Game of Thrones' Rickon is totally just a pawn in the Umbers' scheme
Guys, isn't it about damn time that the Starks finally get some upper hand in this whole Game of Thrones? For 6 seasons we have watched this poor family get beat down beyond recognition and it never seems like they are able to get their revenge. Between the Red Wedding, Ned's beheading, Jon's murder and Sansa's abuse, these people need a point on the board.
Well, this season has started to turn things around for the unluckiest family on the planet. Sansa finally escaped from Ramsay's psychotic clutches and Jon got over that whole being murdered thing (goodbye, Olly!). This brings us to our next Stark predicament, which is the incredibly sticky situation that Rickon has currently found himself in.
In case you have forgotten, I'll remind you of exactly what happened to place Rickon in Ramsay's control. A few seasons ago, Bran sent Rickon with Osha to go find protection with a known Stark ally, House Umber. I had pretty much forgotten about Rickon since then, to be honest, but all of a sudden he appeared again. Jon Umber (or Smalljon) came out of the clear blue with Osha and Rickon in tow to Winterfell. He surprisingly came to Ramsay with a promise to fight for him and as a show of trust, handed over Rickon, Osha and the decapitated head of Rickon's beloved direwolf, Shaggydog. Things appeared pretty grim for the youngest Stark.
Now, it's been a hot minute since we have checked in with crazy-ass Ramsay over in Winterfell, but I have a feeling things probably aren't super luxurious for Rickon over there at the moment. Here's the thing: I don't think that the Umbers are truly on Ramsay's side. I think it's a bullshit allegiance to gain Ramsay's trust to put Jon Snow where he belongs, leading the North.
Think about it. According to the books, the Umbers are an incredibly loyal house. They aren't one of these names who change alliances willy-nilly (I'm looking at you, Roose Bolton, Walder Frey and Littlefinger). When Smalljon appeared with Rickon, people were confused and shocked that he would completely betray the Starks in such an awful way. There were clues in that scene that lead me to believe that Smalljon is playing a game of wits with Ramsay here.
First of all, he outright refused to bend a knee and swear an oath to Ramsay. He said that his offering of Osha and Rickon were his oath. Unfortunately for him, that's just not how this thing works. If you aren't swearing an oath then you have no technical alliance with a house. I think that Smalljon purposely avoided swearing an oath to make sure he could wiggle out of this whole thing once his plan came to fruition.
Now, I know what you are thinking. What about Shaggydog's decapitated head? That seems like a pretty legit show of disloyalty. Well, I don't think that was Shaggydog's head that he threw on the table. There are a few issues I see with it. First, that head was tiny. Take a look back at the scene directly following The Red Wedding, where Robb (R.I.P.) was paraded around with his direwolf's (Grey Wind) head impaled onto his body. Grey Wind's head was legitimately bigger than a horse's head. Jon's direwolf, Ghost, is also insanely massive. Shaggydog's supposed head was like a regular wolf size. That doesn't seem like it fits to me. Let's be real here, Game of Thrones doesn't mess up little details like this; they are pretty intent on making even the smallest things count. Also, why was Rickon so stoic when his beloved direwolf's head was slammed on a table next to him? Sure, maybe he is trying to be tough, but he's been traveling around with Shaggydog for years. Their bond has to be insane. I just feel like his reaction wasn't quite what should be expected.
I know it seems a little tin foil hat-ish, but I think that House Umber is setting Ramsay up by using Rickon as a pawn. Sure, they are really gambling since Ramsay is such a sociopath, but they also know that he will want to use Rickon to draw Jon Snow and Sansa back to Winterfell. It's likely that he won't kill Rickon before he gets them there because he wouldn't be worth anything dead. Unfortunately, Osha had to be a casualty of war in this case because she wasn't really worth anything in terms of this deal.
Let's hope that we see Shaggydog return to eat Ramsay's face. I think it has the potential to pan out like this, but I guess we will have to wait and see.