It's been observed once or twice that the Game of Thrones character George R. R. Martin has most in common with is Samwell Tarly — a roundness of shape, a love of historical books, and an enviable goodness of heart. But what if the author actually has more in common with one of his more despicable creations, Lord Petyr Baelish?
Think about it: Littlefinger is always several steps ahead. He has a plan, a strategy, and nobody in the Seven Kingdoms will understand the nature of that plan until he decides it's time. Martin has proven time and again that he is a far more intelligent man than you or I, every obscure detail of the Song of Ice and Fire saga planted many moons ago, probably before any of us were born, even if we're only just getting to it now. Both men also have grey hair, which is obviously conclusive.
A new theory posted on Reddit this week uncovers a few of those obscure little details which make sense of Littlefinger and his role within the great game, and then connects them to reveal how Game of Thrones has been foreshadowing the twisted dynamic between Lord Baelish and his protege Sansa Stark for a lot longer than you probably imagined.
Cast your mind way back to Season 2, Episode 1, when Cersei coolly rebukes Littlefinger's veiled threat that "knowledge is power" by demonstrating what real power is (see the clip above). During that scene, Cersei puts a finger to the mockingbird pin worn on Littlefinger's robe.
"The mockingbird. You created your own sigil, didn't you? Appropriate, for a self-made man with so many songs to sing..."
The House Baelish had little land and no influence, and it was only when fostered by Catelyn Stark's father Lord Hoster Tully and raised at Riverrun that Petyr was afforded the chance to make something of himself.
Although nicknamed Littlefinger in a mocking fashion by Edmure Tully, he embraced the name as a reminder to those around him, as he began to seize some degree of power in King's Landing, that the nobody from the "little finger" of land at the edge of the Vale of Arryn had muscled his way into their world. In nature the mockingbird has the ability to mimic the cry of other birds, exactly as Littlefinger mimicked the lives of men from much greater nobility than himself. So, that's the symbolism covered.
But the theory gets really interesting when Sansa Stark enters the equation. On countless occasions during her courtship of King Joffrey, Sansa is referred to by Cersei as "little bird" or "little dove".
"Battle of the Bastards" was a major milestone in the development of Sansa as a character, her decision to call on the Knights of the Vale to save the day at the Battle of Winterfell an undeniable symbol of how Littlefinger has molded her into a cynical political player, unblinded by family loyalty and gifted with the ability to put emotion aside. I like to think of her as Mistress War, just because that sounds badass.
The fallout from that secret alliance with Lord Baelish was touched on only lightly in the Season 6 finale 'The Winds of Winter', but looks set to became a major story thread in Season 7, Sansa now faced with a dilemma which plunges her into grey moral territory — either stand by Littlefinger's side as he aims to make a reality of that "pretty picture" of himself on the Iron Throne with Catelyn's daughter at his side, or betray her mentor and stick by Jon Snow's side as the White Walkers descend on Westeros.
Other visual clues were planted which served to align student with mentor: During her time in King's Landing and Riverrun, Sansa is often seen wearing a dragonfly pin, the suggestion being that she is gaining flight and embracing the potential hidden within to achieve something great.
Could Cersei's mock-affectionate nickname for Sansa have been mere coincidence? Personally, I don't believe in coincidence within the realm of the spider's web that is George R. R. Martin's brain. The parallel between Lord Baelish and the Stark girl is several seasons (and books) in the making, and that might be the clearest indicator that, ultimately, Sansa will go to the dark side, abandon the values of the House Stark and use her intellect to ascend to power at Littlefinger's side.
On the other hand, it would be a deliciously cruel twist if Sansa were to take all of the skills given to her by Littlefinger and use them to orchestrate his downfall, the teacher destroyed by his own student — and that, I believe, is the journey Season 7 will take us on.
You can read the full thread over on Reddit. Full credit to the Redditors who noticed tiny details such as the dragonfly pin. You're doing the Lord's work, guys.