This week’s episode featured a pivotal conversation between the Queen Regent and the former Master of Coin. In a sharp contradiction to his former actions, Littlefinger revealed Sansa Stark’s location to Cersei, along with Roose Bolton’s intention to marry her to his son Ramsay. Cersei’s predictable outrage soon gave way to despair as she realized that House Lannister lacked the resources to squelch another uprising in the North. But Littlefinger offered a plan, the motives and longterm goals of which, in typical Littlefinger fashion, remain elusive.
Why would Littlefinger tell Cersei about Sansa?
Littlefinger may not believe Sansa to be in any real danger. He knows Cersei would do anything to get ahold of her, but he also knows that she is incapable of actually doing so. It wouldn’t make much sense for him to devote so much time and energy rescuing and hiding Sansa from the Queen only to reveal her again. Unless he saw Sansa as a bait that he knew Cersei had no hope of actually catching.
When the conversation took a turn towards a military campaign against the North and potential commanders of such a campaign, Littlefinger offered candidates that he knew would be rejected; Kevan Lannister is not on speaking terms with the Queen, and Jaime is far to the South with no return in sight. Then, seemingly as an afterthought, he offered himself.
This is hardly an accident. Littlefinger’s mention of there being not a “single Lannister soldier” accompanying him on this potential campaign speaks volumes; he might have used the words to calm Cersei, but they offer insight into his aversion to surrounding himself with men outside his influence. Especially if his plans may run contrary to the interests of House Lannister.
Why would he want to be Warden of the North?
Being named Warden of the North would give Littlefinger control over the lands of the Starks and the Arryns. Which would be cemented by his control over a young member of both Houses: Sansa Stark and Robin Arryn. Littlefinger is more than aware of how powerful an alliance this can be; in his earlier conversation with Roose Bolton, he stated, “the last time the Lords of the Eyrie formed an alliance with the Lords of the North, they brought down the greatest dynasty this world has ever known.”
It may be safe to say that he doesn’t plan on tying himself or his plans to Roose Bolton, but Littlefinger may have been perfectly serious about the suggested campaign against the Iron Throne. He also might be especially forthcoming if he believed Bolton would be dead soon.
This alliance between two of the Seven Kingdoms may be indeed be realized, but through a different pairing of Houses and different marriage: between Sansa and Robin. This would only be possible if Ramsay were dead, but in Littlefinger’s eyes this is a minor inconvenience rather than an insurmountable obstacle. Uniting the Lord and Lady of the Vale and the North would suit his plans well. It may be plausible that he plans to marry Sansa himself however, as his affection for her is sometimes paternal and other times romantic.
What is his ultimate goal?
This is incredibly difficult to answer given Littlefinger’s penchant for hiding his plots well. But his advice to the Queen may shed light on his own plans, “Let Stannis and Roose battle. Let the enemies of the Throne slaughter each other and when they’re done, seize Winterfell from whichever thief survives.” If Littlefinger does truly care for Sansa, he likely believes the Boltons will emerge victorious in the coming clash with King Stannis. But this hardly means he plans on keeping them around.
He may be applying the same reasoning to the ruling Houses in King’s Landing. Littlefinger is aware of the unrest between the Lannisters and the Tyrells, and he may be betting on the latter. When discussing the arrest of Loras Tyrell, he slips a barely veiled jab at Cersei and her hypocritical viewpoint, “one’s choice of companion is a curious thing.” A searing comment which was no doubt felt, but too direct for Cersei to react to. Littlefinger is likely quite informed on Cersei’s inclination to misrule, and sees her fall not as a question of if, but when.
As a self-proclaimed betting man, Littlefinger sees the conflicts surrounding Winterfell and King’s Landing, and is investing in the Houses he believes will emerge victorious. All while strengthening his own cause of course.