Arya Stark is going to die.
If I was going to comprise a list of characters that I need to survive the final season of Game of Thrones, Arya Stark would be near the top of the list right next to Tormund and Podrick Payne… and Ghost. Spare me the pain of another direwolf death please and thank you. Thrones has made such a reputation from not caring about your emotional investments that wishing for a character’s survival holds the equivalent of telling people you’re a vegan. No one cares. Not to mention at this point in the game it’s hard to imagine anyone surviving but someone has to sit on the Iron Throne otherwise what the hell has this been about?! Yet here I am, hoping for the survival of a number of different characters in the most feudal waste of time ever. I can’t help myself… I’m invested. Amongst that hope and praying, I still know…
Arya Stark is going to die.
Out of all the impending character deaths in this final season, I’m the most at peace with Arya’s. How else could her story possibly end? It’s not like she can cross all the names off her list, release a sigh of satisfaction, and then spend the rest of her days somewhere in the North content with life. That’s a fate that seems more in line for Davos’s, not the little wolf. No, Arya’s story has been shrouded in death from the start so it only makes sense that it concludes with it.
Sometimes a character benefits from a great death, one that is beyond memorable, that you begin to understand that their survival would negate their existence. Some characters need to die and Arya Stark needs to die. Her legacy is what will live on. We’ll remember Arya for dropping the mic on the Freys and for leaving the Hound behind. We’ll remember Arya for finally taking Littlefinger off the board and sparring with Brienne. We’ll remember Arya for what’s to come, and I believe that’s where the true impact of the character will be felt.
You don’t introduce a concept like Arya’s list for it to be left incomplete. Yes, I understand that this is Game of Thrones and the narrative doesn’t particularly care about the needs or wants of the characters, but somehow Arya’s list transcends that. The fact that it still exists this far into the game speaks volumes. The list became more than just a demented prayer that Arya would utter before sleep when she baked the Freys into a pie. Suddenly it had traction and with each name that got crossed off the rooting interest and investment of the audience grew deeper and deeper. Who doesn’t want to see Arya cross all the names off her list? That’s almost like the happiest ending Thrones could provide at this point.
As the list has dwindled down there are still some pretty big names floating about. I’m actually surprised the list is still this full but with season eight being the final season I expect this list to rapidly get shorter. Melisandre, Beric Dondarrion, Ilyn Payne, the Hound, the Mountain, and Cersei are left to feel the wrath of the feistiest Stark and I don’t like their chances. Although, right off the bat I think we can remove Beric Dondarrion as his story has White Walker death all over it. I’d also like to remove Melisandre from the list. Her death will either come at the hands of Davos or something involving the Red God… I can’t figure out her fate just yet, but I know it won’t be at Arya’s hand.
That leaves some pretty heavy hitters all residing in King’s Landing which is problematic considering Arya is in Winterfell with the Army of the Dead approaching. Which leads me to the how. Jamie Lannister ended season seven by ditching his crazy sister and heading towards the north to fight with the living. It was the completion of his redemption arc but also the final nail in his coffin. I think we lose Jamie Lannister during the Battle of Winterfell. His death will feel important and will register, and you can have him die doing something heroic like saving Brienne of Tarth. That’ll sure get Tormund all types of jelly. One thing we know about Arya is that she’s not willing to leave a good face behind and Jamie has a damn good face. Like obscenely handsome folks. That handsome face is even more valuable when it can further her own agenda. I can see Arya taking Jamie’s face after his death and putting it into her satchel of faces without a head. You know the creepy one Sansa found underneath her bed.
To further this theory, I fully expect the Night King and his army of zombies to win the Battle of Winterfell. You don’t hype this villain up for seven seasons only to have him lose his first true fight. Plus think of the plot points it creates. Jon Snow and Daenerys will be on the run south pinning them with Cersei at their back and the White Walkers to their front. Can you think of a more perilous/stressful predicament for our heroes to be in cause I can’t. I can see Cersei allowing the army in the North to be locked outside the gates of King’s Landing, very similar to what the Mad King did, as the Army of the Dead comes crashing down.
Enter Arya. Using Jamie’s face she’s able to enter King’s Landing with the hopes of opening the doors to save what’s left of the North. During her travels, she can kill Ilyn Payne because eff that guy. Boom one off the list! Just like that. That’ll teach that tongueless bastard to kill noble characters in front of their children. The opening of the gate will have to come from Cersei and Cersei isn’t going to listen to anyone… except maybe her brother/lover. Arya can play on Cersei’s emotions, if she even has any left at this point, and plead to have the gate open. I suspect this won’t work which will lead to Arya, as Jamie, killing Cersei in a struggle that sees Arya stabbed and bleeding out. It’ll be a tremendous moment for more reasons than I can list but will also fulfill the prophecy that Cersei heard as a young woman. She will die at the hands of her brother… in a way.
I could also see Arya just opening the gate after killing Payne and then being confronted by Cersei but the end result is the same. Arya crosses the largest name off her list.
As for the Mountain and the Hound, well, once the gate is open I expect a major battle on all fronts. This will be the true Battle for the Throne and it will be epic. Here is where you’ll get your Cleganebowl in all its glory. Arya, most likely as Arya at this point having no need for Jamie’s face anymore and dying from her stab wound, will help the Hound kill his brother (#fireattack) crossing another name off the list. Then in the perfect levels of symmetry, helping the Hound move on as he’s dying from the wounds he suffered from the fight. This brings closure to their circle as Arya left the Hound to die the last time they were in this situation. Her final act of mercy will cross the final name off the list and bring her peace.
From there, we lose Arya. With her list complete and her body shutting down, I can see her maybe getting one more moment with Jon or Sansa before passing. I just wish the show had established the connection between her and Nymeria more as I would love for her to warg into her direwolf and roam the woods of the North free. Maybe that’s something that can happen within the pages of the remaining novels. One thing for certain though, Arya could be the only character who dies happy having completed the task she set for herself.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want Arya Stark to die but I feel the only way for her journey to be complete is with her death. Arya, unlike a majority of Thrones characters, has acknowledged death even telling it “not today” over and over again. Death is an everyday part of Arya’s life. She knows how brutal life can be and she accepts that. She may be able to push death away but not forever, and I like to believe that Arya knows this. When the finale hits I think Arya will be more than happy to be reunited with her father, mother, and brothers… and be at peace. I think she’s earned it.
Arya Stark is going to die. A girl may have no name, but she does have a destiny… and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.