Arya Stark, Arya Okay?

Posted: January 26, 2016 by patricksponaugle in Game of Thrones, Opinion, TV
Tags: ,

This post will be talking about my favorite little murder-angel, Arya Stark. This post will also be spoilery if you’re not up-to-date with Game of Thrones on HBO.

arya-stark

Someone’s not current on my adventures? What’s their name? I have a list.

Arya in the Lost and Found

I almost entitled this post Losing Arya because her story is all about relentless loss. Usually she’s losing something or someone close to her.

Or people are losing her.

  • On the road to King’s Landing, Arya is forced to abandon her direwolf Nymeria, to save the direwolf’s life. Essentially losing this protector that may well have been assigned to her by the Old Gods.
  • She loses her “dancing” instructor when the Lannisters spring their trap.

Arya-Stark-arya-stark-23881737-1920-1080

  • She loses her father at Baelor’s square.
  • The Lannisters would love to get their murderous hands on Arya, but they lose her to Yoren from the Night’s Watch, who finds her in the crowd and takes her with his party of recruits, heading to the Wall.
  • Yoren loses her to the Lannisters. (It’s not really his fault. He lost his life right before that.) The Lannister goons don’t know that they have the girl that their colleagues are looking for in the capital.
  • Arya also loses her little rapier, Needle, at this time. 😦
  • The Lannisters lose Arya without even realizing it when she coerces Jaqen H’ghar into helping her escape Harrenhal. But their loss is the Brotherhood without Banners‘ gain. They plan on ransoming her off at Riverrun.
  • The Brotherhood loses her to Sandor Clegane, who was more up to date on the local social events, and the Hound takes Arya to the Twins, to ransom her directly to Catelyn Stark.
  • Arya loses her brother and mother at the Twins. F***ing Freys.

Arya_kills_Polliver

  • At least she finds Needle again. And finds Polliver’s throat with it.
  • Brienne of Tarth is searching for Sansa Stark, but runs across Arya by chance. Brienne wins a fight with the Hound, but loses Arya who had no reason to trust Brienne and her Lannister-golden sword.
  • Without no one in control of her destiny, Arya takes a ship to Braavos, to enter the House of Black and White, hoping to learn the ways of the Faceless Men assassins. But they have a requirement. She has to give up her identity and become No One. She has to essentially lose herself.
  • Oh, she also loses her sight. Whoa!

how-will-game-of-thrones-go-forward-in-season-6-without-jon-snow-522509

She once was lost, but now she’s found. Blind, but will she see?

Arya has spent the bulk of her time on the show dragged around like a football by various players. But occasionally Arya has the freedom to make a choice. Usually someone ends up badly for it.

  • She chooses to shiv that one loud-mouthed Frey taxidermist, not caring if the Hound takes care of the rest of the Freys or not. (He does.)
  • She chooses to force the Hound into an encounter with the Lannister peacekeepers once she sees Polliver.
  • She chooses not to trust Brienne, but hides while the Maid of Tarth beats the hell out of the Hound. (Gravity helped Brienne.)
  • Arya gets to sit in judgment over the injured Hound, as he begs her to show mercy and kill him quick. (She chooses not to.)

(Hmmm, the Hound really ended up being involved in all of Arya’s decision processes. I guess she was in charge of him, and not the other way around.)

But in Season 5 Braavos, Arya was sitting in judgment of herself when the House of Black and White laid things out for her.

Can she choose to let Arya Stark die (I’m being overly dramatic, I’m talking about her identity as Arya Stark) so she can continue to progress in the ranks of the Faceless Men?

Or will she stubbornly cling to her past as Arya, and in particular the Arya Stark List of A**holes Who Need Killing?

042-Arya

She didn’t seem to be fully committed to becoming No One, since she couldn’t abandon Needle.

But now that she’s blind, she might not have a choice but to double down on the death-dealing disciples.

I think it’s safe to assume that Arya’s story isn’t going to end with her sitting against a wall, begging for coppers in Braavos until she starves to death, so there seem to be three types of paths (two of which are relatively similar.)

