This past Sunday (May 15), things really ratcheted up a notch in the world of "Game of Thrones." Not only did two of the Starks, Jon Snow and Sansa, finally reunite with one another after six agonizing years apart, but they also began making plans to take back Winterfell from the Boltons — and it's all thanks to a letter Ramsay Bolton sent to Jon, in which he admitted to capturing Rickon and demanded Sansa's return.
This new version of the letter (called "The Pink Letter" or "The Bastard Letter" by some "A Song Of Ice and Fire" fans) has a lot of viewers claiming that the show has definitively disproven a popular book theory — namely, that Ramsay didn't actually write the letter at all, and someone is trying to manipulate Jon Snow. But come on, guys, since when does the show represent the end-all-be-all of Westerosi lore? Remember how it killed literally all of Dorne and then George R.R. Martin released a Dorne chapter from "Winds Of Winter," like, a week later?
In my tinfoil hat-covered heart of hearts, I want to believe something else. What if, in the context of the show, Ramsay still didn't write the letter? What if ... Sansa did?
I know, I know, it sounds bonkers and it most likely isn't even true. But here's why the idea is so fascinating to me:
Point: A LOT of fans don't think that Ramsay wrote the Pink Letter from the book.
In the book "A Dance With Dragons," the letter goes down a lot differently.
To lay claim to Winterfell, Ramsay Bolton weds who he thinks is Arya Stark, not Sansa. (It's not actually her since she's off being an assassin, though nobody but Theon knows that.) Meanwhile, Jon Snow discovers that Mance Rayder isn't actually dead after all — Melisandre just tricked everybody into thinking she burned him alive — and he sends him and a team of wildlings to rescue "Arya."
Later Snow receives a letter, presumably from Ramsay. It says that Stannis Baratheon is dead, Mance Rayder has been captured, and Snow needs to return both "Arya" and Theon (who, like Sansa and Theon on the show, escaped on his own) to Ramsay or else. Snow decides he needs to take some troops away from Castle Black to go to Winterfell, and that's when his fellow Night's Watch compatriots decide to get all stabby with him.
For a lot of fans, that letter has always been suspect. First of all, it's sealed with a smear of pink wax that does not seem to have the House Bolton seal stamped into it (the show one does, but I'll get to that in a second). It's also written in ink on regular parchment; Ramsay was previously seen sending letters to the Iron Islands that were written in blood and included pieces of skin.
What's in the letter is off, too. It mentions details about the battle with Stannis that don't line up with what we see from the perspective of other characters, and it accuses Jon Snow of pretending to kill Mance Rayder when Snow didn't even know Rayder was alive until just before he was sent to rescue (fake) Arya.
Of course, none of this is definitive proof that Ramsay didn't write the letter. But a lot of "Game of Thrones" fans don't believe it, and when a lot of "Game of Thrones" fans are generally in consensus about a theory — like Jon Snow being resurrected, for example — they're usually not very far off.
Point: Sansa is the only one who still wants Jon to return to Winterfell.
So, if we go in assuming that the Pink Letter was written by someone else, why would that someone do it? To get Jon Snow away from Castle Black and marching towards Winterfell, of course. But who would even want him to do that anymore?
In the books, plenty of characters have their reasons for sending Jon back home. Still-alive Stannis (and Melisandre by proxy) specifically wants him to lay claim to the Stark title so he can help overthrow the Boltons. Others theorize that Mance Rayder wants Snow to bring Mance's family with him (they don't exist in the show), so that they can all escape into the North together. I've even seen one fan theory suggest that Melisandre wannts to lure Jon Snow into battle so he can die and be resurrected, thus proving that he is the Prince Who Was Promised.
In the show, though, all of these characters are definitely dead — and in Melisandre's case, she's already brought Snow back to life. But Sansa, who spent most of her previous encounter with Jon that episode trying to convince him to take back Winterfell, has plenty of incentive. She wants her home back, and she wants Ramsay dead. Who better to deliver that outcome to her than Snow's army of followers?
Counterpoint: How would she know about Rickon?
The one thing that doesn't add up — and yeah, it's a big one — is how Sansa could already know that Ramsay has Rickon in his custody.
