What Littlefinger will do in Game of Thrones season seven

At the end of Game of Thrones' sixth season, Petyr Baelish saved Jon Snow's army from annihilation at the hands of the Boltons, and revealed his deepest wishes to Sansa—to one day sit on the Iron Throne with her by his side. After that amazing revelation, fans everywhere are wondering what Littlefinger will do next. If you were paying attention during the season six finale, you may have noticed that Littlefinger's dream may hit a potentially big snag when Jon was named King in the North. Baelish is going to have to do something major to get the Vale and the North back under his control, and it likely will play a crucial part of the plot in season seven. Here's what I think Littlefinger has up his sleeve.

What he's capable of

Before we probe Littlefinger's future, we need to take a look at his past—particularly at the complicated webs Baelish has woven to lead him to his position of power in season six. He persuaded Lysa Tully to murder her husband—Jon Arryn—and to deceive her sister Catelyn and Ned Stark about his death. This act, along with his deception of Catelyn regarding Bran's attacker—which loosed Catelyn's wrath on Tyrion Lannister—show that he lies readily, even to those he "cares" for. These actions make him directly responsible for what would eventually become the War of Five Kings. Littlefinger went on to broker the Lannister and Tyrell alliance, and he'd later assist in the breakdown of that alliance via the murder of Joffrey, and by providing Olenna Tyrell with the evidence needed to have the Faith Militant take Cersei into custody.

He does make mistakes

While Littlefinger's plans often work out for him, he isn't infallible, and he does occasionally make miscalculations. When he betrayed Ned Stark during season one, Littlefinger expected the Lord of Winterfell to be exiled to the wall, not brutally executed. He later miscalculated again when he married the mentally unstable Lysa Arryn. Even though he thought he could use Lysa to wield control over the Vale, he didn't understand how volatile the woman had become. This led to the murder of Lysa when Littlefinger threw her through the Moon Door—an act which Sansa witnessed and later used as leverage when she lied to the lords of the Vale to exonerate Baelish.

Finally, he made a grave mistake when he convinced Sansa to marry Ramsay Bolton. He probably knew that the bastard of the Dreadfort was ruthless and cunning, but didn't understand the depths of his depravity and sadism. Even though these mistakes have created considerable problems for Littlefinger, as he once put it, "Chaos is a ladder." He always takes into consideration that he might make mistakes, and lays out contingency plans to deal with those issues in a way that further his goals. No matter what Baelish does this season, he will have two or three backup plans in response to every eventual outcome.

His base of power

Even though Jon is now King in the North—with the Lords of the North, the Vale, and the remaining Wildlings behind him, Littlefinger is not without influence and power. As Lord Protector, he is the de facto leader of the Vale until Robin Arryn comes of age. While I noticed the Lords of the Vale (including Lord Royce) were all shouting "King in the North" during the season six finale, I did not see the young Lord Arryn among those gathered in Winterfell's great hall.

Despite the support issued by Lord Royce and the others, if Littlefinger decides not to follow Jon Snow, he will not have much issue convincing Robin Arryn to retreat back to the Vale or to march south. I do not think that Littlefinger wants anything to do with the struggle against the White Walkers—not when there are such ripe targets in the south. And if young Lord Arryn commands it, the knights of the Vale may follow—they no longer respect Robin very much as their lord. This may prove to be Littlefinger's undoing if he relies too much on his power over Robin Arryn in order to control the Vale.

Divide and conquer

I don't think the pretty picture Baelish painted for Sansa in the godswood is what he really wants. Littlefinger knows that those who openly wield power often find a target painted on their backs. I think the last thing Littlefinger wants is to be crowned himself. He much prefers to work behind the scenes, being the "power behind the power." Who sits on the throne really doesn't matter much to Littlefinger, so long as he is the one pulling the strings.

Right now, there are three or four leaders in positions of power in Westeros: Jon Snow and Sansa with the power of the North and Vale; Cersei with the might of the Crownlands, Riverlands, and Westlands; Daenerys with her Unsullied, the Reach, Dorne and her dragons; and Euron Greyjoy. In order to continue his plan Littlefinger will need to destroy some of these leaders and their faction, while manipulating and using the others. I believe season seven for Littlefinger will focus on him deciding which faction is most likely to survive the upcoming battles, and attach himself to it—while attempting to destroy the others.

