One of the pivotal events of this week’s episode was definitely the “Bastard Letter,” or “Pink Letter” as it is known in the books. Putting a definite damper on the long-awaited reunion of Sansa Stark and Jon Snow, the letter was horrifying. In it, Ramsay (?) states that he has Rickon, and Shaggydog is dead. He goes on to threaten Sansa, Jon, Rickon, and every wildling under Jon’s protection with some very graphic threats.
So far, no big mystery, right? Just Ramsay being his usual sociopathic self. I thought so at first, but now I’m not so sure. Something bothered me during the reading of the letter, but I couldn’t put my finger on it until a few hours later, then I had to go back and rewatch to be sure.
So this is what I think. Ramsay didn’t write the letter. Not only that, but I think D&D left us a little hint as to who the real author is. Earlier in the episode, Petyr Baelish visits Robin Arryn, who is being watched over by Lord Royce in the Vale. He’s brought Robin a gift, a caged falcon. “Come and see,” he tells Robin. Later, when the “Bastard Letter” is read aloud, that same phrase is repeated several times. Could it be that Littlefinger used that phrase when talking to Robin because it was fresh in his mind, like maybe he had just written it over and over again in the letter?
I know. On the face of it, this idea is pretty thin. So let’s look closer. From a meta standpoint, why would the writers have Littlefinger use this particular phrase? They are usually good about seeding clues and having those seeds bear fruit later, with maybe a few continuity problems (Melisandre’s necklace, I’m looking at you.)
Another problem I had with the letter: I can see Ramsay threatening Sansa, and Rickon, and even Jon. He’s a psycho. But why try so blatantly to infuriate the wildlings? Ramsay doesn’t have a huge standing army, and I’m sure at least some of them were killed in the battle with Stannis. So why use wording which specifically targets the wildlings, not just the warriors, but also the women and children? Before the Bastard Letter, Jon was reluctant to ask the wildlings to fight with him, and unsure about whether they would fight with him even if he asked. The letter served the purpose of making the wildlings see this as their fight as well.
So who stands to gain if the wildlings join the fight? The Northern lords? Hardly. In fact, using the wildlings to retake Winterfell might turn the entire North against Jon and maybe Sansa. In fact, the only person I can think of who might benefit is Petyr Baelish.
But why? Well, Littlefinger has quietly become one of the most powerful men in Westeros. He has control over Robin Arryn, Lord of the Vale and Warden of the East. He has also been promised Winterfell and the title of Warden of the North if he can get rid of the Boltons and Sansa Stark. He is also the Lord of Harrenhall.
So here’s how I think his plan works: First, enrage Jon Snow and the wildlings so they will run headlong at Winterfell and the Bolton forces. Next, sneak a message to Ramsay warning him of when the attack will occur. When Jon and the wildling (plus any other men Jon has managed to rally) attack, the Boltons will be ready, and a large part of Jon’s forces, probably including most of the wildlings, will be killed. When all seems lost, the knights of the Vale will arrive with Petyr Baelish leading them. He will be seen as the savior of the North, and with most of the northern forces either dead or assimilated into his own army, taking Winterfell will be a breeze.
So how did Littlefinger know that Ramsay had Rickon? Maybe he was the one who told Lord Umber to hand the boy over. After all, Umber sure was squirrely about swearing an oath of fealty. Maybe that was because he was already in the process of betraying Ramsay.
So what do you think? Possible? Plausible? Or should I start fashioning a hat out of tinfoil? Let me know in the comments. Also, if you would like to know more about Petyr Baelish, let me know and I will put together an in-depth profile of this enigmatic character.