by Emily Reuben
This article contains spoilers for Game of Thrones.
In the first season of Game of Thrones‘ episode “The Pointy End”, Sansa Stark desperately tries to convey to Cersei Lannister, “You’ll see. I’ll be a queen just like you; I promise.” Queen Cersei’s face immediately sours, as if concerned the statement may be true.
Despite the sentiment expressed above, Sansa Stark and Cersei Lannister have a bit of a…troubled past. Sansa, previously engaged to Cersei’s infamously hated son, has undergone numerous hardships largely at Cersei’s hands. At first glance, there is little in common between the ruthless Lannister and stubborn Stark, but many speculate that some of the minute details in Game of Thrones point to an unlikely relationship between the two.
So far, Game of Thrones season seven has been rather kind to Sansa; she is finally being portrayed as more of a leader utilizing common sense rather than acting impulsively like a child. Numerous scenes thus far have emphasized Sansa’s wit and skepticism, and while the latter trait may come off as abrasive when used against Jon Snow, skepticism is more than required to survive in Game of Throne’s brutal world. Sansa saved the day during the Battle of Bastards, and she is hard pressed to let Jon forget that fact. Constantly questioning Jon’s leadership decisions, Sansa is showing signs that she has a hunger for leadership.
Cersei, on the other hand, has been portrayed as a relentless monster fighting only for herself. Without her children to retain her humanity like in previous seasons, Cersei has nothing to keep her grounded. Despite her terrible nature, Cersei is doing quite well on the battlefield. With two wins against Daenerys Targaryen, Cersei is currently winning the war. Cold and calculating, Cersei Lannister has become a formidable foe for The King of the North and The Mother of Dragons, yet as shown in the premiere episode of season seven “Dragonstone”, Sansa certainly still seems to admire her enemy:
“You almost sound as if you admire her,” Jon says.
“I learned a great deal from her,” Sansa replies.
While this passing remark can be taken at face value, smaller details usually have relevance in the world of Game of Thrones. Foreshadowing within dialogue is a common occurrence throughout the series: Jamie had once mentioned he didn’t want to be crippled to Tyrion; Tyrion discussed murdering fathers with Jamie before killing his own; Varys made an on the nose statement about hating weddings prior to the Red and Purple Weddings; and the death of Daenerys’ child was almost blatantly stated by the witch Khaleesi had saved. These are only a few examples of the important hints and outright reveals within the series. If history repeats itself, and it does, Sansa’s statement to Jon holds some relevance to her future.
Aside from Cersei, another notable influence on Sansa is her mother, Catelyn. Even though Catelyn and Cersei were fierce enemies, the two embattled mothers have been compared in the show as well. Jaime mentions to to Edmure Tully in the season six episode “No One”, “I admired [Catelyn]… The love she had for her children… reminded me of my sister… Catelyn and Cersei, there’s a fierceness you don’t often see. ” This maternal love has driven both to ruthlessly do what they saw as necessary for protecting their children. The very same episode containing the exchange between Jaime and Edmure affirms Sansa’s connection to Cersei later when the Blackfish is reading Sansa’s letter and states that “she’s exactly like her mother.” It seems the show is attempting to further develop a connection between Sansa and Cersei through the similarities between Sansa and her mother.
So how exactly do these three women: Cersei, Catelyn, Margery relate to Sansa becoming a Cersei-like figure? If the dialogue isn’t convincing enough, visual clues are planted within the Game of Thrones universe that reveal clues about character’s future successes, failures, motivations, and even deaths. As demonstrated in a Cracked article detailing the tiny details the show creator’s included in the series, character’s clothing intentionally indicate an entire character arc in the form of a crown, dress, or pendant for keen viewers. Similarly, intentional decisions such as the hairstyles given to certain characters hold the same weight. Depending on who Sansa is most interested with at the time, she emulates the hairstyle of the women she admires.
The idea that a detail so small such as a hairstyle could represent anything may seem far fetched to some, but Sophie Turner, the actress who plays Sansa, reaffirms this idea in an interview with Refinery29:
“Sansa’s hair is constantly reflecting the people she’s learning from, or mimicking, or inspired by at the time,” Turner explains. “When she’s Cersei’s prisoner, and she’s kind of absorbing all her manipulative techniques, it’s reflected in her hairstyle, and when she’s finding the spirit of Margaery in herself, she wears her hair like Margaery.”
Cersei, Catelyn, and Margery are all women Sansa has learned from or aspired to be like, and her respective hairstyle reflects her desires and aspirations. The premiere episode of season seven shows Sansa mimicking Cersei’s hairstyle, suggesting that Sansa intends to behave like Cersei.
Going back to the quote in season one, Sansa expressed a desire to be a queen like Cersei. While Sansa may not be a queen, she has a position of power. All of the evidence supports the notion that with that power she may very well start behaving like the manipulative Queen Cersei, doing whatever it takes to protect the remaining Starks and claim victory against the Lannister Lioness. This line of reasoning is supported by line from Sansa spoken in the second trailer leading up to season seven, “When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.” Here Sansa acknowledges that she has to do her part to keep her family together to keep them alive.
As Sansa heads down the warpath, displaying the wit and temperament necessary to rule the North and to keep her family safe, she is going to need a hairstyle all her own for future young ladies to emulate.