinger for how he handed her off to the Boltons? Watch the scene below and decide for yourself:
One thing is for sure, Jon is the muscle and Sansa is the brains; the two working together can get things back on track. All we need now is Arya and Bran to come knocking on the gates and we will have the best family reunion in TV history!
Much credit is owed to actress Sophie Turner and her depiction of Sansa Stark's long and on-going journey. She, along with her character, has grown on screen and she truly has come into her own. Along with her new fierce look and the best braids in the seven kingdoms, I look forward to see her character evolve.
What do you think Sansa has planned for Season 7?
Sources: HBO, IMDb