This is the second post in what I am considering my “GOT Withdrawal Medication” series. With both the next HBO series season and the next book light years away, I am feeding my addiction by rambling about the differences between the show and Martin’s books.
I began with my favorite ugly duckings, Brienne and The Hound. I’ll devote this one to a character HBO has turned into a beautiful swan – Sansa Stark.
In the books, Sansa Stark is little more than a pawn. The various players of the game tuck her in their pockets and make plans to marry her off for their own gain. Unless Westeros had a lemon-cake eating contest, she’d have only one claim to fame: Girl With the Most Repulsive Potential Husbands. First Joffrey. Enough said. Then Robert Arryn, AKA Moon Door Boy. The only exception to the ick-factor is Tyrion. If it wasn’t for that whole his-family-murdered-my-family thing, even Sansa might have eventually been able to see the dwarf as an ally.
In the books, Sansa is the oddball Stark. The other children are brave and adventurous, even when they are getting an ass-whooping. Robb tries to avenge his father. Arya makes her list and checks it way more than twice. Brann rides off on a trusty Hodor to find the three-eyed crow. Jon Snow survives the Wildlings and holds the Wall. When shit happens, these Stark kids at least try to control their fates and create their own destinies.
Sansa, meanwhile, cowers and lets everyone else define her future. Initially, she’s the most gullible in the Stark bunch. Her starstruck admiration of Cersei ultimately costs her father his head when she blabs to the Queen about Ned’s plan to drag her away from King’s Landing . Once she survives that horror, she sees cruelty at every turn. Sansa trusts no one, especially if their name is Lannister. Can’t blame her for that.
But in the books, you still want to grab her by the shoulders and shake her, because she never learns to trust herself either. The Hound nails it when he calls her a little bird that sings whatever song it is taught.
Until the 4th season, HBO built their Sansa Stark in the same mold. Then they decided to take her for a joy ride. In the books, Sansa recreates herself as “Alayne Stone” because that’s what Petyr Baelish tells her to do. She wears what his bastard daughter would wear and fades into the background like a sweet little bastard girl would do. She remains mouse-like while her fake daddy lures the Knights and Ladies of the Vale into his schemes. She is afraid of pissing off Petyr, but I think she’s also afraid of being Sansa Stark again. After all, being Sansa Stark kind of sucked.
Instead of lying low, HBO’s Sansa said “Screw this Alayne shit” and fessed up to her true identity when confronted by the nobles of the Vale. Then she sauntered down those stairs making Creepy Dead Lysa’s dress look downright hot.
Sansa didn’t whip out a sword or a Braavosi coin, but her subtle changes were still one of the power plays of the season. By telling her potential allies in the Vale the truth, she also grabbed Lord Baelish by the balls and gave them a little twist. As long as she was just Alayne, she was powerless. When she reclaims her Starkness, she becomes someone the Vale folk may want to help, use or both. Either way, they’ll care about her way more than swarmy Petyr.
Her change of outfit and those knowing looks she shoots him afterwards? If that isn’t a “how do you like me now?” I don’t know what is.
As I watched HBO’s reformed Sansa, I saw all that “use your womanly wiles” advice Cersei and Margaery gave her put to use, and I was glad. Quite frankly, I’m getting a wee bit tired of feeling so sorry for Book Sansa. I’m glad HBO Sansa appears to be growing some girl-balls and shaking things up a bit.
What about you? How do you think HBO’s stronger version of Sansa will change things to come?