Third Time’s the Charm: the Wolf and the Stag

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As fans of Game of Thrones, we know all too well by now how characters rarely get what they want or anywhere near happiness. But there are two characters that might actually have a chance at ending up somewhere in the vicinity of happiness. Those two are not Jon and Dany, Tormund and Brienne, or Sandor and chicken. No, I’m talking about Arya Stark and Gendry.

They started off as companions in Night’s Watch recruiter Yoren’s group heading for the Wall, and parted ways after running into the Brotherhood Without Banners. It’s been quite a while since they’ve seen each other; however there are plenty of hints and foreshadowing throughout the show and books that these two crazy kids will make it work.

In both the books and show, it’s clear that Arya and Gendry have strong affections for each other, first as friends. They meet in Yoren’s caravan going north to the Wall under assumed identities. Arya is pretending to be a boy named Arry, while Gendry has assumed the identity of the “Bull” due to his muscles and the bull helm he made for himself and constantly polished. Gendry makes an impression on the young Stark girl with his physical strength as well as his common sense. He stands out sharply in the group of rabble heading for the Night’s Watch.

“Then you’re stupid. They scare me.” The Bull’s hand fell to the hilt of his sword, and Rorge began to laugh. “Let’s get away from them.”

Arya scuffed at the ground with her foot, but she let the Bull lead her around to the front of the inn. Rorge’s laughter and Biter’s hissing followed them. “Want to fight?” she asked the Bull. She wanted to hit something.

He blinked at her, startled. Strands of thick black hair, still wet from the bathhouse, fell across his deep blue eyes. “I’d hurt you.” – A Clash of Kings, Arya II

The two become closer in their adventures through the Riverlands after escaping the attack of Ser Amory Lorch, being pressed into service at Harrenhal, and eventually escaping following the takeover of Harrenhal by Roose Bolton (Tywin Lannister in the show). They’ve become very close with both of them sharing secrets about their true identities and innermost thoughts, with Gendry standing in for Arya’s favorite sibling Jon.

Gendry and Arya have a similarly teasing relationship throughout A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones; Arya lets no one truly into her life more than Gendry and Jon.

“A shade more exhausting than needlework,” Jon observed.

“A shade more fun than needlework,” Arya gave back at him. Jon grinned, reached over, and messed up her hair. Arya flushed. They had always been close. Jon had their father’s face, as she did.

Jon looked her over with all his fourteen-year-old wisdom. “You’re too skinny,” he said. He took her arm to feel her muscle. Then he sighed and shook his head. “I doubt you could even lift a longsword, little sister, never mind swing one.”

Arya snatched back her arm and glared at him. Jon messed up her hair again. – A Game of Thrones, Arya I

She even confesses her true identity. However, this relationship appears to frustrate Gendry a bit before he joins the Brotherhood Without Banners. There is this curious exchange in the books:

“Why did you say that?” Arya hopped to her feet. “You’re not my brother.”

“That’s right,” he said angrily. “I’m too bloody lowborn to be kin to m’lady high.”

Arya was taken aback by the fury in his voice. “That’s not the way I meant it.”

“Yes it is.” He sat down on the bench, cradling a cup of wine between his hands. “Go away. I want to drink this wine in peace. Then maybe I’ll go find that black-haired girl and ring her bell for her.” – A Storm of Swords, Arya V

That is echoed here in the show. In the show, the subtext is less clear, as Gendry rejects Arya’s plea to be her family and decides he should join the Brotherhood Without Banners, ironically, because of her status as a highborn lady.

In the books, Gendry immediately afterward angrily thinks about having sex with one of the town’s prostitutes known as Bella. (Side note: he does not, and it’s a lucky miss as she is likely King Robert’s bastard as well.)

From these interactions, we can surmise that Gendry is distancing himself from her despite his affections.

As a reader, I appreciate this decision from Gendry. Arya is only 10 or 11 years old here, and while it is normal for young people to have romantic feelings it is uncomfortable for readers. It’s similar to how Dany is only 13 when she marries Khal Drogo, and Sansa is at a similar age when older men like Sandor Clegane, Ser Dontos, and Littlefinger begin showing interest. The show made a smart decision in making these characters older on purpose. It reflects well on Gendry that he recognizes the same moral issue.

Often overlooked in his character, largely due to being King Robert’s bastard, is that Gendry is self-admittedly bad at interacting with girls and has no skill at charming them.

“Look at this fine young ox. Wait till Alyce sees those arms. Oh, and he blushes like a maid, too. Well, Alyce will fix that for you, boy, see if she don’t.”

Arya had never seen Gendry turn so red. “Tansy, you leave the Bull alone, he’s a good lad,” said Tom Sevenstrings. “All we need from you is safe beds for a night.” – ASOS, Arya V

And then along comes Arya: fond of him, smart, tough, tomboyish but a highborn lady. As soon as she returns to Winterfell (whenever that is) and becomes Arya Stark again, she will vault above him in social status. She is also about 4 years younger than the decidedly teenaged Gendry, making it years before they could reasonably be a couple. These facts appears frustrating for him.

Gendry and Arya

Let’s go over some reasons why, near the end of the show and books, they may end up becoming a couple.

First of all is the attraction of personality they both feel. Arya latches onto the bastard smithy, admittedly though because he is surrounded by the dregs of King’s Landing when they meet; however he is somebody she feels comfortable with- and the same back. Arya may be the first girl Gendry ever really got to know and seemingly harbors affection for her beyond friends and ersatz siblings. When Melisandre seduces Gendry in the show, he confesses he’s never been with a girl.

Second, as they grow up they are both likely to become much more attractive. Arya was nicknamed “Arya Horseface” by Jeyne Poole in their youth however it is noted several times the strong resemblance she shares with her aunt Lyanna.

“Lyanna might have carried a sword, if my lord father had allowed it. You remind me of her sometimes. You even look like her.”

“Lyanna was beautiful,” Arya said, startled. Everybody said so. It was not a thing that was ever said of Arya.

“She was,” Eddard Stark agreed, “beautiful, and willful, and dead before her time.” – A Game of Thrones, Arya II

Lyanna was described as a great beauty, although likely overstated by her fame, and turned heads. Gendry as well has some handsomeness coming. At the end of A Feast for Crows, he is favorably compared to his uncle Renly Baratheon by Brienne of Tarth, and descriptions of Robert in his prime are good signs of things to come for the teen.

Gendry was at his forge, bare-chested beneath his leather apron. He was beating on a sword as if he wished it were a foe, his sweat-soaked hair falling across his brow. She watched him for a moment. He has Renly’s eyes and Renly’s hair, but not his build. Lord Renly was more lithe than brawny . . . not like his brother Robert, whose strength was fabled. – AFFC Brienne VII

While the pair are awkward, unkempt teens when they part, should they meet again they could have a “wow you’ve grown up” moment.

6x10 Jon King in the North

Beyond personal attraction, there’s good reason politically for them as well. At the moment there is no legitimate claimant of the Baratheon ancestral seat of Storm’s End with Renly, Robert, and Stannis all dead (or likely doomed, in the books) at the current point in the stories. If Gendry is recognized as a Baratheon heir by a king or queen (hint hint Jon or Dany), he will instantly become prized marriage material. It doesn’t hurt that he’s received the humble upbringing and true view of life in Westeros that many lords lack. Aegon V received a similar maturing process in the Dunk and Egg novellas and as a king, the lessons of poverty and hardship served him well. Gendry Baratheon would be the perfect age to marry, and alliances are often sealed with marriages. It’d be a shrewd political move for the Starks if they recognized Gendry as the Lord of Storm’s End, and then Arya or Sansa married him.

And this is where the literary reasons for this match come into play. As mentioned above, Arya is repeatedly shown as a younger version of Lyanna Stark: from appearance, to temperament, to similar desires for adventure and carving her own path in the world. And many times Gendry is shown as King Robert come again- at least in appearance. His temperament is far tamer and more controlled than the old King.

Robert and Ned

A main concern of Lyanna’s that informed her decision to run away from the marriage was Robert’s inability to control himself in any way, whether it was women, liquor, or battle. Gendry does not have those problems, and has discipline, loyalty, and cleverness in their place. We are meant to see Arya as her own character; however it is difficult to not see how Gendry is a “fixed Robert”. Had he been Lyanna’s betrothed instead, the marriage may very well have gone through. In this parallel, it could be the intention of the author and showrunners that Arya and Gendry fulfill the broken marriage pact made years earlier.

