Checks and Balances: Arya, Braavos and Debt

Coin

In the most recent season of Game of Thrones, Cersei Lannister checked off a major item from her royal To Do list:

  • Kill Sansa Stark
  • Make Jaime do whatever I want
  • Win – in general
  • Pay back the Iron Bank of Braavos

The crown’s overall debts were established early on in the series, and gradually new information revealed that the bulk of that debt was to the Iron Bank, a financial institution known to be ruthless in regards to collecting what’s owed them.

This might have not seemed an insurmountable problem in the first few seasons when the Lannisters were regarded as the most monied of houses, but Lannister gold reserves are no longer replenishable: their once-lucrative mining concerns have for some time been depleted.

The outstanding debt to the Iron Bank realistically had to be dealt with – not only was the Lannister unofficial motto of always paying their debts now in doubt, but the Iron Bank had proven themselves not at all reluctant in funding challenges to the Lannister regime. (It’s unclear if the Iron Bank added the cash they gave to Stannis Baratheon onto the amount already owed by “the crown”, but I wouldn’t put creative accounting past them.)

Cersei took advantage of one of her hobbies – punishing her enemies – to wipe away her debts with the bank.

Gold

The capture of rebellious Highgarden’s treasury squared accounts and put her back in the bank’s good graces – and allowed her to secure a new line of financing with which to bring in Golden Company sellswords to support her administration.

It’s worth asking why she bothered to pay off the bank with Highgarden gold and then shoulder a new debt from Braavos when she could have just lived with the old unpaid debt and used the spoils from House Tyrell to hire the sellswords.

If we are just looking at dollaros (Westeros dollars) amounts, it seems to be exactly the same. Either way, Cersei is in debt the bank but has cash in hand. The difference is that the goodwill of the Iron Bank and Cersei’s credit score vary significantly in these two situations. Mercenary companies might not want to be hired by individuals who don’t have a good working relationship with the Iron Bank. That’s just business.

Cersei negotiated extra time onto the repayment schedule from the bank’s representative, Tycho Nestoris, by suggesting that her rival Daenerys Targaryen was bad for the bank’s business. The disruption of the slave economy by the Mother of Dragons/Breaker of Chains would have been felt in the financial hub of Braavos. Cersei’s suggestion that the Iron Bank had investments in the slave economy raised the ire of book-knowledgable fans who were angry at the suggestion that any Braavos institution would be involved, however tangentially, with slavery.

Braavos was a city founded by escaped slaves and in the books had a fairly aggressive anti-slavery ethos. I don’t really want to argue for or against that (by bringing in boring details about economics and Volantene triarchs and so on) but the show has reasonably established the bankers as practical and focused on the bottom line.

When Stannis came to petition them for funds, they were only interested in how sound it would be financially to loan him money. They had no interest in the rightness of his claim or if his policies were socially just or even that he had the personality of a lobster.

Game-of-Thrones-Iron-Bank-of-Braavos

Tycho Nestoris: Across the Narrow Sea, your books are filled with words like usurper, and madman, and blood right. Here, our books are filled with numbers. We prefer the stories they tell. More plain. Less open to interpretation.

It remains to be seen how much of a direct role the Iron Bank will play in the final season of Game of Thrones, but I assume that Tycho Nestoris and his buddies will be keeping a close eye their investments with Westeros ushering in an apocalyptic conflict. It wouldn’t do for the world to end with outstanding loans unresolved.

But the Iron Bank of Braavos isn’t the only powerful organization from that city, and Cersei isn’t the only person who might have to worry about foreign balance sheets and debts. I’m talking about potentially unfinished business between Arya Stark and the legendary Faceless Men.


Before we get much further, I want to assure everyone that my goal is not to try to defend Arya’s time in Braavos, or convince you that it ended satisfactorily. But let’s take things at face value.


Anyone who has used a credit card or has cashed a check has some experience in how banks work. We don’t have to know the particulars of Cersei’s indebtedness – we don’t need to know the interest rate, or if she had to put anything up for collateral. Even without knowing those details, we all more or less understand the banking rules.

But the rules surrounding the practices of the Faceless Men are a bit murkier. We have to intuit things from Arya’s first-hand experiences with the mysterious murder-cult.

Arya earned her tuition to Assassin Hogwarts by making the acquaintance of Faceless Man assassin Jaqen H’ghar. While Jaqen and two ne’er-do-wells were trapped in a cage, Arya saved the three of them from certain death in a fire.

Jaqen

As a result, Jaqen approached Arya with a straightforward proposition: Arya had prevented three deaths so to fix this imbalance Arya must nominate three people for Jaqen to kill. (This wasn’t presented as something Arya could refuse.)

Arya eventually twisted the choices offered her by her murder-genie to secure her escape from Lannister-held Harrenhal; Jaqen was forced to help in Arya’s escape or kill himself as one of her named choices.

This communicated at least some idea that the Faceless Men observed a kind of ledger of deaths and lives, and recognized a need to keep things in balance or equilibrium.

Over the course of several seasons, Arya traveled to Braavos to learn the ways of the Faceless Men, headquartered in the House of Black and White. While in the House of Black and White, Arya learned some of the mysteries of this Death cult. She assisted with euthanasia, learned about poisons, and developed the skills to remove faces from corpses – a primary component in the Faceless Men’s signature ability to magically assume another’s identity.

And she was registered in hands-on assassination classes. There were rules to this activity: Arya was tasked to give “the gift” to an unscrupulous maritime insurer, but she ignored him to attack a target of opportunity: her longtime nemesis Ser Meryn Trant.

Arya was punished for giving the gift to the wrong person, since as a Faceless Man initiate the act of death-dealing fell within strict House of Black and White regulatory codes: one could not go about killing willy-nilly.

Arya broke with the House of Black and White after she opted not to kill another target, and was briefly hunted by “the Waif” whom she lured into a trap. (I’m being very charitable with this summary, okay?)

Arya

Presenting the Waif’s face to her guidance counselor in the House of Black and White, Arya announced her intention to return home.

Arya: You told her to kill me?
Jaqen H’ghar: Yes. But here you are, and here she is. Finally, a girl is No One.
Arya: A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell, and I am going home.
Jaqen: Splendid. Feel free to take a bunch of faces, and here’s your graduation diploma. A man is very proud.

Okay, maybe the guy-who-uses-the-Jaqen-face didn’t actually say that last bit. It was more like this:

Jaqen: :-/

When we next see Arya, she is using a borrowed face (either one from the House of Black and White or one she … obtained … during her travels) to set up Walder Frey for his last family meal. Literally.

And then she used his face to commit mass Freyicide.

I think it’s worthwhile to consider that even though Arya feels that she’s quit the House of Black and White, she might not be free and clear of their regulations and professional ethics when it comes to killing people. Especially when killing people using Faceless Men abilities and talking about training to be a Faceless Man.

These activities feel like they’d fall into the same unsanctioned category of killing Meryn Trant.

Would the House of Black and White consider this a problem? We don’t necessarily have any evidence either way from Jaqen’s inscrutable reaction to Arya leaving at the end of Season Six. But my gut reaction leans toward the argument that it is probably not easy to walk away from a religious order of assassins.

Maybe Arya had squared things with the House and Black and White by killing the Waif (in the grand order of things, it might all be the same to the Many Faced God if the Waif killed Arya, or Arya killed the Waif. There’s a death and a life.) Maybe there were no hard feelings about Arya leaving, but she’s been racking up kills which is measurable currency in a way to the Faceless Men.

Please indulge me in a thought-experiment.

Imagine if Cersei, after paying off the Iron Bank, opted not to borrow any more money.

CerseiAndTycho

Tycho: Really?
Cersei: Yup. I’m going to make money the old fashioned way. I don’t know what that means, but I’ll think of something.
Tycho: Well, if you ever want any cash, just send us a raven.

Now imagine that Cersei, not really fully understanding things or thinking things through, sent a raven to the Iron Bank with a “Hey, send me some money” message. And that the bank did just that. (I’m visualizing a very large raven hauling a sack of gold to King’s Landing.)

Cersei: Free money! Delightful! I’ll send another raven.

Eventually, the bank would come calling for the loan to be paid back, probably based on the interest calculations from before.

Cersei: Wait, I have to pay this back? But I don’t want to!
Tycho: I see. Unfortunately that’s not a choice you can make without consequences.

In similar fashion, if Arya Stark is going to act like a Faceless Man, she is probably expected by the House of Black and White to behave like one. With consequences.

Clearly I’m creepng into Season Eight speculation, and I want to make it clear that I have no advance knowledge of any plot details for the upcoming season. I have no friends in the industry to leak to me any scripts, I’ve not been staring into mystical fires, nor letting swamp witches taste my blood in exchange for prophecies. So don’t worry.

I don’t know how likely it might be for the eighth season of Game of Thrones to feature a visit to Arya by a Faceless Man representative. The show has a fair amount of serious plot to burn through already.

But it makes sense that the Faceless Men wouldn’t let face-changing Arya’s murder-spree go unchecked, no more so than the Iron Bank would uncharacteristically forgive any debts from Cersei. And regardless of how much sense it would make for the Faceless Men to get involved, the major advantage would be in giving Arya Stark a meaningful storyline in the final season.

