We learned in the second episode of Game of Thrones’ eighth season that Arya Stark is prepared to die in the upcoming battle against the Night King and his White Walkers. Knowing Arya, she’s likely planning to go down fighting — the only real question is how many White Walkers she’ll take down with her.
But another question is just how Arya will attack. We know that thanks to Gendry, she’s got a fun new double-sided spear made of dragonglass, in addition to her snazzy Valyrian steel dagger.
But what if she’s got another, seriously hardcore tool in her arsenal?
Namely: What if Arya brushes off the skills she learned from the Faceless Men and puts them to good use — by stealing the face of a White Walker in order to get to the Night King?
Arya is thinking strategically about how to defeat the enemy — and she might be the best-positioned fighter to deliver the killing blow
In the second episode of season eight, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” we see Arya checking in on Gendry to inquire about her special spear — and interrogating him about the White Walkers, with some interestingly specific questions about his experience with them.
“What do they look like?” she asks. “What do they smell like, how do they move, how hard are they to kill?”
Sure, these could be your generic “know your opponent” sorts of queries. But asking for details like how the White Walkers look, move, and even smell suggests that Arya is thinking about them not as prey to be hunted, but as an enemy to be infiltrated. And who better than Arya to do so? After all, she has a gift that practically no one else in Westeros has: She can steal faces.
“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” was a bit mum on the specific strategies the Winterfell army will bring to the fight, but we did get some focus on Bran’s plan to serve as bait for the Night King by parking himself and Theon’s small group of fighters in the center of the Winterfell godswood, where the big white tree with the red leaves, a.k.a. the Heart Tree, sits.
Though we didn’t see a roster of people who will accompany Bran and Theon on their special ops mission, Arya was prominently shown to be participating in that conversation, and it makes sense that she’d want to go after the Night King directly. We’ve been reminded over and over that the Night King essentially embodies death itself — Bran explains in this episode that the Night King’s goal is to wipe out all human memory and existence. And Gendry describes him as death to Arya — to which her response is that death has many faces. She would certainly know, having worn so many of them herself.
Moreover, let’s not forget how closely Arya herself is associated with death. In Game of Thrones’ first season, her swordfighting teacher Syrio taught her to always have a response to the god of death; in season three, Arya announced that death was the only god she recognized, after which the Faceless Man, Jaqen H’ghar, invited her to come train as an assassin to serve “the many-faced god,” a.k.a. death. After all this, she’s in a prime position to confront him one on one. And what better way to do this than by allowing Bran to distract the Night King while she steals the face of one of his White Walkers and then takes him out herself? And beside the Heart Tree, no less, a tree that has many faces literally preserved in its trunk.
(We should also note that a popular fan theory stemming from the season eight trailer, which contains a scene where Arya is running terrified through the castle at Winterfell, suggests that it shows her being pursued by the Night King himself.)
And while we’re indulging our fantasies, we’ll just leave you with a final image. As Arya takes out the Night King with a strategic spear jab or two, she can remind him of what she’s always said to the god of death: Not today!