Forget all the other mess that happened in the Game of Thrones series finale, let’s talk about Queen Sansa Stark.
After spending the entirety of season 8 obnoxiously yelling, “I know no queen but the queen in the north whose name is Stark” as a way to declare my fealty to the person who should clearly be the rightful queen, Game of Thrones rewarded me by actually making it true.
Of course, what I was actually hoping for was that Sansa would end up Queen on the Iron Throne, but I was also actually hoping that we’d get a satisfying and well-written final season, so at this point I’ll take what I can get.
And what I got amidst the wreckage of a brutally unsatisfying finale was a series of scenes which culminated with Queen Sansa sitting with a direwolf crown atop her head as all the Northern bannermen cheered the Queen of the newly independent (thanks to Sansa) North.
One of the first things that we learn about Sansa at the very beginning of Game of Thrones is that she wants to be queen. In fact, she even says out loud that it’s what she wants more than anything.
Of course, there’s a lot more to being a good queen than just wanting it — and through the years, through her many mistakes and traumas and tragedies, Sansa has seen what it means to rule and what it takes to be a queen, and she has learned what it means it means to be good at both.
She has learned and demonstrated that she understands the policies and politics of ruling, and that she has the cunning to adeptly maneuver through the game of thrones as well as the patience and skill to manage the more tedious tasks of running a kingdom.
It was because of her political maneuvering and cunning that the Battle of the Bastards was won in favor of the Starks. It was her foresight and planning that raised Winterfell back up and made it possible for it to be the place where the armies of man could make their stand against the hordes of the frozen undead and The Night King.
As Tyrion said in the first episode of this final season — all those who underestimated Sansa are now dead. That Sansa has outlived those who underestimated her, manipulated her, and abused her is a triumph in and of itself, but the fact that she managed to both outwit and then outlive many of her abusers is a thing of pure beauty.
Her resilience and strength in the face of continuous cruelty hardened her resolve and strengthened her spine, but never to the point where becoming tough became all that she was.
Having once been powerless, she understood the importance of using one’s own power carefully and cautiously. Having once been fooled by the pretty smiles which hid the darkness underneath, she learned to look beyond the surface and study a person’s motivation. Having once been seduced by the ways of the South, she recognized the source of her strength within the walls of Winterfell.
Sansa’s journey has been many things, but one of them has been from a girl who wanted to be queen to a woman who deserved to be queen.
Over the course of these eight seasons, we’ve seen Sansa survive and thrive despite her many tormentors. We’ve seen her learn to become a fair, measured and meticulous leader. We’ve seen her put the North first in everything, always.
Jon Snow might’ve been crowned King in the North, but to me, Sansa was always the queen in every way that actually mattered.
Which is why her final scenes in the series finale of Game of Thrones made me both cheer out loud (perhaps too loud, if you were to ask my dog and/or husband) and immediately start crying.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been on #teamsansa since the very beginning of the show (before, even, because I read all the books in preparation for the show’s premiere) — a time in which it was, to the say least, very unpopular to even casually mention that you didn’t outright hate her.
So to see her put on a coronation dress that in Stark house colors, with Weirwood leaves embroidered on it and direwolves holding one another up as her crown, was an entirely emotional affair for me.
After everything she suffered through — all the abuse, the cruelty, the manipulation — there she was, sitting on the throne, first Queen of the independent North in a thousand years and thereby realizing the dream for which her mother and brother died.
So, let me say it again, because it’s finally true and it feels good to be right: I know no queen but the Queen in the North whose name is Sansa Stark.
Long may she reign.