  1. She regains her sight or …
  2. She’s blind, but goes all Rutger Hauer Blind Fury and compensates with her other senses. Quasi-unbelievably so. Or …
  3. She’s blind, but the Stark connection to the Old Gods kicks in and grants her some kind of second sight. Very Paul Muad’dib Dune Messiah.

I’m fine with anything that keeps Arya up and moving and dangerous. But she’s going to be pressured by the House of Black and White to make a decision on how she’s going to proceed with them.

I’m worried about Arya, since either path might be very bad.

Arya Stark Shouldn’t Be Our Favorite Character

Last year before Season 4 started up, Maise Williams gave an interview where she stated (I’m paraphrasing) that Arya Stark wasn’t there to be anyone’s favorite character. The context was largely surrounding Arya’s journey into darkness and revenge, but that’s not what I want to talk about.

I’m talking about a meta-context, about favorite characters and what the show sometimes does to them. It’s wrong to say that George RR Martin kills off all of the fan favorites. But he did kill off Ned Stark. That kind of set the tone of the show, that anyone could be killed.

In general, although he has killed off major characters here and there, I don’t believe that he’s gone overboard, he hasn’t been throwing all the fan favorites into the literary meat-grinder. But he’s certainly not easy on those characters.

Tyrion strangled Shae. Jaime lost his sword hand. Cersei watched her precious son die. Sansa was forced (by the showrunners, not by Littlefinger) to marry Ramsay Snow. There’s a lot of despair going around.

And when the character in question is liked by the fans, it’s all the more emotional for us.

I don’t think Arya’s story will be lethally cut short and I don’t think she’ll fall prey to some abuse. But I’m worried instead that Arya will be maneuvered into killing off someone that the audience is rooting for. So we’ll be rooting against her.

Arya the Faceless

If Arya dives in with her full will into being a Faceless assassin, she might get a job to take out someone we like.

A Man: A girl is ready?
A Girl: No One is ready.

arya-and-jaqen-1024x576
A Man: There is a mother who has lost her son. There is a daughter who has lost her father. The mother and daughter are the same. A man might say that she has lost a brother as well, since the brother killed both her father and son.
A Girl: Why would the brother kill his sister’s son and their father?
A Man: A man does not ask these questions. The mother who is also the daughter has asked for her brother to be given a gift. Will a girl give the brother a gift?
A Girl: No One can give him the gift. How will No One know him?
A Man: He is shorter than No One. With golden hair. A girl will be told where the brother is.

Cersei might not be the only one who’d wish to hire the Faceless Men. Littlefinger has resources and might want to consolidate things. Depending on how he neatly he wants loose ends tied up, in regards to possible claimants to the Throne, he might have some targets that Arya might not want to kill, but No One couldn’t care less about.

Gendry

What? You saying m’lady might kill me? My m’lady? Highborn are even stranger than I thought…

Arya the Vengeful

But Arya might not stick with the Faceless Men. It wouldn’t be the first time she set out on her own. With her list. The problem with that is this: things are currently very complicated over in Westeros. It might not be in the Seven Kingdoms’ interest for Arya to show and start killing people.

Certainly, there are people who probably deserve to die on her list. But maybe some that could be allies to the Starks.

Beric

You’re saying that the little girl might give me the gift of Death? That’s cute.

And one person on her list that might be very important (if a certain someone is only mostly dead.) Allegedly, Arya and Melisandre will meet again.

MissyAndArya

The show in the past has maneuvered situations where two sides are in competition, and neither possible outcome is ideal.

I’d hate to see a situation where some fragile alliance among unpleasant people is required for the day to be literally saved. And have vengeance-fueled Arya blunder in, ripping things apart with her short term goals.

But it’s a likely, likely scenario.

Okay, Arya?

Hopefully I’m wrong, and the assassin skills that Arya is learning will be useful for bringing about a satisfying conclusion, instead of being a complication.

George can give us this much, right?

Right???


(Comments are always welcome. Super welcome! But if you want to talk spoilery Game of Thrones talk with me (also welcome) I’d invite you to visit my Safe Spoilers page on my backup blog. That way my non-book-reading friends won’t be shocked with foreknowledge.)

