The most satisfying scene from Sunday’s Game of Throne’s finale occurred in Winterfell’s Great Hall, where the show’s master of chaos—Lord Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish—finally met his match. For weeks it seemed as though the notoriously devious plotter had the upper hand on the Stark sisters, pitting them against one another in a ploy to seize power in the north.
But Littlefinger didn’t count on Bran’s return as the Three-Eyed Raven and subsequent knowledge of Littlefinger’s many past deceptions. The look on his face when Sansa slapped him with charges of murder and treason instead of Arya will go down as one of the most gratifying moments in the show’s long history.
In the last of their weekly episode postscripts with Entertainment Weekly, showrunnners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss explained the thinking behind that scene, and why it felt so damn cathartic.
“So much of that scene is about what happens beforehand, and building up the tension between Sansa and Arya in the earlier episodes of the season, where you really believe that one will potentially kill the other,” Benioff said.
A lot of people took issue with the season-long rift between the Stark sisters, citing Arya’s behavior as ringing false. But Benioff explained that the show has earned the right to blur the line between heroes and villains.
“It’s one of the benefits of working on a show like this, where over the years so many beloved characters have been killed, and so many characters make decisions you wish they hadn’t that you can believe Sansa might conspire against Arya, or that Arya might decide that Sansa has betrayed the family and deserves to die,“ he said.
It’s also worth noting that when Sansa is reading out the list of crimes Lord Baelish is being accused of—from killing Lysa Arryn to betraying Ned Stark and holding a knife to his throat—it becomes clear that in many ways he was the show’s central villain. As Sansa clearly states, he’s the one responsible for the deadly feud between the Starks and Lannisters, which has been the show’s central conflict.
But despite the schadenfreude of watching the Stark sisters get the better of Littlefinger, it’s impossible to deny that he will be missed moving forward. Actor Aiden Gillen’s performance was one of the best the show had to offer, and his character’s scheming ways were a stark reminder of what the show was like before it was invaded by dragons and zombies. But when you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die. Nobody knew that better than Littlefinger.