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Discussing Sansa XXXVII: The Hound and The Little Bird

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Can we talk about how the Hound knows that Sansa's been broken in 'rough', but doesn't know that Ramsay fed to his dogs? Geez, the gossip in Westeros sure has weird priorities.

I hate that Sansa was the blabbermouth again. I mean, I see the point and on the pragmatic side maybe it was even the right thing to do but it's just flushing down the toilet all the talk about her 'northness' and 'Starkness'.

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5 hours ago, Ranger Kragin said:

She doesn't say she has become stronger, or a better person. People read what they want to read. If Sansa could answer the question: "What are you now?" She'd probably say "A survivor", because this is what she is. This is what she said Arya back in Season 7 ("You wouldn't have survived what I have").

I see your point. Back in S6 she says "I did what I did to survive".

But still her answer made me cringe as if she didn't go with The Hound because she wanted to get rid of the little bird persona. Indeed, Sansa is a survivor and she didn't go with the Hound, because most probably they both would been have killed.

23 hours ago, Red Dragon10 said:

I think that is as much as we'll get between the two of them.  I think they wanted to acknowledge that they were important to each others development as people. 

Sadly, I guess you're right. This reunion would have made more potential (and more sense!) if it happened earlier, in S7. But maybe we'll see The Hound returning to WF after defeating his brother, who knows:dunno:

 

7 hours ago, Mystical said:

My major question about all of these characters knowing what happened to Sansa: HOW???? Even Dany seems to know.

 

Boltons are known for their cruelty - they the flayed man as sigil. Ramsay's sadistic nature was no secret too: he tortured people, raped and killed his mistresses, so it's unlikely that he would have treated his wife kindly. Besides that Sansa's escape to the Wall became known when she showed up with Jon during the BoB. Maybe a few people witnessed what happened, but many connected the dots and concluded that Sansa's marriage was no rose garden.

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4 minutes ago, Ashes Of Westeros said:

Sadly, I guess you're right. This reunion would have made more potential (and more sense!) if it happened earlier, in S7. But maybe we'll see The Hound returning to WF after defeating his brother, who knows:dunno:

I hope so too.  I don't expect that to happen, but I'd love to see it! 

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It was a bit of a twisted perception viewers were meant to have this episode of Sansa, trying to use Dany's POV and loneliness to see Sansa's words and behavior as mere petty and jealous. But if you think through it rationally that clearly was not Sansa's motivation.

In a way the conflict between them is quite interesting, especially the contrasts.

While Dany warred and battled since S1 to gather an ever increasing army to conquer the Iron Throne, the Starks and the North have lost armies over and over. First in the Wo4/5K in the Riverlands AND the homefront. Then against the Boltons. And again against the AotD (with half of the North wighted and recruited for the onslaught on WF). Yes, Dany felt the pinpricks in her army numbers during the insurgence at Mereen, and yes she experienced the wipe-out of the armies of her allies of the Reach and the Greyjoy fleet, but it is not until the Short Nigth Battle that she was confronted with a huge loss in her own personal armies loyal to her. I'm not talking about the very personal horrors they had to endure. I'm strictly speaking of how much both as respective rulers or as part of the ruling family have seen the men fighting for them die.

And there is another difference. Dany's armies consist of a) professional raiders who's hobby is warring and killing b) professional trained infantry to withstand any form of pain. The Northern armies are levies of farmers - in other words smallfolk. They may be battle hardened, but they are not brought up for war along with their mother's milk. They are sons, brothers and fathers who till the land in spring and summer. Only the commanders and knights (in the Vale faction) have been trained for this all their lives.

The third difference is that Dany only knows authoritarian rule, even when she was powerless. When it was just her and Viserys, her brother was boss and he brokered not even a peep of her unless she wanted to wake the dragon. A Khal rules supreme over his Dothraki, until he falls of his horse. Her Unsullied listen to Greyworm alone and he listens to her alone. Daario's sellsword company listens only to him, after he kills his fellow leaders. She is immensely frustrated though when she has to deal with a type of rulership that allows for several factions to come to a consensus. Qarth is an absolute nightmare for her: all these different factions and their leaders, most not agreeing with each other and having an equal say, and they are not politically phased by this "true heir of the 7k" and "mother of dragons". Mereen is also politically split in family factions, not just slavers and slaves.

Dany fares well in political systems that is purely top-down, where you only need to take off the head of the power snake. She does not fare well in political systems that operate more like a hydra, where if you chop off one head, you only have more heads grow back on. Qarth was a failure, and imo the show made a mistake of making Mereen a success story in the end (I'm not talking about the breaker of chains success, but imo Mereen should be an abandoned city because of the pale mare).

