Beyond The Wall

Why Littlefinger Should Be Worried About Arya and Sansa's 'Thrones' Reunion

sansa and arya game of thrones season 7
HBO

The long-awaited Game of Thrones reunion of Sansa and Arya Stark had a bittersweet tinge. In Season 7's fourth episode, "The Spoils of War," the sisters finally meet again in the candlelit crypts of Winterfell, before the grave of their father. The last time they shared a scene was at his beheading back in Season 1, lending their reunion a melancholy gravitas.

Adding tension is Arya's violent shift from a tomboyish sword-swatter to a vengeance-driven assassin. When the young Stark reveals her kill list – which she created after Ned's death, and filled with the names of her enemies – Sansa has a laugh. But later, when Sansa takes Arya to Bran in the godswood, their all-seeing brother confirms the list is real, much to Sansa's dismay. What has become of her sister, and what does it mean now that she's home?

The godswood meeting has more significance beyond cementing Arya's violent streak. Bran hands Arya the dagger Littlefinger gave him in the episode's opening. "It's wasted on a cripple," he tells her, with a knowingness that seems to imply the new Three-Eyed Raven has foreseen the usefulness of that particular weapon in Arya's hands.

Could this be setting up a fateful encounter with Littlefinger? As Sansa reminds us, "He's not a generous man. He wouldn't give you anything unless he thought he was getting something back." Was the importance of the dagger, and how might it finally help Arya and Sansa see eye-to-eye? Let's put on our theorizing caps and dig in.

arya and sansa bran scene game of thrones season 7
HBO

The dagger Bran gives Arya was originally meant to kill him

Way back in Season 1, Bran spotted Cersei and Jaime engaging in incest, and Jaime pushed him from the Winterfell tower, paralyzing him in the process. While Bran lay comatose in his bedroom, guarded by his mother Catelyn, an assassin entered the room and tried to kill them both with a catspaw dagger, made of Valyrian steel. Catelyn fought the assassin, who was eventually killed by Bran's direwolf, Summer. A string of events eventually led to the arrest and trial of Tyrion, who was the owner of the dagger, though he was eventually freed in a trial by combat.

Littlefinger played a key part in convincing Catelyn that Tyrion was guilty, seemingly thriving off the chaos the moment ensued. (Though it's never been confirmed, it's largely hinted that Joffrey hired the assassin to prove himself to King Robert.) This was, in part, what began the War of the Five Kings, which threw the realm into its current state of distress. That, coupled with Littlefinger's betrayal of Ned in King's Landing, makes him partially responsible for the horrors that befell the Stark children.

So, why did he give Bran the dagger? It was possibly a power play meant to distract from his own role in Ned's death. Unluckily for him, Bran can now see all of history, and is most definitely aware of Littlefinger's treachery. He says as much when he recites Littlefinger's famous line, "chaos is a ladder" – something he said in the company of Varys and no one else – back to him. Littlefinger flinches at the remark, obviously spooked. He seems to finally realize he's in over his head.

arya brienne fight scene game of thrones season 7
HBO

Will Arya use the dagger to kill Littlefinger?

It certainly seems that way. Bran's comment -- "it doesn't matter now" -- before giving the weapon to Arya indicates that she's meant to have it, but might also hint that there's no need to worry about Littlefinger, as he'll soon be gone. As the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran isn't meant to meddle, a consequence he learned after the death of Hodor. But the resigned way he gives up the dagger implies that this will all happen anyway, and he's merely nudging along the process.

Arya has plenty of reason to kill Littlefinger. He betrayed her father, he sold Sansa to Ramsay. He's indirectly responsible for the fall of House Stark. Once Bran -- or one of Maester Luwin's documents-- reveals Littlefinger's role in the War of the Five Kings, Sansa will certainly order his death. Arya, with her thirst for vengeance, would be the perfect person to carry it out. And it would, in a way, absolve her of her kill list. By taking down Littlefinger, who in a sense is the reason she ever created it, our heroine will have avenged her father's death in one mighty swoop.

Even if she doesn't use it on Littlefinger, the catspaw dagger certainly has a major role to play. Valyrian steel has always been of value in Westeros, but its also one of the few things that will kill a White Walker. Now that winter is here, it's a pretty safe bet that we'll see some Arya-on-Walker action in the season to come.

sansa game of thrones season 7 episode 4
HBO

If Arya does kill Littlefinger, it may bring her closer to Sansa

Sansa appeared to regard her sister’s sword skills and kill list with trepidation, perhaps afraid for Arya’s soul, perhaps afraid for the trouble it might cause in the Winterfell she now safeguards.

But if Arya carries out the final blow to Littlefinger, Sansa is also absolved of something: his presence, which she resents but tolerates to keep good faith with the Vale. Once all is revealed, and a call for his execution is finally justified, Sansa can wash her hands of the man who ruined her life. This would almost certainly bond the sisters, who have always had a challenging relationship. Sansa, the prim and proper, and Arya, the tough and fierce, deserve to set aside what makes them different and bask in reunion of their family, and the revival of House Stark.

A tightened bond also feels the logical conclusion of their individual narratives. Sansa has grown into a strategist capable of governing her land and people; her role as Lady of Winterfell is starting to feel permanent, now that Jon is off with Daenerys. Likewise, Arya’s humanity is slowly coming back to her. Her time with the friendly Lannister boys, her encounter with Nymeria, and her return to Winterfell haven’t yet set her right, but she already seems softer, less burdened. Their coming together would be the convergence of opposing attitudes, a theme of the season, and the series as a whole. As Jon tells Dany in the caves, about the Children of the Forest and the First Men, “They fought together … We need to do the same if we’re going to survive.” As the White Walkers approach, a unified Sansa and Arya would be a hell of a team, with Arya’s combat skills put to good use, serving a greater purpose.

In the Season 7 trailer, Sansa quotes her father in a voiceover that hasn’t yet happened but seems a distillation of these many points: “When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives.” With Littlefinger out of their hair, and House Stark in full command of their ancestral home, Sansa and Arya won’t merely survive – they’ll thrive.

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Lindsey Romain is a writer and editor living in Chicago. She covers politics for Teen Vogue and has also appeared in Vulture, Birth.Movies.Death, and more. Follow her on Twitter @lindseyromain.