Arya Stark’s story started strong in the series, with the plucky wolf-girl struggling to survive as she was dragged from one conflict zone to another. Then she broke free and spent a significant amount of her narrative arc in Braavos with the Faceless Men.

We know that Arya has some well-established character motivations: she has her list of names to kill. What’s she’s lacking is complication and stakes.

It’s possible that Arya’s storyline in Season Eight will consist of her successfully pursing revenge by killing Cersei and somehow killing Ser Gregor Clegane, but that seems a bit obvious and on-the-nose. And let’s face it, we all kind of want Cersei and the Mountain to be dispatched by people other than the wolf-girl, possibly by respective fraternal relations.

It would be more interesting if Arya had some plot complication – possibly in the form of demands from nigh-unstoppable identity-fluid assassins.

Faceless Man: A girl has been taking liberties.
Arya: Whatever. Please tell me that someone has taken out a hit on Cersei. I’ll do it!
Faceless Man: A girl is guessing wrong. A girl must not give the gift to the queen.

We don’t really know the opinions of the House of Black and White in regards to the White Walkers invading Westeros. Unlike the interests of the Iron Bank, who will most likely be concerned by how this might effect their investments. But I can imagine that cash from the Iron Bank could be used to secure Faceless Man cooperation in protecting certain business partners.

Tycho: Things are a bit crazy in Westeros at the moment, and there’s been a ridiculous amount of regicide lately.
Faceless Man: And?
Tycho: We’d rather that Cersei Lannister not expire before she makes good on our recent financing agreements. In case you know of any homicidal moppets who might wish the queen harm, it would be conducive to business if you can rein such a person in.
Faceless Man: :-/

There’s a certain harmony in the checks and balances of the Faceless Men and how they view life and death, I can imagine a representative of the House of Black and White presenting Arya with an equation showing that the unsanctioned deaths she has caused can be balanced out by her giving up any plans to pursue the last people on her list. No more gift-giving.

With the added incentive, I’m assuming, that any further Arya violations might be balanced out by even more death, the unfortunate deaths of those near and dear to her. Unless she cooperates with the House of Black and White.

Arya_and_Jaqen_The_Dance_of_Dragons

Arya: Wait. You can’t balance out death with more death.
Faceless Man: Don’t look to deeply into this. That’s how we got all those crazy Braavosi Fight Club theories during Season Six.
Syrio Forel: Just so!

It would also be somewhat ironic (and consistent) for Arya’s obligations to her instructors to be a hindrance in carrying out her personal wishes.

Will there be enough time to squeeze in something like this in the final six episodes of Game of Thrones? I hope so, if only to provide a more organic basis of conflict for Arya’s storyline (as opposed to the manufactured-feeling of last season’s Arya-Sansa-Littlefinger dynamic) and also to somewhat redeem the time Arya spent in Braavos.

As viewers, we invested time and attention in Arya’s journey to becoming a Faceless Man.

In my opinion, Braavos owes us some returns on that investment.

93 responses

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    1. Cersei: Yup. I’m going to make money the old fashioned way. I don’t know what that means, but I’ll think of something.

      Actually, the old-fashioned way is the only way she knows how to make money: inherit it! Cersei’s not really the new-money type, is she!

        Quote  Reply

    2. In my opinion, Braavos owes us some returns on that investment.

      It does, but not necessarily from the Faceless Men themselves. Instead, it has to be an important part of Arya’s character arc, and it should play a role in what she thinks should be done regarding the White Walkers. In a way, the White Walkers are what the Faceless Men wanted her to become: but she’s rejected that to remain Arya. This could open the door to Arya viewing them as people enslaved through no fault of their own, much as Daenerys could come to see them following her experiences with the Unsullied. There certainly are other directions it could go.

      However, I think what should be really important is that when Arya is trying to decide which damnation is the least egregious, then her experiences with the Faceless Men should set up (in part) her decision. And that would be a big return on the story’s investment.

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    3. Will there be enough time to squeeze in something like this in the final six episodes of Game of Thrones? I hope so, if only to provide a more organic basis of conflict for Arya’s storyline (as opposed to the manufactured-feeling of last season’s Arya-Sansa-Littlefinger dynamic) and also to somewhat redeem the time Arya spent in Braavos.

      I hope so, too. Great article. :-/

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    4. So the FM are working with the IB?Interesting..Maybe the IB to hide a FM to kill Cercei for to taking back their money from her[especially if they learn that she spend it all to the GC]..Thats a nice fact/theory.

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    5. Arya killing house Frey is taking over Lady Stoneheart’s role of the books. I don’t think there will be sanctions by the faceless men in Season 8 (I doubt this was on the showrunner’s mind when they made this shortcut, and in this version it’s certainly not on GRRM’s mind). In season 6 Jaqen said “one way or another, a face will be added to the hall” and it turned out to be the waif instead of Arya. So this closes her account.

      In the books, I don’t know how Arya will leave the club. And it may take her considerably more time, so that her killing of Cersei (if Cersei is not overthrown by fAegon, but it could be more interesting storytelling if she isn’t) takes place at a more “convenient” time. In the show, if Arya hadn’t accidentally met Hot Pie, Daenerys’s dilemma would have already been solved.

      Anyway, my guess is that Arya borrows Jaime’s face after he dies with Brienne against the White Walkers and this is how she manages to get into the Red Keep to meet Cersei.

      However, in the books, Arya could be sent to kill Jon Snow (after resurrection) if he fails to pay his debts to the Iron Bank, and this would probably make her want to leave the club 😉 Although I guess it could be Lady Crane as well.

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    6. How about something as simple as this: Cersei (thru the reps from the Iron Bank) takes out a contract on Dany with the House of Black and White. The Faceless Men contact Arya and tell her that to repay her debt for all those unauthorized killings, Arya’s got to fulfill the contract on Dany.

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    7. “As viewers, we invested time and attention in Arya’s journey to becoming a Faceless Man…..In my opinion, Braavos owes us some returns on that investment.”

      I’d say the obliteration of House Frey was huge payback on the investment into Arya’s journey to become a faceless assassin. Introducing a credible complication to be resolved in 6 episodes, when the focus is on the battle for the Dawn, seems more of a headache at this stage than must-see-tv. The ending as it stands, if nothing else occurs, is fine with me.

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    8. Interesting essay… I’ve long suspected that the IB/FM have a symbiotic partnership .. with funds from the often very expensive (and lucrative) hits being used to finance the IB

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    9. Stormborn,

      I think you are right. “Introducing a credible complication to be resolved in 6 episodes, when the focus is on the battle for the Dawn, seems more of a headache at this stage than must-see-tv.”

      Also:

      •I don’t see how or why the FM could extort Arya into carrying out a hit on anyone. She went out of her way to square accounts with the HoB&W, and Jaqen let her leave. (She could’ve skipped town immediately after dispatching the Waif; he could’ve terminated Arya when she turned her back on him and walked off.) The FM have no “leverage” over Arya anymore.

      • I thought Arya allready made the choice not to pursue Cersei when she was at a crossroad in S7e2. (See excerpts below). She chose to head home.

      • Arya was given a VS dagger for a reason. She doesn’t need a VS weapon to use against Cersei (🤖👨‍🚀 except in the unlikely event Cersei is transformed into the Night Queen).

      • Cersei’s been on Arya’s list because Arya has assumed that Cersei was behind Ned’s execution. For all the evil acts Cersei’s committed, she was not responsible for that: Cersei outplayed Ned, and then made a deal for Ned to join the NW. Idiot Joffrey, on his own, went off-script and decided to behead Ned.
      If Arya learns the truth, she might not be so gung ho about whacking Cersei.

      • I also thought Arya’s Braavos scenes with Lady Crane as faux Cersei suggesting script revisions to the play to better reflect how a parent of a murdered child would feel, showed just a bit of empathy for Cersei.

      • If anyone is destined to square off against Cersei, it’s Sansa. She’s got the history with Cersei. Sansa’s been concerned about the threat posed by Cersei, while Jon’s preoccupied with the NK & Co. In a way, Sansa is Cersei’s pseudo-apprentice: As Jon observed when Sansa warned that Cersei is ruthless, it sounded to him like Sansa actually admired Cersei; Sansa replied that she’d learned a lot from Cersei.
      Sansa stepped up her game as Lady of Winterfell by the end of S7. As she stated, she’s honor-bound to defend the North and her family. If Cersei tries to pull a fast one (e.g., use the Golden Co. to re-take the North while Jon and Dany are off fighting the WWs), it could fall on Sansa to thwart Cersei.
      Otherwise…I’m not sure what Sansa would do in S8 except hand out food rations.

      _______________________

      S7e1, Arya with friendly Lannister soldiers in Riverlands

      Soldier: “So, why is a nice girl on her own heading to King’s Landing?”
      Arya: “I’m going to kill the queen.”
      (At first, soldiers are stunned…then burst out laughing; Arya joins in.)
      ————————

      Bran, Arya & Sansa (S7e4):

      Bran: “I saw you at the crossroads.”
      Arya: “You saw me?”
      Bran: “I see quite a lot now.”
      Sansa: “Bran has…visions.”
      Bran. “I thought you might go to King’s Landing.”
      Arya: “So did I.”
      Sansa: “Why would you go back there?”
      Bran: “Cersei’s on her list of names.”

