Sunday’s Game of Thrones was a trip down memory lane: From Jorah’s reunion with Daenerys to Gendry’s surprise recruitment in the war against the White Walkers, “Eastwatch” dug up all sorts of long-simmering story lines ahead of what looks to be a major battle in next week’s episode. But one particular moment might’ve had you scratching your head: What was that letter that Arya found in Littlefinger’s room?
To explain, let’s jump back to Game of Thrones season one, all the way back when Ned Stark’s head was still attached to his body, the War of the Five Kings hadn’t started, and the Night King was just a scary story for kids who didn’t finish their veggies. After Robert Baratheon’s death and Ned’s subsequent arrest in King’s Landing, Sansa was summoned by Cersei Lannister to prove her loyalty to the crown. Under the threat of being labelled a traitor like her father, Sansa was forced to write a letter to Catelyn and Robb back in Winterfell, essentially asking them to swear allegiance to King Joffrey. Here’s what she wrote: “Robb, I write to you with a heavy heart. Our good king Robert is dead, killed from wounds he took in a boar hunt. Father has been charged with treason. He conspired with Robert’s brothers against my beloved Joffrey and tried to steal his throne. The Lannisters are treating me very well and provide me with every comfort. I beg you: come to King’s Landing, swear fealty to King Joffrey, and prevent any strife between the great houses of Lannister and Stark.”
All right, back to Sunday’s episode. When Arya finds that hidden letter inside Littlefinger’s mattress, it’s the very same one that Sansa wrote to Catelyn and Robb. Now, it’s no surprise that Littlefinger knew about the letter — as Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson notes, he was in the room all those years ago when Sansa wrote it — but it’s pretty impressive that he got his hands on it. How’d that happen, exactly? Well, Winterfell’s late Maester Luwin was quite the record keeper, so Littlefinger convinced Luwin’s successor, Maester Wolkan, to dig it up for him. (Wolkan is the one who meets with Littlefinger right before Arya breaks into his room; he also confirms that the letter is “the only copy in Winterfell.”)
So that’s what the letter is. But what’s Littlefinger planning to do with it? He clearly wanted Arya to read it, so he’s definitely up to something unsavory. The best bet is that he wants to create a rift between the Stark sisters. Remember that Arya isn’t aware Sansa wrote the letter under duress, so as far as she knows, it’s legit evidence that her sister betrayed their family. Plus, Littlefinger made sure to mention “Lady Stark” during his conversation with Wolkan, so she may very well think that her sister is actually conspiring to bury the letter. If Arya starts feuding with Sansa, Littlefinger will be ready to jump at the chance to gain power. (Chaos is a ladder, etc., etc.)
Of course, a simple conversation with Sansa would clear up all of this letter confusion — not to mention how it’d put Littlefinger on the fast track to his well-deserved comeuppance. But that’d only happen if the Stark sisters can actually sit down to have that kind of chat. Good thing Arya isn’t known for making hasty decisions based on gut instincts, right?