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Tonight’s Game of Thrones Foreshadows a Big Season 5 Moment for Arya Stark

By  · Published on May 4th, 2015


Tonight’s episode changes things. Amidst all the big potential book changes in tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones, “The Sons of the Harpy,” there is one that you may have missed. In fact, it’s a little bit of a spoiler theory that I’ve been nursing for several weeks and can’t wait to share with you, as it may set up one of season 5’s show-invented climactic moments.

First it is customary to include a warning for spoilers. What follows includes not only spoilers for the latest episode of Game of Thrones, “The Sons of the Harpy,” it also includes information from the latest A Song of Ice and Fire books as well as some sharp speculation. I don’t know what’s going to happen in later episodes, but I’ve got some pretty good guesses. Once you pass beyond Walter White Walker, Lord of Spoilers, you will be subject to some potentially major spoilers.

One of the big mysteries of how season five’s storylines will progress beyond the books is what the show will do with Arya Stark. We know from the events of A Dance with Dragons that Arya continues her training in The House of Black and White, including a period in which she is rendered blind (a tough one for the show version to pull off). She eventually begins giving the gift of death on behalf of the Faceless Men. To be honest, as mush as there’s a lot of great internalized development of Dark Arya within that book thread, it involves a number of new characters and doesn’t really move the story at-large forward.

So how will the show give Arya a big moment later in season 5? I’ve got a theory.

In episode 2, “The House of Black and White,” we see Arya waiting outside the Braavosi murder headquarters reciting her updated kill list. She’s left off the likes of Tywin Lannister (word travels fast) and The Red Woman (along with members of the Brotherhood, which isn’t promising if we’re holding out hope of meeting them again). What matters most is who is still on Arya’s list: Cersei, Walder Frey, The Mountain and Ser Meryn Trant.

Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant from Season 4 (HBO)

Ser Meryn is the Kingsguard knight who is constantly in tow with Cersei. We saw him last week warning Cersei about going to meet the High Sparrow. He’s the same guy who, in season one, aided Cersei in her coup against Ned Stark and as far as Arya knows, he’s the guy who killed her water dancing instructor Syrio Forel. He was also, for good measure, the knight who was beating up Sansa at the behest of Joffrey. His inclusion in the list is important and became even more relevant in a small moment this week.

During the small council scene in which Cersei is whittling down her advisors to the ones she can trust, she elects to send Mace Tyrell to Braavos to negotiate terms with the Iron Bank (to whom the crown is in immense debt). She sends along Ser Meryn as his personal bodyguard for the trip. This move serves two major purposes: Cersei needs to get Mace out of the country so that she can go after his children. This also puts Meryn Trant in Braavos.

Who else is in Braavos? Soon-to-be-uber-murderer Arya Stark.

This means that for once, Arya may find herself in close proximity to a name on her list with the skills to scratch a name off. Will a late season 5 episode include Arya finally taking one name off? It would serve as a major win for the show, which loves to give Arya her big moments. They seem to relish the chance to take Arya down darker paths. This would be a major crowdpleaser and fit into the larger story being told.

What I’m trying to say is don’t get attached to Ser Meryn Trant. This shouldn’t be too hard to do.

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the One Perfect Shot TV show (currently streaming on HBO Max) and the co-host of Trial By Content on The Ringer Podcast Network. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)