Last week Petyr Baelish darted into view for a brief chat with Tyrell matriarch Olenna in the ruins of his brothel. This week, he’s twirled out of the spotlight once again. This is the nature of Baelishness.

Baelish’s vanishing act is a concession to the ensemble form; the monster cast of Game of Thrones requires a bit of narrative rotation. But, particularly in Baelish’s case, absence can make the mystique grow stronger. When Arya is offscreen it’s not creatively taxing to imagine her training with Faceless Men, for instance, or Brienne and Podrick riding along some sodden trail. Those characters are presumed to be relatively consistent — the audience sees them when they do stuff. Not so with the Westerosi wildcard.

Baelish is a schemer and he does most of his scheming stage left. (George R.R. Martin has no Littlefinger POV chapters in the book presumably because it's more fun to guess.) For someone in the Game of Thrones universe, where intestines are spilled more frequently than beer, Petyr Baelish doesn’t show his hands often, and when he does they’re remarkably clean — Ned Stark’s red stuff notwithstanding.

So what is Littlefinger up to now? It’s spitballin’ time:

Baelish is looking for a way to leverage Cersei being in a cell — that was partly due to his machinations, right? Tommen is vulnerable as long as Cersei is incarcerated and Baelish is a crap babysitter Lannister-wise. It wouldn’t be unprecedented for Baelish to play both sides against the middle. A weakened Cersei is a Cersei that needs allies. Baelish will be there for her. The question is where he'll be when he's elsewhere.

Baelish is trying to get more contacts in the east, because there’s no way that Daenerys has slipped his mind all of a sudden. (Her assassination was in front of him on a King’s Landing table back in Season Uno.) Baelish keeps his eye on the ball and Dany is the ball.

Baelish got a messenger crow from up north and is boning up on his copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Stab Them. If “Hardhome” drove anything home (hard) it’s that the White Walker wave is ready to crash. Unfortunately for players of the game, Baelish included, this sort of chaos is not a ladder. If winter comes, our man is going to head to The Eyrie as fast as a horse's legs can carry him.

Photos via HBO via Wikipedia