In an episode of Game of Thrones packed with significant moments — , trying and failing to live a quiet life, to — one short, mysterious scene in ‘The Broken Man’ could prove to have perhaps the greatest consequences of all.
After witnessing her brother Jon Snow’s failure to unite his own army, much less attract more soldiers for the Stark cause in any significant numbers (sixty-two men from the House Mormont is hardly a game-changer, as she drolly points out), Sansa seeks solitude in one of the tents at camp and pens a letter.
Who is the letter intended for, and what does it say? Something about the way Sansa reads over it a second time after stamping the parchment with the Stark sigil suggests she’s apprehensive about sending it, perhaps because the recipient is somebody Jon Snow wouldn’t be pleased about forming an alliance with.
Take a closer look, and the phrases “forfeit your…” and “for Winterfell” are present in the first and second lines of the message. The former would suggest that she’s making somebody an offer — forfeit your title, or privilege, and you can have safety or something equally valuable in return — while the latter might be a command to ride for Winterfell immediately.
Sansa’s decision to strike out without Jon and take a strategic decision alone is pretty significant for her character arc. We’re seeing somebody now so versed in the art of war that she’s able to a take a decision which could result in the death of thousands of men and wildlings, confident enough to trust her own judgment above that of the former Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.
Basically, she’s become a total bad bitch.
As far as I can tell, the letter has three possible recipients. The first would be the families of the North not yet persuaded to fight alongside the Starks: the Karstarks and the Umbers. Trying to negotiate with the Karstarks would be delicate, on account of the fact that Robb once beheaded a member of their House.
The Umbers, on the other hand, were allegedly keeping watch over Rickon and Osha before they were delivered to Ramsay Bolton earlier this season. If the letter was written to the Umbers, that would essentially discredit the theory that they only handed Rickon over to Ramsay as part of a wider ruse to betray the House Bolton and win the North back for the Starks.