It was easy to hate -- or at least be frustrated by -- Sansa Stark in the early seasons of "Game of Thrones." She didn't have the backbone of her younger sister Arya, and believed fairy tale stories like knights in shining armor (aka the gay Loras Tyrell) and princes who sweep you off your feet (who turned out to be the monstrous Joffrey Baratheon) are real. Her naivety and faith in humanity led to her accidentally getting her father murdered, and she couldn't even push Joffrey to his death when she had the chance in Season 2.
But the Sansa Stark in Season 4 is a far different person than the one from the show's early seasons. Her time captive in King's Landing transformed her, and she has finally learned the important lesson that "we're all liars here." Like all characters in "Game of Thrones," Sansa has undergone a transformation, and in Season 4 she is now one of the most fascinating and cheer-worthy people on the show.
Sansa still has her fair share of haters, but that hate has become unwarranted. She is not a character who stands idly by, nor is she one who needs to "do something." She has done something. She left King's Landing. The scared Sansa in Season 1 or 2 would never have had the courage to do that, and even in Season 3 she would have been afraid of the might of Cersei and Joffrey. But losing everything taught her -- just like it taught Arya -- she has nothing left to lose.
Fast forward to episode 7, when she lets Littlefinger kiss her for longer than the audience -- and likely she -- felt comfortable. Though she might not have known her Aunt Lysa was watching, she did know the way Littlefinger felt about her and how he felt about her mother. She might not want a sexual relationship with Petyr Baelish, but she knows she has a power over him because of his attraction to her and his lingering feelings for Catelyn. The way she uses that knowledge to her advantage will shape her growth in power going forward.
Sansa Stark is no longer the scared, naive little girl from Season 1. Like Daenerys Targaryen, she was put through the worst circumstances life had to offer and forced to harden and become stronger as a result. Though she might not be conquering cities and men like the Khaleesi, Sansa has become one of the strongest and most resilient characters on the show. Sometimes surviving is the greatest strength of all, which means Sophie Turner's dream for Sansa could actually come true.
"This is what I hope: [Sansa will] go away from King's Landing, and then she'll come back in like 10 years and people will still underestimate her, and she'll be like, 'No. I know everything,'" Turner tells Zap2it. "I just feel like she is going to be one of these great manipulators and no one's going to be able to mess with her."
In Season 4, episode 8, "The Mountain and the Viper," Sansa is asked to speak out as "Littlefinger's motives are questioned." Let's see if she's learned anything since the last time she found herself in a similar situation.
Photo/Video credit: HBO