As well, there is the line Robert says to Ned:

“You helped me win this damnable throne, now help me hold it. We were meant to rule together. If Lyanna had lived, we should have been brothers, bound by blood as well as affection. Well, it is not too late. I have a son. You have a daughter. My Joff and your Sansa shall join our houses, as Lyanna and I might once have done.” – AGOT, Eddard I

Completion of perceived broken promises and patterns in unusual ways is a hallmark of George R.R. Martin’s writing.

From a meta perspective in the show, it’s also apparent that Gendry has been brought back into the cast for a reason. They have a limited amount of time and money for actors and space on the screen;  why bring back a seemingly minor character like him? All the rest of Robert’s bastards like Edric Storm, Mya Stone, and Bella have been scrubbed from the narrative. Gendry, while his return this season was delightful, doesn’t make a ton of sense if it was only for fan service. His reunion with Arya now far more grown up may be a plotline that is explored next season. After all, before Lyanna ran away with Rhaegar, she most likely dressed up as a knight and beat squires with a wooden sword, and then fell for the Silver Prince and his songs on harp. As tough as Arya is, there could be a similar shift in character coming for her, and Gendry is standing there with seemingly no other reason for being written back in.

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On the other side, what are some reasons this won’t happen? For one, Gendry is not a person Arya thinks a huge amount about after their parting.

Suddenly she was somewhere else . . . back in Harrenhal with Gendry, maybe, or with the Hound in the woods along the Trident. Salty is a stupid child, she told herself. I am a wolf, and will not be afraid. – AFFC, Arya I

When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives. She had no pack, though. They had killed her pack, Ser Ilyn and Ser Meryn and the queen, and when she tried to make a new one all of them ran off, Hot Pie and Gendry and Yoren and Lommy Greenhands, even Harwin, who had been her father’s man. She shoved through the doors, out into the night. – AFFC, Arya II

Sometimes she thought she might go back to Sharna’s inn, if the floods hadn’t washed it away. She could stay with Hot Pie, or maybe Lord Beric would find her there. Anguy would teach her to use a bow, and she could ride with Gendry and be an outlaw, like Wenda the White Fawn in the songs. – ASOS,  Arya XII

She thinks of him as a lost friend, a deep rejection of her reaching out, and finally a heroic figure fighting for the common people in the Riverlands. And that’s about it; she spends much of the rest of her journey in the books trying to forget who she is and become No One. In the show, Arya mentions Gendry even less. If they were a future item separated and destined to come back together, you’d expect more longing in Arya the way she similarly does for her “pack” and home.

Another huge problem is that Arya is not a normal person anymore. She is a killing machine, a fantasy terminator who bakes people into pies, poisons entire rooms of people, and has a collection of faces in her bag. Given her tenuous grasp on humanity these days, it’s hard to imagine that she could have the human connection with another person that would be necessary for a romantic relationship. She kills with such glee and dispassion that she may be broken mentally beyond repair, and the happy future with Gendry will be an unfulfilled dream.

Third, the White Walkers have broken through the Wall and are marching their army of the dead through the North. There very probably will be a near or total genocide of the North, and depending on how far South they get, of many Southern houses and regions. Such an enormous body count would cause the political structures we know today in Westeros to collapse. As such, being the Lord of Storm’s End or being a Stark of Winterfell may cease being a thing people care about politically. Although a beloved family, if there is virtually no one left in the North, then there are no armies to call, incomes to collect, or people to rule. So for any kind of political match between Stark and Baratheon to make sense, the White Walkers must be defeated very soon. That doesn’t look likely as the Night’s King’s army marches on and he rides the White Walker dragon Viserion.

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Lastly, there is the concept of the bittersweet ending that Martin is fond of talking about.

“I think you need to have some hope…we all yearn for happy endings in a sense. Myself, I’m attracted to the bittersweet ending. People ask me how Game of Thrones is gonna end, and I’m not gonna tell them … but I always say to expect something bittersweet in the end,” he said. “You can’t just fulfill a quest and then pretend life is perfect.” – Time Magazine

In the show, this has been translated as the concept of no happy endings. When something is going well for a character, they are often being set up for a heart-wrenching fall. Ned Stark thought he had made a bargain he’d be exiled into the Night’s Watch with Jon, and instead was beheaded with his own sword. Robb Stark thought he had re-secured his alliance with the Freys and would be in a position to win his war – and instead was butchered along with his friends and family at the Red Wedding. And on and on and on. Two characters getting a happy ending would be very out of character for both stories, and as such, it’s tough believing that Arya and Gendry would get one. It’s far more likely that Sansa ends up marrying Gendry as a political match, and that the rejected relationship digs at Gendry and Arya through their years. Or no one marries Arya or Gendry, and it remains an unfulfilled wish from the fandom.

There is also the abandoned “Five Year Gap” from the books that deserves consideration with these ideas in mind. The Five Year Gap was George R.R. Martin’s plan where, after A Storm of Swords, the narrative jumps forward five years. Arya suddenly becomes 16 or 17, and Gendry is 20 or 21 – more appropriate ages for romance. With the Five Year Gap gone, it’s a longer shot in the novels they’ll end up married or together by choice. In the show, this is less of a problem, as even though Arya may chronologically be young, Maisie Williams is now 20 and no longer looks too young for marriage.

As mentioned above and in the title, the Starks and Baratheons have attempted to unite their houses twice already. Robert and Lyanna failed spectacularly, resulting in a full-scale rebellion. Joffrey and Sansa fail as well in another rebellion, although Joffrey is no true Baratheon. You’d think the idea of “third time the charm” applies here, that the Starks and Baratheons are due a successful marriage. However, it could go the other way, and narratively they are doomed to fail. It calls back the image from the first episode and first Bran chapter, of the antler of a stag in the throat of the direwolf:

His father knelt and groped under the beast’s head with his hand. He gave a yank and held it up for all to see. A foot of shattered antler, tines snapped off, all wet with blood. AGOT, Bran I

Which side do you fall on, dear reader? Will Arya have her icy demeanor melted by the return of the Bull in her life? Is yet another happy ending doomed, with Arya and Gendry? Let us know below what you think and why.

90 responses

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    1. Arya should to find some happiness in this world..she had suffered to much for to avenge the death of her entire family and her friends…..Actually i do hope that she end up with Gendry…He is like her ..a free spirit goes when he/she likes to go ..In his own way..Like Arya..It will be interesting to see them again together…I hope this happen somehow

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    2. This pairing has been a wish of mine for some time now. This was a great review of why it should happen… as well as the reasonable obstacles that may get in the way: her age, particularly in the books; and her troubling lack of humanity. But she’s old enough in the show, and Gendry may help her regain her humanity, as I believe Sansa did a bit and Jon will too. So I’m still hopeful!

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    3. I’d be surprised if Arya could settle down to a life of domesticity after her revenge spree. It seems more likely that Sansa and Gendry would fulfill a “third times the charm” Baratheon/Stark marriage pact.

      I can see Arya happily living her days as a lone wolf like her Nymeria, only coming to visit her pack when the whim strikes her.

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    4. “(Side note: he does not, and it’s a lucky miss as she is likely King Robert’s bastard as well.)”………………………How do you know that?

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    5. carla,

      Because Bella says she is King Robert’s bastard in that chapter. She also has the same hair as Gendry, Arya notices. (It’s Robert’s hair.)

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    6. If any relationship makes sense and can exist at the end and presumably last years beyond, this is the one in my opinion. If Arya lives through the series, which I still believe she will, then I don’t believe we’re going to see the last of her as a non-emotional assassin loner. Her heart is still there, she just needs some good things to happen for her to have hope in life as opposed to living for only the reason of revenge for the bad.

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    7. In the early seasons, I thought Arya/Gendry was a sure thing; now, after seeing what Arya has been through, I don’t think it’s happening. (I would be pleasantly surprised and happy if I was wrong.)

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    8. • I was hoping Jon and Gendry would talk about Arya (eg in “Beyond the Wall”) to set up a future pairing.

      • “Gendry makes an impression on the young Stark girl with his physical strength as well as his common sense.”

      I thought his ripped torso made an impression on Arya in the scene right before Jaqen tossed the Tickler to his death. 😍

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    9. As far as the characters’ ages in the books go, GRRM was fairly pointed that he’s not going to allow the loss of the gap to affect his plans for the ultimate endgames of the leads, so if there was an Arya/Gendry plan before, it would still be a go, though perhaps the nature of it would have to change.

