The final episode of Game of Thrones gave us closure for many beloved characters, with some of them getting to fulfil a destiny they may not have even known they had. None of them stood out more than the person who started out as a child, but became a champion.
Westeros may have a new ruler, but it’s one kingdom short. The North has its own queen.
As the “democratic” lords of Westeros declared Bran the Broken their new king, Sansa Stark told him, in no uncertain terms, that the North was seceding. For good this time. And just like that, the North was free again. All thanks to Sansa. A fitting ending for Game of Thrones’ strongest, smartest, and toughest leader.
Sansa’s come a long way since the series began. She started out as a lovestruck girl who’d accepted the role she’d been given. She dreamed of being a lady, a wife, and a queen. But the fantasy came crashing down, after her father Ned Stark was murdered before her eyes. Afterward, she spent years being abused, mistreated, and underestimated by the people around her. She was seen as the “little dove,” a young and naive girl you didn’t have to take seriously.
Joffrey tortured her by threatening her life, body, and well-being. Cersei Lannister and Petyr Baelish manipulated her, using her status as one of the last known Starks to achieve their own ends. She was married off to two men without her consent. Tyrion Lannister showed her kindness but kept his distance, while Ramsay Bolton was a monster who got exactly what he deserved.
She may have been dismissed by many over the years, but her innocent exterior hid a brilliant mind. Sansa was smart and clever, and she knew how to survive. There’s no better example than her wardrobe. Sansa used her clothes like armour, showing her loyalty, or defiance, through the outfits she wore over the years (there’s an excellent piece here that explains it further). Who can forget when she wore her hair like Cersei’s, the moment she donned black raven feathers as the new Lady of the Vale, or that gorgeous Stark sigil emblazoned on her chest during the Battle of the Bastards? And her final gown, with the godswood leaves sewn into the sleeves, was worthy of a queen.
She spent time studying the people around her, learning how to play their games. And eventually, how to master them. Margaery Tyrell showed her how to be cunning. Cersei taught her to see through the lies – often by lying to her face. Even Petyr, who acted as if everyone was wrapped around his “little finger,” eventually could not keep up with her. She learned how to combine Margaery’s wits, Cersei’s strength, and Littlefinger’s tricks with her own loyalty and love for her family.
Jon Snow may have once been named King in the North, but Sansa was the Lady of Winterfell. She helped keep her people alive during the Long Night by handling all the difficult tasks and busywork that Daenerys couldn’t be bothered with. She became a strong leader that the North respected, as well as a force to be reckoned with. She saw Daenerys’ games for what they were and refused to compromise her values for someone she couldn’t trust. While Jon chose to follow his heart by allying with Daenerys, only to then betray her, Sansa knew all along where her loyalty belonged.
A lady came into her own before our eyes. She found her strength and her voice, and she used both to fight for the people she loved – and won.
That’s something only a true queen could do.