Why You Can't Decide If You're Team Arya or Team Sansa

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Sansa and Arya have bad blood, and we all know that Arya makes pretty deep cuts. She's got a new jewel-encrusted Valyrian steel dagger and a backpack full of faces — and she's not afraid to use them. Sansa has her wits, but how can the two bring their talents together for the good of the family?
After their intense conversation last night, I'm left wondering which side I'm on. Both characters own separate pieces of my heart, and I'm know I'm not the only one who hoped for a peaceful reunion. Given all that the Starks have been through, love and tenderness would be the best way for everyone to heal. And while I've always been a Sansa stan, I appreciate Arya's reactionary attitude and understand where it comes from.
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It occurred to me that I'm unable to reconcile my devotion to them because their differences as characters is precisely why they are butting heads. The reasons we love Sansa —her ability to see the long game — and the reasons we love Arya — her fearless nihilism — are fundamentally incompatible behaviours. They are like oil and water, and because they are both so heavily traumatised, the characters lack the ability to see from each other's perspective.
When Sansa tells Arya "you would never have survived what I had to survive," she's right — sexual violence and domestic abuse are at the top of the list, but Sansa's also endured coercion, emotional manipulation, and being stripped of her agency. But the core of who she is remains the same: someone who appreciates luxury and feeling respected. These are not altogether evil traits, because Sansa is not an evil person. Some may disagree with that assessment, but personally, I refuse to vilify Sansa for finding comfort in nice things. Sansa can enjoy luxury and still take excellent care of Winterfell at the same time.
Arya seems to believe these attributes are antithetical to being a true Stark. Her immediate instinct is to protect those she loves at any cost, and is frustrated with Sansa for what she feels is an inability to act on the immediacy of the moment. But in her shortsightedness, she is forgetting that there are many ways to serve the family.
Absolutely no good can come out the Starks sisters' squabbling. As a cohesive unit, the Stark family would be unstoppable: between Jon's honour-driven vision, Bran's literal visions, Arya's assassin talents, and Sansa's intelligence, enemies of the Starks would not stand a chance. And Littlefinger knows this, which is why he's attempting to sow as much discord as possible. But the Stark sisters don't need to make his job easier. Here's hoping they can gain some empathy for each other — it's the only way the Starks can survive.
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