Warning: Possible spoilers ahead!
On Game of Thrones, Lord Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish is the man behind the curtain, the one who watches carefully, while saying very little. Most of the time, Littlefinger lets his wordless expressions do most of the talking. One particular expression by Littlefinger in the Season 6 finale instantly ignited Season 7 fan theories. It was the coy look he exchanged with Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), as Jon Snow (Kit Harington) was declared King in the North that did the trick.
In actuality, that was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. For six seasons, Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) has stealthily plotted for his own self-advancement by using his secret knowledge to leverage people into the positions he wants them in.
When it comes to Game of Thrones, Varys is not the only one who knows a secret or two or hundreds. That privilege also belongs to Littlefinger, whose clandestine maneuvering has helped him transcend his humble beginnings to become a major power player. Littlefinger knows a lot, as in a lot more than he says or will admit too. There are clues that point to him knowing the greatest kept secret in the Seven Kingdoms, Jon Snow's true heritage.
When asked in an interview by the Huffington Post whether Littlefinger knows about Jon Snow, actor Aidan Gillen, who portrays Lord Baelish on the hit series, had this to say.
"I thought it was a great moment, but like I said earlier that while it was revealed to the audience, not many characters would know. Or if they'd kept it a secret for so long, why would they break now? Of course, it's being revealed to the audience for a reason yet to be ascertained. So does Littlefinger know? Well, now that you mention it..."
Littlefinger is always two or three steps ahead.
While Littlefinger operates from the shadows, he is not in the dark about anything on Game of Thrones. Like Varys (Conleth Hill), Littlefinger has a vast spy network that provides him with invaluable knowledge. It is entirely possible that he heard the news of Lyanna and Rhaegar's affair and put the pieces to the puzzle together from there.
He also attended the "Great Tourney at Harrenhal," where he saw Rhaegar put the infamous crown on Lyanna's lap and witnessed Lyanna's reaction to the nod. Littlefinger clearly did not interpret her behavior as that of a frightened young woman.
The North did not remember Ned's moral code, but Littlefinger might have.
While everyone in the North was ready and willing to believe that Ned had sired a son outside of his marriage, it is highly probable that Littlefinger did not. Ned's code of conduct should have made it difficult for anyone to believe he would cheat on his wife. As it turns out, it might have been more of a red flag for Littlefinger than anyone else.
If Littlefinger doubted Ned's story, he might have wondered why Ned told it to begin with. It is easy to imagine that Littlefinger surmised the only person Ned would have lied for was his sister, Lyanna. Since Ned came back with baby Jon Snow, after the events with his sister at the Tower of Joy, Littlefinger could have found the timing suspicious.
Littlefinger's take on Lyanna and Rhaegar
It is highly possible Littlefinger could have known all about Lyanna, Rhaegar, and their son. In Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 4, Sansa and Littlefinger discuss Lyanna in the crypts of Winterfell. During their conversation, Littlefinger recounts the day that Rhaegar gave the crown of winter roses to Lyanna -- the day "all the smiles died."
He then laments how many had to die because Rhaegar "chose" Lyanna. After he says this, Sansa argues that Rhaegar "chose" Lyanna as his victim to kidnap and rape. Littlefinger's reaction is crucial. When Sansa says "rape," Littlefinger's eyes quickly narrow, he turns to look at her, and his mouth forms a brief, disillusioned smile, before he turns to look back at the statue of Lyanna.
Besides his expression, his choice of words is also very interesting. What he says does not hint at Lyanna being abducted. Rather it supports the notion that when Rhaegar gave those flowers to Lyanna, he publicly announced his mutual feelings for her. Littlefinger's choice of words hints at his belief that the relationship was consensual.
Another thing Littlefinger is insistent upon in the scene is that Sansa is the last living Stark, and in his mind, the rightful leader of the North. At first it seems innocuous. Now looking back, it does not. He might be discounting any threat from Jon due to more than his "illegitimacy." If Littlefinger knows about Jon Snow, he knows Jon is not actually Ned Stark's son, but rather his nephew, a blood tie that removes him from the direct line of succession.
Littlefinger teasing Sansa
In Game of Thrones Season 6, Littlefinger went out of his way to remind Sansa about her biological ties to Jon. On several occasions, he reiterated to Sansa that Jon is her "half-brother." After saying so, he gave a sly grin. Was he saying it solely to undermine Sansa's bond with Jon? Or was he saying something he knew was not true, and relishing the fact that he still had one over on everybody? When it comes to Littlefinger, anything is possible.
While Littlefinger has operated out of the darkness for years, he finally stepped into the light in Game of Thrones Season 6. In the season finale, he told Sansa he wanted to sit on the Iron Throne with her by his side. For Littlefinger to think he has a shot at the Iron Throne, he has to believe its current occupier, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), will not reign for long. He also has to figure that Daenerys will somehow lose her bid.
Long story short, for Littlefinger to have a shot at the Iron Throne, he has to know that neither Cersei nor Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) will rule long-term. How can he believe this when both women are actively perched in such powerful positions?
He could foresee this happening if the clash of the queens results in both opponents literally taking out the other. Or he knows something that could potentially put both women out of the running. That information could be Jon Snow's true parentage. If Jon Snow were publicly revealed as the legitimate son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, he would override both Cersei's and Daenerys' claim to the Iron Throne.
Location, location, location
Throughout Game of Thrones' past several seasons, Littlefinger has worked to have a stronger presence in the North. At the end of Season 6, he is still at Winterfell. He has positioned himself in the North for a reason. While other characters on Game of Thrones have either gone east or stayed in King's Landing, Littlefinger is one of the few power brokers to head north. Why? He clearly believes it is an advantage to be headquartered there. Is it solely so he can influence Sansa? Or is that a cover for something else entirely?
At this point, the greatest question is not whether Littlefinger knows about Jon Snow, but it is what he plans to do with the knowledge, if he actually has it. If Littlefinger knows about Jon Snow, he has kept it a secret for over 20 years. Judging by his behavior in Game of Thrones' Season 6 finale, he clearly does not support Jon being the King in the North. Why? Because Jon cannot be influenced by Littlefinger, and more pointedly, Jon stands in the way of Littlefinger's "pretty picture."
Find out if we ever learn whether or not Littlefinger knows about Jon Snow when Game of Thrones Season 7 premieres this summer on HBO.
[Featured Image by Helen Sloan/HBO]