Rickon Stark’s return to Game of Thrones Season 6 broke the hearts of viewers who are loyal to the North. Instead of a much-anticipated reunion with his siblings, Rickon served as a gift to Ramsay Bolton – a character despised by many for mutilating Theon, raping Sansa, murdering his own family, and so on.
Viewers last saw Rickon in Game of Thrones Season 3 when Bran instructed Osha to take Rickon to Last Hearth in a bid to keep him safe. As Bran journeyed to meet the Three-Eyed Raven, he wanted to ensure that Winterfell wouldn’t lose its heir should something happen to him.
However, Bran’s faith in the House Umber proved to be futile when Smalljon Umber appeared on Ramsay’s territory. Following the death of his father Greatjon, Smalljon approaches Ramsay knowing that the new Warden of the North is looking for new allies.
Smalljon refuses to pledge his allegiance to Ramsay but presents him with gifts: the youngest Stark and his Wildling companion. Ramsay is skeptical at first about Rickon’s identity, but Smalljon removes his doubt by giving him the head of Shaggydog, Rickon’s direwolf.
Despite the devastation of many, several fans are now hoping that the captured Stark child is actually the key that will help his siblings reclaim their home. A recent Reddit post speculates that the Umbers, who have always been the Starks’ loyal bannermen, will betray Ramsay.
The theory by user DanDamspear presents 23 points on why the Umbers will not allow Rickon to be subjected to Ramsay’s torturous schemes. Several fans pointed out that Rickon lived with the Umbers for the better part of two seasons, and if they wanted to betray him, they would have done it a long time ago. They also questioned that the Umbers would have killed Osha because if they’re really on Ramsay’s side, they wouldn’t care about a Wildling girl.
Prior to Roose Bolton’s murder, Lord Karstark said that his hold on the North isn’t secure “as long as a Stark can walk through that door.” Smalljon refusing to kneel before Ramsay is also believed to be an indication that his loyalty to the Starks remains. He’s left with no choice but to behead Shaggydog to gain Ramsay’s trust.
Back in Season 1, Robb’s direwolf bit off Lord Greatjon’s two fingers when he pulled a sword on the eldest Stark during an argument. Despite the minor squabble, Greatjon still pledged his loyalty to the Starks. It is possible that his son is plotting a war “from the inside” and that the purpose of him handing Rickon to Ramsay is for the loathed character to lower his defenses.
Another angle is that Ramsay could use Rickon to lure Sansa back to Winterfell. Now that he is no longer committed to the Night’s Watch, Jon Snow can also come to Winterfell with his Wildlings army especially if he finds out that Rickon’s alive.
Nonetheless, fans are advised not to get their hopes too high as the show has a reputation for doing the opposite of what viewers like except for Jon’s case. Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are now running the story on their own after author George R.R. Martin failed to meet his deadline for Winds of Winter.
HBO chairman Michael Lombardo previously assured fans that while there would be departures from the novels, the showrunners would do their best to uphold the integrity of Martin’s work.
GRRM recently released a new chapter of Winds of Winter told from the point-of-view of Dorne’s heiress, Princess Arianne Martell. The heiress thinks of the Iron Throne and Westeros in the chapter. Fans, however, won’t get to see the character on screen as she is replaced by the now dead Trystane, a minor character in the A Song of Ice and Fire books.
[Image via HBO]