Sansa meets with Littlefinger. Lord Baelish claims he doesn’t know where Arya found the letter — a surprisingly bold lie, as Sansa could debunk it from a couple different sources. The man’s barely resisting twirling his mustache.
Sansa frets about the reaction of the Stark bannermen, noting they change their allegiance annoyingly quickly (it’s season 7, Sansa, everything in GoT happens fast!). Littlefinger notes Lady Brienne would be honor-bound to intercede if one of the sisters were “planning to harm the other in any way,” planting the toxic seed in Sansa’s mind that Arya might hurt her (and Arya helps this even more later on).
One might wonder: If Littlefinger is on Team Sansa, why leak a letter that makes her look terrible? If we could ask Lord Baelish, one can imagine him gloating, “Why, that’s the brilliance of my plan!” He’s so clearly on Sansa’s side, and she’s his only ally at Winterfell, that nobody would suspect him of doing something to weaken her position.
You see, Littlefinger is all about fulfilling his vision board — which we imagine is covered with pictures of Sansa, the Iron Throne, and fancy new tunics. Littlefinger wants to push Sansa into seizing more power. He’s been saying she needs to do this to keep herself safe, playing on her past trauma and fears of being captured or killed. But until now this season, she’s been ignoring him and making him feel useless. He also wants Sansa trusting only him. Arya is dangerous and doesn’t trust him at all, so he worries Arya will eventually turn Sansa against him. Plus the lords at Winterfell are mulling pushing for Sansa to take charge instead of Jon. I think what’s going on here is that Littlefinger hopes if Sansa feels threatened enough, physically and politically, she might seize more power to feel safe, perhaps even kill Arya, and pull Lord Baelish closer to her side.
Put another way: Littlefinger is creating chaos and hoping it’s a ladder.
Later, Sansa receives a letter asking her to attend a summit with the Lannisters. We assume this is the meeting Dany and Jon Snow are setting up to try to prove the existence of the Army of the Dead. Sansa is like: No. Way. In. Hell. Lady Stark will never put herself in a position of trusting the Lannisters again. Still, it’s probably good that Lynanna Mormont doesn’t know about this decision either; the kid would mock Sansa mercilessly.
Instead, Sansa wants to send Brienne to represent the interests of House Stark, which also suggests she can’t be all that worried about being alone with Arya. Brienne is more concerned about leaving her alone with Littlefinger, but Sansa thinks she can handle him and rather coldly dismisses her. C’mon, Sansa, we’re on your side in this episode; don’t be mean to Brienne. (Readers below pointed out that perhaps Sansa is sending Brienne away so she won’t interfere with her plans for Arya, which is an intriguing — and rather devious — interpretation; Littlefinger would be proud).
Also, a question: Does this mean that Brienne might see Jaime again?
One more scene at Winterfell before we get to the really fun stuff with Jon Snow battling everything and playing handsies with Daenerys: Sansa searches Arya’s room for the letter and instead finds some of Arya’s creepy Faceless Men masks. Sansa is freaked: What kind of creepy psychopath has my sister become? And why do Bran, Jon, and Arya all get to do magic stuff and I don’t?
Arya catches her and behaves so menacingly she’s like a teenage Hannibal Lecter, even going so far as to threaten to cut off her sister’s face (!). Arya needs some therapy, or some time at the Winterfell spa day, or something. She does land a great line, however: “The world just doesn’t let girls decide what they’re going to be.” Next: The Polar Distress