This week’s episode featured an emotionally charged confrontation between Sansa Stark and Theon Greyjoy. The latter’s revelation that he did not in fact murder Sansa’s brothers has palpably changed their relationship. These two are still far from friends, but the encounter has made them potential allies, united by their struggle with the Boltons. Together, they may just be able to flee the horrors taking place within the walls of the castle that used to be their home.
Will they really be able to escape?
Assuming Theon can be rallied to defiance against his master, Sansa has aid available. Brienne is within reach, and the smallfolk of Winterfell have not forgotten their loyalty to House Stark. Help from both parties, and the coming distraction of a Baratheon army may be enough to grant an opportunity for Sansa and Theon’s escape. But freeing themselves from the Bolton’s grasp will still be anything but easy.
Ramsay has already foiled one of Sansa’s escape attempts, and he has by no means grown less cautious. But with Stannis marching toward Winterfell and Ramsay doubting his longterm position in his father’s plans, the younger Bolton may be too preoccupied to watch his wife and his human pet. Perhaps through awareness of his own situation, Ramsay aims to prove himself by actively dealing with Stannis rather than waiting for him and his army to freeze as Roose proposed. Making his view on the coming conflict abundantly clear, Ramsay stated to his father, “[We] hit first and hit hard. And leave a feast for the crows.” Just who the crows will be feasting on has yet to be seen.
Where will they go? And what will happen to them?
Seeing as the snow is already falling and the weather is only getting worse, traveling will not be easy. Their immediate destination will have to be close. And with the distance between Winterfell and Stannis’s army shrinking everyday, the likelihood of them crossing paths with the Baratheon King is high. Oddly enough, they may be escaping the clutches of one enemy only to fall into another.
Stannis is not known for his mercy. With the War of Five Kings still fresh in his mind, he may very well see Sansa and Theon in an unappealing light: the former’s brother was the rebel King Robb Stark and her husband was the man who beat Stannis back in the Battle of Blackwater Bay, Tyrion Lannister; while Theon is the son and former soldier of another rebel King, Balon Grejoy, and widely believed to have murdered the two youngest Stark children.
Sansa may find Stannis grudgingly forgive her, seeing as her only “crimes” were marriages that were forced upon her. Theon, on the other hand, is unlikely to receive such treatment. It is undeniable that he is a traitor and murderer, and if Ser Davos Seaworth’s hand is any indication of what Stannis calls justice, Theon’s days may be numbered.
Will Brienne play a part?
Sansa has crossed paths with Brienne once before, and rejected her aid. She may hold a different view if they meet again, but Sansa could just as easily have grown even less trusting of strangers after her time with the Boltons. If the former is the case, she will have an able warrior to protect her for the first time since the Hound left King’s Landing. If the latter is the case, she will only have the paranoid and mutilated Theon to rely on.
Brienne’s help may be useful while they travel, but if and when they reach King Stannis’s camp she may prove a complicating factor, seeing as she has sworn to avenge the late Renly by killing Stannis. The proximity of the two characters offers an opportunity to make good on that oath, and Brienne is not known for breaking promises.
How this may develop is hard to say; with these characters hundreds of miles apart at this point in the books, we have no printed material to lean on. But with the author of the novels, George RR Martin, admitting that the show will be killing off characters still alive in the books, it can be troubling to imagine that potentially fatal encounter.