Ahem. OK, we knew Arya was an incredibly intuitive and catlike assassin-slash-genius, but anyone watching Sunday’s episode of “Game of Thrones” can agree the final moments were bonkersville. In the best way possible.
Spoilers ahead, obviously.
To refresh your memory ― if this hasn’t already been seared into it ― Arya (Maisie Williams) is reminded of water dancing instructor Syrio Forel’s famous mantra partway through the Battle of Winterfell, when things already seem quite lost.
“What do we say to the god of Death, Arya?” asks Melisandre (Carice van Houten) as a wave of undead wights crashes against the halls, walls and doors leading up to their barricaded room.
“Not today,” comes the reply. And she walks away.
Minutes, hours later ― however long it takes her to get out of that castle ― suddenly there is Arya, leaping out of the fog onto the Night King, who, at that very moment, seems poised to destroy Bran the Three-Eyed Raven (Isaac Hempstead Wright), keeper of all the memory of mankind. There’s a few seconds of apprehension, as the Night King senses her approach and seizes her just before her blade makes contact. But he underestimates her. With a free hand, she stabs him in the gut with a Valyrian steel blade.
And poof, the Night King is gone. The series’ biggest villain, destroyed in an instant, along with all the murderous wights he created. All with three episodes left in the final season.
But here’s a bit of foreshadowing you might not remember about Arya and the Night King.
Way back in Season 3, Melisandre came across the Brotherhood without Banners, then starring Arya and Gendry (Joe Dempsie), when she believed a different person would save all of mankind ― Stannis Baraetheon (Stephen Dillane), R.I.P.
The Brotherhood believed in the same god as our red priestess, plus they needed the dough, so they agreed to sell Gendry to her against his and Arya’s protests. Melisandre knew Gendry to be the bastard son of Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) and thus in possession of king’s blood, which is magic, of course. She told none of this to Arya, but Arya was savvy enough not to trust her.
“You’re a witch. You’re going to hurt him,” she says.
“I see a darkness in you. And in that darkness, eyes staring back at me. Brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes. Eyes sealed shut forever,” Melisandre says, adding, “We will meet again.”
Brown eyes, green eyes, blue eyes. Like our baddest icy boy.
Arya, being trained by the Faceless Men, had already closed many other eyes, as well, so the prediction really stood up. One of Mel’s better ones! (Even though van Houten, who plays Melisandre, previously attempted to downplay her character’s influence in an interview with HuffPost, saying, “I think I’ve said other things that also didn’t happen?”)
Our lady in red, however, did not survive the battle as well as our favorite pint-sized assassin, dying in the fields outside Winterfell after removing the magical blood-red necklace that kept her alive for hundreds of years.
“Game of Thrones” showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss explained why the Night King’s demise had to happen the way it did in a post-episode video.
“We hoped to kind of avoid the expected, and Jon Snow [Kit Harington] has always been the hero, the one who’s the savior, but it just didn’t seem right to us for this moment,” Benioff said. (Kit also thought he would be the one to do the final heroic deed, he admitted to Entertainment Weekly. Alas.)
The showrunning pair also confirmed that the spot where the Night King was destroyed is the exact same place where the Children of the Forest first created him thousands of years before.
Williams, who plays Arya, worried about the plot shocker. While she thought it was “unbelievably exciting” as an actress, she thought fans might not think that her character deserved the heroic move.
“The hardest thing is in any series is when you build up a villain that’s so impossible to defeat and then you defeat them. It has to be intelligently done because otherwise people are like, ‘Well, [the villain] couldn’t have been that bad when some 100-pound girl comes in and stabs him.’ You gotta make it cool,” she told Entertainment Weekly.
What happens next is anyone’s guess. But fans seem pretty hyped about Arya.
This post has been updated throughout.