      —————————

      S7e2: Crossroads Inn: Arya tells Hot Pie she’s headed to KL because Cersei’s queen now…but after his revelations, she changes her mind:

      Hot Pie: “Where are you heading?”
      Arya: “King’s Landing.”
      Hot Pie: “Why?”
      Arya: “I heard Cersei’s queen now.”
      Hot Pie: “I heard she blew up the Great Sept. That must have been something to see. Boom.”
      Arya: “Hmm.”
      Hot Pie: “I can’t believe someone could do that.”
      Arya: “Cersei would do that.”
      Hot Pie: “I thought you’d be heading for Winterfell.”
      Arya: “Why would I go there? The Boltons have it.”
      Hot Pie: “No. The Boltons are dead.”
      (Arya stops eating and looks up)
      Arya: “What?”
      Hot Pie: “Jon Snow came down from Castle Black with a Wildling army and won the Battle of the Bastards. He’s King in the North now.”
      Arya: “You’re lying.”
      Hot Pie: “Why would I lie about that? He’s your brother right?”
      (Arya leaves food unfinished, gets up to leave; reaches for purse)
      Arya: “Thanks for the pie.”
      Hot Pie: “Friends don’t pay…I can’t believe I thought you were a boy. You’re pretty!”
      Arya: “Thanks…Take care of yourself Hot Pie. Try not to get killed.”
      Hot Pie: “No, I won’t. I’m like you, Arry. I’m a survivor.”

      Outside, mounted on her horse, Arya is at a literal and figurative crossroad: Head south and continue on the vengeance trail towards her next target; or head north and go home. She looks south, then turns around and goes in the opposite direction.

      As she tells Nymeria later in S7e2: “It’s me, Arya. I’m heading north, girl. Back to Winterfell. I’m finally going home.”

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    10. Arya is dead. Her face was taken by the waif and the waif assumed Arya’s identity fully, to the point of believing she is Arya. That is why “Finally, a girl is No One.”

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    11. I’ve wondered if the white walkers ability to reanimate the dead will rub up against the faceless men in that they are denying the gifts to the many faced god. (The wights technically died so I don’t know if this counts).

      I’m hoping that Arya will be the one to take out the night king and thereby balance the books with the many faced god and also give reason for the Valyrian steel dagger- I think there was more weight on the ‘do you know who this dagger belonged to?’ Than it simply belonging to littlefinger all along.

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    12. nice article! it feels like Arya has nothing left to do unless she can kill the night king and command the army of death wearing his face. I expect to see faceless men after her next season. in fact, maybe there was one in season 7 and we don’t know it yet.

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    13. Happy New Year peeps! 🎉

      fdr:
      In season 6 Jaqen said “one way or another, a face will be added to the hall” and it turned out to be the waif instead of Arya. So this closes her account.

      I thought the same when I saw the ep initially.

      But on a second viewing I started to have some weird doubts. Because it looked was pretty satisfying even for Jaqen I think by the little shadow of a smile when he sees her. I began to suspect by the way he said “and here you are, and there she is (the Waif’s face on the wall)” that he really sent the Waif as a final test, to see if Arya has truly become No One, a full fledged FM that cannot be killed by one of their own.

      So did he really let go of her after just reaching full FM potential 🤷‍♀️ Who knows. They do seem pretty laid back in the HOB&W. A face is a face is a face…

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    14. Chris:
      I’ve wondered if the white walkers ability to reanimate the dead will rub up against the faceless men in that they are denying the gifts to the many faced god. (The wights technically died so I don’t know if this counts).

      I’m hoping that Arya will be the one to take out the night king and thereby balance the books with the many faced god and also give reason for the Valyrian steel dagger- I think there was more weight on the ‘do you know who this dagger belonged to?’ Than it simply belonging to littlefinger all along.

      I think that some serious article could be written about the Faceless Men and how they might feel about the necromancy of the White Walkers.

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    15. dragonreborn:
      nice article! it feels like Arya has nothing left to do unless she can kill the night king and command the army of death wearing his face. I expect to see faceless men after her next season. in fact, maybe there was one in season 7 and we don’t know it yet.

      Thank you! I appreciate the feedback. That’s an interesting idea that Arya might take the Night King’s face. I don’t know if I’ve heard that speculation before…

        Quote  Reply

    16. Watches watchers:
      Arya is dead. Her face was taken by the waif and the waif assumed Arya’s identity fully, to the point of believing she is Arya. That is why “Finally, a girl is No One.”

      You could be right, but that would be such a bummer…

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    17. Ten Bears:
      Stormborn,

      I think you are right. “Introducing a credible complication to be resolved in 6 episodes, when the focus is on the battle for the Dawn, seems more of a headache at this stage than must-see-tv.”

      Also:

      •I don’t see how or why the FM could extort Arya into carrying out a hit on anyone.She went out of her way to square accounts with the HoB&W, and Jaqen let her leave. (She could’ve skipped town immediately after dispatching the Waif; he could’ve terminated Arya when she turned her back on him and walked off.) The FM have no “leverage” over Arya anymore.

      • I thought Arya allready made the choice not to pursue Cersei when she was at a crossroad in S7e2.(See excerpts below). She chose to head home.

      • Arya was given a VS dagger for a reason. She doesn’t need a VS weapon to use against Cersei (🤖👨🚀 except in the unlikely event Cersei is transformed into the Night Queen).

      • Cersei’s been on Arya’s list because Arya has assumed that Cersei was behind Ned’s execution. For all the evil acts Cersei’s committed, she was not responsible for that: Cersei outplayed Ned, and then made a deal for Ned to join the NW.Idiot Joffrey, on his own, went off-script and decided to behead Ned.If Arya learns the truth, she might not be so gung ho about whacking Cersei.

      • I also thought Arya’s Braavos scenes with Lady Crane as faux Cersei suggesting script revisions to the play to better reflect how a parent of a murdered child would feel, showed just a bit of empathy for Cersei.

      • If anyone is destined to square off against Cersei, it’s Sansa. She’s got the history with Cersei. Sansa’s been concerned about the threat posed by Cersei, while Jon’s preoccupied with the NK & Co. In a way, Sansa is Cersei’s pseudo-apprentice: As Jon observed when Sansa warned that Cersei is ruthless, it sounded to him like Sansa actually admired Cersei; Sansa replied that she’d learned a lot from Cersei. Sansa stepped up her game as Lady of Winterfell by the end of S7.As she stated, she’s honor-bound to defend the North and her family. If Cersei tries to pull a fast one (e.g., use the Golden Co. to re-take the North while Jon and Dany are off fighting the WWs), it could fall on Sansa to thwart Cersei.Otherwise…I’m not sure what Sansa would do in S8 except hand out food rations.

      _______________________

      S7e1, Arya with friendly Lannister soldiers in Riverlands

      Soldier: “So, why is a nice girl on her own heading to King’s Landing?”
      Arya: “I’m going to kill the queen.”
      (At first, soldiers are stunned…then burst out laughing; Arya joins in.)
      ————————

      Bran, Arya & Sansa (S7e4):

      Bran: “I saw you at the crossroads.”
      Arya: “You saw me?”
      Bran: “I see quite a lot now.”
      Sansa: “Bran has…visions.”
      Bran. “I thought you might go to King’s Landing.”
      Arya: “So did I.”
      Sansa: “Why would you go back there?”
      Bran: “Cersei’s on her list of names.”

      —————————

      S7e2: Crossroads Inn: Arya tells Hot Pie she’s headed to KL because Cersei’s queen now…but after his revelations, she changes her mind:

      Hot Pie: “Where are you heading?”
      Arya: “King’s Landing.”
      Hot Pie: “Why?”
      Arya: “I heard Cersei’s queen now.”
      Hot Pie: “I heard she blew up the Great Sept. That must have been something to see. Boom.”
      Arya: “Hmm.”
      Hot Pie: “I can’t believe someone could do that.”
      Arya: “Cersei would do that.”
      Hot Pie: “I thought you’d be heading for Winterfell.”
      Arya: “Why would I go there? The Boltons have it.”
      Hot Pie:“No. The Boltons are dead.”(Arya stops eating and looks up)
      Arya: “What?”
      Hot Pie: “Jon Snow came down from Castle Black with a Wildling army and won the Battle of the Bastards. He’s King in the North now.”
      Arya: “You’re lying.”
      Hot Pie: “Why would I lie about that? He’s your brother right?”
      (Arya leaves food unfinished, gets up to leave; reaches for purse)
      Arya: “Thanks for the pie.”
      Hot Pie: “Friends don’t pay…I can’t believe I thought you were a boy. You’re pretty!”
      Arya: “Thanks…Take care of yourself Hot Pie. Try not to get killed.”
      Hot Pie: “No, I won’t. I’m like you, Arry. I’m a survivor.”

      Outside, mounted on her horse, Arya is at a literal and figurative crossroad: Head south and continue on the vengeance trail towards her next target; or head north and go home. She looks south, then turns around and goes in the opposite direction.

      As she tells Nymeria later in S7e2: “It’s me, Arya. I’m heading north, girl. Back to Winterfell. I’m finally going home.”

      I disagree with a lot of this, although I’m arguing that Arya won’t be the one squaring off against Cersei, so I’m on board with your idea that Sansa will be the one.

