After MIA for an entire season, the Stark child that everybody forgets to wonder about made a reappearance in Season 6 Episode 3 of Game of Thrones under the worst possible circumstances. Rickon Stark, who's name has probably never been mentioned without Bran's in the same sentence, has been captured and delivered to Ramsay Bolton at Winterfell. When Ramsay asked for proof that this was Rickon Stark, Smalljon Umber — who kidnapped him — threw the severed head of Rickon's direwolf, Shaggydog onto the table. Ugh, my heart! But what exactly happened to Shaggydog? The Internet is buzzing with speculation that perhaps Shaggydog isn't really dead on Game of Thrones, the head was a fake, and this is all a big ruse. At least that's what I'm hoping for.
We last caught up with Rickon at the end of Season 3, when he and his wildling protector Osha parted ways with Bran, and set off to take refuge with the Umbers, a Northern House that is famously loyal to the Starks, as Karstark reminded us in Sunday's episode. Ramsay should have been suspicious when Umber refused to kneel or swear an oath. Book readers will know that the Umbers are extremely loyal and defensive of their honor. In lieu of an oath, Smalljon presented Ramsay with Rickon and the head as a "gift." But taking into account the fact that the Umbers as a family would be unlikely to betray the Starks, and the fact that Umber did not actually pledge himself to Ramsay, the Internet is circulating the theory that the head Umber presented was a fake. Possibly, there is a plan in motion to get rid of Ramsay and name Jon Snow as King in the North.
Some evidence presented that the head was a fake include that the head seemed far too small. The head of Robb Stark's direwolf, Grey Wind, was as big as a horse's. Jon's direwolf Ghost is taller than the table. In comparison, the Shaggydog head presented looks like a pretty average-sized wolf head. It has also been suggested that Rickon was a little too chill in this scene for that wolf to really be Shaggydog. When Lady died, Sansa was completely inconsolable. After years of relative isolation, I can only assume that Rickon and Shaggydog's bond has grown far closer. Shouldn't Rickon be tearing his eyes out right now with grief? Of course, maybe this is all wishful thinking. Maybe the camera angle was weird and we didn't get the right point of comparison to see the real size of the head. Maybe Rickon has already cried all his tears and is trying to hold it together. Maybe the Umbers really have betrayed the Starks.
But maybe, just maybe, things are about to look up for the Starks.