Little bird Sansa used to believe that's how the 7K were run as well, as purely one boss and everybody ought to do what he/she says, but she learned the hard way through that shameful tour to gather levies with the vassal lords of the North in s6 that this is not the reality how things work. Even if there is a pyramidic power structure, the top rulers do not stay in power without the grace of the vassals and those vassals have no power without their levies. Feudalism is a hydra, not a snake. Families are a pack, not just the head. Sansa understands this very well now.

When Dany makes Gendry lord of SE, Sansa watches her closely, especially when Dany calls herself clever for it. And it is clever. It makes me recall the start of s7, when Jon made the decision to give Karhold and Last Hearth to the children of those who fought against him. Sansa and Jon had an argument over this, in public and in private at the time. Dany took a page out of Jon's book. Sansa's troubled though over it. It's not so much the lord-making she's troubled over, but that Dany doesn't do it so much out of the principal that Jon did, but to buy loyalty in this way. It seems to me then that Sansa actually on the one hand agrees with Jon's point in s7, but feels it must come from the heart and as a value, rather than this almost mercenary way of deciding who gets a castle (as she once argued at the start of s7). Whether Dany actually managed to get a loyal vassal remains to be seen after Arya's rejection of Gendry's proposal. Gendry's sole reason for being happy of gaining a lordship and a castle was because he believed it was what he needed to win Arya's hand. Clegane shook his head though, knowing that Gendry's chances just plumetted to zero. 

Anyhow, Dany doesn't take any of these military differences in account, when Sansa quite reasonably argued, our men need to rest up, before throwing them into battle again, Dany immediately took that personal, as if Sansa argued this to try to renege out of the deal or because she has personal beef with Dany. Sansa even reminds Dany that these are HER people too, in that moment fully acknowledging her as the Queen. It is not exactly Sansa who's prejudiced against Dany, after their talk in epi 2 and until the war meeting, but exactly the other way around.

Yes, they both started off on the wrong foot in s1. Sansa distrusted her, but had no reason to trust her whatsoever when she doesn't know her and Dany has no actual ruling track record whatsoever in the 7K. On top of that, Starks are icy to any outsider. Dany almost solely took it as HS bitchiness level, and responded to it with veiled death threats, and dismissed Sansa as 'just a sister' instead of recognizing that she actually has a political voice that carries weight. Here we see how Dany operates from an absolute authority perspective, not that of multiple leaders or even family members who say their own mind for rational reasons: to protect their family, their smallfolk, but ultimately also the power that Dany can gain from them. Ultimately do you want to be successful, even if it takes longer, or do you rush into things (and get an already wounded dragon, your best friend and ultimately yourself killed)?

The same contrast between Dany and Sansa is highlighted when it comes to family. Dany expects the head of a family to be the sole authority. When she tells Jon to rein in his sister or else (it will wake the dragon), it is almost as if she expects Sansa to defer to Jon as she once did to Viserys. But as we have seen with most families (Lannisters until Cersei went absolutely cray cray, Tyrells, Baratheons and Starks) siblings and adult children can disagree with one another and play their own political role, in the limelight and in the shadow, as long as they put their family's survival before their own self interest. And especially the Stark children learn to rule as a pack, despite their differences.

Since Jon and Sansa both rallied forces to rout and oust the Boltons in s6, we were often left to wonder whether Sansa was envious of Jon being voted KitN over the then only known trueborn Stark left, Sansa. What Dany fears will happen in epi 4 of s8 already happened to Sansa at the end of s6. That might have been a shock and a bitter pill perhaps at the start, but she reconciled herself with that. She accepted that Jon manages to inspire people (though we are sometimes left to wonder why) and even when he often sighs in annoyance when she confronts him about an issue or disagrees with Dany on resting your armies, it does not make her turn on him whatsoever, as Arya feared in s7. She wants him to survive and consolidate his power with his base to the best ability that she can.

What a contrast to Dany when she realizes that men in Westeros follow Jon, as the Dothraki and Unsullied follow her. And this time in Targaryen succcession rule, he does have a better claim than her. She wants him to not publically recognise they're kin, nor even make him her family through marriage. She doesn't even see the example the political relationship Sansa and Jon have sets for her. Even if the realm would flock to him, despite him being the knee to her, she cannot fathom the advantage she might gain from it in a feudal society, nor the fact that she does not just stand to gain a nephew, but his family pack along with it. She sees them as rivals, not as a potential support. And this solely because she wants the power and throne all for herself, lords and ladies who bend the knee, curtsy and surrender their political agency. It is from this mindset that Dany approaches R+L=J and Jon's sisters. And I think this especially makes Sansa distrust her ultimately and can foresee she will get Jon and ultimately them killed.

