Last week, viewers were left staring open mouthed at the screen as Game of Thrones ‘The Broken Man’ ended with long-time fan favorite character, Arya Stark, being brutally stabbed.
We shouldn’t be too surprised – after all, it’s an accepted fact that no one is safe on the notoriously violent series. The death toll rises every episode, and this season has already seen several major characters bite the dust. Jon Snow and Gregor Clegane might have been brought back to life, but Doran and Trystane Martell, the direwolves Shaggydog and Summer, the Children of the Forest, Balon Greyjoy, Roose Bolton (and his wife and infant child), Osha, and of course poor Hodor are very much dead.
Arya’s Story So Far
And while Arya has long been a favorite for viewers and supporters of House Stark, she definitely made some mistakes over the past few seasons. After heading to the House of Black and White to train as a faceless assassin, Arya has been attempting to deceive the people training her. Telling them that she has renounced her old identity, she secretly hid Needle, and clings to her old loyalties and desire for revenge. She also stole one of the faces last season, using it to murder an old enemy – and lost her sight for her sins.
This season, she continues to put her own desires above her training and her orders. After refusing to carry out a hit on a kind actress, Arya is on the run from the Faceless Men – and it seems that she couldn’t get far.
The Waif, who has always hated Arya for her privileged background, took great joy in seeking her out while wearing the face of an old woman – and stabbing her brutally in the stomach. Arya flung herself into the river, but came to shore to stagger through the streets, clutching her wounds.
This Week’s Synopsis Spoiler
It looks like Arya is in dire straits, but the synopsis for next week’s episode ‘No One’ suggests otherwise.
Episode #58 (season 6, episode 8): “No One” Debut: SUNDAY, JUNE 12 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT) While Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) weighs his options, Cersei (Lena Headey) answers a request. Tyrion’s (Peter Dinklage) plans bear fruit. Arya (Maisie Williams) faces a new test. Written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss; directed by Mark Mylod.
Although the synopsis is tauntingly brief, it does say that Arya “faces another test” – something that she can presumably only do if she is still alive! The episode title, ‘No One’, also suggests that Arya will be the central figure of this week’s Westeros adventures: No One, of course, is what Arya called herself while in training with the Faceless Men. Finally, the teaser for next week also showed Arya alive, and being chased through the streets by the Waif.
How Did She Survive?
Now that we know that Arya is definitely, 100% alive still… how did she do it? Those wounds looked pretty serious, and it’s not very likely that she would be leaping off rooftops with stab wounds in her torso. It’s possible, especially after her intense training to learn how to ignore pain, but it’s also not too likely.
Which means that the most likely scenario is that it wasn’t Arya that the Waif stabbed at all – but that it was Jaqen himself, wearing Arya’s face. It’s a theory that has exploded across the internet since the episode aired on Sunday, and it is incredibly well thought out.
It considers the relationship between Arya and Jaqen, and the fact that she originally named him as one to die – back before either came to Braavos. Although she took back the name, he still owes her a death, and may consider his own life still forfeit.
It also explains why Arya was striding around Braavos, making no attempt at concealment. A trained assassin, who has learned how to be invisible, wouldn’t be strolling around with bags and bags of coin, or standing alone on a bridge. If this was Jaqen, wearing Arya’s face, he would be intentionally drawing out the Waif.
Finally, it explains why Arya didn’t have Needle with her when she was stabbed. That sword is her most prized possession, and she wouldn’t have let it out of her sight with the Faceless Men after her.
What Is The New Test
All of this means that Arya is not only alive, but potentially unhurt – and that Jaqen is the one who is dying. This explains why Arya is leaping off buildings, but leaves us with a new synopsis-related question: what is her new test, and who is testing her?
The synopsis could simply mean that she is being tested by the universe (or George R R Martin!) – a reference to her new situation, being back in danger and in poverty, and generally just having a terrible time of it. However, it could also mean that this was planned by the Faceless Men all along, and her betrayal is part of her training. In this case, what is the test? It could be to safely get away from Braavos, thus proving that she is equal to the skills of one of the Faceless Men. More likely is that her test is to finally beat the Waif.
Fans have pointed out that the Waif hasn’t been acting very Faceless-Man-esque lately. She has a personal vendetta against Arya, which goes against their dispassionate approach. She also seems to take great joy in hurting her – far more than is appropriate for training. Finally, the Waif also forgot herself to the point that she used personal pronouns when asking to be the one to kill Arya – Faceless Men are not supposed to refer to themselves in first person. It could be that the Waif is actually the one who is marked for death, along with Jaqen, and Arya’s test is to kill her.
While the biggest news from the synopsis is definitely Arya’s survival, the Lannister siblings will also be front and center in ‘No One’.
Tyrion: Plans are coming to fruition for the dwarf, but we don’t know which ones – and Tyrion is always planning. With Dany headed back to Mereen with her Dothraki, this might refer to Tyrion’s plans to become her right hand. Or, this may be talking about his attempts to broker a peace between the warring factions in Slaver’s Bay. Finally, this could be referring to his plans for the dragons – Daenerys seems to have found a way to control Drogon, so perhaps we will get to see Tyrion and the other two dragons bonding again…
Jamie: According to the synopsis, Jamie is “weighing his options” – which are presumably whether to try and starve out the Blackfish with a siege, or to try and take the castle by force. However, this is not the only question that he will have to ask himself. The trailer for the episode shows Jamie meeting with Brienne – and as we know, the two have something of a history. In the trailer, she says that should Jamie attack, she will be honor bound to fight him – will his relationship with Brienne outweigh his desire to return to Cersei?
Cersei: Meanwhile Cersei will answer a request – but whose? We did see Sansa sending a request to someone last week, but there is very little chance that she would actively seek Lannister help – and the minds at Reddit claim to have deciphered her letter as a request for help from Littlefinger and the Knights of the Vale. So who else might make a request of the Queen Mother? We could hear from Dorne – but again, that’s unlikely, as Ellaria murdered Cersei’s daughter. Most likely is that Cersei will be up against the High Sparrow, and the request will come either from the church, from the Queen, or from Tommen. In the trailer, we see Cersei picking a fight with Lancel – could this be related to the mystery request?
It looks like this episode will be focusing on the Lannisters and Arya, but with only three episodes left in the season, there is sure to be more packed in. We may see Daenerys alongside Tyrion, if she makes it back to her throne in Mereen this week. We’ll also be potentially seeing some more of Sansa and Jon, although it’s more likely that we will simply hear about them through Brienne and Sansa’s letter.
Off the radar this week are Dorne (who have been noticeably quiet this season), Bolton (who is presumably marshaling his forces and happily slaughtering people), the Greyjoys (who we may not see again until they reach Mereen) and Bran. We will undoubtedly see most of these characters again before the end of the season, but it looks like we’ll have to wait at least one more week for that.