Petyr Baelish is the Game of Thrones equivalent of a T. Rex hiding in its paddock. He is a sometimes calculating, sometimes chaotic force that needs both a tasty morsel and a narrative flare to lure him from the shadows. Put another way, he was a no-show this week, as he was the last week and the week before that.

Writing these weekly updates is getting rough.

Baelish is, like a certain tiny-armed dinosaur, a survivor. He will appear again, appendages intact, next year — unlike many major players (a few who died this week, a few more who appeared to suffer mortal blows). Not only is he surviving, he is in a better place to pull off capers than he’s ever been. Here’s why he’s going to own next season:

Baelish Abhors a Northern Vacuum

With Stannis’ death and the Boltons hurting, what north Westeros needs now more than ever is a forward-thinking villain. The crows and psychobilly Ramsay are stab-happy monsters, but planning ahead is not their strongest suit.

Littlefinger Has No Competition Left

By the end of “Mother’s Mercy,” Weiss and Benioff have positioned Jaime to square off against Dorne, locked Tyrion down in the East, broken Cersei, blinded Arya, and maybe killed Jon but probably not Reek or Sansa. The White Walkers and Daenerys’ dragons still need to prep for the party down south. And who in King’s Landing has the Vale, the Tyrells on his side, and Sansa’s allegiance? That’s right. (Though we’ll have to wait and see how Baelish’s Sansa bet paid off — perhaps with Ramsay’s head on the end of a sword sworn to protect Starks?)

Benioff and Weiss Clearly Love the Guy

Baelish is not a relatable character — but neither, for all his ruthlessness, has he committed some sort of obscene and horrible crime against humanity. Thus, according to the rules of mad gods W and B, he is not sentenced to death.

Why has Baelish been spared? Is it that the show runners see a string-pulling equal in their creation? When they register that glint in Littlefinger’s eyes — the one that means a not-fully-sensical plot is unspooling like so much silly string in the wind — do they not only understand and respect that gleam but see it as a reflection of themselves? Will Baelish survive forever as Westeros evolves into Earth, and then put his grandiloquence to use as Terry Gross’ replacement on Fresh Air?

Or, you know, the Frankenstein Mountain will just end up popping his eyes out. Either-or.