This weeks episode of Game of Thrones saw the return of the youngest Stark sibling, Rickon. In hiding since the end of series 3 after Bran sent him away for his own protection and charged Osha the Wildling to watch over him, you’d be forgiven for not immediately recognizing Rickon when he popped up in Oathbreaker this week. Unlike the rest of the Stark brood, Rickon has amounted to barely a supporting character, so it’s easy to forget him. Plus, the actor who portrays him, Art Parkinson, has had a big growth spurt, which might throw people off further given the difference in appearance between when he was last seen and now. But growth spurts are a good thing, signifying growing up, so now that Rickon is older, perhaps we will see him take on a meatier role in the story like that of his brothers and sisters.
Rickon, Osha and the direwolf Shaggydog have spent there time away at Last Hearth, the seat of House Umber, Bannermen loyal to the Stark’s. Bran sends them here believing that Greatjon Umber, the leader of the house who was fiercely loyal to Robb before his death, would protect them. So why would his son, Smalljon, betray him and the Stark’s and hand over Rickon and Osha to the deranged Ramsey Bolton? Well, because chances are good that he hasn’t really betrayed them, and this is all part of a plan to over throw Ramsey, and retake Winterfell for the Stark’s. Here are some things to consider when contemplating this theory:
Is Greatjon Umber really dead?
When Smalljon arrives in Winterfell, he informs Ramsey that his father has died. But why have his death take place off screen? Smalljon does say that if he hadn’t died on his own perhaps he would have killed him, so you could argue that maybe he had something to do with it. Or it could be entirely possible that the Greatjon is alive and well and has concocted this whole plan, and sent Smalljon to deliver Rickon and Osha to fool Ramsey into thinking House Umber are now their allies. Its important to remember that Smalljon refused to bend the knee or swear an oath to Ramsey. This could be just part of his cocksure nature, or it could be that he is still very much loyal to House Stark, despite protesting to the contrary.
Why would he protect Osha if he hates Wildlings?
Smalljon offers up Rickon and Osha in exchange for Ramsey’s help in taking out Jon Snow, who he is angry with for allowing the Wildlings safe passage to the south. If that’s the case, why exactly would he let a wildling women, especially one as cunning as Osha, live? Surely if he hated wildlings so much he would have just killed her and brought Rickon back to Winterfell alone.
Why wait so long?
If Smalljon hated his father like he claims, why would he wait until he died to hand Rickon and Osha over? If that was his plan all along, he could have just killed his father making it look like an accident and returned them to Winterfell much earlier. But then you must consider Sansa. Sansa for a long time was thought to be the only Stark left alive, thus making her the heir to Winterfell. Roose Bolton saw her as the key to holding the North and as such arranged for his bastard Ramsey to marry her. Apart from raping her, no other physical harm came to Sansa as Ramsey knew he needed her. When she escaped he was desperate to find her. If it does prove true that Greatjon is still alive and orchestrating a plan to remove Ramsey from Winterfell, Sansa’s escape could explain why he has waited until now. Being loyal to House Stark , he could have declared that Rickon was alive and well in an attempt to unite the North against the Boltons. But he would have also wanted to keep Sansa safe, and knew that by doing that, she would lose her leverage as Winterfell’s Heir and be in mortal danger.
Was that Shaggydog?
Many people believe that the Direwolf head presented to Ramsey as Shaggydog was in fact too small to actually belong to the wolf . If that’s true, where is the real Shaggydog?
Could Rickon take the place of Aegon Targaryen from the books?
So this is probably a bit of a stretch, but in the books, a young man claiming to be Aegon Targaryen, the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia Martell (and nephew of Daenerys) who was long thought dead, makes an appearance and voices his intentions to claim the Iron Throne, which would be his by succession if he is actually who he claims to be. The show hasn’t touched on this piece of information, and with so much going on already, it would be safe to assume they won’t. But who is to say they couldn’t attempt to adapt it some how with Rickon? After all he to was long presumed dead and now has returned. Perhaps we will see him become Lord of Winterfell before eventually sitting on the Iron Throne? Again, I acknowledge it’s a stretch! But the show has changed things to suit itself before, what with Sansa marrying Ramsey, when it was in fact her friend Jeyne Poole posing as Arya who did so in the books.
As we know, the end of the episode saw Jon hang up his cloak, declare his watch has ended and leave Castle Black. So where will he go now? Sansa, Brienne and Podrick are on there way to the Wall to meet him, so chances are he will encounter them soon. I suspect after that we should see Jon calling on the men of the Nights Watch and the Wildlings to aid him in a fight for Winterfell against Ramsey. But could we see House Umber, having used Rickon to gain Ramsey’s trust and agree to fight alongside him, turn on him during the battle and have him surrounded by enemies on all sides?