      There are many reasons for Arya to have Cersei on her list – you mention that Cersei wasn’t responsible for Ned being beheaded, but we know that, not Arya. Arya could want revenge for any of the Stark retainers who were butchered during the purge at King’s Landing, she could want revenge for Mycah even though Cersei had nothing to do with it, she could want revenge for Yoren, since Cersei sent men to hunt after Gendry.

      Choosing to go home before killing Cersei doesn’t mean giving up on killing Cersei, it meant that her priority to be reunited with family was stronger.

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    18. Apollo:
      Interesting essay… I’ve long suspected that the IB/FM have a symbiotic partnership .. with funds from the often very expensive (and lucrative) hits being used to finance the IB

      Even if it’s an informal relationship… I just don’t see the Iron Bank balking at purchasing Faceless Men services

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    19. Stormborn:
      “As viewers, we invested time and attention in Arya’s journey to becoming a Faceless Man…..In my opinion, Braavos owes us some returns on that investment.”

      I’d say the obliteration of House Frey was huge payback on the investment into Arya’s journey to become a faceless assassin. Introducing a credible complication to be resolved in 6 episodes, when the focus is on the battle for the Dawn, seems more of a headache at this stage than must-see-tv. The ending as it stands, if nothing else occurs, is fine with me.

      Our mileage will vary on that, but I get what you’re saying. Arya’s payback on the Freys is a big deal, but if that was to be the climax to her story, I’d expect it in Season Eight, rather than in Seven.

        Quote  Reply

    20. evenwind:
      How about something as simple as this: Cersei (thru the reps from the Iron Bank) takes out a contract on Dany with the House of Black and White. The Faceless Men contact Arya and tell her that to repay her debt for all those unauthorized killings, Arya’s got to fulfill the contract on Dany.

      That would also be an interesting wrinkle…

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    21. Artemisia:
      So the FM are working with the IB?Interesting..Maybe the IB to hide a FM to kill Cercei for to taking back their money from her[especially if they learn that she spend it all to the GC]..Thats a nice fact/theory.

      Oh, they know already that Cersei is spending the new loan that they’re granting to her to buy the Golden Company – they just expect Cersei to use the GC to win a war, and then pay the bank with the spoils.

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    22. As a general question , what is Essos’s part in the plot of season 8?
      As much as the story has departed from the page, still, Essos is a possible important element

      1) Daario, are gonna just leave that hanging?
      2) The Faceless Men? Just gone from the story? Tom Wlaschiha has even hinted Jaqen has future involvement with Arya.
      3) R’hllor ? The only hint of Essos turning up in season8 , given in S7, is Mel and the prospect that we will see Volantis. I think this will occur and there will be a pow wow at the great Red Temple.
      4) The Iron Bank. I was a bit surprised for Tycho Nestoris to show up, even if that meant a connection to the Golden Company. We know from Mark Gatiss comments he is in season 8.

      So , from bookwise hints, GRRM has implied that Winter (this time around) threatens Essos as well as Westeros. I mean on GoT Red Priestess and Priests have been warning about the Darkness beyond the Wall for a number of seasons. I fully expect the Golden Company is gonna come up short against the Night King even tho they are there to wage war against someone else! Will things get so dire in the Winter-War on Westeros that Dany and Jon have to ask help from parties 1,2,3 and 4 above?
      I just can’t see Essos cut out of the story, I mean even with the Dothraki and Unsullied who are from Essos.

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    23. Patrick Sponaugle,

      The NK by re-animating the dead could and perhaps should be viewed as an act that is in direct conflict with the religion of the FM. Call it a cult or a religion, the FM have only one God and i don’t believe their faith makes an allowance for semi-dead. I see a direct purpose coming from the HoBW to train Arya for the great battle with the NK, the freygicide “account”to be satisfied when the wights are returned to their God. There is only one purpose for the VS dagger, it must be plunged into the heart of NK – this is Arya’s destiny.

        Quote  Reply

    24. Boojam:
      Cole,

      I agree with this but the Faceless Men worship the Many Faced God.

      Yeah, the Faceless Men are pretty big on syncretically adopting aspects of other religions to represent their Many Faced God. I’m curious how they view the northern Old Gods, who are so abstract

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    25. Cole,

      ”There is only one purpose for the VS dagger, it must be plunged into the heart of NK – this is Arya’s destiny.”
      __________________

      That’d be cool. The only variation, in my fanfic scenario, would be that Arya slashes NK’s throat. After all, he does wear some kind of armored or thick leather shirt.

      And from what we’ve seen of Arya’s skills with a knife, she kills by targeting the neck/throat area:

      1. The first man she killed – the Frey doofus at the campfire right after the Red Wedding at the end of S3 – by poking his neck full of holes with the knife she “borrowed” from Sandor.

      2. Polliver, S4e1: Needle through the throat. [Not a knife…but I just wanted to include it. 🙂🗡]

      3. Meryn F. Trant aka Pez Dispenser #1: Throat sliced with knife while telling him “You’re no one. You’re nothing.”

      4. Walder Frey aka Pez Dispenser #2: Throat sliced with knife while telling him “The last think you’re ever going to see, is a Stark smiling down at you as you die.”

      5. (Practice) sparring with Brienne: VS dagger pressed to Brienne’s throat.

      Our girl knows to aim for an exposed area, e.g., the jugular. Sandor taught her that a strike to the torso is worthless if the opponent is wearing armor; and he smacked her across the face to make sure she never forgot it. (“Every hurt is a lesson, and every lesson makes you better.” – Arya to Ned, S1, quoting Syrion Forel).
      I figure Arya would have only one shot at taking out NK, and would not risk using it on a low percentage shot like trying to pierce a clothed or armored part of NK’s torso. Nor would she want to risk getting berated by Sandor.

      + 👨‍🚀🤖 My tinfoil, wishful thinking stage direction: With lumbering warriors wielding VS greatswords and dragonglass spears engaging WWs in combat, the Night King either doesn’t notice, or discounts as a threat, what he sees as a harmless little girl running around on the periphery. (Similar to the way the mounted WW stared right at Sam cowering behind a rock, but ignored him and rode past him.)

      When Arya gets close enough, the NK tries to fend off her knife thrust by grabbing her wrist, just like he did when he marked Bran’s wrist in S6e5 – except Arya does that nifty dagger flip like she did against Brienne in S7e4; NK is left holding an empty hand; and before he can react Arya’s dagger has sliced his throat and he disintegrates into pixie dust.

        Quote  Reply

    26. Patrick Sponaugle: Yeah, the Faceless Men are pretty big on syncretically adopting aspects of other religions to represent their Many Faced God. I’m curious how they view the northern Old Gods, who are so abstract

      “Syncretically”: great f*cking word! And used perfectly in context! I’d never heard it before, and looked it up:

      Syncretism: the combination of different forms of belief or practice.

      Religious syncretism exhibits blending of two or more religious belief systems into a new system, or the incorporation into a religious tradition of beliefs from unrelated traditions.

      Syncretic (adj.); syncretically (adverb)

      __________

      Thanks for the new vocabulary word! 🙏

        Quote  Reply

    27. Caw – Caw … Happy New Year to you all on WotW 🙂

      With only 6 episodes left, I’d be very surprised if the FM (Jaqen H’ghar) makes an appearance in S8. That is unless Tom Wlaschiha is spotted around the studios or in some bar in Belfast 😉

      As I saw it, that side of Arya’s story finished when she told Jaqen at sword point she was not ‘No one’ but “Arya Stark of Winterfell” and he gave her a nod. Probably thinking at the time – ‘Well, you can’t win them all!’

      I’m not saying it wouldn’t be interesting to see more interaction between Arya and Jaqen again, but with only with only one season left, D&D have bigger fish to fry to bring GoT to its conclusion.

        Quote  Reply

    28. Cole,

      ”The NK by re-animating the dead could and perhaps should be viewed as an act that is in direct conflict with the religion of the FM. Call it a cult or a religion, the FM have only one God and i don’t believe their faith makes an allowance for semi-dead.”
      ——————————

      Interesting thought!
      Reanimating certainly devalues “the Gift” – and tarnishes the FM’s reputation. If customers contract out a hit with the FM, they would want the target to stay dead – not come back and haunt them in zombified form.

      To expand further on your observations, how do you think the FM would view resurrections, e.g., Jon Snow (1x) and Beric (6x)? Heresy? An obscure exemption available to the Red God?
      Hypothetically, if a customer pays top dollar to the FM to whack a rival, can the murdered victim’s loved ones then search out a Red Priest(ess) to resurrect him?

