After all this time Lord Petyr Baelish bit the dust. His creation in darth lady Sansa Stark was his undoing, as she outschemed him and forced him into a situation where Arya could execute our beloved Littlefinger. We all saw it coming from a mile away, but there’s a problem with the scene: IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE!
It’s almost as if the Winterfell throne room is cursed, doomed to only produce terrible scenes that simply don’t make any sense. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why they killed off Littlefinger the way they did and what the symbolic relevance is: his crimes have finally caught up with him and when he gets exposed his façade crumbles and he reveals himself to be a sniveling coward begging for mercy. It’s a nice little ending scene for this character from a cinematographic point of view, but from a writing point it makes no sense whatsoever.
Keeping The Cards Close to the Chest
To start with: Littlefinger doesn’t let his guard down like that. He never has in the entire goddamn series, because he’s a master schemer who keeps his emotions to himself and makes sure that his opponents can’t read him. This is something he carefully instructs Sansa in after he confesses to the murder of Joffrey. He knows that revealing emotions is a sign of weakness, which other players of the game can capitalise on.
Of course, Littlefinger is still a human and as it happens there are some scenes in which he shows some emotions. And those scenes are important, as they shed a little light on who Petyr Baelish is as a character.
The first scene involves Tyrion. In season 2 the acting Hand of the King uses Littlefinger in a ploy to figure out who Cersei’s spy is. He asks Baelish to bring Lysa back into the fold with a marriage offer between Myrcella and Sweetrobin. In return for that Littlefinger will get Harrenhal. When Tyrion reneges on this deal Baelish confronts him and is visibly angry about being lied to. We found out later that Harrenhal was important in his plan to marry Lysa and get control of the Vale, so this anger is understandable. Tyrion just caused a setback in his plans. It’s also important to note that these scenes are meant to show that Tyrion is a master manipulator himself. The point is that he, being a weak, stunted dwarf, is incredibly intelligent and able to outplay masters like Littlefinger.
The second big scene is when Sansa confronts Littlefinger in Moles Town in Season 6. Sansa berates Baelish for “selling her off to the Boltons”, which is something D&D added to the show. Petyr shows himself very vulnerable in this scene and admits to her that it was a mistake. That he didn’t know Ramsay Bolton is a psychopath. While I find that entire plotline ridiculous for many reasons I am inclined to believe Littlefinger, because showing emotion just isn’t his style. He manipulates everyone and their mother, but he does this via threats, buying them out, using rational arguments to convince them, by helping them so that they trust or owe him,… But never through emotions. Petyr, in the show at least, loves Sansa and wants to marry her. So her disliking him is not good for his plans.
A final important scene that occurs in season 2 shows that Petyr breaking down and crying in front of Sansa and the rest of the court doesn’t make much sense. I’m talking about the conversation between Petyr and Cersei, in which she commands him to find Arya and he very non-subtly threatens her that he knows about her relationship with Jaime. He even speaks the infamous line “knowledge is power.” So being the shallow vain person she is Cersei decides to demonstrate that power is power, by ordering her guards to kill him, only to change her mind and make them dance like monkeys. This scene demonstrates that when he thinks he’s going to die he doesn’t start crying like a little baby. No, he resists and tries to fight until the last moment. Because that’s the person Littlefinger is. A fighter, someone with clear goals in mind and working to keep himself alive.
Just Goddamn Move!
Though for some reason those goals seem to have devolved into “get the iron throne” and “marry Sansa” by the end of season 6. The same kind of flawed writing that resulted in Littlefinger getting caught with his pants down the way he did, which is very different from what happens in the book series. He is a master manipulator and the reason he instructs Sansa in the books on how to play the game is because he’s making her his ally. She thinks he’s an okay guy, because he’s still controlling her thoughts. The moment he found out that Sansa dislikes him (which she makes very well known when she confronts him in season 6) and that Bran knows his exact words about chaos being a ladder he should’ve changed his plans instantly and plotted his way out of Winterfell instead of turning Arya against Sansa. But what does he do? Spend half a season doing nothing and when Arya arrives he tries to set up the Stark sisters against each other. Because apparently that’s what he does, as opposed to, you know, ACTUALLY PLAYING THE GODDAMN GAME OF THRONES!
Alright, I feel like I’ve demonstrated just why Littlefinger’s behaviour doesn’t make sense. Now let’s take a look at the accusations Sansa throws at him that ends up getting him killed:
- Littlefinger murdered her aunt Lysa and pushed her through the moon door.
Already the first charge makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Sansa herself covered up this murder by lying to Bronze Yohn and saying Lysa was suicidal. So the old lord Royce should know that Sansa lied in some fashion and should have an issue with this. In season 4 it’s clearly shown that he has a problem with Littlefinger for his reputation of being a manipulator and schemer. He’s angry when he finds out that Littlefinger lied about Sansa’s identity. Bronze Yohn is an honest man and he dislikes dishonesty. He should have a problem with Sansa playing the game the way she did.
The fact that he doesn’t seem to have a problem with this statement and even gives Littlefinger the stink eye implies that Sansa has been talking with him. This implication is hinted at when Bronze Yohn denies Petyr’s order to escort him safely out of the room and to the Vale. It would make perfect sense that Sansa has been talking to people and scheming with the Vale and Northern lords to dispose of Littlefinger. But here’s my question then: why did lord Baelish not know of this?