Here's my pitch: the North remembers. I saw a lot of fans on Twitter who had no trouble suggesting that this newly rediscovered Rickon is an imposter planted there by Stark loyalists and his direwolf isn't really dead (even though he's played by the same actor) — so the idea that one of Stark's former bannerman has somehow gotten word to Sansa about his brother and perhaps even managed to fake-deliver a letter to Castle Black on her orders (and that somehow Sansa would have secured herself a Flayed Man seal stamp from Winterfell before escaping, because that's also an important point) feels a little more plausible in comparison.
It's still tinfoil, don't get me wrong, but it's a little less wrinkled. And I'm willing to hand wave this one hole in my theory away to embrace what longterm narrative effects a Sansa-written pick letter would have.
Point: The letter actually calls out Sansa's rape for what it is, which is rare.
In both versions of the letter, Ramsay wants his "bride back," among many other things. But in the show, the letter takes it a step further and outlines all the horrors Ramsay will inflict on Snow's family if he doesn't get what he wants. "You will watch as my soldiers take turns raping your sister," it — or rather, Sansa — reads.
It's a fascinating addition, because despite the overabundance of rape scenes on "Game of Thrones," not very many of the characters who actually commit these assaults refer to the crime by name*. They usually just do it, or else they threaten it by implication (Joffrey once did that to Sansa during her wedding to Tyrion). Instead, it usually falls to the "good guys" to actually use the word "rape" — like when Oberyn Martell demanded that The Mountain admit to raping his sister Elia in Season 4, or back in Season 1 when Daenerys insisted that Khal Drogo tell his Dothraki riders to stop raping the women they capture.
So why would Ramsay use the term now? Obviously it would get a rise out of Jon, though not any more than if he'd said his soldiers would take turns "fucking" Sansa instead. But Sansa, who is the person actually being threatened in this scenario, and who's already endured sexual assault firsthand, might refer to it that way.
Of course, it's also possible that the showrunners are overcorrecting after so many public condemnations of their sexual assault storylines, and think using the word "rape" will earn them some awareness brownie parts. But I hope that's not the case, because ...
Point: Sansa needs to get back to playing the game already, and this would be the best way to do it.
Fans were upset about Sansa's rape last year for a whole host of different reasons — that "Game of Thrones" tends to rely on sexual assault as shorthand for a character's villainy, that it doesn't usually spend a lot of meaningful follow-up time with those who suffer those assaults, and that the rape wasn't something that happened to Sansa in the books, for starters.
But one of the biggest problems that I personally had with it is that by once again placing her back into the role of the pitiable victim being shuffled from abuser to abuser, the show effectively stalled her growth into the manipulative game-playing queen I know she can be. Remember how badass she was at the end of the fourth season, with her dark hair and her sneaky lies? Remember how she saved Petyr Baelish's hide not because of any loyalty towards him, but because she thought she could manipulate him into protecting her? THAT WAS AMAZING.
Which brings me to the real reason I'm so fascinated by this theory: If Sansa wrote the Pink Letter, then she's not just indirectly taking ownership of her own experience as a sexual assault survivor, she's also using it as a tool to get what she wants. In the world of "Game of Thrones," where women are routinely raped for no reason other than to shock the viewer, being able to give your own assault that kind of power and meaning is basically the ultimate power play.
It's also not without precedence: Daenerys did something similar by leaning into her status as the Khaleesi of Khal Drogo's army. But yelling from the rooftops of Vaes Dothrak doesn't win you the Game of Thrones in the end — being smart and sneaky does.
Conclusion: Probably not true, but BOY would it be amazing.
This theory is, admittedly, a long shot. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it probably will never happen. It's right up there with time-travelling Bran Stark and Tyrion being a secret Targaryen.
But as a viewer who almost quit "Game of Thrones" entirely during the fifth season, it brings much-desired meaning to the show's many Sansa-related mistakes. I want to live in the world, briefly, where Sansa is enough of a baller to manipulate even her own brother into fighting a war on her behalf.
We know Sansa's learned from the best. How great it would it be to see her actually put those teachings to the test?