Thus begins Dame of Thrones, Hiatus Edition. Let’s start where season five left off: Arya Stark. Valar morghulis.
Book spoilers in this one!
Name: No one.
Family: Father: Dead. Mother: Dead. Siblings: Some combination of dead/she thinks they’re dead/they’re on the other side of the world from her. It’s a terrible life, Arya Stark.
Known Associates: At various points: Assassins, commoners, the First Sword of Braavos, and Sandor Clegane. At least until she let him die a slow, painful death. (Well, she thought she did.)
Weapon of Choice: Unlike sister Sansa, Arya’s weapon is a literal weapon, her sword Needle. Like her sister, she also has on her side a frankly insane level of resiliency. There’s violence, death, and trauma at every turn, but she just… keeps on surviving. Shit, I’m sorry, Arya. I’ve jinxed you. Martin, don’t you dare!
What’s Her Deal?: The tomboy of the Stark family, Arya didn’t adjust too well to her, her sister, and her father relocating to King’s Landing. Sansa didn’t understand her, The Hound killed her only friend, she hated the artifice of court life… it couldn’t get any worse. And then, because Game of Thrones, it did. A life on the road, traveling with various ruffians and getting captured a few times, turned Lady Stark into a stone-cold killer… or at least a stone-cold killer in training, which is where Assassins’ University in Braavos comes in. The Faceless Men want Arya to give up her identity and her quest for vengeance, but we know that’s never gonna happen.
Why Is She Awesome?: Because she’s a totes li’l badass and she kills a lot of people. Er… no. Not for me, at least. Though if that’s what draws you to Arya, more power to ya. Her appeal to me is that aforementioned resilience, and the effect that everything she’s lived through has on her. Arya’s not a killer just because she wants revenge on the many, many people who have wronged her family. Also at play is the fact that in her short life she’s seen more horrors and suffered through more pain and heartbreak than many adults in the series (and that’s saying something). Every time she begins to get close to someone, they die or they leave. She had to turn hard, to shut off some of her kinder, less preservation-oriented instincts, just to deal with the reality of her life. My love of Arya is less who she is now and who she could become: A screwed up adult, twisted and warped by an adolescence spent in a series of brutal environments, determined to fulfill her bloody goal… for what? There’s no happy ending at the end of the tunnel for Arya. No family, no fun adventures, no quiet old age surrounded by loved ones. At least she can’t operate under the assumption that there might, because in her mind that would make her lose weak. She’s living for one thing, and one thing only… and I’m not sure how long that can last. I’m going to out on on a limb and say it won’t end well for her.
It’s probably too much to ask for, but I want Arya and Rickon to grow up and swoop back into Westeros to mess some assholes up, Rickon with his rage and Arya with her cold fury, while Sansa uses politics-fu in the background to direct the enemies of House Stark right into her younger siblings’ waiting, bloody hands. BWAHAHAHAHA.
Most Badass Scene: There are a lot to choose from here, and I invite you to leave yours in the comments, but a personal favorite of mine is Arya manipulating scary assassin Jaqen H’ghar into killing more people for her than the three he agreed to. “A girl lacks honor.” “*shrug”*
Best Quote: Arya’s blessed with some truly great ones: “Fear cuts deeper than swords” or “Stick ’em with the pointy end,” for example. And “Valar Morghulis” is, of course, iconic. But my favorite has to be “Anyone can be killed,” from the show. Simple. Succinct. Game of Thrones in a nutshell.
Fan Theory du Jour: The Faceless Men knew to keep an eye on Arya from the get-go, at least if you believe the theory that her old “dancing” instructor Syrio Forel is actually Jaqen H’ghar. There’s a fan theory that everyone is Jaqen H’ghar. There’s probably a thread buried in the depths of Westeros.org positing that Jaqen H’ghar shot Kennedy.
Merch Me Up: Feel immeasurable pain every time you look down at your torso with this Stark children sweatshirt. There’s also a keychain that reminds you how to use a sword and an abundance of Valar Morghulis jewelry. And it’s not merch, but: direwolf bread recipe!
It Belongs In a Museum, AKA Fanart:
Austen Mengler did a whole series of Game of Thrones characters drawn as White Walkers, and the rest are just as creepygood.