On “Game of Thrones,” Littlefinger might be the most dangerous man in Westeros, but he may have met his match.
Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aidan Gillen) is the epitome of a Westerosi success story. Although of low birth in this feudal society, his ambition, wits and ruthlessness allowed him to rise in the ranks until he finally became the Lord Protector of the Vale.
In contrast, Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) was born into nobility but had much of his comfort and privilege stripped from him: half of his family members have been killed, he lost his ability to walk, and as the new Three-Eyed Raven, he is no longer heir to Winterfell.
Such disparate characters wouldn’t normally be the most obvious foes, but this is “Game of Thrones,” and both Littlefinger and Bran are powerful in their own ways. It’s not mere coincidence that the show has featured them together lately.
But when it comes down to it, Bran will be the one to triumph over Littlefinger for the following reasons:
1. Bran Is Already Beating Littlefinger at His Own Game
Littlefinger has been a wily player on the show, mainly because he keeps multiple fights in mind, even with those whom he’s supposedly allied with.
“Don’t fight in the North or the South. Fight every battle everywhere, always, in your mind,” he had advised Sansa (Sophie Turner) in this season’s third episode. “Everyone is your enemy, everyone is your friend. Every possible series of events is happening all at once. Live that way and nothing will surprise you. Everything that happens will be something that you’ve seen before.”
In the scene almost directly after that though, Bran tells Sansa that as the Three-Eyed Raven, “It means I can see everything, everything that’s ever happened to everyone, everything that’s happening right now.”
Bran literally has the understanding that Littlefinger can only try to acquire through spies and guesswork.
2. Bran Knows About Jon Snow
Jon Snow (Kit Harington) may know nothing about his own parentage since that secret died with Ned Stark (Sean Bean), but then Bran had his vision last season. And now it seems that he wants to use that information. When Bran reunites with Sansa, he says, “I need to speak to [Jon].”
Since Westeros is so caught up in bloodlines, Jon’s parentage — presumably he’s half-Targaryen — could make a difference when it comes to a claim to the throne. At the very least it might make it easier for him to possibly fly dragonback alongside Daenerys (Emilia Clarke).
Bran also knows that Jon has been brought back to life, and that’s one more step in the right direction of becoming the Prince Who Was Promised.
In the meantime, Littlefinger still thinks of Jon as a bastard, which would be woefully underestimating him.
3. Bran Knows Everything That Littlefinger Has Done
The best way to predict what someone will do is to study their past, and all of that is at Bran’s Three-Eyed Raven-enabled fingertips. He knows how Littlefinger betrayed Ned, helped to kill Joffrey, threw Lysa Arryn (Kate Dickie) threw the Moon Door, brokered Sansa’s rape with Ramsay (Iwan Rheon), and more.
Littlefinger has a labyrinthine mind and is as inscrutable as they come, but Bran will know exactly what he’s up to as soon as he does it. Although Bran’s powers aren’t good enough to read minds, his Three-Eyed eavesdropping enabled him to know about Littlefinger’s “chaos is a ladder” philosophy and quote that back to him. Here’s a reminder of how that speech between Littlefinger and Varys (Conleth Hill) went down:
“Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail, and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some are given a chance to climb, but refuse. They cling to the realm, or love, or the gods… illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is.”
4. Littlefinger Is Too Caught Up in Politics
All credit to Littlefinger for playing the game on all fronts, but he’s only excelled at human politics. Even his “chaos is a ladder” philosophy is all about taking advantage of situations and moving up in the world. It’s purely self-serving and selfish and misses the bigger picture.
The show is entering into a new battle with the White Walkers and their wights. This has happened once before during The Long Night, a period of time in which the world is plunged into a winter that lasts a generation. Bran knows it’s coming and wants to prepare. Right now his vision is still in “fragments,” but he tells Sansa, “When The Long Night comes again, I need to be ready.”
5. Littlefinger Doesn’t Know About Bran’s New Calling
There’s no reason for any of the Starks to have taken Littlefinger into their confidence, and it shows when he speaks to Bran and calls him Lord Stark. That title is one that Littlefinger understands. It connotes power, land, influence, and therefore Littlefinger acts accordingly, trying to get into Bran’s good graces.
But Bran isn’t a lord or even a regular human anymore, and all of those tactics are useless. Trying to curry favor by talking about Bran’s mother Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) and giving him the Valyrian dagger that was meant to kill him does not have the intended effect. This fundamental misunderstanding of Bran is already dropping Littlefinger far behind.
“I imagine you’ve seen things most men wouldn’t believe,” Littlefinger tells Bran without having any clue about what is really happening.
6. Bran Is Dispassionate
Despite Littlefinger’s big words about not being sentimental, that’s not really the case. His feelings for Catelyn and now for Sansa (ewww!) have colored his decision-making despite his generally ruthless nature.
As horrifying as it’s been to watch Bran lose himself to his Three-Eyed Ravenness and bring up horrible memories such as Sansa’s wedding day/rape without any sort of emotion, he at least seems to still have a purpose, to want to do good in the world. The upshot of this is that when it comes down to the difficult decisions, Bran won’t be as distracted by sentimentality or personal feelings. He’ll get the job done.
7. Bran Has Mysterious Powers He Still Hasn’t Fully Explored
Beyond having ancient wisdom, Bran can also warg into animals, can commune with the Children of the Forest, has prophetic dreams and may even be able to affect history (as evidenced by the heartbreaking story behind Hodor’s name). Bran might have just become the most dangerous man in Westeros without lifting a finger.
“Game of Thrones” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.