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    10. Luka Nieto,

      This pairing has been on my wish list too.

      Wasn’t there a passage in the books where Arya gets an involuntary makeover? Something about an acorn dress? I thought a book reader brought that up here some time ago. Was Gendry part of that book! scene? If so, they could adapt that for the show.

      The Many-Faced Goddess (Maisie Williams) can look androgynous – or breathtakingly beautiful. I’ve seen side-by-side photographs of Maisie Williams and Aisling Franciosi where they could easily pass for niece and aunt doppelgangers.

      Anyway, the article makes a good point: Why bring back Gendry unless it’s to hook up again with Arya?

      And I figured, why have Gendry arm himself with a war hammer unless it was to make a connection to Robert Baratheon? (I forget…didn’t Gendry complain to Davos in S7 that he was upset the Lannisters had killed his father? The father he never knew or cared about before?)

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    11. Ten Bears,

      Addendum to above…

      In “Eastwatch”, when Davos comes to fetch him, Gendry says:

      “Don’t you think I’ve been thinking about it every swing of the hammer… how happy I am making weapons for the family that killed my father? They tried to kill me.”

      He could have mentioned that the Gold Cloaks* sent by the Lannisters would have killed him were it not for Arya’s quick thinking that saved his life.

      * Or was it the Mountain and his posse?

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    12. Ten Bears:
      Wasn’t there a passage in the books where Arya gets an involuntary makeover? Something about an acorn dress? I thought a book reader brought that up here some time ago. Was Gendry part of that book! scene? If so, they could adapt that for the show.

      That’s ASOS Arya IV, when Arya and Gendry are traveling around the Riverlands with the Brotherhood and visit Acorn Hall, the seat of House Smallwood. Lady Smallwood insists on dressing her as befits her status for the amount of time she stays there.

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    13. Ten Bears,

      You remember correctly.

      In A Storm of Swords, Arya, Gendry, and the Brotherhood’s whole crew arrive at Acorn Hall. Arya is forced to bathe and wear a fancy acorn dress, which she (predictably) hates. Gendry finds the sight of her dressed up so funny that he snorts wine out his nose.

      They go outside to explore the forge, and Gendry tells her that she looks nice. She says she looks like an oak tree. He even sniffs her and tells her that she smells nice. She tells him that he stinks, and they wind up wrestling on the floor with him tickling her. Her acorn dress gets torn.

      They go back inside, where a singer is singing a love song about the maiden of the tree (acorn dress, a nice oak tree, right?). Gendry gets scolded/smacked for acting inappropriately with her.

      IMO, the foreshadowing for at least the potential for a future romance is not subtle at all. I would be so happy if these two make it work.

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    14. This is the only relationship I’m hoping for, but the show destroyed my hopes when they had Gendry show up and say absolutely nothing about Arya,like she didn’t even exist. the show isn’t really subtle about these things. But on the other hand why would hotpie tell her she’s pretty?

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    15. And I know the books and show are supposed to have the same ending, also George has said that they would meet again, in the books Gendry is surrounded by Arya’s ghost, her mother, the crossroad inn where she and the hound fought with those guys where the blood stains are still on the floor, the brotherhood still looking for her, and maybe seeing lady Stoneheart is what drives Arya to go back to Winterfell and this time she won’t be alone?
      Another point: Gendry gave his hammer to Tormund and Sandor threw it away, maybe this is their way of saying that Gendry won’t restore the Baratheons line?

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    16. carla,

      Gendry has no idea, at that point, that he’s one of Robert’s bastards (why does my phone know bastards comes after Robert’s?) He knows Bella probably is, but doesn’t know that makes her his sister.

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    17. I loved Arya & the Hound travelling the Riverlands in seasons three and four, and have an equally deep affection for Arya and Gendry helping each other through the horrors of war in seasons two and three.

      Gendry is incredibly protective of Arya, but at the same time he doesn’t dismiss her as just a girl. He accepts that she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to fighting. And she is as protective of him as he is of her. There is an equality there. Unlike Robert and Lyanna, I think Gendry would allow Arya to be herself.

      Like many others I was disappointed that Arya wasn’t mentioned by Jon and Gendry (or the Hound or pretty much anyone) on the mission in Beyond the Wall, but I’m hoping that conversation is being saved for season eight and we’ll get some sort of pay-off on it then.

      I do think Gendry could be instrumental in Arya rediscovering her humanity. Look at the difference one short conversation with Hot Pie and the hope of seeing Jon again accomplished.

      There are a number of Arya scenes that I find a real punch in the gut to watch – one of them is I can be your family.

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    18. trufaxx,

      Thx for those details! If Sandor digging the grave and burying the two bodies in S7e1 was any indication, the show isn’t reluctant to “reach back” chronologically to echo book scenes.

      Arya sure looks different now conpared to the last time Gendry saw her. Season 3, I think, when Melisandre bought him from BwoB, and Arya confronted Mel:
      “You’re a witch! You’re going to hurt him.”

      By S8, that’ll be 5-6 years since Arya and Gendry saw each other.

      Yeah, slap an acorn dress on her and let’s see Gendry “wrestle” her. 🦌🐺

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    19. I’m so for this to happen! I would love to see Arya and Gendry together, and I don’t think that it would take away from the bittersweet theme of the ending. There are many ways it could go down, but after all they’ve both been through (and will go through in the coming war against the White Walkers), neither may ever be able to find happiness. Maybe through their marriage they find some level of contentment, and hope that their kids will find happiness in their lives. That has a bittersweet feeling to me.

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    20. Stoneheart,

      Don’t you think that Gendry may be simply too shy to start asking questions about Arya? And how would Jon react, if Gendry mentions that he had met his little siter? “Touch my sister again and I’ll kill you myself” may very well be one of the options – not the only one but still. If Gendry really has dreams about reconnecting with Arya and developing some sort or relationship (IMO he does), than it’s much wiser to prove himself to her KITN brother and to earn his respect before even mentioning her name in hispresence. And that’s exactly what Gendry does: he reveals his identity to Jon fair and square and he volunteers to the wight hunt.

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    21. Alba Stark:
      I do think Gendry could be instrumental in Arya rediscovering her humanity.Look at the difference one short conversation with Hot Pie and the hope of seeing Jon again accomplished.

      It’s a little different in the show vs. the books, but in show I don’t feel like Arya has really lost that much of her humanity. Yes, she displays a certain savagery towards people that have hurt her and her family, but she continually has displayed compassion towards innocent people. Even up to this point in the show. She spared all the Frey women, she didn’t kill those Lannister soldiers, she refused to kill Lady Crane, and she prevented the Hound from killing that man they came across with the broken wagon in season 4.

      In the show at least, she hasn’t gone over the deep end so-to-speak. So to say that she needs to “rediscover” her humanity I don’t feel is quite right. She still has a great capacity for compassion, and she has always chosen family over revenge when faced with the choice (i.e. when she first has the opportunity to go with Jaqen to Braavos, after leaving the Hound in season 4 her first thought is to go to the Wall, and in season 7 she chose to go home instead of pursuing Cersei).

      The way I see it is a bit more of a balancing act: she has both the compassion and darkness that she’s struggling with. She hasn’t lost her humanity or compassion (yet), and I hope that seeing Jon, Gendry and the Hound in season 8 will affirm her compassionate side.

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    22. Inga,

      I think that if Gendry told Jon he spent time with Arya, then the conversation would Jon trying to find out more about how his sister survived, which I would love to see, but wasn’t right for that episode, especially if the Hound joined in. It could have been an off screen conversation and they had plenty of time for that as they sailed north.

      Jon doesn’t strike me as someone who would hate any possible boyfriend, but I think Gendry won’t really think of her like that until they meet and he sees her as an adult. Little finger was a perv, so needed scared off.

      A romance is possible now they are older, and would be politically valuable, but regardless, I hope for some good scenes between them. Arya needs a friend of her own beyond family with shared history. The slight problem being that TV Gendry looks a lot older than book Gendry and seems to have aged more than Arya/Maisie.

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    23. A great review and a most enjoyable read.

      I too hope there will be a reunion between Gendry and Arya, but whether there will be a romantic element between them who can say? Arya’s life has changed immensely since she was last seen with Gendry.