Images from HBO’s Game of Thrones (obviously.) 

I make no claims to the artwork, but some claims to the text. So there.

If you liked this article, thank you! I have all of my Game of Thrones related articles on my handy-dandy Game of Thrones page should you want to read more but don’t want to navigate around my site.

© Patrick Sponaugle 2016 Some Rights Reserved

 

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Comments
  1. jennnanigans says:

    Great post, as always!

    OH MY GOSH. Reading that dialogue between A Man and A Girl – I totally missed that on first viewing! I am slow but now I am really excited! Not because I want to see THAT CHARACTER killed, but putting her near him would be MOST interesting. I bet he can talk his way out of that one, though. 😀

    Also – MAN. Going through that list it is really hitting home all the terrible things that have happened to Arya. I forgot some of them!

    I want for her to return to Westeros blind and Nymeria becomes her Seeing-Eye Dire Wolf that helps her carry out murder missions. COME ON. It would be perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If and when (when! Not if!) Arya gets reunited with Nymeria, I will totally cry.

      I am glad you liked my House of Black and White dialogue. I was really trying for a proper Jaqen voice.

      I’d also like a particular Stark/Lannister team up

      Liked by 1 person

  2. KG says:

    There you go again, tempting GRRM 😀
    I saw an interview with Conan where Arya/Maisie was telling Conan how she was trying so hard to not annoy the producers so that she won’t be killed 😉
    I bet she has some very important task ahead of her just like Bran!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. joanna says:

    Arya’s a wild card, unpredictable, impetuous. If she leaves behind the Arya identity, she will become the most dangerous person in Westeros. Many people may think GOT is a story of who conquers all and sits on the Iron Throne.

    For me, it’s all about the Starks, their story, their journey and how decisions they make change the course of events. The Starks are the moral compass of the story. Arya has to leave Braavos. I wish Nymeria would play a part in her story but wishes don’t get us very far on GOT.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Arya is also interesting because she has the least amount of moral compass, or at least hasn’t had much in the way of someone giving her an explicit moral background.

      Robb got a lot from Ned, and Jon did by osmosis – then Jon had Mormont, Qhorin, and Maester Aemon to give him struts in his framework.

      Bran got some from Maester Luwin but he has had loyal companionship from the Reeds (a bigger deal in the books)

      Sansa got her examples from Cat and lessons from her Septa, but Arya was not into any of that.

      Syrio was probably the one who gave Arya the most grounding (again more in the books, Arya is constantly recollecting his words and sayings)

      So, Arya’s future decisions might be made from the standpoint of a weak moral compass. I do have hopes that she’ll eventually come in contact with someone who will be her touchstone. Someone possibly unexpected.

      Liked by 1 person

      • joanna says:

        Well, yes she’s fueled by hatred and revenge. Killing gets easier every time. She derives pleasure from it. Which is not an evident quality in any of the other Starks. But I still think that the 3rd part of the equation is moral outrage. You can still see it when she chews the Hound out after he robs the poor farmer, cannot bear to part with Needle, cleanses the young girl in the House of the Undying. I believe if you strip off all the layers, it is still there – what she learned and admired from Ned, Catelyn, Rob, Jon, Sansa not so much 🙂

        Something to look forward to is the very possible imminent meeting of Jon and Sansa at Winterfell. If the Stark children get together again, I think I’ll whoop so loud, they’ll hear me in the next village.

        Liked by 1 person

      • joanna says:

        And even when Arya slaughters Meryn Trant, revenge is not the only motive. She does it for her friend, for Syrio ..

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hmmm, I think killing Meryn Trant is classic revenge. She’s certainly avenging Syrio, which might have a different meaning, but it seems vendetta-based.

          But I appreciate you bringing up Arya advocating for the farmer and his little cherubic daughter. Arya also confronted the Hound when he was going to kill the guy transporting hogs feet to the Red Wedding.

          The girl in the House of Black and White was handled in some ways modeled after the example of the Hound and when he gave the wounded farmer final mercy.

