Tom Wlaschiha on why Jaqen H’ghar let Arya leave Braavos


This passed weekend, “Battle of the Bastards” spent a good deal of time focusing on Sansa Stark (Lannister Bolton) and her attempt to take back Winterfell from the Boltons. Afterward, Sophie Turner spoke about her character finally getting “her first kill.”

It’s too bad Arya wasn’t around to see her older sister finally join the ranks of Stark murderers. But I think it’s pretty clear that Arya is heading back to Westeros posthaste after the events of “No One.” Many fans (including some of my co-workers) have fantasies about her turning up in the finale, possibly giving her regards to the Freys and Lannisters.

If Arya does show up in Westeros next week, part of the reason she’ll be doing that is because Jaqen H’ghar let her go. I mean, I know, at the end of “No One” she was pointing Needle to his heart and everything. But we’ve seen what the Faceless Men are capable of. We know that H’ghar let her go—he even seemed to smile a bit, like a proud older brother finally seeing her stop trying to pretend she was cut out to be anything other than herself when she declared that she was “Arya Stark of Winterfell.”

Tom Wlaschiha, who plays Jaqen, spoke to Access Hollywood over the weekend on his character’s choice to let Arya leave Braavos alive. He says that, to him, it was always obvious that Arya trying to be “No One” was like a teenager trying to deny who they are in order to be one of the popular kids, and that the Faceless Men are using that for their own ends.

"In my opinion, it was clear from the beginning. I mean, that’s the reason he trained her. He didn’t train her to become a Faceless Man and stay in the House of Black and White in Braavos forever. I think that Faceless Men, they certainly have an interest [in] what’s going on in Westeros, otherwise why would he [have] just shown up out of the blue, in Season 2 and picked Arya and offered her to train her? So there must be some sort of interest and I think, yeah, what’s the point of training her if she can’t put that training to use?"

He also sees the Waif’s story very differently that some. To him, it’s not about the Waif being jealous of Arya. It’s that the Waif was ideologically pure, and only wanted people of like mind in the House of Black and White.

"She didn’t want anyone in the House of Black and White who wouldn’t be ready or wouldn’t be fit to be a Faceless Man. … I don’t know if she had to be that mean to her, but ultimately, I mean, trying to kill her… when Jaqen told the Waif, ‘Go ahead and kill her, but don’t let her suffer,’ I think the Faceless Men, in their philosophy, they’re kind of evolved [beyond] all those human things. As I said, death is a part of life, so if Arya had died, Jaqen would have probably regretted it or would have been sorry, but that would have only meant that she wasn’t the person that he’d been looking for."

In way, that also explains the smile—he’s pleasantly surprised to see that Arya took to the training so well she killed the Waif. “That’s why in the end, when he realized she’d managed to escape the Waif and kill her, he was also pleased because his student had excelled,” Wlaschiha said.

"When he first met her, he immediately recognized the potential in her. She posed as a boy and everybody but him believed it and so already when she was a little girl, he could see that she had quite some talent to do these things or to become a different person, and when she left Westeros, she was still a little girl and now, over the course of her training, she’s grown up and now she goes back to Westeros and she’s a totally different, yeah, she’s a totally different person. She’s an adult."

This has been a growing experience for Arya, one where she went halfway across the world to find out she was really herself and to go back home. As Wlaschiha suggests, her return might actually be a welcome one. After all, going away is also a way “for the others at home to appreciate you.”

Is that a hint Arya will be back in Winterfell sooner rather than later? We can only hope to find out in Sunday’s finale.