      As someone mentioned, her reunion with Hot Pie was cold at first, but when he told her Jon was now the KiTN and back at Winterfell, she warmed to him and decided to go north to WF rather than to KL to eliminate Cersei from her list 😉

      We don’t know what happened to Gendry after the Wight hunting party returned to Eastwatch? Maybe he was on his way to WF before the the NK attacked and brought down the wall?

      Well just have to wait to see what happens… and it will be a LONG wait 🙁

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    24. Interestingly, during the tournament in 1×04, Arya is wearing a dress with acorns. Maybe it’s just an Easter egg. Maybe it’s more.

      I can fanwank why none of the four men who met her after she left King’s Landing, including Gendry, mentioned Arya beyond the Wall. While Jon knew that she was alive since 7×05, the Hound was surprised when Brienne told him so in the finale. Therefore, it’s highly probable if not certain that Jon didn’t mention her, he wasn’t even aware that they knew her. Gendry didn’t know if she survived after he was sold. Thoros and Beric didn’t know if she survived after she fled. It would be natural that no one wanted to distract Jon, the head of their expedition, by casually mentioning that his sister lived for some time in spite of being unable to confirm her current status. Maybe the Hound and Gendry wouldn’t talk about her for fear they’d get confirmation she was dead.
      Of course, it could also be that Arya’s S2 and S3 background won’t come into play and was dropped.

      Last season hammered that Arya wasn’t the lady of the castle type nor did she want to be, and S7 Gendry seemed more adventurous to me than his book counterpart. I don’t see them settling in a traditional sense. Sailing together for West of Westeros would be a better option.

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    25. Gendry and Arya are essentially nobleborn children who end up growing up in the streets among the wreckage of the wars that their parents started. I do not see Gendry and Sansa. If Gendry is to reclaim House Baratheon and be in a position not to challenge the Targaryen-Stark lock on first place, I mean, The Iron Throne, he needs to be allied by blood/marriage, so that would be Arya. It really helps that they like each other.

      One more thing: why is Arya all crazy woman because she is a trained assassin? Male characters learn the arts of war and the arts of assassination and they’re just fine (ok, maybe not) but really? Arya has learned to make war on a small and intimate scale in the same way that Jon has learned to be a commander of groups of men. On the other hand, as complements, Sansa has learned to operate in the realm of the political while Bran is learning the ways of magic. Given a chance to get linked into that family would definitely insure Gendry’s survival. Besides he was out there rowing on that boat for what four seasons?

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    26. Great article as usual, thanks! I feel that Arya’s reunion with Jon will actually reconnect herself to humanity. I think both of them lost a bit of themselves with the trauma they’ve experienced, Jon’s main trauma being that he died and returned. I think they will once again rebuild their relationship and in so doing, rebuild their own humanity.

      I can see Arya and Gendry ending up together more so in the books rather than the show but one can hope!

      I would also like Arya to parallel Lyanna in terms of dressing up as a knight and disguising herself so she could fight in the war against the wight walkers. My hope is that Jon sees this badass on the field fighting wights and then realizes it’s Arya *crosses fingers* *knocks on wood* *prays to the old gods and the new*

      Lastly, I think book!Arya was a lot more savage than show Arya (at least the early seasons). Didn’t she consider killing Gendry when deciding whether or not to reveal her identity. I mean, she didn’t entertain the thought for long but still. Savage Arya, savage. 😂

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    27. Alba Stark,

      My favorite Arya-Gendry scene (S2e2 I think) starts with this:

      Arya: What do the Gold Cloaks want with you?

      Gendry: No idea.

      Arya: You’re a liar.

      Gendry: You know, you shouldn’t insult people that are bigger than you.

      Arya: Then I wouldn’t get to insult anyone.

      Maisie W’s delivery of the punchline cracks me up every time. So does the ending of that scene (“Do NOT call me ‘My Lady’!” ; “As My Lady Commands…”)

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    28. OT but the New Mutants trailer is actually darn good. I may be half tempted to see it. (X-Men does nothing for me since Famke Janssen was my ideal Jean Grey, and as much as I love Fassy, it’s just gone on too long). Maisie is channeling her old Arry look in it, heehee.

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    29. I’m with Pigeon: When Gendry gets to Winterfell, he’ll take one look at Arya, then several looks at Sansa: tall, nice hair, stunningly beautiful, and totally feminine. He’ll say “hi” to his erstwhile “brother” of the night’s watch, and go for the gold.

      Of course, Sansa, being a snob and Acting Queen in the North, will reject a bastard blacksmith’s apprentice. Which will free up Gendry’s mind for fighting the Great War. Really, a better thing than having key characters all mooning about their distant loves and letting out longing sighs for episode after episode. Your mileage may vary.

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    30. This discussion has caused a lovely little scene to develop in my mind:

      When Jon and Co arrive at Winterfell, they have their reunion and she sees Gendry in the group. They’re both all, “Wow! Is that who I think it is?” but there is no time to speak to each other. A feast is planned for later, so Arya confesses her attraction to Sansa, who gussies Arya up in the pretty grey wolf dress that she made. When Arya enters the party she locks eyes with a flabbergasted but very approving Gendry across a crowded room…[romantic music swells] <3

      A girl can dream, right?

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    31. Ashara D,

      I don’t care if people call it a teen flick fan service makeover. I’m on board with your idea.

      Arya can put on a dress and get her hair done, for just one night.

      After all, Arya is a Princess now, and will be attending a formal state dinner to welcome the returning King and the visiting Dragon Queen.

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    32. Pigeon:
      It’s inevitable that Gendry will end up with Sansa, because fuck my life.

      Ha!
      But please no. 🙁 Sansa with Gendry would mean the sisters at each others’ throats again, this time in a love triangle with a boy.

      How about Sansa with Azor Ah— I mean Sandor Clegane? Maybe she learned from her misguided “love” for the blonde-haired monster Joffrey that looks are deceiving. Sandor was truly her knight in shining armor: the only one chivalrous and brave enough to go back and save her from gang rape and murder during the KL riot.

      “You’re alright now, Little Bird.” (hoists her on his back). Sigh.

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    33. Ten Bears: Ha!
      But please no. 🙁 Sansa with Gendry would mean the sisters at each others’ throats again, this time in a love triangle with a boy.

      How about Sansa with Azor Ah— I mean Sandor Clegane? Maybe she learned from her misguided “love” for the blonde-haired monster Joffrey that looks are deceiving. Sandor was truly her knight in shining armor: the only one chivalrous and brave enough to go back and save her from gang rape and murder during the KL riot.

      “You’re alright now, Little Bird.” (hoists her on his back). Sigh.

      No. Even worse. How boring an existence would that be for him? Poor Sandy has had enough of nobility and knights and ladies.

      No, Sansa needs to become the Night Queen. Cold, icy, unwavering. Husband? Eh, maybe. I don’t really think that everyone needs to be paired up, however. Maybe I’m projecting my own happiness of being single, but girl could do with a bit of the single life.

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    34. Another excellent well thought out read. I guess I’m on the side that isn’t hugely bothered, Arya is one of my favourite characters but it will make no difference to me if she ends up with Gendry or not. I suspect it’s more likely to happen than not but equally she doesn’t seem the marriage and family type!

      However a marriage alliance and Jon making Gendry a Barratheon does make a lot of sense.

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    35. Hayel:
      Gendry’s return in the show was pure fan service, that much is clear.

      Not sure that’s true, they wanted to bring him back in season 6 but couldn’t find a way to do so within the story. I’d imagine they know how his arc ends but George wasn’t clear how he got there because he’s a minor character. Therefore the show had to find a way to park him and reintroduce so they can hit his ultimate arc.

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    36. trufaxx: IMO, the foreshadowing for at least the potential for a future romance is not subtle at all. I would be so happy if these two make it work.

      So would I. I’m show-only, but I appreciated reading how the relationship was handled in the books. Thanks for those paragraphs. And thanks to JoeMagician for the great article. I agree, based on what you wrote, it seems to be foreshadowing a future relationship. I’ve always thought/hoped that Arya and Gendry would somehow end up together.

      That scene between them, when Gendry tells her he’s staying with the Brotherhood and Arya says “I can be your family!” is memorable because of the heartbreak and despair in her voice. I can hear it now. She felt both a connection to him and a protectiveness of him, and was heartbroken to see him go. Imho, she’ll be delighted to see him again, and since she’s starting to think more in terms of being a grown woman, particularly since Hotpie thought she was pretty, she’ll be interested to see his reaction to her as a lady. For a little while, anyway. She won’t make a habit of wearing dresses.