After Sansa learns the truth from Bran and Jon about his identity, she is even more disturbed. She's smart enough to reason that Dany must know too and wants to hide it. Jon swearing them to secrecy is out of character for him. And while Dany had no problem whatsoever in proclaiming Gendry a lawful Baratheon and give him a castle for his "heroic" deeds in the battle against the AotD, Dany never does anything similar for Jon. He's lord of nothing and gets no castle, only made into a lapdog Warden of the North. Ultimately Sansa realises that Dany is trying to deceive the 7k for the same reason that she made Gendry lord of SE: to keep people loyal to her for they don't know any better than they have to choose between Dany or Cersei. When she realises that Tyrion himself fears Dany, while she fears for Jon's life, she cannot consciously go along with the secret, and thus sabotages Dany's effort to consolidate loyalty through falsehood by revealing the truth.

In the crypts Sansa said that the most heroic thing they could do was look the truth in the face and recognize they could do nothing. In contrast, Sansa looks the ugly truth in the face again on top of the battlements, and thus play telephone by sharing the information with Tyrion. And imo well played by Sansa, especially towards Tyrion. In the crypts she reminded Tyrion of his divided loyalties. She referenced the Dragon Queen as an issue in a marriage between her and Tyion, but she also knows that Tyrion can besurprisingly loyal to his family, and I think that Tyrion actually turned (not in favor of Jon but of Cersei for family) after his last conversation with Varys (the treason conversation), which was the reason Tyrion was so sad imo. We literally saw him "jump ship" the moment that the odds were evened. And that whole speech of Tyrion towards Cersei that everyone in the city could overhear was that "she's not a monster, but a mother who loves her children and that he wants her to live". Cersei smiled tearfully then: she got the message. Tyrion proved himself a Lannister with that speech foremost, and he helped Cersei set up her trap to make Dany appear as a monster to the 7k if she goes dracarys on the people of KL. That's why Cersei had Missandei killed anyway and never even bothered to shoot Drogon or Dany or Tyrion or Dany's forces outside KL walls.

With all the Jon talk between Varys and Tyrion, viewers assume Tyrion contemplates backing Jon when he admits he has "thoughts". But I cannot see why Tyrion would back Jon over Cersei's child. Some viewers might think he would to have a chance with Sansa once more, but Tyrion already showed his hand during the feast. After Dany set the example of making Gendry Lord, Tyrion approached Bran and proposed to make him Lord of WF, thereby trying to dispose of Sansa as Lady of Winterfell. Bran wasn't having any of it.

Basically you have Dany and Tyrion try to break the unity of the Stark pack and the people who are at Winterfell for the Starks: via making Gendry a lord, checking out how much Bran wants to be lord of WF, demand Jon to keep his heritage a secret from his family, remove Jon from his pack ASAP. Neither Arya, Sansa or Bran are having it. And both sisters act in their own way to protect Jon, so he cannot fall prey to either Cersei's ruthlesness or Dany ultimately willing to sacrifice anyone to get her throne.

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I kinda want to see Sansa team up with Sam and will be interested in their interaction.  They both don't trust Dany, they both will probably want Jon to be the king instead of Dany or Cersei.  And Sam will be easy to trust since Sam is loyal to Jon and helped Bran. 

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Posted (edited)

Actually I found their discussion to be gross. 

He goes back in actually reminding her all the abuse she went through (honestly as a woman I would be insulted by this) to show himself. Disgusting. 

Edited by Nightwish

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Posted (edited)

One of the themes of GOT is how past experiences shape the persons or leads them to the present. Sansa is just acknowledging that her experience with Ramsey has changed her.  Daario tells Daenarys how being sold into slavery and fighting in the pits made him the man he is.  The red priestess in Murreen tells Varys that having his balls cut off made him the person who he is now.   Grey Worm says he was glad he was made into an Unsullied because it brought him to Messendai.  

Another theme is is it acceptable to break an oath which you believe is wrong?  Sansa asked up front how can she swear without knowing what it is before hand.  Jaime broke his oath as kingsguard and killed the mad king. Ned swore an oath of allegiance to Robert but changes the King's wording of his final decree from passing crown to Joffrey to "rightful heir". Jaime commits treason by helping his convicted brother escape his death sentence.

