You’ve probably read the title of this article by now (if not, I’m not sure how you’re reading this—you should talk to someone about that), and a fair number of you are currently going, “Lol, no!” as loud as you can.
To which I say, “Shut up, fools! She totes is!”
Okay, what I’m getting at is that when you look at Game of Thrones (the TV show, no spoilers for the books) it’s pretty easy to think of who the badass women are. You’ve got Daenerys and her dragons, Cersei and her ruthless politics, Catelyn and her diplomacy, and Arya and her nascent fighting skills. And that’s just to name a few. You’ve still got Margaery and her rampant ambition, Ygritte and her egalitarianism, and Shae and her insubordination. Still barely scratching the surface.
But here’s the thing: Sansa Stark is more badass than all of them.
And here’s the part where I make you agree with me.
Sansa starts Season 1 as a whiny but reasonably normal teenager. She wants to be a princess, she wants to live in the city, and she thinks her father’s mean and horrible because he doesn’t necessarily agree. It’s annoying, but so normal it’s not even interesting.
So for Season 1, Sansa was largely a non-entity. She wanted to be Queen, and to be Queen she had to marry Joffrey, who was a prick but she was enough in puppy love to ignore it. Then the end of Season 1 happened.
For the record, SPOILERS, even though I feel like it’s been long enough I shouldn’t have to say anything. Wusses.
When her father was accused of treason and put in the dungeon, Sansa had a very tough decision in front of her. She could either proclaim her father’s innocence and die with him, or she could label him a traitor and beg for his life. Sansa made the human choice and decided to beg for her father’s life and apologize for his “crimes”.
It doesn’t matter what we think we might have done in this situation, or even what we think she should do. When it comes down to it, this is the choice that makes sense. Sansa’s father is about to die. She can save him, if she destroys his honor. But Sansa understands that his honor will be destroyed either way. There is no winning here. In a way, standing up for him would be the safer bet, because then at least she would be out and done. Instead, she chooses to stick around for a while and ensures a future where even if her father lives, he’ll hate her. But he’ll be alive.
That’s a pretty rough choice for a thirteen year old to make.
As you probably know, in the end, it didn’t make any difference about her father. Joffrey had him killed anyway. This sparked the war, and her brother declared himself King of the North. Sansa was kept as a hostage of the court, ostensibly so that she could still marry Joffrey and in so doing end the war.
This is where Sansa gets pretty awesome.
It would have been not safe, exactly, for her to whine and complain about her place in the kingdom, but certainly expected. She could have made a fuss and then been put in a dungeon where at least she doesn’t have to talk to her father’s murderer all day. She knows they wouldn’t kill her because they need her alive. She’s ransom for Jaime Lannister, the Queen’s brother. So she could have been a lot more unpleasant about the whole thing.
Instead, Sansa chooses to take the abuse by being very calm about it. She tells everyone that Joffrey is her Lord and Husband, and that she loves him and wants to give him little Princes one day. Obviously, to us the viewer, she doesn’t, and it’s not all that hidden from everyone else too. But the point is that she says it. She affirms it. And in so doing, she makes herself indispensible.
The easy thing would have been to rot in a cage and blame the whole thing on Joffrey. What Sansa does is make it so that she cannot be got rid of without a fight. Not only can they not kill her because of Jaime, they can’t kill her because now it would look bad.
|Drunk!Cersei is my favorite.|
And while she’s in captivity, Sansa learns things. She learns about politics and maneuvering from watching the Queen. She learns how to lie, how to hide her face, and how to keep alive. The hardest thing is surviving, and she makes it look easy.
More than that, though, she makes herself beloved. While Joffrey’s abusive treatment of her makes people sympathetic, her father was still a traitor. Her undying “devotion” to him, however, makes people love her, because how can they hate the Little Dove? Form Sandor Clegane to Cersei herself, everyone wants to inform or protect her, other than her “husband”.
Sansa does have some very specific moments of awesome, too. When she encourages Joffrey to go out on the battlefield himself and lead his troops (presumably so that he will be killed), she does it with a smile and a wink. He’s pretty taken in. And when she’s stripped in front of the court and debased, afterwards she just smiles and says that she loves Joffrey and would never wish him ill.
As Tyrion says, “She may well outlive us all.”
All of this brings me to the end of Season 2 and why I think Sansa is the coolest. At the very end, Sansa is locked in the keep with the women and children. The Queen goes a bit nuts and starts drunkenly telling Sansa about how they’re all going to die, and what does Sansa do? She gets the women praying, then singing hymns. She tells them that it’s all fine and they’re winning. Then, on Shae’s suggestion, she goes to her room so that if the city is taken she will be known. She refuses to run, and just waits.
The city isn’t taken, and Sansa is still stuck. A reprieve comes when Margaery asks for Joffrey’s hand and she is ousted from the place of Queen-to-be, but it soon becomes clear that she’s not out of the woods. Petyr Balish, whose hardon for her mother is pretty well known, has just been given land and told that he needs some kids, comes up to her and tells her she can cut the act. She doesn’t. But we’re left with the implication that he might be the next in line to marry or almost-marry her, and it’s a good feeling.
So why do I call her strong when all she does is wait and lie and hide?
Because they’re the hard choices. Sansa knows she doesn’t have physical strength. She’s not Arya, and she has no desire to be. She also knows that now is not the time to build strength of character, given that she’s a traitor’s daughter in the stronghold of her enemies. So she chooses strength of will. She doesn’t deny her femininity, and instead manages to use her “frailty” to her advantage. She calls herself stupid and manipulates Joffrey into doing things he otherwise wouldn’t. She talks about dresses and fashion and watches and waits for her opportunity to strike.
Sansa knows exactly who she is and what role she has to play in this. It’s her strength in her own identity that keeps her badass, through all the lies and the abuse and the waiting. She has to stay in that castle, so while she’s at it, she might as well get some power. She might be little and frail and soft, but she’s made of iron underneath.
|Also she's being played by a fifteen year old. The performance of a lifetime and she can't even drive yet.|