      Gendry’s main objection to staying around her was that she was now known to be highborn. He didn’t feel good enough for her. He had no argument with her personality. Plus, after finding out that she was a “lady”, he still had class enough to be respectful of her, rather than resentful, as another man might be. I think that the knowledge of his royal blood will empower him – he will feel good enough to be with her when they meet again.

      Arya is not a lost soul. True, she’s done an extraordinary amount of killing, but never mindless killing, or killing for sport. While a woman being skilled in such things is unusual in the North, it wasn’t unusual everywhere. The Sand Snakes are proof enough of that. In fact, as has been pointed out very well by others, Arya was extremely discerning about whom she killed and why. Plus, the scene at the end between Arya and Sansa shows that Arya is not cut off from humanity. She wants to be around people, only on her own terms.

      It’s not as though Gendry is an innocent flower, either. I think the scene on the beach, with Davos, Tyrion and the Guards was meant to show that. Gendry was an effective and willing killer. He bludgeoned the guards as was necessary, to the approval of Tyrion, and they were able to escape Kings Landing. I don’t think there would be any massive disapproval of Arya regarding her killing skills. The two would make a great team, whether they traveled together to the edge of the world, bickering all the way, or stayed close to Winterfell to be the Westerosi Avengers. (a tip of the hat to Dame Diana there.)

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    37. I would love it, but honestly I can’t see Arya marrying anyone.. if anyone it would be Gendry though because they have mutual respect. I would settle for them running into each other again and having that WOW moment!

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    38. Thronetender,

      Every single one of Arya’s 60+ kills had it coming, with maybe one exception. (Rorge: he threatened to f*ck her bloody with a stick but never touched her.)

      But I’ll give her a pass on that one. Rorge had the misfortune of intruding on Sandor and Arya while class was in session:

      S: “That’s where the heart is. That’s how you kill a man.”

      (3 minutes later, after Rorge and Biter attack, Arya kills Rorge with a Needle to the heart)

      S: “You’re learning.”

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    39. P.S. For those who think Arya has lost her soul and become a cold-blooded killer, I think there’s thematic resonance to Sandor’s words, first as a declaration, “That’s where the heart is”, and later, as a half-question, half-imperative: “Remember where the heart is.”

      I felt that Arya’s tranformation in her scene with Hot Pie from indifference to compassion; her
      decision at the literal and figurative Crossroads to change course and head north towards home instead of going south to whack Cersei; and her final scene with Sansa in S7e7 on the WF battlements, showed that she was able to “remember where the heart is.”

      I’m looking to Sandor reiterating that line, or some variation of it, in a scene with Arya in S8.

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    40. Thronetender,

      You said it well:

      “Arya is not a lost soul. True, she’s done an extraordinary amount of killing, but never mindless killing, or killing for sport. While a woman being skilled in such things is unusual in the North, it wasn’t unusual everywhere. The Sand Snakes are proof enough of that. In fact, as has been pointed out very well by others, Arya was extremely discerning about whom she killed and why. Plus, the scene at the end between Arya and Sansa shows that Arya is not cut off from humanity. She wants to be around people, only on her own terms.”

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    41. I thoroughly enjoyed your essay, Joe, and even complimented it elsewhere. And everyone;s comments have been great. I’ll pitch in at length later but have a super-busy day for now. Briefly: Arya and Jon were the outcasts even in the family and in a way still are. He had no choice; she was a non-conformist. The romantic in me longs for Arya to have some happiness with a steady, reliable, supportive companion who is tolerant of her unconventional outlook and well knows she wears her very tender heart on her torn sleeve. Gendry is her best (and only?) chance to find that person. Concomitantly, Gendry was brought up lowborn but joined the artisan class still suspecting and resenting the highborn. Knowing he’s Robert’s bastard (maybe bastard) puts him in a quandary: is there any highborn girl who would be tolerant of his original status and occupation? Even if he’s legitimised, would a status-obsessed highborn accept him? Arya knows that Gendry wears his noble heart on his dirt-stained sleeve. So it seems Arya is also Gendry’s best chance at true contentment. If they don’t get together for whatever reason, the one thing I do not find acceptable would be for Sansa, the beauty who always wanted and now seems to have “everything” (her word, S1E2), to also acquire the very man Arya seems destined for. No one knows what will happen. In case you haven’t seen this relevant video, take a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xV6vLWIeaYk

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    42. Pigeon,

      You’re right. Sandor deserves better than domestic drudgery. I was thinking more like a six-week whirlwind romance, not a long-term thing. I just wanted Sandor to have at least one happy memory before he dies saving the world.

      Comparison of hypothetical scenes (with prurient portion covered in greyscale):

      ….At the beginning…

      Sansa: I like it when you call me “Little Bird.” It…does things to me…
      Sandor: Little Bird…
      Sansa: (Squeal!)
      Sandor: Little Bird…I won’t hurt you.
      Sansa: I know.

      But it’s still better if I get on top. Now just relax. You can put your axe on the nightstand. I’m safe here.
      Sandor: That’s not an axe…
      Sansa: (Gasp!)
      Sandor: You alright Little Bird?
      Sansa: Mmm….Yes. Oh yes…..Oh…Oh Gods. Oh Gods…

      Sandor: This is the sweetest thing there is.

      …After a few years…

      Sansa: You don’t listen to me!
      Sandor: Okay, I’m listening. What did you want to tell me?
      Sansa: I don’t know.
      Sandor: Well then shut the f*ck up so I can get some sleep.

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    43. I’ve always thought that Gendry’s main purpose is linked to him being a smith, the iron throne being made of swords and valyarian steel being the super weapon against the Others. Someone has to forge more weapons and that iron ‘chair’ made of swords seems to be a not so subtle allusion.

      However, I reckon that a relationship Arya-Gendry would also be a nice hint to the fact that a prophecy has been there from the very beginning (Stark+Baratheon) but none has been able to read it properly, apart life. I think it could be something very George-like.

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    44. Enharmony,

      re: My 10:58 am comment

      I should apologize to you. I didn’t consciously mean to pull a Melania-Michelle and crib what you wrote, but it looks like you cited some of the same examples I did that showed Arya’s humanity wasn’t irretrievably lost.

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    45. Moonsinger:

      “However, I reckon that a relationship Arya-Gendry would also be a nice hint to the fact that a prophecy has been there from the very beginning (Stark+Baratheon) but none has been able to read it properly, apart life. I think it could be something very George-like.”

      As a non-“book wanker”, I’m curious what (Stark + Baratheon) prophecy you’re referring to. Are you saying there’s a familiar “prophecy” that’s been misinterpreted?

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    46. Pigeon:
      “OT but the New Mutants trailer is actually darn good. I may be half tempted to see it. …Maisie is channeling her old Arry look in it, heehee.”

      “Wolfsbane … This is no common assassin.”

      – Tywin Lannister, S2e7

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    47. Very nicely and well written, JoeMagician, thank you.

      I found myself often nodding in agreement, many times about aspects and angles I hadn’t thought about much. They were nicely and dispassionately presented in this piece.

      I paused slightly a couple of times at slight quibbles. Gendry didn’t assume a fake identity, he was already the bull-headed apprentice (the Bull) whilst with Tobho Mott. He couldn’t share his secret identity with Arya because he only learned it from Melisandre after he left the BwB and Arya (show – in the books he still doesn’t know).

      One thing that has irked me for years is some Arya/Gendry shippers willfully misreading Gendry’s response to Arya’s “I could be your family.” Gendry says, “No. You’d be m’lady.” Gendry wasn’t saying Arya would be his lady love, lady of my heart or some such romantic dross. He was pointing out the social distinction, the class difference, the fact that they couldn’t be “family” because of it. He was pointing out he’d always be a servant or a social inferior. We might not agree with Gendry’s assessment but it was very perspicuous and accurate of Gendry at the time, with the info he had. Arya was being the willful, spoiled one not fully understanding the world she lives in. “M’lady” is something social inferiors call their betters, something Gendry as a fatherless bastard of a lowborn woman is well aware of. The fact that Gendry later learned that he’s half highborn doesn’t change what Gendry meant when he said it, just adds some irony.