 

Edited by funpig

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On 5/6/2019 at 5:28 AM, Mystical said:

Don't get me started. I almost smashed in my screen when that happened. I can't believe D&D couldn't resist one last time to pat themselves on the back for the clusterfuck that was the S5 storyline. That Sansa, or any woman really, needs to be raped and brutalized to become 'strong'...I just can't.

Screw honor. It's gotten no one in the Stark family anywhere. The honorable Stark men all died, including Jon. Only reason he is alive is Melisandre and since then a nuclear-resistant plot armor that made him survive all the other 'honorable' things he did. Sadly thousands don't have that plot armor and died for his 'honor'.

Sure Sansa is scheming but since that is usually intersecting with reminders of how she cares for her people, I'm not convinced we are supposed to see her schemes as a bad thing. But only time will tell I guess. With this show, you never 

Yes they definitely are on the wrong track on that one. We can tear apart the ideology behind it in an essay that only will be read by university students and professors. I do want to counter on this. The running social notion is that rape destroys a woman and she can never recover. D&D offer the ideal that it doesn't destroy a woman, she still can turn out to be strong in spite of it. I also take exception to the notion that it can be justified for making a woman strong. So I am  sticking with the idea that Sansa needed a hardship to bring out her strength, it didn't have to be rape.  She suffered a lot of other things too, beatings, humiliation, murdered parents, betrayals, being held captive...

They are saying that the hardships the Stark children suffered made them stronger once they reconnected. They aren't the trusting people their parents were.  Arya and Bran suffered too all differently. We are lead to believe that Arya is the most dangerous. Maybe not.

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Posted (edited)

I was confused a lot at first, but I think the viewer and Sandor were both meant to see Sansa's words as shocking and vile. Here's why:

Its through the finalisation of the Hound's storyline that ASOIAF, a story that never seems to fit into any one interpretation finally has for me: it's a story about protecting children, and the consequences of failing to do so. Put every characters actions and outcomes through this prism and they all pretty much make sense: If children aren't protected, they will learn to protect themselves through trauma, and this will only make future children in need of protection from them. The purest character, Sam, protects a child that no-one else thinks worthy of protection. Cersei is probably one of the worst, because she only protects her children to protect herself.

The Hound was the knight in Bran's vision in the books, who, when he opens his mouth to speak, is hollow inside (Because his threats and rebukes are empty and he doesn’t sincerely mean them) but covered in ugly black bile that pours over the stark sisters as he tries to protect them.

I think it's no coincidence Sansa and Sandor's names are so similar. They are male and female counterparts of the child no-one ever properly protected.

Ned kills her protection in Lady, and he only ever gave her pleasant truths (Compared to Sandor, who only gave her unpleasant truths). Following that, she rejects her fathers protection, putting her in further danger and leading to his death when he keeps trying to protect her as a prisoner. He didn't TELL her that there was danger or that she needed to be protected at all. This was faulty protection.

The Hound wants to protect her, but he is too blinded by his own rage and fear (the blind dog from the ayrie) and his protection looks ugly. When Sansa wished the dog was Lady, she wished the Hound had been able to protect her, rather than too crippled by his damage. This can also be see when she invokes Lady right as the Hound has finally taken the step to give up all for her after Blackwater. But she is too afraid of his anger and philosophical ugliness, and cannot bring herself to accept. She still hopes for better, for a knight who is good on the inside and outside.

When Sansa rejects him, he leaves her the only protection he himself has (in the form of his cloak): which is to kill your own heart and accept no one will ever protect you besides yourself. She keeps it, under her summer silks (her hope) because she fears she might need it.

Tyrion protects her a bit, out of his general principles, but he also is massively enabling his family to hurt her in the first place. Their wedding night shows this; he “protects” her from himself- his own doing. She knows it is not true protection. To an even greater and grosser extent, Littlefinger only protects her from danger he explicitly creates. Like he tried to “protect” Cat from a threat that wasn’t real. This illusion of true protection both confuses and jades Sansa. But what’s more, it makes her implement her only remaining defense - the Hound's cloak of self-destruction. Littlefinger helps her build the "castle of ice" around herself, both because he tells her how to protect herself and by hurting her so she is forced to do so.

When she finds Jon, he does not protect her. She has to return to littlefinger for protection from Ramsay (dunno how that plays out in the books). Bran does not protect her - he explicitly tells her he watched her suffer but could do nothing. Arya actively threatens her. She still loves them and they her, but it is a cold Northern love.

