WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT
If you don't want to ruin what's left of Game of Thrones season 7, stop reading here.
WHILE all the major players in Game of Thrones are running around quite literally like headless chooks (sorry Starks), one contender has been content to bide his time and wait for the moment to strike.
It's what makes Petyr Baelish or "Littlefinger" such a dangerous character. He's the self-made man with a big plan and for the first time in seven seasons, he's revealed his sneaky ambitions: to marry Sansa and rule over the Seven Kingdoms.
But could he just be throwing us another red herring?
One Reddit user called Squirrelwoman has shared her epic theory on Baelish's true intentions - and they're anything but honourable.
"If Jon takes the North/Vale army to fight the Night King, he will ruin the checkmate that Littlefinger has spent years setting up... using that same army to install Sansa as his puppet on the Iron Throne once the Cersei/Daenerys war leaves his enemies too weakened to resist him. Littlefinger's current moves at Winterfell, including his murky interactions with Arya and Bran, serve his greater purpose of ousting Jon before the army moves out.
"Littlefinger wants Sansa and the Iron Throne; Jon is the roadblock in the way of both goals.
Littlefinger's already told us what his basic strategy is; he lets his enemies destroy each other for him while he acquires more territory and an ever-larger army. Adding the North to his pile is his next step, and while he seems to be sitting around Winterfell twiddling his thumbs, he's actually positioned exactly where he wants to be, with a fantastic excuse for staying out of the fiery bloodbath to the south.
"While Littlefinger and his army are parked safely at Winterfell, his rivals are dropping like flies: the Martells and Tyrells are gone, half the Greyjoy fleet just sunk the other half, and Team Cersei and Team Daenerys are hacking away huge chunks of each other's military might every time they clash.
"In Littlefinger's plan, it doesn't matter much whether it's Cersei or Daenerys who wins; whichever one sits on the Iron Throne at the end will do so with heavy martial losses and a serious public relations problem. People hated Targaryens before one unleashed a Dothraki horde and burninated the countryside … and they hated Cersei before she blew up their religion and strutted around pregnant with her brother's baby, thus proving the rumours true that Joffrey and Tommen were never legitimate kings.
"And just imagine ... into this mess rides the Queen in the North, true-born supermodel daughter of the famously noble, recently vindicated Ned Stark, with the united armies (and food!) of the North, the Vale, and the Riverlands behind her, to be hailed as the liberator of the Seven Kingdoms. It would be sweet justice immortalised in a thousand songs. Once Littlefinger has Sansa installed, Littlefinger can either be the power behind the throne or marry her to claim it himself.
"But then Jon threw a wrench in this plan by not dying during the Battle of the Bastards ... and another by being so impressive that no one in the North cared that Sansa outranked him ... and yet another when he crowned himself King of the Cockblock.
"But to Littlefinger, there's something even worse and more dangerous about Jon: if Jon isn't stopped soon, Jon is going to completely destroy Littlefinger's throne-taking army by marching it north to die fighting magical snow zombies.
"So when Bran shows up, Littlefinger tries to turn him into an asset. Bran is physically weak and seems like he might have some mental problems to boot; at first glance, he seems like he might be as easy to manipulate as Sweetrobin. That could even be a sweet shortcut for Littlefinger; instead of having to painstakingly chip away at Sansa's defences, he could just get Bran to command Sansa to marry him.
"So Littlefinger gives Bran a neat present, tries to ingratiate himself, and starts working the "Hey, y'know, YOU'RE the rightful Lord of Winterfell, not that bastard brother of yours" angle. If he can get Bran to challenge Jon, either outcome is a win; even if Jon stays in power, Jon will take a massive hit to his reputation and the loyalty of his Stark-sworn bannermen.
"But instead, of course, Bran looks right through Littlefinger and tells him that "chaos is a ladder". And while it's plenty unsettling on the "I know about s--t you said to Varys in private" level, it also implies that Bran knows exactly what Littlefinger is trying to do at Winterfell … create chaos so that he can climb the ladder.
"And now Arya shows up. And Arya is a problem. Not just because Littlefinger recognises that fighting style, but because any of the folks currently at Winterfell who spent time around the Stark kids before the war could have told him that Arya and Jon were best buddies. That'd be dangerous to have around even before you threw Arya's currently unknown badass capabilities into the mix.
"But if Littlefinger can set up a situation where Sansa and Arya are at odds with each other, the potential benefits to him are huge: right now, if Littlefinger tried to poison Sansa against Jon, Arya could talk some sense into her … but Arya will lose all her power to do that if Sansa no longer trusts her.
"If Arya thinks Sansa is plotting against Jon, Arya would likely start undermining Sansa … and since Sansa is actually trying to help Jon, Arya will be making Jon's situation worse. And if Sansa finds out, they'd be even madder at each other.
"Moreover, if s--t goes down before Jon returns, he'd be asked to choose sides … either pissing off a terrifying little No One, or the woman half his army are more loyal to than him.
"And maybe more importantly than any of that in Littlefinger's eyes, the situation has the potential to cause Sansa to feel utter despair. For years, Sansa has longed to go home, to escape backstabbing and intrigue and return to a place where she can truly feel safe, surrounded by love and honesty. If Sansa has finally gotten back to Winterfell, finally gotten back to the Starks, only to have the Bran-bot stare at a tree while Jon and Arya betray her ... after everything Sansa's been through, that could be the thing that truly breaks her and sends her running into Littlefinger's arms.
"So with all those potential benefits held in his mind, Littlefinger's doing what he was already planning to do … exploit Jon's absence to sow doubt among Jon's bannermen and try to flip their loyalty over to Sansa … while attempting to set up Arya to believe that it was Sansa's idea.
"That scene we witnessed, with Littlefinger talking so earnestly to the young Karstark heir (the random young girl that totally wasn't Karstark, my bad?) I suspect he's going to use her to frame Arya to Sansa just as he framed Sansa to Arya.
"And then, please, PLEASE, let Littlefinger have underestimated one or all of them and die in some immensely satisfying, karmic retribution way."
Game of Thrones airs Mondays at 11am and 8.30pm on Foxtel's Showcase channel.