      One thing I’d like to take up is Arya befriending smallfolk and treating them as “equals”. We should remember that she’s a cherished, pampered, somewhat spoiled daughter of one of the highest lords in the land. Breaking social conventions and barriers is only acceptable if it comes from above, and young, spoiled Arya does not fully realise this.

      She’s not wrong or bad in wanting to be friends with smallfolk, it’s quite admirable, but she doesn’t understand their mindset, and she quite unconsciously asserts her social status, even when it’s mostly unknown to her companions, by ordering them around and wanting them to do as she wishes. In her young life, no lowborn would go against her wishes, like Hot Pie and Gendry eventually do – ironically because they treat Arya as an equal, not as a highborn lady to lord it over them. Arya is quite annoyed and offended by their “betrayal” of her cause, not seeing that Hot Pie is quite happy baking at the inn and Gendry smithing for the Brotherhood. Hot Pie and Gendry made these choices exactly because they treat Arya as an equal, not as a highborn little lady to bow and scrape to and to obey.

      Now, Arya’s experiences in Braavos with the Faceless Men have changed her quite a bit. How much of the adorable old Arya remains? And what does it mean for her reunion with Gendry? – I’m counting on her meeting Gendry again… and it could be important for both of them!

      I’m sure D&D didn’t bring Gendry back from his rowing spree just to run a marathon north of the Wall. I hope he has something important to do, and I hope Arya is part of it. They’re so adorable together!

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    48. Great article, and great discussion! Im another who would love to see Gendry and Arya together. If its fan fiction, so be it. It would make me smile, and it would make sense given the number of clues suggesting it.

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    49. zandru:
      I’m with Pigeon: When Gendry gets to Winterfell, he’ll take one look at Arya, then several looks at Sansa: tall, nice hair, stunningly beautiful, and totally feminine. He’ll say “hi” to his erstwhile “brother” of the night’s watch, and go for the gold.

      Of course, Sansa, being a snob and Acting Queen in the North, will reject a bastard blacksmith’s apprentice. Which will free up Gendry’s mind for fighting the Great War. Really, a better thing than having key characters all mooning about their distant loves and letting out longing sighs for episode after episode. Your mileage may vary.

      I thoroughly disagree. Sansa is a woman which Gendry would reject after what happened to him (in the show!). Taller than him, redhead, stunningly beautiful and feminine like Melisandre. On top Sansa can have the same cold demeanor as Melisandre. Sophie even has those piercing blue eyes, although they are a lighter color than Carice van Houtens.

      No way.

      https://s14-eu5.ixquick.com/cgi-bin/serveimage?url=http:%2F%2Fwallpaperus.org%2Fwallpapers%2F2013-09%2Fsophie-turner_1378606329%2Fsophie-turner_wallpaper-2044-1378606329.jpg&sp=e9bb64dcf95490fd2223db1b40ae65d1

      https://s14-eu5.ixquick.com/cgi-bin/serveimage?url=https:%2F%2Fstatic.independent.co.uk%2Fs3fs-public%2Fthumbnails%2Fimage%2F2014%2F02%2F12%2F10%2Fcarice-van-houten.jpg&sp=fc07448335e42da0d6d9361a4232dfc5

      And for good measure Maisie:
      https://s14-eu5.ixquick.com/cgi-bin/serveimage?url=http:%2F%2Fwww.hawtcelebs.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2015%2F02%2FMAISIE-WILLIAMS-at-Shooting-Stars-2015-Portraits-in-Berlin-5.jpg&sp=75f46f20902a5d5b98993775f1d26d09

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    50. What a wonderful article, Joe. Thank you so much!!! And the discussion is gold. Having arrived late, I don’t think there’s anything I can add to it that hasn’t already been written.

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    51. talvikorppi,

      I’ve just thought that maybe Gendry decided to join the BwB instead of going with Arya because he felt that he was starting to fall in love with her. So, his phrase about her being “his lady” had a bit of that double meaning: the stress was on the difference of their socal status but there was that romantic tune too. However, since Gendry learned the truth about his father he was preparing. He couldn’t quite understant what for, but IMO one of the motives behind these preparations was to become worthy of Arya – just in case they meet again some day. And Jon rising up to the KITN should have encouraged Gendry even more. So, now he is clearly trying to do what Jon did to win his status. And I guess that line Hot Pie dropped about Arya being pretty wasn’t all for nothing. In short, I also want the two to find some love and happiness, even if they die at the end.

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    52. Ten Bears: Arya can put on a dress and get her hair done, for just one night.

      The last time Arya put on a dress etc. Gendry laughed his arse off and they had a fistfight. Dressing up would not be a good move.

      Also, if a continent-spanning war breaks out every time a Baratheon & Stark attempt to tie the knot, maybe those two should remain “just brothers.”

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    53. talvikorppi: One thing I’d like to take up is Arya befriending smallfolk and treating them as “equals”. We should remember that she’s a cherished, pampered, somewhat spoiled daughter of one of the highest lords in the land. Breaking social conventions and barriers is only acceptable if it comes from above, and young, spoiled Arya does not fully realise this.

      I would not ever call Arya “spoiled”. Nor “pampered.” Those descriptors belong more with Sansa, as does “cherished.” Arya may not realize there is a vast social distinction between “the classes” – because at Winterfell and in the North, there isn’t. It’s almost entirely Cersei Lannister and her family’s insistence on ALL the trappings, obeisances, and honors that Her Exaltedness The Queen etc. etc. “deserve” that caused the problems at the crossroads.

      It’s not that Arya is “spoiled”; it’s that the south is effed up. Remember, the south is where everyone “plays” the “game” of thrones, and “words are wind.” (No wonder knights and their vows are treated like a joke.)

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    54. zandru,

      Whoa, that’s a lot of quotation marks you’re using!

      I stand by every word I said about Arya being cherished, pampered, indulged and spoiled, even if she didn’t realise it. She had a very easy and happy childhood until her father was (falsely) arrested for treason.

      Sure, mummy and septa Mordaine tried to teach her needlework and courtesies and other pursuits thought suitable and proper for young highborn ladies, and were a bit stict about it. But daddy let her keep her sword and even got her a tutor, Syrio Forel, to teach her and indulge her in her desires and pursuits. Very few lords would have done that to a daughter, and no lowborn girl could wish for such indulgence.

      Arya was an entitled little miss – remember her scene getting back into the Red Keep? My daddy is the Hand of the King and will have your heads if you don’t do as I say!

      That’s why the first scene with Hot Pie and Lommy was so powerful. They didn’t know she was Lady Arya Stark of Winterfell and didn’t give her special treatment. That’s when Arya really began learning. It was easy for her to be friends with Mycah, the butcher’s boy, because he knew who she was and couldn’t say no to any of her suggestions, like play-fighting with sticks, and all that led into.

      It’s not Arya’s fault that she had a parent who pampered, indulged and spoiled her. He also tried to teach her some lessons, and she remembers some of them, they have sustained her through the horrific experiences she has had to go through. But to deny that Arya was a very priviliged, cherished, pampered, indulged and spoiled little girl before it all went wrong is to do a disservice to her character. Part of her arc is to learn this, to fully empathise with smallfolk. Without ordering them about according to her whims and desires. She feels annoyed, even angry, when Hot Pie and Gendry don’t do her bidding but have agency of their own and make their own choices.

      Much has happened since then. Arya’s reunion with Hot Pie was a bit offhand, but I’m hoping her reunion with Gendry will be fuller and more emotional – demonstrating she still has human emotions. Gendry certainly would be up for it. He’s half-highborn now, so befriending her and maybe more isn’t a pipe dream.

      Reunion with Jon could also affect Arya’s rehumanisation, except Arya might not like the new girlfriend and Jon bending the knee, lol!

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    55. It always bothers me when people equate happiness to being in a relationship. Especially for women. It’s awfully reductive. Besides the gender biases, I’m not sure “finding true love” has to be the end goal for everyone.

      Which is not to say I hate romance. I’m not that cynical yet. It’s just more interesting to me when each character finds their own unique path. Romance sounds more in tune with Sansa’s arc (sadly, most of her “princes” haven’t lived up to the name – either she’ll find one someday or end up bitter from her experiences).

      Isn’t it possible for Arya to find happiness without being romantically attached to anyone? She could be a kickass aunt someday, and I’m sure she’d love her nephews and nieces, teaching them everything she’s learned from her many teachers.