Sansa and Theon eating soup together while others were in bed (soup was a food for invalids) + her saying she always feels what Ramsay did in her body almost certainly means she is similarly mutilated like Theon. She can't tolerate being with a man anymore. She has been hurt too much. In the books, it would most likely be emotionally castrated, but you can’t show that well on tv. So it’s physical. In the books, I bet she either she keeps lowering her hopes downwards until they die, or she has to manipulate her suitors to keep herself safe, tainting her ability to love.

Then the Hound shows back up. He’s tried to repair himself and he’s going to protect the girls from the undead like he should. But Sansa might have mixed feelings to see him again, as he represents everything she has lost - the chance for real love, her hopes, her beliefs. What’s worse, he brings back the fact that he could have saved her from ALL this suffering if she’d only trusted him.

This truth is SO excruciatingly painful to Sansa, she puts the final brick into place on her ice castle; "it was good this happened to me, because it made me strong enough to protect myself, which was the defense YOU handed me." In the books, Sansa regularly "edits" her painful memories to make them less painful. This memory - that twice she had or had the offer of true protection (her father and sandor) but rejected it for not being "good enough", would be so painful she might not even let herself fully see it.

Sandor then realises he gave her the weapon to kill herself, and his heart shatters. She, in her castle of ice, slays him. His fumbling attempts to protect her had sown the seeds of both love and spread his poisonous bile. He'd brought his own suffering onto her.

Yes, it was the only defense he himself ever had, but he didn't truly want her to use it. He knows he should have prevented her needing it, and that if he had been able to pull himself out of his rage early enough to be more pleasant, she might have trusted him more. But his own presence in her life again was painful enough to seal her away forever. The necklace she wears in the show is a clear symbol of her locking or "chaining" herself.

He goes down south to die and kill the monster that ruined him. He is consumed by fire - she is buried under snow.

The end. Thanks for nothing grrm.

Edited to add; this is why Sansa actually appears grateful to him as she basically says "I've become who you told me to become. And I couldn't have done it without all that rape. So you should see it was beneficial, right?" and his spirit literally departs his body in shock and horror.

Edited by pudgiebudgie
Addition

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OK so sue me, I am going to basically talk about the same thing but from another an angle I only just realised, and which is even a bit more striking. 

The ice castle littlefinger helps Sansa build is NOT knocked down by him. He is not the giant. Sandor is the giant. He stumbles into her castle and starts breaking down the walls. He breaches her defences. 

I wanna recap their last conversation to clarify. So, they don't talk for ages. He does not approach her. I believe this is intentional. He will not tell her what it is he wants. But I think she knows it anyway. In his eyes, he thinks if he protects her from a distance now and doesn't ask anything of her, things will be OK and he won't hurt her any more. But Sansa comes to the table fully barricaded. I mean, look at her when she's sitting opposite him. Of course at this point she always looks like the personification of Stalingrad about to take on a Nazi siege, but here she is just utterly, almost inhumanely, cold.

Why?

Because she feels threatened by him.

Not physically. Not even from his cruelty. Notice when he mentions her rape, she does not even twitch an eyelash. She only breaks down when he reminds her he would have protected her.

The threat she feels from him is psychic and emotional. She doesn't go near him until after the undead are dead. Bet you money it's because she doesn't want a single distraction or weakness leading up to it.

And why is he so shocked when she says the suffering made her strong? Obviously as I said above, it's because he realises he did it to her, but I think it's more than that. This is what I think the dialogue actually meant:

Sandor: I wanted to protect you, and I would have died for you.
(Sansa can't handle this, and possibly in the books, we will see she actually knowingly goes on the offensive against him)
Sansa: But you did protect me. I am wearing your cloak.

It's been a long mainstay of SanSan shipping that Sansa accepted the Hound's cloak when he left it behind, in a kind of symbolic marriage. That's exactly what it was!

Sansa metaphorically married the Hound.

But the Hound died.

And the new man she either can't bear emotionally, OR is coldly rejecting love to avoid becoming weak (her walls being breached) OR his presence makes some other similar mental attack on her.

This is why he's so utterly shocked. Because he killed the Hound to come back and protect her, but the Hound was who she accepted.

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Also when I said in my first post "They are male and female counterparts of the child no-one ever properly protected." I want to clarify that I mean they are male and female counterparts of the same child.

Clearly there are lots of unprotected children in Westeros, including major characters. But Sansa and Sandor had the same heart, and so the difference and similarities between their strategies, their actions and their outcomes are put more clearly into definition.

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