      Side note: I don’t think the FM are as inflexible in their calculus as they advertise:
      When Jaqen 2.0 “promised” the Waif she could terminate Arya, he was okay with substituting the Waif after the fact. “Either way, a face will be added to the wall” is pretty lame. It seems like they make a big deal out of pledging a name, but then any old name will do.
      I was a little suspicious of their “religion” – well, any religion that professes to communicate directly with god(s) and carry out the will of god(s) – when Jaqen fudged on repaying the “three lives” purportedly owed when Arya saved him and the two other clowns from roasting in Yoren’s cart.
      When he swore to Arya [paraphrasing] “by all the gods and the old gods beyond counting” that he’d kill whomever she named, and she then said “Jaqen H’gar” for Death #3, he should’ve replied “A girl gives a man his own name. So be it.” Instead, he whined, “Unname me. Please!” [And yet in S6, Arya caught sh*t for second-guessing the hit on Lady Crane, and was fed the catch phrase, “All men must serve”]
      When Arya first tried to parlay Death #3 into help in escaping Harrenhal, Jaqen declined, and Arya replied: “Fine. A man can go kill himself.”
      He relented, and wound up killing two sentries to facilitate the escape of Arya and her friends: Two for the price of one, and a clean getaway for Arya + Hot Pie + Gendry.
      It seems Jaqen conveniently forgot about the “debt” owed to the Many-Faced God when it was his name on the hit list.

        Quote  Reply

    29. Black Raven:
      Caw – Caw … Happy New Year to you all on WotW 🙂

      “…As I saw it,that side of Arya’s story finished when she told Jaqen at sword point she was not ‘No one’but “Arya Stark of Winterfell” and he gave her a nod….”

      I’m not saying it wouldn’t be interesting to see more interaction between Arya and Jaqen again, but with only with only one season left, D&D have bigger fish to fry to bring GoT to its conclusion.

      I agree.✔️

      • As I noted in my 12/31/17, 2:45 pm comment,
      “Arya went out of her way to square accounts with the HoB&W, and Jaqen let her leave. (She could’ve skipped town immediately after dispatching the Waif; he could’ve terminated Arya when she turned her back on him and walked off.)
      • If the FM or Jaqen were going to figure into the endgame, Arya would’ve just skipped town and there would’ve been a scene with a pissed off Jaqen 2.0 seething over Arya going AWOL and leaving an unpaid debt to the FM.
      • While I don’t know how Arya’s Braavos arc was handled in the books, I viewed the show! version as illustrating Arya’s identity conflict: either forget about who she was and become a heartless “no one”, or reclaim her life as Arya Stark of Winterfell. The scenes with Lady Crane demonstrated to her that she could never become the former; the final scene demonstrated to us that she chose the latter.
      • I guess the other purpose of her time at the FM School was to have her develop and refine her martial arts skills.
      • Final thought: I’d always felt Jaqen pulled a “bait and switch” on Arya: He lured her to Braavos with the express promise that she could offer up the names on her list to the [Red or Many-Faced] god “one by one.” That was why she went. It was not to become a paid assassin who murders a talented stage actress so her jealous understudy can get the lead role.
      To make it worse, when she did offer up a name on her list to the Many-Faced God (Meryn F*cking Trant), she got punished for it.

      So yeah. I too think the FM side of Arya’s story is finished.

        Quote  Reply

    30. Ten Bears: “Syncretically”: great f*cking word! And used perfectly in context! I’d never heard it before, and looked it up:

      Syncretism: the combination of different forms of belief or practice.

      Religious syncretism exhibits blending of two or more religious belief systems into a new system, or the incorporation into a religious tradition of beliefs from unrelated traditions.

      Syncretic (adj.); syncretically (adverb)

      __________

      Thanks for the new vocabulary word! 🙏

      *tips hat to Ten Bears*

        Quote  Reply

    31. I’ve always been under the impression that the Iron Bank pays the Faceless Men to take care of those who do not pay their debts (other means too). For a religious order, they sure do charge tons for their services. There seems there could be more to their relationship with the Iron Bank…

        Quote  Reply

    32. Ten Bears: While I don’t know how Arya’s Braavos arc was handled in the books, I viewed the show! version as illustrating Arya’s identity conflict: either forget about who she was and become a heartless “no one”, or reclaim her life as Arya Stark of Winterfell.

      Nor does anyone else! It’s not completed there. But I am sure that GRRM will be giving us his annual “hopefully this year” posting…. 😎

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    33. DarkVisenya: For a religious order, they sure do charge tons for their services. There seems there could be more to their relationship with the Iron Bank…

      And how is that unusual for a religious order?

      At any rate, we should not expect that Iron Bank to use Faceless Men too often. A bank wants to recover its investment, and killing debtors makes sense only if it is done infrequently to scare other clients. What they would be more apt to do is invest in political rivals on the condition that the rival will repay the old debt once he/she comes into his/her own. We see some of that in the books.

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    34. Ten Bears,

      As Wimsey stated, book readers don’t know yet either; Arya’s Braavos arc is not yet done. Having written that, I will add to many, many other readers’ comments that, while I enjoyed it overall (and understand the necessity for judicious editing in page-to-screen adaptation), Braavos is far more subtly handled in the book, and in some ways quite differently.

      To name just three examples, Jaqen as we met him in Westeros is no longer; the “Kindly Man” seen only briefly in the show (the older black man) is Arya’s mentor at the HoBaW. The Waif is not an antagonist; we don’t yet know if she becomes one, but she’s not at present. And Arya’s blindness occurs, and is lifted, in very different ways.

      And of course, as much as I love the comic Hound & Arya Explore the Riverlands arc in the show, a part of me misses the far thornier relationship the two characters have in the book, which paradoxically renders her realization that she no longer hates him far deeper in GRRM’s version. (It also happens far earlier, and she realizes it on her own sans outside “help.”)

        Quote  Reply

    35. The FM is a service organism, they perform murder and other forms of justice for a fee and justify it with their religion. It is quite impersonal, indeed they go to lengths to remove identity from the equation. What Arya does is quite the opposite, very personal, and it corrupts the FM teachings. FM would have good cause to come after her, but I doubt they will. While Arya may yet have some great destiny ahead, I don’t thing FM are a part of it.

      A very happy New Year to all 😄

        Quote  Reply

    36. Patrick Sponaugle,

      I also think that Arya’s story with the FM or rather with the MFG is not finished yet, and that it should weave into the overall story of the war for dawn. Arya may play a Howland Reed part in Jon’s one-to-one combat with the Night King or she may somehow undo the magic promoting his immortlity by offering his name to the MFG or similar. The key point is that, according to Arya, ANYONE CAN BE KILLED. Moreover, when Sam told how he killed a WW in 409 he said that he was NO-ONE at that moment. Sounds a bit like a recipe and a foreshadowing to me. In short, I think that at some moment Arya will have to turn to the MFG and a pay for his assistance with her own identity, just like Bran did to become the Three-eyed Raven – the price both high and dear but nothing comes for free in GoT.

      And one more thing regading Cersei’s dealings with the Iron Bank. IMO, it’s worth to note that her talk with Tycho Nestoris happened before the debt was paid, which means that Tycho Nestoris could have been simply tricking her to get gack the cash. Sure, Cersei may get a new loan, but in general she doesn’t look like a reliable business partner. She thinks that she’s smarther than anyone, she tricks people wherenever she can, and her only source of repaying debts are the spoils of war. Therefore, she may have a short term success but in the long run she would ruin the entire westerosi economy even without the Long Night and the Army of the Dead complictions. IMO, Ollena had that im mind when she asked that question why hadn’t Tywin taken the Reach as soon as his gold mines had run dry: despite of all his nastiness, Tywin was still capable of cooperation. Cersei isn’t. Therefore, if I were the Iron Bank, I would be looking for another partner.

      Sure, as for now, Daenerys looks hardly better than Cersei: she basically stole the Unsullied fom their owner and burned everyone, who could prevent that. However, in general, the Iron Bank may be rather interested in the aboliton of slavery. Slavery based economies stagnate, whereas free market boosts the growth and Tyrion have already spoken the crucial words about commerce returning to the markerts of Meereen. In other words, for the Iron Bank, Daenerys represents a risk, but also an opportunity, especially teamed up with Tyrion.

      Moreover, now she is also teamed up with Jon Snow, and he is a completely different story. He is true to his word and he is Ned’s fostered son, and Ned was the first who started worrying about repaying the loan to the Iron Bank. By all means, Jon qualifies as a reliable borrower who would spend money wisely and pay the dues without delay. IMO Daavos has has to make another trip to Braavos, and the Iron Bank will be happy to invest into such a great endevour like the war for dawn and some sort of the Marshal Plan for the post-war Westeross.

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    37. Ten Bears: I agree.✔️

      • As I noted in my 12/31/17, 2:45 pm comment,
      “Arya went out of her way to square accounts with the HoB&W, and Jaqen let her leave. (She could’ve skipped town immediately after dispatching the Waif; he could’ve terminated Arya when she turned her back on him and walked off.)

      I think I covered the squaring of accounts when Arya left in my article. That doesn’t answer why the FM wouldn’t care that Arya was killing people, essentially in their name by using the skills that they’d taught her.

      It’s like the Iron Bank letting Cersei have unlimited withdrawals via raven.

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    38. Patrick Sponaugle,

      The FM promised Arya that they will help her to take people from her list and now they doing exactly that: they gave her skills through a rather twisted training (somewhat similar to that of the Unsullied according to Grey Worm), and now Arya is using those skills in her endevours as someone else would be using a credit from the Iron Bank. But I guess, when her list is finished, she will have to pay back.
      And the FM are not just a cult: they are founders of Braavos and therefore they should be founders of the Iron Bank, too (at least indirectly). It’s worth to note, that the Iron Bank is not just a bank – it’s a temple, according to Tywin whose assessment can be trusted in this matter. IMO, the Iron Bank and the House of Black and White are just two sides of the same coin: the Iron Bank represents life and the dues everyone has to pay during it, the HoBaW represents death as an ultimate payment for life. An embodiment of the Keynesian “death and taxes”, so to say.