In season 1 of the show it’s stated (and demonstrated in a scene between Littlefinger and Ned) that lord Petyr Baelish has the second most spies in all the realm, right after Varys. Does he really not have any spies whatsoever in Winterfell? Would he really be so careless as to walk around in a castle full of people who actively dislike and distrust him without any back-up plan? People who look out for him? He talks to people like Bronze Yohn in order to lure Arya to a trap, so it’s not as if he doesn’t know how go to gather and spread information. So if there were scheming going on in this small castle he should’ve known about it and be prepared for it. He’s always had two weapons in his arsenal: information (through spies) and wealth. Neither of which he uses in this season.
- Littlefinger conspired with Lysa Arryn to poison Jon Arryn with the tears of Lys
There is no proof for this. Littlefinger says as much when he denies the accusation, because the only forms of proof were Lysa herself, who was killed by Littlefinger as he foolishly admitted, and the letter she wrote to Catelyn in the very first episode. The letter Cat burned the moment she read it, so maester Luwin couldn’t have copied it as we were told he had a habit of doing. It makes sense that Sansa would bring it up after Lysa admitted to it in season 4, but the fact remains that there is no sustantial proof. Littlefinger should’ve scoffed at this. The fact that he says Lysa was a troubled and paranoid woman is actually a valid argument, as she had that reputation among the Vale lords.
- Littlefinger conspired with Cersei and Joffrey to kill Ned Stark
This accusation makes perfect sense, but was given in front of the wrong crowd. If you take a look at the crowd gathered it’s a combination of Stark soldiers and Bronze Yohn Royce. This is an accusation that should’ve been made in front of the Northern lords, who would have the most cause to be outraged by this accusation and want to kill Littlefinger for it. It makes sense that lord Royce would be angry because of it, as he was good friends with Ned when he was fostered in the Vale, but the thing is that this accusation isn’t actually enough to condemn Littlefinger. The only piece of evidence is Bran reciting the sentence Baelish spoke when he held the Valyrian dagger against Ned’s throat. Which Petyr could’ve easily dismissed as mental illness or nonsense.
Regardless, the fact remains that this isn’t really the worst crime. Yes, Petyr contributed to Ned’s death, but he didn’t cause it. And if you think about it he had little choice. Had Ned’s coup failed Petyr’s head would’ve put right next to his on the spears. He did that in order to survive, though of course loyalty is considered far more important in the North. Yet even this loyalty is explored to some extent, as the previous season demonstrated that other houses (like House Glover) will prioritise their safety over their supposed loyalty to house Stark. This actually provides some weight to Littlefinger’s arguments that he would have to watch his own back. Other lords would understand this. So is this the reason why not a single Northern lord was there? Did Sansa fear Littlefinger would be able to persuade the nobility of his innocence?
- The Valyrian dagger belongs to Littlefinger
We actually don’t know that. This is a plotline that was largely discarded throughout the show. In the books it’s revealed that Littlefinger DID own the dagger at one point, but lost it to Robert in a tourney bet. He named Tyrion as the dagger’s owner to misdirect Catelyn and Rodrik Cassel, but in the books Joffrey is considered the person who sent the catspaw after Bran, to impress his father. Robert in a drunken state had said it would’ve been a mercy to kill Brandon and Joffrey took that to heart. So the fact that in the show Littlefinger was the one who set up the plotline to send the catspaw to kill Bran with the Valyrian dagger doesn’t make sense. He didn’t know that Brandon was crippled. He had no motivations for trying to kill the boy, as the failed attempt sent Catelyn straight to King’s Landing, threatening his plans to put the Starks and Lannisters at each other’s throats.
- Littlefinger married Sansa to Ramsay Bolton
There is a reason why this is such a vile crime: it was stupid beyond all belief. Why on Earth would Littlefinger send Sansa to Winterfell after risking his life to kidnap her? Why would he not know who Ramsay Bolton is, since he has a huge collection of spies working for him? What would he gain from angering Cersei and allying with the North? The entire plotline doesn’t make sense and that’s why it doesn’t mean much to me, but what is important is that in the show Littlefinger made a genuine mistake and is later seen regretting it. This wasn’t done out of maliciousness, but it was a miscalculation for… some reason.
But arguably the biggest problem of this entire farce of trial is that Petyr didn’t receive any of the “legal aid” he, as a highborn lord, has a right to. He is not given the choice of having a trial in front of judges similar to Tyrion in season 4 (which, hopefully, Petyr would’ve bought), he wasn’t allowed to go to the wall and he’s not given the option of a trial by combat. Sansa just lists five accusations Petyr denies or justifies, yet for some reason that’s enough to convince everyone that Littlefinger deserves to die. Which Arya promptly does. Not Sansa, the passer of the sentence. Nice little detail there you’ve forgotten, D&D, but it’s an important one in Northern culture.
Though despite the fact that I’ve been incredibly negative of this scene I am sort of happy that Littlefinger died. Not only did this season and the plot demand that he did, but in a way he will be spared from any other horrible atrocities that season 8 might inflict upon its audience. But if only Littlefinger could’ve died a death worthy of a master schemer. Not… this…
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Copyright: The images used in this article are screenshots taken from the episodes of the show. We are allowed to use them under section 107 of the US Copyright Act of 1976. Game of Thrones is created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, belongs to HBO and was inspired by the book series “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin.