Warning: Spoilers for Game of Thrones season 6, episode 7 “The Broken Man” follow…
Game of Thrones' seventh episode ended with a cliffhanger that — by all indications — co-executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss don't plan to drag out. Arya has been stabbed, possibly fatally…Yeah, she's not dead. In fact, you can see her fleeing for her life from the Waif in the preview for next week's episode.
Take a look below:
So how did Arya get out of this one?
Here are three ways that Arya may have escaped death.
THAT'S NOT ARYA:
As Donna Dickens and I discussed in our review of this week's episode, that was some very un-Arya-like behavior from A Girl. First, where exactly was Needle? Having betrayed The House of Black and White and failed in her assassination mission, Arya would know that the Faceless Men would likely come for her. And she's unlikely to leave herself unprotected. Second, this is not a young lady that trusts easily, even an old woman. Being as vulnerable as she is, why would she leave herself so open to attack and not even make an attempt to fight back?
Because that's not Arya. We know that Jaqen H'ghar has a soft spot for her, after all, he owes her his life. Perhaps he allowed the Waif to believe she'd killed Arya in order to save A Girl who he probably knew was incapable of truly becoming Faceless. A girl who is, and will always be, Arya Stark.
Further proof is the sequence from next week. If Arya took three knife punches in the gut only to very quickly afterward leap from a roof then she's either secretly Supergirl, or she wasn't stabbed. It's possible that after her first attempt the Waif saw a very much alive and well Arya and realized her job wasn't yet done — and that's the chase we see unfold.
There's another theory that postulates that it is Arya on that bridge, but that it's also only Arya. That Arya and the Waif are, in fact, the same person. Reddit user CatNamedStupidity (yep) postulates that — reminiscent of Fight Club — the Waif is the aspect of Arya's personality that wants her to let go, to become “no one.” That when she “kills” Arya, that it is in fact the final destruction her her former personality and that by next week's episode — aptly named “No One” — that Arya will be no more.
Now, as readers know, in the books the Waif is very real and has a tragic backstory. The show and the book are no longer married, however.
If Arya was knifed, then there's only one answer…
MAGIC, THE GATHERING
It's Game of Thrones, so magic is always an option. If Arya really had sustained those wounds, then magic feels like the only option heal her to the point that she'd quickly be able to run through the streets. It's possible that she stumbled into a Temple of the Lord of Light in Braavos. Or that some as yet unexplored magic in this universe will be revealed. Perhaps Mother Rhoyne will enter the picture. Or might the potion that blinded Arya also provide her with some healing abilities? Or perhaps that “test” was not exactly what it seemed. Arya may have done just what Jaquin hoped she'd do. Could he have been testing both Arya and the Waif's morality? If so, I think we know who passed and who failed.
Or, perhaps the play's the thing.
PIGS BLOOD, BABY
It seems unlikely that Arya's time with Lady Crane and the “Painful Personal History Players” is complete. As mentioned, it's unlikely that Arya is unaware of the danger she faces. She's also not the type to wait around to be killed. Reddit user PassingWisdom theorizes that Arya may have gone to Lady Crane for help and that the actress taught her how to place fake blood pouches on her person to give the appearance that she had been stabbed. She then would have left a trail of “blood” in order to lead the Waif into a trap.
This one feels a bit convoluted and a bit risky. How could Arya guarantee that the Waif wouldn't slit her throat, for example?
It is possible that Arya will return to Lady Crane for some medical attention, however.
BONUS: OUTLIER STONEHEART THEORY:
Some book spoilers ahead, so be warned!
As Donna Dickens points out, “The Broken Man” seems to point to the arrival of Lady Stoneheart… finally!
Stoneheart is of course the reanimated — and vengeful — Catelyn Stark. The Brotherhood Without Banners' leader Beric Dondarrion (who had been brought back to life via the magic of the Lord of Light several times) sacrifices the last of his strength to bring Catelyn back. The show re-introduced the Brotherhood in this past episode, indicating that Stoneheart is on her way.
Previously, some had theorized that Sansa would take Catelyn's place as Stoneheart, but which Stark is the most vengeance filled of all? Arya. She is the pure spirit of revenge already. Is there a world in which she goes to a Temple of the Lord of Light and ends up brought back to life and taking on the role of Stoneheart in the HBO series?
It seems more likely that Stoneheart as we know her is coming, but still, interesting food for thought.
How do you think Arya survives?
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