          I don’t mean to imply that Arya is completely amoral, certainly Ned gave her some guidelines, like saying the lone wolf dies but the pack survives – to get her to make peace with Sansa. (I am literally tearing up thinking about that scene…) and your examples carry weight.

          I just think that Arya might be in danger of getting a dark-side code of ethics if she doesn’t have some kind of live and let live examples.

          Ah, I know you are eager for the two people with the best claims on the North, Sansa and Jon (if Jon ever was legitimized. And not dead) to join forces.

          I am looking forward to what happens in the North this season.

          Liked by 1 person

          • joanna says:

            Everything ‘North’ is far more interesting right now

            Liked by 1 person

          • joanna says:

            Re: Jon and Sansa, it’s not so much, at least on my part, about claims, but the meeting.It will be the first time in years that any member of the Stark Household has met up with another. Plus we have to kick the usurpers out and do away with dastardly Ramsay. I am also very curious as to Sansa’s reaction to Baelish, as well as Jon’s.

            Baelish: My Lord, so good to have you back, As you can see, I’ve taken excellent care of your lovely sister.
            Jon: I’m not a lord, I am The Lord, a Prince among men. Your presence is superfluous. You have no position here. Kindly crawl back to your whorehouse.
            Baelish: I shall not go. As you see, I care about Sansa and I intend to marry her
            Jon:She’s not my sister. She is my cousin and too fair for the scheming likes of you.
            Baelish: If you think you can be reborn, walk in and spoil all my plots …
            Jon: Are you refusing to obey me? Ser Davos, get that log of wood.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. haley says:

    I totally agree with you, that Arya could be headed towards the assassination of someone else we like. That’s probably the most interesting place she could go- I don’t expect that she’ll get to tick all of the names off her list, that would be a bit too satisfying! I’ve seen some theories that posit her against Tyrion, which would be particularly tough for the audience…. I don’t think either of those characters will die, though. *knocks furiously on wood*

    Liked by 1 person

  5. miriamrburden says:

    I love it! Your posts are always so succinct, and ponderous. I don’t know what’s going to happen to Arya’s character arc. Perhaps her blindness is connected to the three eyed raven, and Bran’s path. Maybe that will reunite them. I don’t think she’ll be able to become no one. The Stark is strong in this one.

    Like

  6. Lea Ault says:

    I don’t think Arya will be blind forever, I hope she will be reunited with Nymeria, and the wish in my heart is that she links up with Tyrion and Danaerys and they come back to Westeros and go mental! Arya gets a dragon in this scenario. I particularly want a Melisandre-Arya showdown. And while I’m dreaming, Jon Snow isn’t really dead and marries Danaerys. Yeah, I said it! And, and, Brienne of Tarth becomes the Hand! I know GRRM won’t give me any of that. He kind of looks like Santa, but he’s not Santa. GOT inspires these wild fantasies, doesn’t it? I can’t believe how much I care about these characters. Sorry Pat, totally rambling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Don’t apologize! That’s all great. Hopefully some of your predictions at least come true.

      Nymeria reuniting with Arya is a fave hope, and I am sure that the show will bring Arya and Melisandre together for a reckoning since the Red Woman told Arya that they’d meet again.

      It’s nice to hear how much these characters mean to you, Lea. And I love your observation about GRRM and Santa Claus.

      Hmmm, in Westeros, maybe the Three Eyed Raven is Santa. They both live way up north and hang out with elves.

      Like

  7. The Speevers says:

    I love the way that Arya and Bran are letting us enjoy the Stark dark side a bit. It’s so easy to forget that it’s there!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right, no one talks about the Stark dark side all that much, because Ned was so straight up decent, but there were some bad apples in the Stark family tree.

      I’m not saying that GRRM will turn Arya and Bran evil, but if he did, it would be so much more a successful transformation than we got from, oh, Darth Vader or whatever. (I still need to read your In Defense of Darth Vader.)

      Like

  8. Haylee says:

    Oh my, I hadn’t even considered the possibility that her dark side could lead us to be the character we hated. Surely they won’t torture us this way?! To be fair, I love her so much that I think I could even forgive her killing the reanimated Jon. Just. She’d have to fall dramatically on Needle straight after though in an act of tragic remorse!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know! I love Arya so much. She’ll never become the character I hate, but she’ll be that character that I can’t support, and hope someone can restrain or something.

