‘Game of Thrones’ Q&A: Alfie Allen Talks Sansa’s Return to Winterfell

Spoiler warning: Do not read on unless you’ve seen “Game of Thrones” episode 505, titled “Kill the Boy.”

In the May 10 installment of “Game of Thrones,” we saw Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) preparing his army to march on Winterfell, the seat of power from which Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) currently controls of the North. While Stannis has big plans for claiming the Iron Throne, the Boltons have aspirations of their own — chief among them to marry Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) to Roose’s sadistic son Ramsay (Iwan Rheon). With Sansa back among her people, Roose hopes to quell the stirrings of rebellion among the Northerners, but Sansa has some experience with psychotic fiancés, and like the rest of the North, she’s not likely to forgive Roose for betraying her mother and brother at the Red Wedding, even while she’s surrounded by potentially murderous strangers.

But not every face at Winterfell is unfamiliar. “Kill the Boy” saw Sansa unexpectedly reunited with Theon Greyjoy (now known as Reek) after Ramsay’s jealous paramour Miranda (Charlotte Hope) led Sansa down to the kennels to see him — a reunion that actor Alfie Allen admitted was “interesting to shoot,” given the characters’ history, growing up together almost as siblings before Theon conquered Winterfell and supposedly murdered her younger brothers — who, in actuality, escaped and forced Theon to fake their deaths to intimidate the Northerners.

“It’s been leading up to that point — he acknowledged her existence and that’s rejigging some memories for him, and being in Winterfell in general is bringing back some memories,” Allen told Variety. “I’d already been with the dogs in the kennels in season three, but for the character, he spends a lot of time in there with the dogs, so the way the scene came out was more that he didn’t want Sansa to be punished for being there and recognizing him and for knowing his existence … He didn’t want her to be discovered by Ramsay. She doesn’t really know the full extent of what Ramsay is yet, whereas Reek does, so he just wants her to be safe.”

Although Ramsay’s torture has buried much of Theon’s former arrogance, the question of how much Theon is left in Reek is “ever-changing,” according to the actor: “This is one of those scenes where there’s a bit of Theon coming back and wanting to keep her safe, because he betrayed her brother and inadvertently played into the series of events which led her to this point.”

Still, his guilt over betraying the Starks is evidently not enough to override his sense of loyalty to Ramsay, leading him to admit to his “master” that Sansa visited him in the kennels. “There’s a toing and froing of emotion, without a doubt — he’s trying to protect Sansa but he has to admit that he’s seen her and she’s seen him, [out of] fear but also wanting to obey,” Allen explained. “There’s moments of Stockholm Syndrome added into the mix of it and there’s been so many changes to the character throughout the whole series that [his relationship with Ramsay] is one that never stays the same. Keeping distance from [Ramsay] as a character within the storyline and then also keeping that obedience there and never wanting to be punished, but to also have that closeness between them, is something that’s been very interesting to play.”

Ramsay savors control, so he clearly relished the chance to embarrass both Sansa and Reek during their tense dinner later in the episode, in which he forced Reek to apologize for killing Sansa’s brothers. “He’s absorbing information but wanting to serve the food and keep people happy, but then he’s used as a tool to make Sansa really uncomfortable, and I don’t think he has the emotional configuration to feel any way about that,” Allen recalled of the awkward scene.

Ramsay then came up with the bright idea to have Reek walk Sansa down the aisle, since he’s the closest thing to a living relative she has left. “It’s definitely not a prospect he’s looking forward to, walking her down the aisle,” Allen laughed. “He’s scared for her — he feels guilt, he feels shame about it; at the same time, there’s a part of him that doesn’t want that to happen, but he’s living in constant fear and needs to obey. I would say that he would hope it’ll be a peaceful wedding.” Sadly, that seems unlikely, given Westeros’ track record with weddings — especially now that Ramsay knows that Roose’s new wife Walda (Elizabeth Webster) is pregnant with what could be a legitimate heir, thereby undermining his own tenuous position.

Before Littlefinger left for King’s Landing, he urged Sansa to use her impending nuptials as an opportunity to get revenge on the Boltons, but both were oblivious to Ramsay’s sadistic streak when they agreed to the marriage. Will Sansa be able to hold her own against Ramsay, or has she simply bound herself to another Joffrey? “That’s what Theon — or Reek — is scared of, things getting worse,” Allen admitted. “But you just never know… She might end up controlling the castle.”

“Game of Thrones” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.

Do you think Sansa and Ramsay will have a “peaceful” wedding? Can Stannis conquer Winterfell and defeat the Boltons? How did you feel about the other developments in Westeros this week, with Ser Jorah contracting greyscale during a battle with the Stone Men and Daenerys agreeing to marry Hizdahr zo Loraq to quell the Sons of the Harpy? Weigh in below.

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