Taylor Swift is back with the new single "Look What You Made Me Do," and while most people agree that it is a jab at Kanye and Kim West, there may be something else brewing underneath. No, I'm not talking about the "I'm Too Sexy" interpolation. I also won't deny the drama that has surrounded Taylor and the West family, but I feel that "Look What You Made Me Do" proves to be almost coming from the perspective of the Stark sisters, Arya and Sansa.
BASIC GAME OF THRONES SPOILERS AHEAD
We're going to do this the only way I know how. That's right, I'm pulling out my sermon prep and Bible study techniques for this one. We're going verse-by-verse, addressing the lines that stand out, and unwrapping major themes.
"I don't like your little games. Don't like your tilted stage. The role you made me play: Of the fool, no, I don't like you. I don't like your perfect crime. How you laugh when you lie. You said the gun was mine. Isn't cool, no, I don't like you (oh!)"
I'll be honest with you, it wasn't until after my fifth time listening to this song that the Stark connection clicked with me. It took actually looking at the lyrics and breaking them down to realize it wasn't just about Arya.
This first verse really screams "Sansa!" While Arya had her own "game" to play, Sansa was thrown into the actual "game of thrones." So who's "little games" would Taylor, or Sansa, be referring to here? Could it be Cersei and the rest of the Lannister family? Cersei said it herself, "When you play the game of thrones you win or you die." Of course she said that to Ned Stark, and not Sansa. Nevertheless, Sansa probably knows how Cersei "plays" better than anyone. We also have seen in season 7, that Cersei's manipulation is still having a major effect on what is happening in Winterfell.
Which brings us to who I really believe this first verse is referring to. It's almost spelled out for us in the first line, "I don't like your little games." Hmmm... Little games... Game of Thrones... LITTLE FINGER! No one person has played Sansa more for his own selfish purposes than Little Finger, Petyr Baelish. Lord Baelish's love for Sansa's mother, Catelyn Stark, as well as his love for the game, has turned Sansa into a pawn. To Little Finger, Sansa's chaos has become his primary ladder. He sees her as a surrogate for his infatuation with Catelyn, but how long does that last? His acquisition of The Vale of Arryn, while not as twisted and horrid as Ramsay Bolton's taking of Winterfell (and Sansa), is all part of Little Finger's "perfect crime."
Little Finger continues to "council" and "aid" Sansa, but any bit of power that he helps her gain power or influence, is simply him saying "the gun was [hers.]" It's only a matter of time until, Sansa (or Arya), thinks that this game that Little Finger is playing "Isn't cool."
List of Names
"But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time. Honey, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time. I've got a list of names and yours is in red, underlined. I check it once, then I check it twice, oh!"
I MEAN COME ON!!! DO I HAVE TO SPELL IT OUT FOR YOU? NO? WELL, I'M GOING TO ANYWAY!
While the first verse heavily evoked Sansa, the quick biting pre-chorus is all Arya. This pre-chorus might as well be a line straight from the books or show. We have watched Arya grow from being a bit of a tomboy, the girl who wanted to be a knight, to one of the most deadly assassins in all of Westeros. Thanks to some interesting mentors, like Syrio Forel, The Hound, and Jaqen H'gar, she grew "smarter" and "harder." With the skills learned from training as a Faceless Man, "a girl has no name." She is not confined to her own history and past. Early in season 7, we saw that Walder Frey "rose up from the dead" in order to kill all those loyal to House Frey, and all those responsible for the Red Wedding. This isn't the first, and this isn' the last that Arya is going to use this skill. "[She does] it all the time."
Of course, we can't ignore "I've got a list of names..." line. Game of Thrones fans are all pretty familiar with Arya Stark's list of names. Especially with her repeating it every night before bed. " I check it once, then I check it twice." If one had to be "in red, underlined," it would have to be Cersei Lannister. Cersei and Joffrey Baratheon were the ones who set everything into motion. The ones who forced Arya, and the rest of the Westeros, to get smarter and harder.
Look What You Made Me Do
I won't dive too deep into the chorus. Lyrically there isn't a lot happening, but there is a sense of taking action. Action that probably isn't pretty, and unpleasant to whoever this track is directed towards. For the Stark girls, the best representation of these moments have to be their "cool guys don't look at explosions moments." What are those exactly? Arya walking calmly away from the mass murder that she committed at The Twins, and Sansa leaving Ramsay Bolton to be eaten by his own hounds. I'm telling you, pull those scenes up, and listen to this chorus at the same time, and it fits so well together.
THREW A FEAST
"I don't like your kingdom keys. They once belonged to me. You ask me for a place to sleep. Locked me out and threw a feast (what?). The world moves on, another day, another drama, drama, But not for me, not for me, all I think about is karma. And then the world moves on, but one thing's for sure. Maybe I got mine, but you'll all get yours."
Unfortunately, the second verse doesn't work as cleanly for the analogy. Yes, "locked me out and threw a feast," is definitely reminiscent of Arya being so close to being reunited with Rob and Catelyn Stark, only to have that ripped away from her. So what once seemed like the unification of houses that would help dethrone the Lannister family, turned out to be a slaughter that destroyed (almost) every ounce of hope for the Stark and the north.
The metaphor regarding the "...your kingdom keys. They once belonged to me..." definitely fits Sansa's relationship with Ramsay Bolton (and Little Finger) much better. Ramsay Bolton, formerly known as Ramsay Snow, became the Lord of Winterfell, the rightful home to the Stark house. I won't write more about that situation, because it's just too despicable for me to want to get into. Game of Thrones fans are obviously very familiar with what happened there, and we'll just leave it at that.
Both Arya and Sansa haven't "moved on" like the rest of the world, but rather continue to think about that "karma." There is undoubtably an overarching sense of vengeance for the Stark sisters. Let's just hope they don't take it out on each other.
"I don't trust nobody and nobody trusts me. I'll be the actress starring in your bad dreams. Look what you made me do. 'I'm sorry, the old Taylor can't come to the phone right now.' 'Why?' 'Oh, 'cause she's dead!'"
Once again, this could be a general statement of power and confidence, so it could apply to both Stark sisters. Though, there are a couple of interesting things that point to Arya specifically. Referring to herself as an "actress," or the statement of the old Taylor/Arya being dead, evokes the idea of the Faceless Men. We've already talked about that a bit earlier. While we won't dig into that connection further, it is very cool to see it driven home even more.
I know that we were talking about this being a song for the Stark sisters, but this bridge could also connect to that weirdo, Bran Stark. Who? The Three Eyed Raven. The sweet boy who loved to climb is no more. He's the Three Eyed Raven. He'll tell you that himself. Multiple times.
How is Bran an actress/actor? Well, we know that Bran is a warg. He is able to meld his mind with people and animals, and who knows what else. With his ability to do that throughout time and space, he fits really well into "starring in your bad dreams." Just ask Hodor. Oh wait, YOU CAN'T!
So, that's that. If you've managed to read this entire article, thank you so much for wasting your time with me. Let me know what you think in the comments! Am I crazy? Is this spot on? Both? Either way, thanks so much. Winter is here.
Written by Nico Cuevas.
You can follow him on Twitter @NicoSaysThings