You're Probably Going To Need This Sansa-Tyrion Game Of Thrones Refresher Course

Photo: courtesy of HBO.
Ever since Game of Thrones released its first glimpse of season 8 back in January 2019, fans have been obsessed with the looming collision of Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). A short teaser from HBO shows the Lady Of Winterfell will hand over the North to Jon Snow’s (Kit Harington) dragon queen. But, is Sansa putting on an act? She can't really be agreeable to a Targaryen from the south — born and raised on another continent, no less — taking ownership of her home, right?
The woman-against-woman speculation has obscured the real upcoming Sansa encounter fans should be buzzing about: her inevitable next meeting with Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage). After all, one of the season 8 trailers shows Tyrion standing in Winterfell’s great hall. Sansa is never far from that chamber.
Looking back over Game of Thrones history, it is clear that reunion is the one to watch. Lest we forget, Sansa used to be Mrs. Tyrion Lannister — and that uncomfortable marriage changed both of their lives forever.
Tyrion and 14-year-old Sansa are wed in season 3’s “Second Sons,” in one of the most upsetting Thrones weddings, at the time. It was an emotionally devastating event, rather than a disturbingly violent one in the fashion of the Red Wedding, which arrives in the episode after “Sons,” or Sansa's second marriage to Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon). At face value, the union of young teen girl Sansa to the adult man and infamous brothel patron Tyrion is awful for the eldest Stark daughter.
The lead-up to the nuptials, however, make it so much worse.
For a long stretch up episodes before “Second Sons,” Sansa believes she has a way out of King’s Landing, where she has been held hostage for roughly two seasons, and away from the evil Lannisters. Her escape hatch is an engagement to Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones), the heir to Highgarden and impossibly handsome individual. For a girl who grew up on Westeros’ most romantic tales, Loras, who also hates the capital, is Sansa’s dream husband (she has no idea he is gay). The Tyrell pot is sweetened for Sansa by the prospect of being “sisters” with Loras’ aspirational sister Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), who floats the idea of the match in the first place. Sansa is so happy about it that she nearly bursts into tears.
Then, you realize the Lannisters are plotting against Sansa at the exact moment she’s getting close to Loras. To stop the Tyrells from gaining an alliance with the Starks, who have dominion of the North, Lannister patriarch Tywin decides Loras will not wed Sansa; instead, the Knight Of Flowers will marry Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) and Sansa will marry Tyrion, ensuring the Lannisters maintain control of both regions. Considering that Tywin would have suggested the Red Wedding by this point — he mutters some suspicious assurances about Jaime Lannister’s (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) safety two episodes earlier — it seems like the Sansa-Tyrion marriage pact was Tywin's big plan to maintain dominance over Winterfell and Highgarden.
So, Sansa has her dreams dashed once again when she is forced to marry (by the Lannisters, again!) a much older man. The sole bright spot in this marriage is that Tyrion does not expect sex from her. Tyrion dispenses with the Westerosi bedding ceremony, where both bride and groom are stripped naked and wedding guests witness their consummation, and threatens a very gung-ho King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) in the process. In their wedding night bedchambers, Tyrion promises Sansa he won't “share her bed” until she wants him to. Yes, even if she never wants him to.
The arrangement begins a marriage that continues for four episodes, between “Second Sons” and season 4's infamous Joffrey-killing “The Lion And The Rose.” During the latter, Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish (Aidan Gillen) sends the fool Dontos Hollard (Tony Way) to ferry Sansa out of the city during the chaos of Joffrey’s excruciating Purple Wedding murder. It’s a move that immediately damns Tyrion, who is subsequently accused of regicide. After all, he threatened Joffrey's life mere episodes earlier, at his wedding with Sansa. Now the king is dead, the fiancée he tortured is gone — and that woman, Sansa, happens to be the only person who could verify that Tyrion is innocent.
The aftermath of Sansa’s disappearance leads her to the Vale, in one of the Stark daughter’s most successful periods — which is then entirely negated by her traumatizing Bolton marriage. Tyrion, on the other hand, is lead to the dungeons of King’s Landing and tried for Joffrey’s murder in a kangaroo court. Tywin stacks the trial against Tyrion and uses his son’s sex worker/partner Shae (Sibel Kekilli) against him so that he can convict him of killing Joffrey and takes Shae to his own bed. Tyrion manages to escapes prison, kills Shae, and murders his father.
When Tyrion finally comes face-to-face with his ex-wife, Sansa, again, we’ll find out just how much responsibility the youngest Lannister sibling takes for his actions — and if he blames the Lady Of Winterfell. Either way, we doubt Sansa, a woman who fed her tormenter Ramsay Bolton to his own dogs, will care.

More from TV

R29 Original Series