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Why Littlefinger’s Gift to Bran Was a Plot Against Jon, and Why It Won’t Work

Why Littlefinger’s Gift to Bran Was a Plot Against Jon, and Why It Won’t Work

When Bran reveals the expensive Valyrian steel dagger he was gifted by Littlefinger, Sansa tells her younger brother what we’re all thinking: “He’s not a generous man. He wouldn’t give you anything unless he thought he was getting something back.” After years of watching Baelish scheme against and manipulate supposed allies from the shadows, we might finally know enough about his playbook to understand what he’s trying to do at Winterfell. And if the reunited Stark children can overcome the distance that still stands between them, and stick together, it could be enough to reap Littlefinger’s first failure.

We might not always know exactly what Baelish’s plans are, but we know his climb towards more and more power is made possible by chaos. Chaos that comes from vacuums of power his betrayal and treachery create. He had Lyssa kill her husband, Hand of the King Jon Arryn; he turned on Ned Stark; he plotted with Olenna Tyrell to poison Joffrey; he helped Sansa escape the Lannisters; he pushed Lyssa out of the Moon Door; he allied with the Boltons and married Sansa off to Ramsay; and then he had the Knights of the Vale fight with Jon Snow and the wildlings.

In a world where powerful people die all the time for far lesser transgressions, it’s nothing short of amazing what Baelish has managed to do without losing his own head. But it’s a specific little lie he told early on Game of Thrones that could tell us exactly why he handed Bran that dagger–one Baelish hopes will end up in Jon Snow‘s heart.

In season one, when Catelyn Stark retreived the knife that the cutthroat assassin carried with him to kill Bran in his bed, Baelish said it belonged to Tyrion Lannister. That lie resulted in the decision by Catelyn to have Tyrion arrested, which resulted in Jaime attacking Ned and his men in the streets of King’s Landing. As Baelish pointed out to Bran, in many ways it launched the war of the Five Kings, which created the chaos Littlefinger has thrived under.

However, when Bran asked him, “Do you know who this belonged to?” Littlefinger answered no. But why? Why not push the same lie? Putting the blame on Tyrion created untold chaos before–why not do so again? His lack of an answer has to do with Baelish’s biggest, most unexpected obstacle yet, the new King in the North, and furthermore his need to eliminate him.

Baelish never could have foreseen that a bastard would be named king. His plan was to install Sansa, the only living child of Ned Stark, as the Lady of Winterfell where he could manipulate her and hopefully marry her, giving him another kingdom to rule over. But Sansa was bypassed and Jon was given a far greater title, one that poses a far greater problem for Littlefinger’s ultimate goal.

He tried to start sowing the seeds of discontent between Sansa and Jon even before the Battle of the Bastards, when he reminded her of Jon’s family status. We don’t know how much that has worked yet, but we have seen Jon and Sansa butting heads over his decision making and reluctance to listen to her advice.

But if Jon was a problem, two more legitimate Stark children back in the fold makes things even more complicated for Baelish. Which is why he needs to make sure he creates wedges between all of them.

When Bran, Sansa, and Arya discussed the dagger in the godswood, Bran pointed out that a lowly assassin having such an expensive weapon means “someone very wealthy wanted me dead.” The wealthiest people at Winterfell during that attempt on his life were the Lannisters who were visiting with Robert when he came to ask Ned to be his new Hand. That’s why the lie about it belonging to Tyrion sounded so believable to Catelyn Stark.

But Baelish isn’t worried about Tyrion at the moment–another problem for another day. He wants Jon out of the way, and Jon’s relationship with Tyrion is a perfect means to that end. One of the main reasons Jon accepted the invitation to Dragonstone was he said he had faith in Tyrion, who he befriended when they both traveled to the Wall together. Jon wasn’t shy about saying this before all the lords at Winterfell. The two have a genuine relationship of respect and trust.

If you’re Baelish and you need Jon dead, but you also need a wealthy person to have supplied the dagger, you just combine the two. Here’s Jon Snow, the lowest member of House Stark, now King in the North and ruling at Winterfell. That was only possible because Robb, Rickon, and Bran were all (at least presumed) dead. Jon couldn’t be where he is now without them all being gone.

The angry, jealous bastard who wanted to rise to power conspired with his rich friend to eliminate one more Stark son, who he now went off to see to consolidate their power. It’s really a wonderful little tale that suits Baelish’s needs.

Baleish put the dagger in Bran’s hands as a part of his plan in isolating Jon from the rest of the Starks. Even as the last legitimate son of Ned Stark a crippled Bran isn’t as big a threat to Baelish as Jon is, and a younger daughter like Arya even less so. If he can get the Stark children to turn on Jon it not only eliminates him, it weakens House Stark, and it’s creates chaos.

Unfortunately for Baelish, he has no idea who he is dealing with. Ned’s children aren’t as naive as their father.

Bran might have asked Baelish who the dagger belonged to, but he might already know himself, the way he knew Baelish once said “chaos is a ladder.” And if he doesn’t he might be able to learn it in a vision, the way he saw Sansa’s wedding and Arya at the Crossroads Inn plotting to assassinate Cersei. Not to mention he might learn how Baelish turned on his father after Robert Baratheon’s death.

Part of Arya’s training from the Faceless Men involved learning to tell when people are lying, and she also witnessed Baelish discussing his alliance with the Lannisters to defeat Robb Stark, back when she was Tywin’s cupbearer. If anyone will be able to see through Baelish’s smiling veneer it’s her, and there are few people in Westeros you’d want as an enemy less than Arya.

But if Arya suspects Baelish isn’t what he says he is, Sansa is the only person who truly knows the depths of what Baelish is capable of. She understands how valuable he is as an ally, but also why he’s so dangerous. Sansa covered for him when he killed her aunt Lyssa, and that did ultimately lead to him bringing the Knights of the Vale to save the day at the Battle of Winterfell, but she has seen how all his allies end up dead. Not to mention he handed her over to Ramsay to further his agenda.

But for as cautious as she is about Baelish, she also has no idea who Bran and Arya are anymore. Bran is gone, more a shell than her brother. Arya is now a cold-blooded murderer who can go toe-to-toe with Brienne. Sansa’s terrible journey home changed her, but her brother and sister’s left them unrecognizable. At this point, Baelish’s uncertainty is strangely the only thing she can be sure of, especially if her problems with Jon are as bad as Baelish hopes they are.

Sansa might be the only hope the Starks have to recognize what Baelish and his dagger gift is really about. Arya’s list might be small, but it still drives her. Bran seems to have lost his connection to the living because he’s so worried about saving them. Are either of them even capable of caring about what Baelish is trying to do? If they aren’t, his plan to push the Stark children apart and get rid of Jon in the process could all come down to who Sansa stands with.

“Chaos is a ladder” for Baelish, but for the first time someone might be able to pull that ladder out from underneath him, as the children of House Stark know more about Littlefinger than he could ever imagine. But it might take all of them pulling together to stop them… that is if they can overcome the distance that still remains between them.

For more about Game of Thrones, check out a deeper look at the Battle of Blackwater Rush, IMDb possibly spoiling a character’s return, and info about the Prince That Was Promised! We like Game of Thrones, ya know?

What do you think? Why did Baelish give Bran that dagger? What’s his plan? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Images: HBO

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