Chaos is a ladder and Sansa Stark is climbing that ladder. Littlefinger taught Sansa very well. Despite his constant scheming, Sansa learned a lot for him about how to play the game. “Don’t fight in the North or the South. Fight every battle, everywhere, always, in your mind,” Littlefinger told Sansa in season 7. “Everyone is your enemy, everyone is your friend, every possible series of events is happening all at once. Live that way and nothing will surprise you. Everything that happens will be something that you’ve seen before.” That’s exactly what Sansa has been doing.
Sansa used her tools to manipulate both Daenerys and the Lannisters to benefit her family and her people. Jon Snow told Sansa that he was Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark’s son, making him the rightful heir to the Iron Throne and not Daenerys. Sansa promised Jon that she wouldn’t tell a soul, but she knew she had to tell Tyrion when the timing was just right. Sansa knew that the information she told Tyrion would weigh on him and help turn him against Daenerys. She knew that Tyrion would tell Varys, who would spread the information to the people who need to know. Tyrion and Daenerys’s relationship has been shaky lately, to say this least, and this was the moment Sansa could shift the tide between them.
It’s no secret that Sansa does not trust Daenerys. Both Sansa and Arya told Jon Snow this upfront. When Daenerys was planning her attack on King’s Landing and Cersei, Sansa went against what Dany was saying and said that she needed to wait to attack. This made Daenerys hesitate and think about Sansa’s suggestion. Her confusion over what’s best to do to win the war set in, but it wasn’t enough to steer Dany in the other direction. Daenerys’s sole goal is to become the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. She’s got tunnel vision. Sansa’s decision to keep the Northern army in Winterfell and not send them to help Daenerys echoed what Littlefinger told her in season 7. “Always keep your foes confused. If they don’t know who you are or what you want, they can’t know what you plan to do next,” Littlefinger said. With Sansa all the way in Winterfell, no one has a clue what she’s going to do next.
Sansa has noticed that the support for Daenerys has continued to decline. She knows that Jon would make the better ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. Even though they’re cousins and not siblings, they’re still family. Everyone else is an enemy, ultimately. Sansa and Arya will protect their family at all costs, even if it means having Daenerys killed. Jon Snow is blinded by his loyalty to Daenerys. He doesn’t want the Iron Throne. Dany begged him not to tell anyone his secret because it would ruin everything she’s worked for. Sansa and Arya have realized that Jon is not going to falter on his loyalty. So they decide to take matters into their own hands. What if Arya isn’t just going down to King’s Landing to mark Cersei off her list? What if she’s going to try and kill Daenerys as well? If Daenerys and Cersei are both dead, then Jon Snow will have no choice but to take the Iron Throne. Melisandre’s prophecy of Arya shutting “green eyes” forever could apply to both Dany and Cersei.
But that wasn’t all Sansa did in the May 5 episode. I am convinced that what she said to Jaime regarding Cersei was a plot to get him to leave Winterfell. After Brienne revealed that Euron had ambushed Daenerys, killed Rhaegal, and kidnapped Missandei, Sansa said to the Kingslayer: “I always wanted to be there when they execute your sister. Seems like I won’t get the chance.” Those words were deliberate. “Men do stupid things for women,” Sansa has said. “They’re easily manipulated.” Whether or not Jaime left Winterfell to kill or support Cersei, he was a means to an end for Sansa. The Lannisters are her enemies, save for Tyrion, but she knows his loyalty is questionable. No matter what happens, the end result will likely be what Sansa has anticipated. If Jaime kills Cersei, that solves the Cersei problem. If Jaime stands by Cersei, they will both likely be killed in King’s Landing at the hands of Daenerys’s army, her dragon, Arya, or someone else. Better to have both Jaime and Cersei in King’s Landing for the battle that’s about to ensue.
Sansa is fighting every battle at the moment, even though she’s all the way in Winterfell. She’s lost too much to let the last of the Starks die out because of a fight between a Targaryen queen and Lannister queen. With everything she’s set in motion, the odds of Sansa and the Starks coming out on top are in her favor. When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. Sansa’s not about to be on the losing side this time. Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.