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    39. Patrick Sponaugle,

      “That doesn’t answer why the FM wouldn’t care that Arya was killing people, essentially in their name by using the skills that they’d taught her.”
      ————————

      That’s how Jaqen induced Arya to come to FM School in the first place: that they’d teach her the skills to kill the people on her list.

      When Jaqen 2.0 let Arya stroll out of the HoB&W and go home – knowing that she’d already used MFT’s face as a pin cushion on his watch – I don’t think he expected she’d go into retirement. He certainly didn’t warn her not to use the skills she’d learned, e.g., “I’ll let you go, but no face-changing, okay?”

      [PS. Not challenging you. This is all in good fun, right? 😁]

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    40. DarkVisenya,

      On the show at least, Tycho N. told Cersei that the Iron Bank has used the Golden Company as debt collectors. In S7e4, Cersei told Tycho the gold to repay the IB in full was on its way, and they started didcussing future transactions:

      ****
      Tycho: Yes. Perhaps we could be of assistance in some current venture.

      Cersei: My only venture at the moment is reestablishing control over this continent and every person on it.

      Tycho: I see a great deal of potential in that venture. I imagine that it would require outside investment?

      Cersei: It will indeed. I need to expand my armies, my navies. My hand, Qyburn, has made overtures to the Golden Company in Essos.

      Tycho: I know them well. They’ve helped us recover significant sums from parties who had fallen into deep arrears.

      Cersei: That’s good to hear. I too would like them to recover some things that belong to me.

      _______

      * I remenbered this exchange because I was curious what ”things that belong to me” Cersei was referring to. Just the seven kingdoms? Or something else?

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    41. Inga: Arya may play a Howland Reed part in Jon’s one-to-one combat with the Night King or she may somehow undo the magic promoting his immortlity by offering his name to the MFG or similar.

      Don’t expect that bit of plot to be repeated! The climax has to fufill the story, after all. By this point, Jon & the others will understand that, just as with Robert’s Rebellion, the “War for the Dawn” is based on mistakes, misunderstandings and outright lies. The big difference is that Bran now knows part of the lie behind the White Walkers (they are not “evil,” but a tool for fighting an “evil”) and now that he knows the truth behind the fairy tale version of Robert’s Rebellion.

      Arya is going to have a part in the story, not just the plot. She’s going to make key decisions, too, and she will be wrestling with her conscious regarding that decision in ways similar to Jon & Daenerys. Her experiences with the Faceless Men are going to be important there, too, and it should help us start to narrow down what the climax will concern. Ultimately, Arya has rejected two things: abandoning her identiy and killing without justice. So, we should expect her internal dilemma at the closing time to focus on one or both of these two things. Just as we can see some parallelisms between the Walkers and the Unsullied (which could well affect Daenerys’ decision making), we can see some parallelisms between the Walkers and the Faceless Men. Both seem to forsake identity and both kill for their own purpose without regard to the values of (other) people. I will be really surprised if Martin, Benioff & Weiss are going to do something with that.

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    42. Ten Bears,

      This is consistent with what is implied in the books: princes who defaulted to the Iron Bank found themselves no longer princes. Providing loans to rivals who would hire mercenaries is one way to do that.

      Ten Bears: I remenbered this exchange because I was curious what ”things that belong to me” Cersei was referring to. Just the seven kingdoms?

      Three or Four of the Seven Kingdoms. After all, what else could it be? And it’s too late now to introduce something!

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    43. Boojam:
      As a general question , what is Essos’s part in the plot of season 8?
      As much as the story has departed from the page, still, Essos is a possible important element (snip)
      So , from bookwise hints, GRRM has implied that Winter (this time around) threatens Essos as well as Westeros. I mean on GoT Red Priestess and Priests have been warning about the Darkness beyond the Wall for a number of seasons.

      If you mean if the Others and the Great War get to Essos, I just want to say (because I saw today the last ep of the seven season on HBO on Demand) that strangely enough I found Jon/Euron conversation at the Dragon Pit pretty edifying as far as I am concerned when it comes to how the show at least will treat Essos in all this.

      Summary: Euron asks if the wights can swim, Jon says no. He hightails it to his islands and suggests Dany to do the same as a way to survive the coming Army of the Dead.

      Now I’m not sure how long the whole Narrow Sea will take to freeze over in case the dead are winning, in order for the Army of the Dead to become a real and imminent threat for Essos, but I assume by that conversation that the Great War will be fought completely in Westeros. Probably in the North.

      Of course it won’t mean that some Essosi elements cannot appear on the screen:
      The GC will probably fight on Westerosi soil whoever is left from the North fight. A possible scene on Essos itself can be Euron and Harry Strickland negotiation.

      Daario, I think his story is ended as far as the Great War is concerned.

      Re: Melissandre: If we do see Volantis, the scene will be probably a short one for some kind of revelation re: Lightbringer (?) sort of what happened in Oldtown with Sam and R+L=J scroll. The show shies away to use only one well established character for a location. David and Dan seem to be building scenes for a concentration of characters lately.

      That’s all I can think of.

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    44. Wimsey,

      “Three or Four of the Seven Kingdoms. After all, what else could it be? And it’s too late now to introduce something!.”
      …….

      I don’t know. The wording was strange. “Things that belong to me.” My first (ghoulish) thought was Sansa’s head.

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    45. I still have a feeling that the Golden Company already has been hired, by the Red Priests. Mel made a point of telling Varys she was going to Volantis and would be coming back. She’s coming back with a surprise

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    46. TormundsWoman,

      According to Melisandre’s prophecy recital in S2e1:

      “After the long summer, darkness will fall heavy on the world. Stars will bleed. The cold breath of winter will freeze the seas. And the dead shall rise in the North…”

      If the seas are frozen, the NK and his crew can amble on over, I guess…

        Quote  Reply

    47. Wimsey,

      The night king will attack every nation in the world of GOT at the same time. What do we know about the Night king? He can make walkers. He can also raise dead people, bones and animals. He can fly to Bravos and ressurect all the dead people in the house of black and white and use them as foothold to conquer Bravos. The Iron bank will be no more. You will see the Titan of Bravos fall. He will fly to Mereen and do the same thing there. Kingslanding, etc. Jon will defeat the walkers marching to Winterfell.

        Quote  Reply

    48. Ten Bears: * I remenbered this exchange because I was curious what ”things that belong to me” Cersei was referring to. Just the seven kingdoms? Or something else?

      I would assume Cersei is referring to Sansa. Probably Jaime at this point too even though the quote was said before Jaime left.

        Quote  Reply

    49. Mr Derp,

      Yeah, that’s what I was thinking (Sansa’s head). I didn’t think “things” = kingdoms. And Cersei still has a bug up her ass for Sansa. Most of all, Sansa’s been warning about the threat from the south – and facing off against her twisted ex-mentor Cersei would give Sansa a significant role in S8 (instead of taking grain inventories.)

        Quote  Reply

    50. Ten Bears,

      For sure. I think Sansa will assert herself to be a Queen in season 8. Whether it will be Queen in the North or Queen of the Seven Kingdoms is another question 😉

      Dany is a conqueror, but Sansa is a ruler IMO

        Quote  Reply

    51. (bit off topic, but i need to know…)

      dear admins,
      yesterday i posted a comment, wasn’t 100% happy after posting, edited it quickly – and got a note it had been marked as spam. as the option was still available, i clicked “cancel” and then had the unedited version on my screen, looking like it had made it to being successfully posted.
      today, i can’t find the original unedited comment.

      are there any traps like “don’t edit too fast” i have to avoid in order to pass the spam filter? because, i surely did not spam. i commented a dialogue of Patrick Sponaugle and an other user discussing the waif being arya, and i didn’t even make the dumbest point…

      what have i done wrong?

        Quote  Reply

    52. Chicken Generated Image,

      I can’t comment for the mods but things like that happen fairly randomly, at least in my experience. Sometimes the longer the post, the more likely some spam filter will pick up on it even though it’s not spam.

        Quote  Reply

    53. Patrick Sponaugle: Our mileage will vary on that, but I get what you’re saying. Arya’s payback on the Freys is a big deal, but if that was to be the climax to her story, I’d expect it in Season Eight, rather than in Seven.

      I’d say it was probably the climax of the FM arc rather than her whole story. She’s reconnected with her family, navigated their new identities and being referred to as an executioner feels like a new chapter for Arya going into S8. Naturally this does not preclude a visit from Jaqen H’ghar for old times sake. 😉

        Quote  Reply

    54. Chicken Generated Image,

      For what it’s worth, that has happened to me too when I’ve tried to make a minor edit of a comment that’s longer than a couple of sentences, or quotes someone else’s comment to which I am replying. My original text shows up just fine, but after I edit it, I get the red-lettered “marked as spam” message – and the original disappears.

      I guess all you can do is try to save/copy the text you’ve typed, and start over.