The worm in the apple

Because of his presence in the North, I think Littlefinger will start with Jon Snow and Sansa. He needs power in the North for himself, and the only avenues to that power are through the two of them. The easiest path is for Littlefinger to divide and conquer. Indeed, he has already sown the seeds of doubt and jealousy in Sansa's mind. The look that he and Sansa exchange during Jon's ascension in Winterfell's great hall is extremely significant. While Sansa is somewhat pleased for Jon, she also feels she isn't getting the credit she deserves. It was through her actions that the northerner army was saved from certain defeat. She also believes herself to be the last trueborn child of Ned and Catelyn, and by rights, Winterfell should be hers. Littlefinger will continue to nurture that seed of jealousy if he can—attempting to drive Jon and Sansa apart. Despite his attempts, I think Baelish will ultimately find Sansa unwilling to move openly against her "half-brother."

If Sansa remains loyal to Jon, as seems likely, this leaves Littlefinger with really only a couple of options. He can either ingratiate himself with Jon as an advisor, he can abandon his Northern ambitions entirely and try to attach himself to a different leader, or he can try to eliminate Jon entirely. Baelish is quite capable of murder—and of manipulating others into doing the dirty work for him. Given his preference for remaining hidden, any attempt on Jon's life would be extremely risky for Littlefinger. Sansa has been around Baelish long enough that she would instantly recognize his complicity in any murder plot. So I find it most likely that Littlefinger will take the safe course, attempting to become Jon's advisor. He will present himself as invaluable because of his grasp of court politics and money—both of which are skills currently lacking in Jon's retinue.

The dragon queen

When you consider the other possibilities, Daenerys and her court are really the only viable option for an alliance. Sansa may not be fully on board regarding the White Walker threat, and so Littlefinger may suggest diverting some of Jon's army to retake the Riverlands and smash the Freys. Littlefinger can use this to his advantage, if Jon agrees to move south and increase his hold on the continent before facing the White Walkers. The North surely doesn't have enough manpower currently to face them alone, even with the addition of the Vale and the Wildlings. They will need more men.

Once closer to the Riverlands, I think that Baelish will break the news of Daenerys and her army to Jon and Sansa, and urge that he be allowed to try and broker an alliance with the dragon queen. Jon will obviously be interested in this, as her dragons would be invaluable in a battle with the White Walkers. Littlefinger would probably arrange it so Sansa accompanies him south, which not only separates Sansa from Jon, but gives him a contingency plan in case things go sour with Daenerys.

The mad queen

The least likely option is for Littlefinger to seek out the Lannisters for support, as Cersei clearly will be a short-lived monarch. Even if Euron Greyjoy joins his power to hers, I don't think it will be enough to withstand Daenerys and her armada. The last time Littlefinger saw Cersei, he falsely claimed that the Boltons were behind Sansa's disappearance, and the marriage between her and Ramsay was all Roose's doing. Cersei promised to name Littlefinger the Warden of the North if he defeated the Boltons and brought Sansa back.

It is possible that if Littlefinger sees Cersei as the most viable option for a path to the Iron Throne, he may betray Sansa, kidnapping her and returning her to King's Landing. If Littlefinger feels his power in the North and Vale has eroded, and if Sansa begins to openly oppose him, Baelish might feel that the only way to salvage his power is to betray Sansa and run back to the Lannisters.

His true motivations

Littlefinger once was deeply in love (or at least infatuated) with Catelyn Tully. He displayed his fatal flaw—overconfidence—by challenging Brandon Stark to a duel, and for his trouble he was gravely wounded. Even though Littlefinger has carefully maintained the idea that he still loves Catelyn in the years since then, I don't believe that myself. I think ever since that day in his youth, Baelish has been motivated by his desire for revenge. He wants power in order to prove wrong the people who once laughed at him—the undersized boy from a tiny spit of land nobody cared about.

It's my personal opinion that the second that Catelyn rejected him in their youth, she became nothing to him. This explains the nonchalance with which he lies to Catelyn about the Valyrian steel dagger—a lie which eventually causes the war between the Starks and Lannisters—and ultimately, the death of Catelyn. Baelish has certainly never moved openly against the Freys or Boltons in retribution, and his complicity in Joffrey's murder seemed only motivated to create chaos among the Lannisters. If he was out for revenge, he would have had Tywin killed instead.

Baelish doesn't take care of Sansa because he loves her—he takes care of her because it is an expression of his power and revenge on Catelyn and Ned. They are both dead, while he is alive and has been able to manipulate their daughter into doing just about everything he wants her to do. Now that he's openly exposed his wishes to Sansa about the Iron Throne, the ball is in her court. If she can find a way to outfox Littlefinger, she may survive. If she openly begins to work against Baelish, she might find how quickly he'll betray her if it serves his self-interest.