GOT View : Littlefinger’s Pivot

With Season 7 arriving imminently, the celebrated and multi-award winning Television Show ‘Game of Thrones’ will enter it’s final season. With 7 Episodes set to deliver the fates of a dozen plot lines and more people than a Frey family meeting, you can imagine that they’re going to rush through a few. We, along with everyone who isn’t George R.R. Martin, can only speculate on Westeros and Slavers Bay.

Which brings us to start with Lord Petyr Baelish, Acting Lord of The Vale, Warden of etc etc. Littlefinger has been a constant since the first season, surviving battle and war, avoiding mad weddings and stadiums with dragons. Like his adversary come buddy Varys, he weaves his web of deceit and betrayals carefully. While overlooked quite often for the show’s more prominent characters, his record of treachery is astounding.

When King Robert is gutted by a boar, it is Littlefinger who counsels Lord Stark against exposing the Queen’s secret. Proclaiming Lord Stannis as the rightful heir would lead to nothing but war and destruction, the suffering of thousands and the fracturing of the realm. In addition, Stannis was no friend to Littlefinger and his ascension to the throne would undo all his industry. All this mattered little and less to Lord Eddard, as the alternative was too dishonourable for him to contemplate. Littlefinger’s motto of self preservation and advancement lead him to hand over Lord Stark on a platter to Joffrey’s tender ‘mercy’.

For his role in the succession, the Lannisters reward him with titles. You’d think he’d be happy. Baelish promptly conspires, conceptualises even, the murder of King Joffrey, mad cretin that he was. Committing regicide with the help of the Tyrells, Littlefinger later aids the High Septon and Queen Cersei by providing a witness for the trial of Loras Tyrell. When exposed for his role by Lady Olenna, he delivers another witness to implicate Cersei. In between all this, he marries and kills Lysa Arryn, becoming Warden of the East and Acting Lord of The Vale.

Well, no one could ever accuse him of inconsistency.

Yet when we arrive at the current scenario, he’s in a pretty favourable position. Due to the less screen time The Vale gets, the audience have been prone to overlook several factors. For the last few years while the rest of Westeros warred, the Knights of the Vale have seen no devastation, no famine nor casualties. Their gates are impregnable and the surrounding kingdoms (the Reach, the Stormlands, the Westerlands) have either been ravaged or rendered leaderless. Opportunity presents itself, if the right allies are chosen and the winning side picked. The logical conclusion would be to back the incoming Targaryens. Dragons are a huge advantage, after all.

Littlefinger is however, complex.

His relationship with Sansa Stark is a Freudian nightmare, with equal parts mentor/stalker. Though he has a  creepy-uncle vibe about him, her character grows exponentially under his tutelage.

Dismissed in the first three seasons as a whimpering, pitiful simpleton, Sansa has stepped up considerably under Baelish’s guidance. She lies, schemes and uses her position to exact justice, even if it was slightly bloody (though dog-friendly!). Deprived of the father Baelish betrayed, she looks to him to instruct her on the cruel realities of Life. Their characters are interlinked and will have a pivotal influence on his ultimate fate. With Sansa bowing to Jon as ‘King in the North’, she turned on Baelish’s advice, who urged her to seize command for herself. Realising his inability to influence her may sway Littlefinger’s future.

Littlefinger is often driven by motivations formed in a troubled youth. The son of a petty lord, he was rejected by Catelyn Stark, humiliated in a duel for her hand and banished for dreaming above his station. His lowly birth has driven him to achievement, steady accruing position, wealth, titles and armies. Yet it are these very links to the past that make him act irrationally. Petyr’s declaration of continuing love for Catelyn after the death of Lord Eddard smacked of insanity while his pursuit/pedagogy of Sansa echoes a petty vengeance against her mother. While Sansa is alive, his ability to be irrational could be constantly brought to the fore.

In his world, Littlefinger views himself as the underdog, dismissed for his low birth. When Lord Tully expelled him from Riverrun, he convinced himself that Catelyn would have returned his affection if he was of the right station. His denial of the truth persuades him to believe he is creating a better world, one where merit and ability, not lineage, determine people’s fates. His struggle is heroic and intrepid, owing no principle except one of limitless ambition and self-enrichment. For the sake of justice and fair play, after all.

As Queen Daenaerys invades, with the Reach & Dorne at her side, along with the Dothraki, the Unsullied and mercenaries, it’s unlikely the Iron Throne remains draped in Lannister colours. While Baelish should be astute enough to realise it, another Targareyn dynasty would also run contrary to his deepest ambitions. His ultimate desire to sit on the Iron Throne, often stated, may eventually be his downfall. Allying with House Lannister and prolonging the chaos that grips Westeros would suit him gladly. As Varys once blithely put it, ‘He would let this Country burn if he could be King of the ashes.’ Accepting a position such as Lord of the Vale may not appeal to his grandiose visions.

 

We would wager that Baelish doesn’t survive the ensuing turmoil. If Olenna Tyrell decides she would prefer his corpse, his role in Joffrey’s murder would be brought to light.  We can only wonder at what Cersei Lannister would devise as punishment.

However, he has surprised us before.

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