      Hopefully none of those dark things will happen.

      Team Arya!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Curt Shannon says:

    I like your idea about Arya going to kill Tyrion, but what about Dany instead? Everyone in Essos would be willing to pay big bucks to get Dany out of the picture, whereas The Lannisters are a little light at the moment (in the show at least). Can they offer the Faceless men enough money to kill Tyrion?

    Or maybe the Iron Bank collects on their debt owed by the Crown by paying the Faceless men to send Arya to kill Cersei (and if she fails, having plausible deniability due to Arya’s personal vendetta against Cersei.)

    But it will probably end up Arya in the Riverlands or the North, which makes total sense, but seems a little disappointing compared to the Dany/Cersei possibilities. Unless a certain direwolf makes a
    reappearance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nice ideas. I hadn’t thought about anyone paying the Faceless Men to make a hit on Dany, although of course I should have thought of that, because she’d been targeted twice. Once by Robert, and once by the Warlocks.
      Hmmm…
      And the Iron Bank also makes for an interesting idea. I mean, it’s just a short boat ride for Tycho Nestoris to swing by the HoBaW and make the request.

      Thanks for the great comment, Curt!

      Like

  10. Merlin says:

    If I knew a little less about how GRRM likes to play with good and evil, and twist around who the clear heroes and villains are… and if I knew a bit less about how the Starks were the good guys originally but have now been beaten down into the darkness to do terrible things… I would find your theory much less horrifyingly possible… and nerve-wrackingly plausible. I never thought I’d actually *want* Arya to give up her old self, but if it’s that or destroying the alliance that makes fighting the Others/white walkers possible, then I might just be all for it. Perhaps that religious movement will take out her enemies first and unite all the people before there’s an alliance for her to muck up?

    Liked by 1 person

    • We can always hope for the best. I always want to have positive feelings towards Arya, it’s not like I want her to be a villain or a complication that I’m rooting against.

      Hopefully she’ll not travel down that path, or can be redeemed. (She doesn’t really need redemption now, she’s still awesome!)

      Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate you coming by.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. chattykerry says:

    I got halfway down and then realized I was spoiling it for myself! Great writing, as always, ser.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. “I don’t think Arya’s story will be lethally cut short and I don’t think she’ll fall prey to some abuse. But I’m worried instead that Arya will be maneuvered into killing off someone that the audience is rooting for. So we’ll be rooting against her…

    I’d hate to see a situation where some fragile alliance among unpleasant people is required for the day to be literally saved. And have vengeance-fueled Arya blunder in, ripping things apart with her short term goals.

    But it’s a likely, likely scenario.”

    I agree 100% to this but I’m kind of excited for it. Some of what I love in A Song of Ice and Fire is all the characters are alive with ambitions and plans, but when you mix all those things together not everyone gets what they want. In fact, almost no one. In fact, possibly only Littlefinger. Meaning I absolutely expect for Arya to come back at *absolutely* the wrong time for someone else. I would not put it past her to kill Tyrion – or Daenerys – just as they finally get King’s Landing under wraps. Or Vaerys, after that super important book 1 scene where she overhears him scheming.

    I’m basing this in part on the ways that I am interpreting the competing religions in the books. There seems to be a looming battle between the powers of light (and fire, mostly fire), and the powers of darkness. And The Stranger – the god of the Faceless – seems to be the same thing as the darkness Melisandre might discuss. So if we’re rooting for Azor Ahai against the White Walkers (I know I am, whoever it is), well, Arya is against that. Or at least her training is. So maybe better than my list of random characters above. Chances Arya kills Azor Ahai? I put them at 75%.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, but although we see the Stranger as one of the facets of the Many Faced God in the House of Black and White, there’s also the Flaming Heart of R’hllor. So the HOBAW might not automatically be aligned against Azor Ahai. Although Melisandre might argue otherwise. But I would not be surprised if it played out like that. Maybe the White Walkers are just giving people the gift of Death too. A kind of creepy death.

      Liked by 1 person

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