Pay attention — Sansa's wardrobe is full of hints. 

By Kim Nelson
Updated Apr 22, 2019 @ 3:15 pm
Sansa and John Snow
Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

The second episode of Game of Thrones Season 8 gave us all the feels (Ser Brienne! Arya and Gendry consummating their crush!). Amid all the emotional moments there was a pretty low-key scene between Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), that's actually jam-packed with clues.

Daenerys approaches Sansa, Lady of Winterfell, to smooth over the tension between them — tension that’s been percolating since Daenerys arrived with Jon Snow (Kit Harington) at Winterfell. Sansa briefly thaws as she bonds with Daenerys over the difficulties of being strong women in power during a time when people aren’t inclined to accept female leaders. Daenerys even touches Sansa’s hand in a show of sisterly solidarity. But then, the conversation takes a turn: “What about the North?” Sansa asks. “It was taken from us. We took it back. And we said we’d never bow to anyone else again.” The meeting is interrupted by other urgent business, but not before we get a glimpse of Daenerys, who clearly realizes that it’s not going to be easy to win over Jon’s family — and that maybe, she doesn’t really have a good plan.

Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

But even before Sansa makes it clear that Winterfell is her turf, her intentions can be inferred from a glance at her wardrobe. In contrast to Dany’s look — a soft, pale gray gown‚ Sansa is serving Northern fierceness in a black constructed leather bodice. The military-inspired shoulder details convey a level of seriousness and power that Dany’s attire simply doesn’t. In an interview with EW, Sophie Turner says “This is the first time I’ve had armor ... I wanted her to have a bit of armor and be more warrior like. She’s like the warrior of Winterfell.”

The sartorial hints are the most striking in the scene when Daenerys holds court in Winterfell, surrounded by the Starks and their Northern bannermen. At the head of the table, Sansa and Arya are both armed with their “Needles” — Arya wears her beloved sword, and Sansa dons her signature threaded-needle necklace. They are of the North, a realm of dark cloaks and fur-lined gowns, where solemnity and loyalty are revered above all. Daenerys’s white-blonde hair and light-colored clothing are visually out of place, reflecting her outsider status. While Daenerys has never been a slouch in the fashion department (who doesn’t covet that white coat?), Sansa’s bold new look in episode 2 easily steals the spotlight from the Mother of Dragons.

Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

All of these Easter eggs aren’t really surprising. Throughout the series, Sansa may be the character whose styling choices have most reflected her internal motivations. In previous seasons, everything from her gown choices to her hairstyle have reflected her current environment, her secret loyalties, and her choice in mentors. She has mimicked the fashion of powerful women like her mother Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley), her potential ally Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), and, most tellingly, her inspiration-turned-enemy, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey). Sansa’s new leather armor calls to mind many of the stunning black perforated gowns that Cersei donned last season when she finally became Queen of Westeros.

Sansa has come a long way since she was the young girl who dreamed of marrying a prince and becoming a queen. After two disastrous forced marriages, she no longer has need for a man. She tells her brother’s new girlfriend, “Men do stupid things for women. They’re easily manipulated.” In this moment, Sansa sounds more like Cersei, whose ultimate desire has always been to take the Throne without a king at her side. In HBO’s Inside the Episode, David Benioff says of the scene, “It’s very much coming at it from the point of view of a monarch trying to make peace with her subject, and Sansa’s not quite willing to accept Dany as her monarch yet. She’s suspicious of people for a reason.”

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Decked out in her own new version of armor, Sansa is steadfast in her goal of defending Winterfell not just from the undead army, but from anyone looking to take her home away from her again. The Lady of Winterfell is not going to bow down to anyone else, and has no intentions of giving up the power she has fought so desperately to attain.