Wars are hard. Recruiting allies to fight your wars is harder. And as Jon Snow and Sansa find out in "The Broken Man," recruiting allies to fight in your wars when your army consists of a couple thousand wildlings, one giant, and a former smuggler possessing only six fingertips and a cool last name is the hardest.
The Snow-Stark campaign took us all around the North. First, we hit the wildling camp, to pitch them on the idea that, although they'd only previously agreed to help Jon Snow fight the dead, they should join this other fight, too, because otherwise they won't be alive for that other fight. And then it was on to Bear Island (former home of noted greyscale-sufferer Jorah Mormont), run by 10-year-old Lyanna Mormont, who abides by absolutely no bullshit, has a very soft-spoken maester, and is repped by a banner that looks like it was stolen from a badass summer camp in Alaska.
Though Lyanna basically tells Jon and Sansa to STFU, Davos manages to help secure her formidable army of 62 men, and then it's on to House Glover. Seems Lord Glover just got his residence back from the Ironborn, and it was the Boltons who helped him do that, so he doesn't seem eager to switch sides, especially when he finds out that said army is made up of wildlings. Sansa attempts to get high and mighty with some talk of Glover's pledge to House Stark, and Glover gets PISSED.
"And where was King Robb when the Ironborn attacked this castle? … Taking up with a foreign whore. Getting himself and those who followed him killed. I served House Stark once." He looks over at Jon Snow. "But House Stark is dead." And then he drops his old-timey mic. So, yeah, that didn't go well.
After their canvassing of the lesser houses of the North, this is what the Stark/Snow army consisted of:
- 2,000 Wildlings
- 200 Hornwoods
- 143 Mazins
- 62 Mormonts
- 1 giant
Faced with this distressing scenario, Sansa decides to pen a letter and use the raven postal system. But whom is this letter for, you ask?! Well, you can see the words "fulfill your" and "Winterfell," and that she signed it "Sansa Stark," and someone on Reddit managed to decipher "knights of the Vale are under your command" and "your aid and I shall see to it that you," but that still leaves open a bunch of possibilities. So let's break down the potential recipients.
1. Petyr Baelish
This seems the most obvious, right? He's already told her that the knights of the Vale are under his command, and already pledged that they'd fight for Sansa. But that leaves some questions. Namely, why the hell would she need to promise him anything? She doesn't trust him anymore, he's proven to be a conniving dick, and he already said he'd do it without needing something promised in return. This scenario looks like the most blatant pump-fake by the GOT writers, like it was created simply as a meaty diversion to throw us off the scent. (In this scenario, we are actual bloodhounds.)
2. Robin Arryn
Another potential scenario: Sansa actually writes the Lord of the Vale Robin Arryn, her 14-year-old cousin who breast-fed until, like, last year, when his mother took a flight through the Moon Door, since the Knights of the Vale technically are his. But he's a little shit and she once slapped him in the face, so this seems less likely unless the end of that sentence is "and I shall see to it that you get unlimited Boltons to throw through your Moon Door. And maybe some breast milk or whatever."
3. Yohn Royce
The Lord of Runestone and a powerful bannerman in House Arryn, Royce used to hunt with Sansa's father as a boy, and he's the one training Robin to not be such a little pathetic whiner. Plus, back in Season 4, Royce told Sansa that he would protect her and Baelish suggested he'd be a great commander of the Knights of the Vale, so maybe she's finally taking him up on his promise. He was also named leader of the armies of the Vale and told by Baelish to round up soldiers to march north for Sansa. But again, how would Sansa know that? And where would the raven find him?
4. House Cerwyn
As many people driving down the information superhighway have noted, Sansa mentions talking to House Cerwyn before Jon rudely cuts her off to remind her that he once died by getting stabbed in the gut a bunch. If she did indeed get her letter off to Cerwyn, there's a pretty good chance that they'd end up backing the Starks, based on the fact that the current lord watched Ramsay Bolton flay his father, mother, and brother alive for not paying taxes. Ramsay has obviously never heard the saying "you can catch more flies with honey than by skinning their parents alive."
5. Brynden Tully, aka "Blackfish"
Sansa's great uncle is all over this episode, dominating Jaime Lannister in a parley that he admitted he'd only agreed to because "sieges are dull," and he wanted to get the measure of him. It would make some semblance of sense for her to reach out to him and his powerful house, and there have been theories that she'd even arrange for the knights of the Vale and Royce's troops to coalesce under him, but he's got his own problems right now.
6. Howland Reed
Though we've only seen him in Bran's flashback, saving Ned Stark's life by killing Ser Arthur Dayne just as he was about to strike down Ned, he is father to Meera and Jojen, and Lord of Greywater Watch, head of House Reed. He rules over the bogs of the Neck, essentially the Westeros version of Cajun country where people are called "frog eaters." He was one of Stark’s best friends and would obviously come to help out the Stark cause, but he might be kind of an obscure call.
I'M JUST NOT READY TO RULE ANYONE OUT, OK?
Check out all the latest Game of Thrones Season 6 photos that tease the next episode.
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