        Quote  Reply

    55. Patrick Sponaugle,

      “she [Arya]could want revenge for Yoren, since Cersei sent men to hunt after Gendry.”
      _________

      On the show at least, I’m pretty sure it was Joffrey who ordered the Gold Cloaks to track down and kill Robert’s bastards, including Gendry.

      Also, as far as Arya knows, there was just a “royal warrant” for a “bastard named Gendry.” Neither Gendry nor Arya knew why. Gendry didn’t find out he was Robert’s bastard until Melisandre told him on board the ship after buying him from the BwoB.

      (Arya pestering Gendry about why the Gold Cloaks wanted him, and Gendry replying he had no idea, led up to one of my all-time favorite exchanges: Gendry: “You shouldn’t insult people that are bigger than you.” Arya: “Then I wouldn’t get to insult anyone.”)

        Quote  Reply

    56. Patrick Sponaugle,

      I feel the same, a TOTAL bummer & would serve no epic series purpose. We’ve followed this kid for 7 seasons… I’m expecting something grand for her. I’ve heard this theory before, rewatched episodes looking for that aha moment and I haven’t seen it. The way she interacted w the people she knew in S7 was way too genuine for a FM to pull off … she lit up when she saw Sansa, melted when she heard Hotpie mention John, she skipped out on Cersei & went home, she recognized Nymeria and Nymeria recognized/prob smelled her idk! I just don’t see it – anymore. But for a while, I did think… I sure hope NOT! I think the debt is paid, she will kill the NK w the dagger and the lives she saved will increase her FM credit line.

        Quote  Reply

    57. Mr Derp,

      Ten Bears,

      my comment was pretty short, believe it or not 😀
      but i think i shot the edit out too fast. i now remember some spam filters react on too much activity by the same user in a short period of time.

      i had three points on the arya / waif thing, and

      JBird,

      mentioned my most important one: smell check by nymeria. the waif would not have passed it alive. i’m totally d’accord with all the other points about original plans and emotions of arya.

      also, i wondered how the waif’s face has made it to the hall of faces collection then. did she peel it off herself?

      finally, there’s simply no sense at all in building a character arc like arya’s just to come around the corner with “haha, it’s the waif!” once the character becomes sort of complete. doesn’t give the story anything.

        Quote  Reply

    58. I can’t add much to this discussion, as everything I was thinking has already been voiced, but I think (perhaps hope) that Kinvara will return in Season 8. I have little doubt that Melisandre’s trip to Volantis will involve the High Priestess of the Red God. The scene between Kinvara and Varys gave me goosebumps, and I thought the actress was extremely effective in a small but important role. I, for one, cannot WAIT to see her again.

        Quote  Reply

    59. Chicken Generated Image: also, i wondered how the waif’s face has made it to the hall of faces collection then. did she peel it off herself?

      I assumed that Arya carved the Waif’s face

      Chicken Generated Image: finally, there’s simply no sense at all in building a character arc like arya’s just to come around the corner with “haha, it’s the waif!” once the character becomes sort of complete. doesn’t give the story anything.

      I agree. I think those who want Arya to end up being the Waif in the end are the crowd that loves the “twist for the sake of a twist” thing.

        Quote  Reply

    60. Another thought re: Cersei wanting Sansa’s head. Not to imply that Cersei is in any way rational, but would Sansa still be so high on her list of enemies now that Jaime has revealed to her that Olenna, not Sansa and Tyrion, was responsible for Joffrey’s death? Do we suppose that Cersei is so entrenched into her madness that no logic can make its way through?

        Quote  Reply

    61. Mr Derp: I agree. I think those who want Arya to end up being the Waif in the end are the crowd that loves the “twist for the sake of a twist” thing.

      I do my best to ignore comments about ‘Arya is the waif’ now. Not just because the theory is dumb but because I’ve gotten tired of explaining how using faces doesn’t work that way. Yes, for the show they can do anything, but it would be a very silly idea to take one of the series favorites and flush her entire story with that end revelation when it’s very unlikely to happen that way in the books. Besides, everything she has done since leaving the HoBaW has followed Arya’s desires which would make no sense for the waif to do.

        Quote  Reply

    62. StringerBelle,

      Well, 707 showed that Cersei was indeed entrenched in her madness: after she found out that Tyrion didn’t kill Joffrey, she started blaming him for the deaths of her two other children, although in case of Tommen, the blame was totally hers. So, IMO Cersei will find some crime for Sansa in her twisted mind, too.

        Quote  Reply

    63. When Jaqen 2.0 let Arya stroll out of the HoB&W and go home – knowing that she’d already used MFT’s face as a pin cushion on his watch – I don’t think he expected she’d go into retirement. He certainly didn’t warn her not to use the skills she’d learned, e.g., “I’ll let you go, but no face-changing, okay?”

      [PS. Not challenging you. This is all in good fun, right? 😁]

      It’s all good man, this is good fun. I appreciate the debate. Nothing I say should be taken as unchallengeable or whatever.

      Arya was already punished for killing Trant, which is why I don’t think Jaqen had to explicitly say to Arya when she left, not to kill people as a Faceless Man. The rule was implicit when she killed Trant when she should have killed the sanctioned target.

        Quote  Reply

    64. Mr Derp:
      Ten Bears,

      For sure.I think Sansa will assert herself to be a Queen in season 8.Whether it will be Queen in the North or Queen of the Seven Kingdoms is another question 😉

      Dany is a conqueror, but Sansa is a ruler IMO

      Totally in on this. Sansa Queen! Agreed.

        Quote  Reply

    65. Inga,

      I’ll have to rewatch the scene when Jaqen gives Arya the coin. I think we fans added in some understanding that Jaqen was offering Arya skills to facilitate her role as an adorable murder-angel, but I don’t know if he actually made that offer.

      Such an offer is at odds with what she runs into in training, which implies she has to give up being Arya Stark, a girl who had a list of names to kill.

        Quote  Reply

    66. Patrick Sponaugle,

      ”Adorable murder angel”. 😆 I love it!

      Anyway, here’s the dialogue from that scene when Jaqen gives Arya the coin. It’s why I thought Jaqen pulled a bait-and-switch on Arya: he lured her to Murder School with the promise that she could offer up the names on her list to the Red God “one by one.”

      S2e10 “Valar Morghulis”
      (Arya & Jaqen H’ghar)

      Arya: What are you doing here?
      Jaqen: Waiting for you.
      Arya: How did you know we’d come this way? Jaqen: After all the things you have seen, this is your question?
      Arya: How did you kill those guards? Was it hard? Jaqen: No harder than taking a new name, if you know the way.
      Arya: Show me how. I want to be able to do it too. Jaqen: If you would learn, you must come with me.
      Arya: Where?
      Jaqen: Far and away across the Narrow Sea to Braavos.
      Arya: My dancing master was from Braavos.
      Jaqen: To be a dancing master is a special thing. But to be a faceless man, that is something else entirely. A girl has many names on her lips. Joffrey, Cersei, Tywin Lannister, llyn Payne, the Hound. Names to offer up to the Red God. She could offer them all one by one.
      Arya: I want to…But I can’t. I need to find my brother and mother. And my sister. I need to find her, too.
      Jaqen: Then we must part. A man has duties as well. (Hands her coin). Here.
      Arya: What is it?
      Jaqen: A coin of great value.
      Arya: Could it buy a horse?
      Jaqen: It is not meant for the buying of horses.
      Arya. Then what good is it?
      Jaqen: If the day comes when you must find me again, just give that coin to any man from Braavos and say these words to him, “Valar Morghulis.
      Arya: “Valar Morghulis.”
      Please don’t go, Jaqen.
      Jaqen:Jaqen is dead. Say it again. Valar Morghulis.
      Arya: Valar Morghulis.
      Jaqen: Good. Farewell, Arya Stark.

        Quote  Reply

    67. Ten Bears,

      I appreciate you reminding me of this. It does seem like Jaqen was misrepresenting… what a used car salesman!

      If the FM show up to lean on Arya, she should totally insist that she has leeway. (The FM can still threaten her loved ones, because they’re hardball)

      Thanks again for the dialogue of the scene, much obliged

        Quote  Reply

    68. StringerBelle:
      Another thought re: Cersei wanting Sansa’s head.Not to imply that Cersei is in any way rational, but would Sansa still be so high on her list of enemies now that Jaime has revealed to her that Olenna,not Sansa and Tyrion, was responsible for Joffrey’s death?Do we suppose that Cersei is so entrenched into her madness that no logic can make its way through?

      I think Cersei still blames Sansa in some way (I mean, Cersei isn’t too wrong, Sansa did unwittingly smuggle in the poison that killed Joffrey)

        Quote  Reply

    69. Ten Bears:
      Patrick Sponaugle,

      “she [Arya]could want revenge for Yoren, since Cersei sent men to hunt after Gendry.”
      _________

      On the show at least, I’m pretty sure it was Joffrey who ordered the Gold Cloaks to track down and kill Robert’s bastards, including Gendry.

      Also, as far as Arya knows, there was just a “royal warrant” for a “bastard named Gendry.” Neither Gendry nor Arya knew why. Gendry didn’t find out he was Robert’s bastard until Melisandre told him on board the ship after buying him from the BwoB.

