Theory Corner: Arya plans to assassinate the Night King


Arya Stark has her list. Like The Bride in the Kill Bill movies, she’s crossed many names off it. Arya hasn’t had to execute them all personally — the violent Game of Thrones universe had done her work for her here and there, as with Olenna Tyrell poisoning Joffrey Baratheon and a wight bear chomping Thoros of Myr.


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Who on Arya’s list are still alive and kicking? As of the season 8 premiere, the Hound, Melisandre, Beric Dondarrion, the Mountain (sort of already half-dead), Ilyn Payne (Ned Stark’s executioner) and Cersei Lannister remain.

Arya may give Beric (and perhaps Melisandre) a pass, since they’re now part of her family’s alliance against the White Walkers, plus they may not survive the upcoming battles anyway. Ilyn Payne has vanished from the story and there may never be a need to have hid character reappear.

And c’mon — we know Arya isn’t gonna chop the Hound.

While Cersei and the Mountain currently reside at the top of Arya’s list, right now she’s in defensive mode, preparing to help her family defeat the Night King. Since she’s a master assassin trained in the House of The Black and White, Arya likes to operate on her own via stealth and disguise. She could charge with the rest of the Northern soldiers, but her special set of skills may make her more useful for a different mission.

So what is Arya’s next move? Let’s discuss.

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Arya’s first priority is protecting her family

Arya has repeatedly said that her family is everything to her, and we believe it. The Night King is by far the biggest threat to her family at this point in the story; he isn’t on her list but he may as well be, because she’s automatically going to zero in on him.

We can see Arya slipping away from Winterfell, attempting to avoid the supernatural gaze of both Bran and the Night King as she takes down a relatively intact wight, steals his/her face and sneaks her way towards her target.

Jaqen H’gar has a master plan

We all saw Jaqen H’gar’s small, enigmatic smile when Arya abandoned the cult of the Faceless Men. Do we really think this man, if that’s what he is, plugged into this world’s deepest and darkest secrets, did all that work to train Arya simply to let her walk away?

H’gar recognized Arya’s potential, independence and inability to shed her own identity. He knew she was going to leave Braavos. He knew she was going to return to Winterfell and end up facing the White Walker army. So what did H’gar, a creature who also wants to survive the winter, do? He turned Arya into an atomic bomb designed to blow up the Night King and his army with one blow.

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Helen Sloan – HBO /

Bran gave Arya the Valyrian steel dagger because he knew she was going to need it

Let’s face it, the emotional boy that once was Brandon Stark is long gone, almost entirely subsumed by the mysterious entity called the Three-eyed Raven. Bran says the Valyrian steel dagger Littlefinger gives him is “wasted on a cripple” when he gifts it to Arya, who can obviously use a good blade in her assassination work.

But this transaction is far more important than that. Bran isn’t willing to take time from his greensight reveries to hand out presents just because; he knows Arya is going to need a blade that can defeat White Walkers. Is she going to wade through a battle wielding a knife? Nope; she’s going to don a wight face and make a beeline to the Night King, and Bran has already seen it.

Arya asked Gendry to make her a specific dragonglass weapon

In “Winterfell,” Arya asked Gendry to make her a very unique weapon.  It looks like a type of multi-functional spear with a dragonglass blade on one end. The best way to take on the Night King would be to arrive armed with both Valyrian steel and dragonglass, and Arya appears to be combining the two weapons to best fit her strategy and fighting style.

But why a spear that can be broken down into smaller, individual elements? The spear can be hurled if Arya isn’t able to get within arm’s reach of the Night King, while the smaller blades are available if she can get get in close and personal.

If you kill the Night King, you potentially wipe out most of the army of the dead

When Jon Snow killed a White Walker patrol leader in “Beyond the Wall” in season 7, all of the wights it had raised crumbled with the exception of one. Beric Dondarrion extrapolated that the dead wights had been reanimated by that specific White Walker, so their undead power was directly linked to him. So you kill the White Walker, you kill every wight he’s raised.

So theoretically, the original Night King is responsible (chain-link style) for the raising of his entire horde. If the Night King dies, all the undead crumble. There’s always a benefit in killing the enemy’s general on the battlefield, but in this instance it seems to be an absolute necessity. And you need a kick-ass assassin to do it.

Why will Arya take on this dangerous mission?

Destroying the wight horde with one kill has to be irresistible to a professional assassin, not to mention to an ultra-trained girl determined to protect her family. The Night King is a difficult target, surrounded by his horde and White Walker lieutenants as he always is; he also possesses supernatural abilities that may allow him to perceive or sense a Faceless Man operative in his ranks.

None of these extreme dangers will deter Arya from her goal. Will she survive it? It’s all in the infiltration and attack, because if she succeeds in felling the Night King there won’t be any need to fight her way out of an enraged undead horde — we’d expect them to all have disintegrated into  bone powder.

Arya does not fear death any more, so she’s more than willing to die in this attempt. We all hope she makes it. Cersei Lannister still needs killing, after all.

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