Warning: This post contains spoilers for Game of Thrones.
The second episode in Game of Thrones’ eighth season was chock-full of reunions. But one in particular stood out to fans: the one between Sansa Stark and Theon Greyjoy.
Midway through the episode, Theon returned to Winterfell Castle after rescuing his sister Yara to join the Fight for the Living. Sansa, who has given the cold shoulder to several characters this season, embraced Theon like her best friend — or perhaps something more, fans speculated. Their hug seemed more emotional than Sansa’s reunion with her own sister, Arya last season.
Does the show want us to think that Theon and Sansa are in love?
A brief refresher on the history between these two characters: Ramsay Bolton physically and mentally tortured both Sansa and Theon (then known as Reek). A brainwashed Reek blocked Sansa from escaping once by telling Ramsay her plans. But when Ramsay was off fighting Stannis Baratheon, Reek finally seemed to remember his identity. And together he and Sansa jumped off the walls of Winterfell and made a run for freedom. When they thought they were about to be cornered by Ramsay’s forces, Theon risked his life to help Sansa escape. By the time they parted, Theon was still Reek, but he had begun his journey to recovery.
It looks like Theon’s return to Winterfell is part of his great redemption arc. After all, Winterfell was the scene of his great betrayal of the Starks — he murdered two boys that he claimed to be Bran and Rickon. Winterfell was also the backdrop for his torture and time spent as Reek. Theon had to muster a lot of bravery to return to that place, and specifically to face Sansa, whom he also once betrayed. But now it seems that Sansa trusts him with her life, trusts him perhaps more than anyone else (besides maybe Brienne).
So yes, they are probably the only two humans left alive who truly understand what the other person suffered — Ramsay flayed just about everyone else. Eventually, they saved one another and formed an emotional bond. The two shared what could be their final meal together before the Battle of Winterfell. But does that mean they are in love?
I hope not. Yes, Theon is on a redemption tour, but it’s all rather new. Just a few weeks ago, he jumped off the side of a ship while his sister was being kidnapped out of fear. He proved his bravery by scuffling with a few Iron Born (and realizing that he has an advantage over anyone who tries to kick him in the groin.) He later saved Yara, sure, but that rescue mission felt way too easy. Theon still has to prove himself to the Starks. He’s asking for a chance to do so. But that’s just the first step.
As for Sansa, she was once a young girl who dreamed a prince would sweep her off her feet. She suffered under at the hands of two different masochistic princes and learned how cruel the world could be. But she has emerged from hell as a strong leader, one who understands how to garner her peoples’ loyalty in a way that Daenerys and Jon seem to be struggling with in the North. She does not need a love story by the end of this show.
She already has an impressive arc as a woman who learns to have faith in her own abilities. It’s nice to see that Theon returned to serve her — but as the Lady of the North, not a love interest.