WARNING! Spoilers ahead for “Game of Thrones” Season 7!
Sunday’s episode of “Game of Thrones” included one mighty callback from several seasons ago that made for a Drogon-level burn ― but some viewers may have missed it.
Happily, it all came at the expense of Winterfell’s resident snake-in-the-grass, Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aidan Gillen) in a conversation with Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) after gifting him the Valyrian steel dagger once used in an attempt on the young Stark’s life.
In his leisurely drawl, Littlefinger voices admiration for Bran, saying, “To go through all of that and make your way home again, only to find such chaos in the world, I can only imagine ―”
“Chaos is a ladder,” Bran interrupts. And the look on Littlefinger’s face is priceless:
In this moment, Littlefinger realizes he has something to fear from the disabled boy, whose newfound powers as the Three-Eyed Raven allow him to see everything that’s ever happened to anyone. That includes all of Littlefinger’s plots and schemings ― some against the Stark family he’s publicly supporting. Although he likely doesn’t know the extent of Bran’s powers, Littlefinger is thrown off by the young Stark’s knowledge of something he shouldn’t have: a distant soliloquy given at King’s Landing.
Way back in Season 3, Episode 6, titled “The Climb,” Littlefinger reveals to Varys (Conleth Hill) that he punished one of his brothel workers by handing her over to Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) for a sadistic crossbow shooting practice. She’d been secretly spying for Varys.
“I did what I did for the good of the realm,” the Spider defends himself.
“The realm,” Littlefinger says mockingly. “Do you know what the realm is? It’s the thousand blades of Aegon’s enemies, a story we agree to tell each other over and over, until we forget that it’s a lie.”
“But what do we have left, once we abandon the lie? Chaos? A gaping pit waiting to swallow us all,” Varys replies.
“Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder,” Littlefinger retorts. “Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some, are given a chance to climb. They refuse, they cling to the realm, or the gods or love. Illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is.”
While Varys claims he works for the realm, aiming to bring peace and prosperity back to Westeros, Littlefinger thrives on chaos, which is a large part of what makes him dangerous. By repeating his own words ― words that were spoken when Bran was physically nowhere nearby ― Bran lets Littlefinger know that he is being watched. And because that’s probably one of the last things Littlefinger wants, we’re a little worried about Bran.
Or we would be, if he didn’t have a House-of-Black-and-White-trained assassin living with him in the form of Arya (Maisie Williams), now in charge of that critical dagger.
Yeah, Bran will probably be fine. Watch the full “chaos” clip below.
“Game of Thrones” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.