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    56. Ashara D:
      “This discussion has caused a lovely little scene to develop in my mind:
      ***
      A girl can dream, right?”

      Okay, your little scene got me imagining one too.

      ————-
      Sansa (to Arya): Our brother Jon is King. You’re a Princess. He will be here with Queen Daenerys tonight. I’m arranging a formal state dinner. Jon expects us to extend every courtesy to visiting royalty. The very survival of everyone in the North may depend on forging a successful alliance. It’s vital that we act dignified and make a good impression.

      Arya: What’s your point?

      Sansa: It will reflect poorly on House Stark – and the North – if you show up unkempt in your combat suit. Or engage in antics like spoon-flinging dessert at me.
      Here. I made this dress for you. (Holds it up.)

      Arya: No. That’s not me.

      Sansa: Shut up and try it on.

      Arya: It does feel nice…

      Sansa: Now go take a bath and come back here when you’re done.

      (Short time later; Bran’s spare wheelchair is in the room)

      Sansa: Put on your dress and sit down here. (Once Arya’s seated, Sansa looks at her, and shakes her head).
      I see I have my work cut out for me.

      Arya: What are you doing to my hair!

      Sansa: It’s called “brushing.” Now close your eyes and don’t move.

      Arya: Why are you touching my face!

      Sansa: Just a little touch up. You’re a lucky girl – I wish I had your eyebrows….Almost done. Just a smidgeon here, a dab there…Damn. I must be a f*cking wizard.
      (Spins chair around)
      Now open your eyes.

      Arya (whispering to Sansa: “We have a visitor. She’s very pretty.”) Welcome to Winterfell, Lady….

      Sansa: You idiot! That’s you! You’re looking in a mirror.

      Arya: You’re lying! …. Aren’t you?

      Sansa: Didn’t they have cosmetics and mirrors at Murder School?

      Arya: No need. We’d just peel off an old face and put on a new one.

      Sansa: Maybe you should keep that to yourself tonight, okay? And please try not to refer to yourself in the third person with an indefinite article. You’re not “A Girl.” You’re Arya Stark of Winterfell.

      (Bran wheels into room)

      Bran: I’m having a vision. I’m in the past. Here in Winterfell. In this very room. I see our Aunt Lyanna. She was so beautiful.

      Sansa (exasperated): Birdbrain, that’s your sister Arya! You’re not time traveling.

      Bran: (Jaw drops; rendered speechless)

      Sansa: You know, Arya, you’ll probably get along swimmingly with the Dragon Queen. Word is Daenerys Targaryen is a great warrior, rides a dragon bigger than Aegon’s, is very beautiful, …and has a fabulous wardrobe.
      She’s coming with a big entourage. Who knows? There might be some nice boys, and people we didn’t think we’d ever see again.

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    57. landstander,

      But wouldn’t it be GRRM-style subverting the tropes if the beautiful, romantic, politically-minded sister (Sansa) ends up an old maid, unmarried… uhm, unremarried, whatever. The maiden aunt to Arya’s half a dozen children. The Stark heirs, maybe?

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    58. Ten Bears,

      Haha, I really like your fanfic writeup. It presents Sansa as nice and cooperative, doing her best for Arya. I’m not sure about the make-up (how much make-up medieval high-born ladies would use) but brushing the hair and doing something about it is definitely on point. Hey, they’re sisters. Very different but still sisters. Arya won’t mind her sister pampering her this way.

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    59. Arya’s ending will be more bitter than sweet. I don’t think Arya could ever find happiness as a lady, she’s far too messed up now for that.

      Arya is going to die, I think, but she will live out a second life in Nymeria. Show Arya may reunite with Nymeria again, as I think Nymeria and her pack will come north. Don’t be surprised if she finally starts having the wolf dreams in the first episode.

      Gendry being legitimized… I can’t see Dany doing it, however nice that may be. At one point I thought she had nothing to fear and would do it but I don’t think it will happen without Jon or Tyrion counseling to do it.

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    60. Agree Dany has no reason to legitimise Gendry but equally it’s unlikrly she will end up ruling. Jon on the other end I believe will legitimise him and has reason to do so, also watching season 7 again it’s clear to me Jon will rule in the end.

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    61. Where was Gendry in the last episode? He wasn’t at King’s Landing for the parlay. And he wasn’t at Eastwatch when the Ice Dragon rolled through? Last we saw, he marathon ran to Eastwatch but then nothing.

      His role to play could be less to do with romance or political alliances. They could have brought him back because his roll is to make the sickest dragon glass weapons for the war.

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    62. Jon Snowed,

      Agreed.

      Before Season 7 I thought Gendry’s return and legitimisation might be used as a means for Daenerys to rally the Stormlands to her cause and prove to the lords and the people of the Seven Kingdoms that she wasn’t out for revenge.

      But they’ve surely paired Gendry with Jon and highlighted this Ned/Robert 2.0 dynamic for a reason. I think the fact that they also had Jon and Theon reconcile, with Jon even affirming Theon’s Stark side, and eliminated not just Randyll but Dickon Tarly too, thereby elevating Sam’s position could be significant.

      I don’t see why they would be aligning these potentially key disciples behind Jon unless it’s to later support his claim to the throne.

      If he was going to die then none of this would matter.

      And if he’s going to share the throne with Daenerys then he already has enough clout (The North, The Vale and his own claim to the throne) to pull his weight in such a union. He doesn’t need to be buddying up with potential lords of The Stormlands, The Reach and The Iron Islands (who are already pledged to Dany) to raise his profile.

      If Jaime and/or Tyrion appeared to fall into line behind Jon as well in Season 8 then I think Jon’s rule would become a foregone conclusion.

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    63. Ten Bears,

      TB, your dialogues are almost as good as D&D’s! What an imagination–Sansa as mother hen, cosmetologist, and social secretary rolled into Lady of Winterfell. I hope Arya doesn’t flick a spoon at anyone except Cersei–the payload might be deadly. 🙂

      You’ve really tickled my funny bone with this and other recent dialogues, though that’s not good since my funny bone and a few others are ailing thanks to an accident. Thank you for the larfs. We’ll need more during the long Long Night.
      Hoping you’ll be at the Con in May–SRR
      PS. Arya and the mirror. Her only real mirror scene was probably key in her retaining her identity. In S6E6(?), backstage she’s is startled to see herself in a mirror on Lady Crane’s dressing table. Not for vanity, but for seeing who she truly is. It’s probably then she realises she’ll never be a murderer. Although she poisons the rum, moments later she knocks it from LC’s hand. Arya remembering her self is supported by the whole religio-philosophical tradition of mirrors revealing truth if you use them right. Scholars still discuss Socrates and his famous mantra, “Know thyself.” A mirror often symbolised this. (https://images.jet.com/md5/c628a91daa448318591bcda585df7eb2.1500)

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    64. Great article, I’m so glad you covered this theory! 🙂

      I can totally see Sansa rejecting the idea of marriage after all she’s been through. If Jon isn’t ruling the North at the end, she could rule Winterfell alone. It would be a really powerful end to her arc imo, and she could parallel Queen Elizabeth I as a badass single red-haired queen!

      Arya obviously wouldn’t be a domesticated lady all of a sudden, and her marriage to Gendry wouldn’t be a conventional one, but I really like the idea of them ending up together. That would be a really nice reversal of roles with Sansa from season 1, since the sisters are written as foils to one another.

      Their stories could be a “sweet” aspect of the series’ bittersweet ending (the “bitter” parts might be more for Jon, Dany, Cersei, and Jaime).

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    65. I think it will go something like, “Hey Sansa – you’re the Lady of Winterfell now. How about you marry King Robert’s REAL son, eh?”

      Sansa says, “Nope nope nope I’m picking my own husband, thanks.”

      Arya says, “However, I don’t hate this idea as much as you might think I would.”

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    66. I’ll never understand why people find the idea of Sansa becoming some sort of Elizabeth I “virgin queen” spinster a satisfactory ending to her arc.

      I think that’s possibly the worst ending she could have. The innocent, love-obsessed dreamer broken down to a cynical, loveless, childless loner by her traumas.

      No thanks.

      I think the middle ground, wherein she approaches marriage from a more selfless and realistic perspective, without having given up on building the sort of life her parents enjoyed would be a more fitting ending.

      As Lady of Winterfell she’d have her pick of suitors and, crucially, final say on who she married.

      Using marriage to her advantage and to that of House Stark would be an appropriate reflection of her character growth.

