Of the many, many reunions we’ve seen so far on season 8 of Game of Thrones, Sansa Stark and Theon Greyjoy’s may have been the most touching. Last united in their escape from crazed torturer Ramsay Bolton, the pair shared an emotional embrace on last night’s episode — but fans aren’t sure if this is true love, or just shared trauma.
Before Theon’s appearance at Winterfell, the pair last saw each other in season 5. Theon had been tortured, dismembered and brainwashed by Ramsay; Sansa, as his wife, was raped and beaten nightly. Sansa helped Theon to recover his former self, and in turn, Theon helped her escape, killing Ramsay’s girlfriend and leaping with Sansa off the ramparts. Since then, we’ve seen Theon struggle to recover from the psychological effects of Ramsay’s brutality, while Sansa has hardened, carrying out a calculated siege on Ramsay’s army and consolidating her power in the North.
Sansa, whose responses to seeing Arya and Jon Snow after years were muted, if affectionate, all but throws herself in Theon’s arms when he arrives at Winterfell. As Twitter user @wolfscurse points out, Theon is “holding her for dear life” as well. The full text reads: “can we appreciate how theon is holding her. his hand at her shoulder. he’s holding her so tight, holding her for dear life. and look at Sansa’s face. her face. the disbelief and the happiness in it. I’m so. IM SO.”
can we appreciate how theon is holding her. his hand at her shoulder. he’s holding her so tight, holding her for dear life.
and look at Sansa’s face. her face. the disbelief and the happiness in it. I’m so. IM SO. pic.twitter.com/NcrkRVxoKf
— 𝑳𝑨𝑫𝒀 𝑺𝑻𝑨𝑹𝑲. | hella spoilers. (@woIfscurse) April 21, 2019
While both parties have been free from Ramsay for years, neither has had the time to fully process what happened to them. Further, no one else truly understands the extent of what they went through — Theon and Sansa, however, each had front-row seats to the other’s torture. Toward the episode’s end, they’re shown together once more, smiling over bowls of soup as Podrick’s song plays over them. Given that most of Winterfell is treating this as their last night on earth, it seems significant that Sansa is spending it with Theon.
— holly (@jamesiruis) April 22, 2019
But does this mean the couple is in love? We’re not so sure. Sansa is coming off years of being manipulated, if not outright abused, by men purporting to have romantic interest in her (Littlefinger, Ramsay and Joffrey all come to mind). And Theon has been actively struggling to find the will to survive, let alone form meaningful relationships. While his appearance at Winterfell — and Sansa’s position there — is proof of how far they both have come, it’s a stretch even by GoT standards to say these two are likely to strike up a romance upon reuniting.
More likely, in our opinion, the pair is bonded by endless gratitude for the other’s strength in their time of need, and comforted by the presence of someone who grasps the full weight of what they’ve been through. They may share loyalty and sincere affection for one another, but let’s not put the weight of a love story on two characters so severely and intimately traumatized. Just because we want another couple to ship before the season’s out doesn’t mean Sansa has to open her bed to Theon — and in fact, it’d feel a little out of touch if she did.