Arya Stark: what next for Game Of Thrones' most popular character?

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After this week's Game Of Thrones there's a new chapter beginning for Maisie Williams' Arya Stark, and with it a load more burning questions. Here are a few that may be bothering you – and some possible answers...

What happened between Arya and The Waif?

Game of Thrones - Arya & Waif

With A Girl’s face now nailed to the wall in the House Of Black And White, The Waif’s story seems to be over. An acolyte of the Many-Faced God, she was Arya’s instructor in the ways of the Faceless Men. She was something of a hard taskmaster too, although there’s no arguing that her methods were effective in strengthening Arya’s resolve and her chops as a fighter. Arya’s being temporarily struck blind for a while as a punishment for her transgressions means she’s now even able to fight in the dark: something that finally gave Arya the upper hand when she decided she didn’t want to be No One after all.

Is Arya now a Faceless Man?

Game Of Thrones Season 6 Episode 3

On the face of it (pun intended), no, not officially, but her testing time in the House Of Black And White has certainly honed some mad skillz. She can even do taxing parkour with multiple stab wounds in her abdomen.

That said, the House and its denizens are nothing if not enigmatic, and there’s always that niggling feeling that Arya is being played, and isn’t quite as in control of her own destiny as she thinks she is. The look Jaqen H’ghar gave her when she announced she was leaving was one that could easily have been interpreted as pride and/or approval, suggesting that in rebelling she’s actually done exactly what Jaqen intended, despite the appearances of recent weeks.

Will Jaqen H’ghar return?

Game of Thrones - Jaqen H'ghar

See above. To a great extent we don’t yet know the significance of Arya’s sojourn with the Faceless. Jaqen plays a long game (remember there were three whole seasons between Arya first meeting him and picking up with him again in Braavos), and we likely won’t find out what that game was for some time yet. But there’s every chance we’ll see him again. Arya may be done with the House Of Black And White, but the Many-Faced God may not be done with her.

Where is Arya going next?

Game Of Thrones Season 6 Episode 7

There are two options here. The first, as she stated at the end of the most recent episode, is that she’s ‘going home’, by which she presumably means Winterfell. Having been out of the loop for a good while, it seems unlikely that she knows it’s currently in the hands of the Boltons, which could make for some drama if that’s still the case when she gets there. Or if, by that time, Jon and Sansa have been successful in taking it back, we could be looking at a tearful family reunion and the start of an endgame in which House Stark claws itself back to power.

But there was that other business, in conversation with Lady Crane, where Arya mused on travelling west of Westeros into unmapped country. Nobody knows what lies beyond The Lonely Light (AKA The Iron Islands), and the only person we know of that ever attempted to find out – former King in the North Brandon the Shipwright – went missing.

Intriguingly, the prophecy given to Daenerys a while ago told her that she ‘must go East to go West’, presumably meaning that she needs to take the long way round the entire world to get back to Casterly Rock, rather than risking The Narrow Sea and Slaver’s Bay. If they’re travelling in opposite directions, might Arya and Daenerys run into each other?

Will Arya be reunited with Jon and Sansa?

Game of Thrones - Jon and Sansa reunion

See above: if she’s going back to Winterfell then yes, there’s every chance. Although Game Of Thrones is a chessboard where the pieces are constantly moving around, so by the time she gets there it’s equally likely that Jon and Sansa will be elsewhere again, for whatever reason.

Will Arya complete her kill list?

Game Of Thrones - Arya's Kill List

She’s not doing badly so far, although she hasn’t personally crossed off each entry. Joffrey Baratheon and Tywin Lannister died by other hands, but she has managed to put her own ticks by Meryn Trant, Polliver and Rorge. And she’d be forgiven for thinking The Hound was dead, except that we now know he isn’t. This leaves: The Hound; The Mountain (reanimated in invincible Terminator form by Qyburn – so that’s a challenge); Cersei; Walder Frey; Melisandre; Beric Dondarrion (already killed and resurrected multiple times); Thoros of Myr; and, for being Ned Stark’s executioner, Sir Ilyn Payne. Some of those are taller orders than others, and while many of them will certainly not make it to the Game of Thrones’ conclusion, it’s likely that they won’t all die by Arya’s hand.

Needle: why is Arya’s sword important?

Game of Thrones - Arya and Needle

Needle is important to Arya because Jon gave it to her, and it’s the single object she has left from her days at Winterfell. Huge sentimental value then, but it’s also of practical importance to her fighting style. Since she’s physically on the slight side she can’t compete with the hack-and-slash techniques of the more imposing knights. But for the Water Dance fencing style she’s adopted, emphasising speed and nimble agility, it’s perfect.

People sometimes ponder whether Needle is made of the legendary Valyrian Steel. It isn’t. It’s normal ‘Castle Forged’ steel from Winterfell, crafted by the Starks’ blacksmith Mikken.

Where is Arya’s direwolf?

Game of Thrones - Arya and Nymeria

Each of the Stark children were given a direwolf puppy during Game Of Thrones’ first season, but only Arya’s and Jon’s now survive (Rickon’s wolf Shaggydog was the most recent to meet a grisly fate this year). Ghost remains at the Wall with Jon, but we haven’t seen Nymeria, Arya’s wolf, for five years. It was Nymeria that bit Joffrey, after which, rightly fearing for her safety, Arya set her free (and Cersei had poor Lady, Sansa’s wolf, killed in her place). Nymeria is now, as far as we know, running wild somewhere in the Riverlands, and may yet have a part to play for good or ill.

In the books it’s more explicit, with Nymeria leading a pack of wolves around the forests off the King’s Road: fearsome wolves that have no fear of man (Nymeria is named after a badass warrior queen, incidentally). Again in the books, Arya begins to unwittingly warg into Nymeria’s mind during her time of blindness. Whether those elements will eventually reach the TV version remains to be seen.