      (Arya pestering Gendry about why the Gold Cloaks wanted him, and Gendry replying he had no idea, led up to one of my all-time favorite exchanges: Gendry: “You shouldn’t insult people that are bigger than you.” Arya: “Then I wouldn’t get to insult anyone.”)

      We’ll have to agree to disagree. People are convinced that on the show it was Joffrey killing bastards, Joffrey putting out the hit on Tyrion via Ser Mandon Moore, but I’m convinced it was Cersei.

      No one is obligated to read my Game of Thrones essays from before I started writing for Watchers on the Wall, but if you’re interested in my defense of Joffrey on the charges of illegiticide and attempted avuncucide (I am probably making some of those terms up) – I state my case here: https://patricksponaugle.com/2014/02/25/in-defense-of-joffrey-baratheon-yes-joffrey/

        Quote  Reply

    70. Ten Bears,

      I think that either show or books (or both) make it clear that Cersei is/was in Arya’s list for ordering execution of Lady, the Hound for Mycah, Joffrey for ordering Ned’s execution and Illyn Payne for carrying it out.

        Quote  Reply

    71. Arya will be on the frontline of the War for the Dawn, with the Valerian steel dagger, which would seem to set her up for a crucial role in that war. But she may have to die in the process, which would repay any debt to the FM, I suppose. I’d much rather see her pair-bond with Gendry, but since it’s Dem Thrones, I’d settle for some innuendo filled banter before the first battle.

        Quote  Reply

    72. 3eyes:
      Arya will be on the frontline of the War for the Dawn, with the Valerian steel dagger, which would seem to set her up for a crucial role in that war. But she may have to die in the process, which would repay any debt to the FM, I suppose. I’d much rather see her pair-bond with Gendry, but since it’s Dem Thrones, I’d settle for some innuendo filled banter before the first battle.

      Yeah, I at least want Arya to meet up with Gendry again, for a big old hug.

      Maybe seeing Gendry alive and well would have her take Melisandre’s name off her list. (She seems to have not been reciting the Red Woman for a while though, anyway…)

        Quote  Reply

    73. * I remenbered this exchange because I was curious what ”things that belong to me” Cersei was referring to. Just the seven kingdoms? Or something else?

      I don’t have any solid evidence to back this up, but I assumed that Cersei meant Sansa Stark, and she was going to task the mercenaries to send some special forces to try and abduct Sansa.

      This is wild speculation, I know.

        Quote  Reply

    74. Mr Derp,
      I assumed that Arya carved the Waif’s face

      me too. actually everyone does, except for the person who came up with the waif=arya stuff. what i wrote was just what i tried to answer that person before the spam filter hit.

      “twist for twist’s sake” is a nice breakdown of a lot of wild speculations. like in “Q: what will be frankenmountain’s first words when he finally breaks his silence? A: Hodor”
      i’m sure we will meet this theory too until S8 is finally here. as well as “Gandalf is Sauron” and “it all happened in the basement of a pizzeria which is located in the first floor of the building”.

      i want to say: let’s not expect too much of logical thinking in this century 😉

        Quote  Reply

    75. Patrick Sponaugle,

      Not really wild speculation. It was my first thought too (ie Sansa’s head is one of the “things” Cersei believes belongs to her). The wording of Cersei’s statement was peculiar; that’s why I didn’t think she was just referring to recovering three or four “kingdoms.”

      Having said that, if the Golden Company is sent to snatch Sansa and succeeds in making her a hostage again…I’m turning off the TV.

        Quote  Reply

    76. 3eyes,

      No! There is no way Arya will “have to die in the process, which would repay any debt to the FM.”

      First of all, the value of syndication rights to GoT plummets to $0 if Arya dies.
      Second, she doesn’t owe anything to the FM. They owe her for luring her to Murder School under false pretenses, and then changing their tune and beating the sh*t out of her when she got there.

      What I wouldn’t give to see Drogon take a little detour across the Narrow Sea to Braavos, and give “the Gift” to the entire House of Black and White.

        Quote  Reply

    77. BlindBeth:
      Ten Bears,

      I think that either show or books (or both) make it clear that Cersei is/was in Arya’s list for ordering execution of Lady, the Hound for Mycah, Joffrey for ordering Ned’s execution and Illyn Payne for carrying it out.

      • As a “pre-books” fan, I don’t know how GRRM handled this. Based on the show, and S1e3 in particular, I am still confused by Arya (later) blaming Sandor for Mycah’s death. In the scene below, she blamed Joffrey – and even Sansa – for killing Mycah, and somewhat absolved Sandor:

      S1x3 Arya table stabbling (“practicing” for Joffrey)

      Arya: He’s a liar and a coward and he killed my friend.
      Sansa: The Hound killed your friend.
      Arya: The Hound does whatever the Prince tells him to do.
      Sansa: You’re an idiot.
      Arya: You’re a liar. And if you’d told the truth, Mycah would be alive.
      –————

      • Also, I don’t think the show has suggested that Cersei got put on the List for ordering Lady’s execution. I thought it was because Arya assumed (incorrectly) that Cersei was responsible for Ned’s beheading, and didn’t/doesn’t know that it was dimwit Joffrey’s decision. (In fact, from the S1e3 exchange quoted above, I’d expect Arya to tell Sansa, “if you’d told the truth, Lady would be alive.”)

      • Anyway, I’m curious how the books assigned reasons for Arya placing each of the persons on her List – as well as how, why, and when she “de-listed” Sandor (which I understand was handled differently on the show.)

        Quote  Reply

    78. “Either way, a face will be added to the wall.”

      To me at least, it sounds like the Faceless Men decided the issue in a trial by combat. When the Waif lost, Arya was free to go.

      (That doesn’t mean that’s the last we’ll ever hear from A Man, of course…)

        Quote  Reply

    79. Ten Bears,

      Whoa!! I didn’t pick up on this before… sounds like foreshadowing of Arya’s destiny: A: Thanks take care of yourself HP…Try not to get killed.
      H: No. I won’t. I’m like you Arry. I’m a survivor. 🐇🥚🐣

      Sounds like two things are certain in GoT. Cersei will die and Arya will survive. 🎉

        Quote  Reply

    80. Ten Bears,
      Ten Bears – I’m w you!! In the end it’s all about the bottom line, $yndication > Production Co$t. Come S8 we will get a story that will stand the test of time. Producer$ want people who will know the end to want to watch or rewatch.

      I forgot about this …

      Re: If you told the truth Mycah (Lady), would be alive.

      Piecing a direwolf dies connection with a Stark adds up except for Sansa’s case where either things get metaphorical or her time just hasn’t come yet. Simply put, Lady died to no fault of her own much like Mycah. Sansa lied and as a result Mycah died.

      I would feel horrible if a child died because I told a lie.

      IMO, somewhere in Sansa’s character arc, if she lives, I hope she owns up to this.
      S: I’m sorry, Arya. I was an idiot then and could not have imagined Joffrey would kill your friend. I hope you believe me…

        Quote  Reply

    81. Ten Bears: • As a “pre-books” fan, I don’t know how GRRM handled this. Based on the show, and S1e3 in particular,I am still confused by Arya (later) blaming Sandor for Mycah’s death. In the scene below, she blamed Joffrey – and even Sansa – for killing Mycah, and somewhat absolved Sandor:

      S1x3 Arya table stabbling (“practicing” for Joffrey)

      Arya: He’s a liar and a coward and he killed my friend.
      Sansa: The Hound killed your friend.
      Arya: The Hound does whatever the Prince tells him to do.
      Sansa: You’re an idiot.
      Arya: You’re a liar. And if you’d told the truth, Mycah would be alive.
      –————

      I have a different take on that. Arya isn’t absolving Sandor in that sentence, she’s not letting Sansa absolve Joffrey by saying that the Hound was responsible, as if only the Hound should be held responsible.

      The fact that Arya, both in the show and in the books, accused Sandor Clegane of killing Mycah when the Brotherhood has him implies she hadn’t given Sandor a pass.

        Quote  Reply

    82. Ten Bears:
      Patrick Sponaugle,

      Not really wild speculation. It was my first thought too (ie Sansa’s head is one of the “things” Cersei believes belongs to her). The wording of Cersei’s statement was peculiar; that’s why I didn’t think she was just referring to recovering three or four “kingdoms.”

      Having said that, if the Golden Company is sent to snatch Sansa and succeeds in making her a hostage again…I’m turning off the TV.

      Yeah, I don’t want Sansa to legit be a hostage either.

        Quote  Reply

    83. Patrick Sponaugle,

      Well, legally, spiritually, karmically – and financially – Sandor has been exonerated of the murder of Mycah:

      S3e5: Sandor declared not guilty of Mycah’s death (having prevailed in trial by combat)

      Sandor: I want my gold.
      Beric: It says it clearly right there on that note you’ll be repaid in full when the war is over.
      Sandor: Piss on that! You’re nothing but thieves.
      Beric: We’re outlaws. Outlaws steal. You’re lucky we didn’t kill you.
      Sandor: Come try it, archer. I’ll shove those arrows up your ass.
      Arya: You can’t let him go. He’s a murderer. He’s guilty.
      Beric: Not in the eyes of god.
      Arya: You can’t!
      Beric: Enough! The judgment isn’t ours to make.
      Go in peace, Sandor Clegane. The Lord of Light isn’t done with you yet.

        Quote  Reply

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