      Somewhere between Cersei and Catelyn.

      If anything, choosing to remain alone would contradict her character arc. Once upon a time she thought only about herself and not about the importance of family, Winterfell and good rulers. To choose to undermine the future of the Stark “pack” and deny The North a stable line of succession by not marrying and producing heirs would fail to reflect her growth.

      There are only limited circumstances in which I think we would see Sansa married or betrothed before the end of the show. But I don’t think they’ll leave the future of House Stark as a loose end, so I think they’ll at least imply that Sansa will be entertaining the idea of marriage.

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    67. Ramsay’s 20th Good Man,

      I wholeheartedly agree with you.

      Sansa always dreamed of romance, albeit the unrealistic romance of song. Perhaps like you, I don’t think personal growth means completely giving up on one’s childhood fantasies, even unrealistic ones. More often than not, it means coming to an understanding about what aspects of those fantasies are actually attainable in the real world, and what aspects aren’t (and why it was unrealistic to dream of them in the first place). Sansa is suffering from an epic case of PTSD, and any man who chooses to spend his life with her will need to deal with the profound trauma of her marriages to both Joffrey and Ramsay. But that doesn’t mean she’s given up on the ideas of love, companionship, or even physical affection; as chilly as she can be, even to her family, her very human need for the latter were palpably seen in her embraces with Theon, Jon, Bran, and Arya, all of which she initiated.

      Sansa dreamed of a golden, handsome prince, but in real life discovered that the only men outside of her own family who truly protected her were men viewed as monsters by most of the outside world—the Hound and the Imp. (As an aside, I’ll add that I’ve always loved Sean C.’s analysis of the Sansa/Hound relationship in the books, where he argues that Sansa was the catalyst for the Hound’s profound transformation from nihilist to someone who actually gives a shit. Of course, Sean explains it in a far better way.) To be honest, despite the age difference between her and both of them—and of course, in the show it’s far greater than in the books—I wouldn’t be upset if she ultimately married one of them. She has seen the best of both men, and each, in his own very different way, respects her. Even though it’s never explicitly stated, while Sandor berated her for her naïveté, insistence on keeping to courtly manners, and inability to look killers in the face, paradoxically those very qualities are what inspired both his desire to protect her and the changes in his own self. On Tyrion’s part, his exchanges with Jon reveal that he never underestimated her intelligence, and it was important for him that Jon know that he did not consummate the marriage against her will.

      Imho, Tyrion and Sansa could be formidable together, especially if there’s an iota of physical attraction—on Tyrion’s part, for the woman she has become, far removed from the child he was forced to marry, and on Sansa’s part, for a brilliant, witty man who, beyond behind merely kind to her, did his best to protect her from both the emotional and the physical damage wrought by his monstrous nephew.

      (Sorry, I didn’t mean to write such a long post.)

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    68. Ramsay’s 20th Good Man,

      Wolfish,

      I agree with you both in many aspects. I wouldn’t want an icy Elizabethan-like Lady of Winterfell… but, contrary to Wolfish, I wouldn’t want her to (re)marry Tyrion or to get paired with the Hound. Sansa’s interaction with the Hound was important for initiating a profound change in the Hound. But no “romance” between the two is needed now. The Hound has changed and so has Sansa. He has become someone who actually cares and she has hardened herself and got rid of her naïveté. And as for Sansa and Tyrion: they have both developed a sort of camaraderie, with Sansa appreciating Tyrion’s kindness and with Tyrion appreciating Sansa’s courage. Mutual respect is all I want for this pair.

      What I would like for Sansa is for her to freely decide who she marries. As Ramsay’s 20th Good Man has correctly pointed out, Sansa will be the head of House Stark and she will have to further the family line. It will be on her to produce more Starks. If she marries someone from a powerful House, her kids will have to carry their father’s name (i.e. if she marries Tyrion, her children will be Lannisters… and no Lannister should ever rule the North.) However, if she marries someone from a minor House or even a lowborn, at least she can negotiate for her kids to carry her family name.

      My point is: I want Sansa to be the one deciding her own (post-apocalyptic) future.

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    69. A Dornish Tyrell:

      As Ramsay’s 20th Good Man has correctly pointed out, Sansa will be the head of House Stark and she will have to further the family line. It will be on her to produce more Starks. If she marries someone from a powerful House, her kids will have to carry their father’s name (i.e. if she marries Tyrion, her children will be Lannisters… and no Lannister should ever rule the North.) However, if she marries someone from a minor House or even a lowborn, at least she can negotiate for her kids to carry her family name.

      This is a good point, and also another strike against pairing Sansa with Gendry. Yes, I know he’s not a Baratheon now. But as much as Sansa has grown and matured, she’d still never look twice at a mere bastard blacksmith regardless of his parentage. He wouldn’t even be under consideration unless he were legitimized, and at that point, the same issue you noted above would arise. Their kids would be Baratheons, not Starks. Never mind that personality-wise, they’d be a terrible match, and story-wise it would be a horrible thing to pair Arya’s friend (maybe more) with her sister.

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    70. A Dornish Tyrell,

      Oh, I definitely want and expect Sansa to choose her own husband, should there be one. In regards to either Tyrion or the Hound, it’s not so much “wanting” to see her with one of them, but more a matter of somewhat expecting it and knowing that I wouldn’t be upset if it happened. I don’t see Sansa being swept off her feet, and don’t think she’d be capable of entertaining such fantasies any more; furthermore, as bothersome as it might be to us (especially given our modern sensibilities) to see her paired with a man who remembers her as a child, they are also men who, having known some of the horror she has endured, would be far better prepared to deal with the gritty personal reality of being married to a woman who has endured marital rape and both physical and psychological torture.

      As an aside: I apologize to anyone who might find the tenor of these thoughts disturbing. I realize Sansa is a fictional character, and I’m giving a hell of a lot of thought to the future marital happiness of a fictional character; but I happen to know from very, very painful family history that rape can have lifelong repercussions not only for the survivor, but in different ways, for the people close to him/her as well, even into succeeding generations. For many of us, works of fiction provide a powerful (and sometimes healing) means through which we grapple with very real-world situations. While Sansa is not a character with whom I can “relate” most of the time, she’s one to whom I’ve given much thought in terms of how she could possibly find fulfillment or even happiness after all she has endured.

      trufaxx,

      Agreed. Uuuggghhh, I hate the idea of Sansa and Gendry.

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    71. Gayeld,

      “(Side note: he does not, and it’s a lucky miss as she is likely King Robert’s bastard as well.)”
      I’m just saying that we don’t know what happened downstairs….maybe he DID have sex with Bella…..we don’t know

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    72. Stark Raven’ Rad,

      Thanks for reminding me of that scene with Arya and the mirror. I found it very powerful at the time but had quite forgotten it by now. Yes, it was a very important moment.

      Thanks also to other commenters on interesting discussions on Arya and Sansa – it’s a very good point that Sansa would need to marry a suitable man, maybe a younger son of an important house, to keep her name and continue the Stark line.

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    73. Stark Raven’ Rad,

      Thank you! (*blushes*). I have to say, I was inspired by that wonderful scene between Arya and Sansa near the end of Episode 7, including this exchange:

      S: “…You’re the strongest person I know.”
      A: “I believe that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to ne.
      S: “Well, don’t get used to it. You’re still very strange and annoying.”

      Like real sisters: sentimentality served with a side order of snark.

      (I thought Sophie was really good – in fact, the best she ever was – in E7. Sansa as a character finally came into her own…I think.)

      I do believe the sisters are going to have to be united and 100% supportive when Jon comes back and tells weasels like Lord “I Changed My Mind” Glover that he gave up the North’s sovereignty to his hot new Targ girlfriend. It was the right decision for the survival of his people, but still a tough sell.

      Also, after the Sansa vs. Jon and Sansa vs. Arya melodramas, I’m looking forward to the two sisters complementing (and complimenting) each other. Sansa assuming a nurturing role would be part of that.

      Anyway, I’m still trying to retrieve and post from my old phone an alternative LF murder & treason trial scene….

        Quote  Reply

    74. Stark Raven’ Rad,

      PS I liked your obsevations about the mirror(s). I was thinking about that scene when Arya saw her reflection while backstage for the Lady Crane hit. (I would’ve liked more Lady C – Arya scenes; the two actresses really clicked together.)

        Quote  Reply

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