The latest series of HBO’s Game of Thrones finally brought long-lost siblings (well actually cousins, but they don’t know that) Sansa Stark and Jon Snow back together, with their happy reunion one of the rare moments of joy in the dark drama.
However, fans were quick to notice that the pair (played by Sophie Turner and Kit Harington) had a surprising amount of chemistry considering their familial ties, with some viewers pondering if the pair could have a romantic connection in the series’ future.
Now, this probably sounds a bit crazy – they were raised as brother and sister, after all – but as noted, they’re actually cousins, and in a world where real brothers and sisters get together quite a bit (we’re looking at you, House Targaryen and House Lannister) this wouldn’t be so strange.
Plus, as it turns out, a Jon and Sansa romance (Jonsa, anyone?) might have been already teased by author George RR Martin in the books the series is based on.
Let’s lay this out. As a new video by Alt Shift X explains (below), the theory revolves around a 2005 short story written by Martin called The Hedge Knight, set in the same world as Game of Thrones and following the adventures of low-born knight Ser Duncan the Tall around 100 years before the events of the main books and TV series.
The bulk of this story takes place at the so-called Tourney of Ashford Meadow, which saw combatants try to get a place as one of five final champions who would fight for the hand of Lord Ashford’s daughter – and as some Thrones fans have since noticed, the five nobles who made the cut line up curiously well with Sansa’s suitors in the series. Well, the book series anyway.
Let’s have a reminder. First, book-Sansa was bethrothed to Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson in the series), then the Tyrells try to marry her into their house (to Finn Jones’ Loras in the TV series and Willas Tyrell in the books), only for Tywin Lannister to swoop in and marry Sansa to his son Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) instead.
After that in the books, Sansa was betrothed to Harry Hardyng, the heir to The Vale, though in the TV series she was married to Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) instead (the books saw a girl called Jeyne Poole, disguised as Sansa’s sister Arya, marrying Ramsay in her place).
In The Hedge Knight, the suitors who look for Lady Ashford’s hand are: Ser Lyonel Baratheon, Lord Leo Tyrell, Ser Tybolt Lannister and Ser Humfrey Hardyng, all of whom line up well with Sansa’s own suitors (especially considering House Hardyng is quite an obscure family).
And the fifth suitor? Prince Valarr Targaryen, suggesting that Sansa’s final marriage pact could put her into a partnership with a present-day member of the former royal house.
Now, if we do take this as some subtle foreshadowing on the part of George RR Martin, there are a few candidates for this Targaryen marriage role. Obviously Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen is the most high-profile, but unless Westeros introduces gay marriage anytime soon it seems unlikely a match could be found between the two women (unless the “marriage” is emblematic of some sort of close friendship or alliance instead).
A still from the Alt Shift X theory video
Alternatively, it could be that Sansa is destined to be matched with Prince Aegon Targaryen, a character from the novels not in the TV series who claims to be the assumed-dead son of deceased prince Rhaegar Targaryen (but may actually be an imposter, whether he knows it or not).
So yes, it could be either of those Targaryens. But it’s probably not. If we’re honest, there’s only one Targaryen heir who REALLY fits the bill, and that’s Jon Snow. As we learned in the most recent series of the TV show, Jon is actually the scion of House Stark AND House Targaryen, the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark and a figure with a significant claim to the Iron Throne – even if he doesn’t know it yet.
Perhaps in future series Jon will discover his heritage and partner with Sansa, swallowing the weirdness of marrying his “sister” in order to protect her and secure the allegiance of the Northern Houses sworn to her – after all, the TV series (which is currently running ahead of the books) must have brought them back together for a reason.
A portion of George RR Martin's original pitch for A Song of Ice and Fire, via Watchers on the Wall
Adding to the possibility of this potential outcome is the fact that Aegon hasn’t been included in the TV series, along with the fact that George RR Martin’s original Game of Thrones outline had Jon in love with one of his sister-cousins – though in that early draft (above, which sketched out the saga as a trilogy rather than the seven-book epic it became) it was Maisie Williams’ Arya who shared a passion with Kit Harington’s Night’s Watchman. Could it be that this storyline shifted to Sansa instead?
For now, it’s still a mystery – it could be that this is a bit of clever work by Martin, who loves leaving clues for his readers in his works, or it could just be that those readers are over-zealously finding clues among coincidences.
With that said, a lot of the facts do seem to line up and we do know that Jon Snow loves a redhead, so we won’t throw this idea out into the long night just yet. Jonsa 5eva.
Game of Thrones will return next summer