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With only six episodes remaining in Game of Thrones, the jury’s still out on exactly how some of the show’s most beloved figures will exit the scene — including Arya Stark, the youngest daughter of Eddard and Catelyn Stark, whose quest for vengeance has been her No. 1 motivator all series long.
Over the course of seven seasons and counting, Arya has gone to great lengths to avenge her family, to make sure that everyone in Westeros and beyond understands the full extent of those chilling words: “The North remembers.” But the Arya who plucks out the eyes of Meryn Trant in season five and slices the throat of Petyr Baelish in season seven is a far cry from the Arya we meet early on in season two, fresh from watching her father’s execution in King’s Landing, and fresh from her very first kill: a stable boy she skewers with Needle.
In season two’s third episode, “What Is Dead May Never Die,” Arya takes a moment to confide in her current protector, Yoren of the Night’s Watch, about having trouble sleeping with so many new memories of death swimming in her head. For his part, Yoren knows a thing or two about living with violence and vengeance in his heart and mind. He tells Arya about the man who killed his brother once upon a time — a brother he can hardly visualize anymore, but a killer he can never forget.
“Willem, the lad’s name was,” says Yoren. “He was a nice looking boy. He had good white teeth, blue eyes, one of those dimpled chins all the girls like. I would think about him when I was working, when I was drinking, when I was having a shit. It got to the point where I would say his name every night before I went to bed: Willem, Willem, Willem. A prayer almost. One day, Willem came riding back into town. I buried an ax so deep into Willem’s skull they had to bury him with it. Willem’s horse got me to the Wall, and I’ve been wearing black ever since. That’ll help you sleep, eh?”
Maybe not. Moments after Yoren’s story, a group of Lannister loyalists converges upon Arya’s band of travelers, and all hell breaks loose — a chaotic battle that ends in Yoren’s death. But before his bloody demise, the story Yoren tells Arya reveals the horrible price of vengeance. In killing the man who killed his brother, Yoren bought himself a lifetime of service to the Night’s Watch, a decision that would ultimately lead to his own violent end.
Throughout Game of Thrones, Arya has learned much from many masters: swordplay from Syrio Forel, self-preservation from Sandor Clegane, stealth tactics from Jaqen H’Ghar. But did she learn the cost of vengeance from her short time with Yoren? The trail of bodies Arya has left in her wake is more than enough of an answer — a pile of corpses that should leave fans very worried about Arya’s ultimate place in the heap when Game of Thrones draws to an end.
Arya’s fate is one of many topics discussed this week on “Winter Was Here,” the Game of Thrones rewatch podcast collaboration between The Hollywood Reporter and Post Show Recaps. This week, hosts Rob Cesternino and Josh Wigler discuss “What Is Dead May Never Die,” with topics including:
• The foolhardiness of Westeros‘ “wisest” men, like Maester Luwin and Lord Commander Mormont;
• The ramifications of Theon Greyjoy’s declaration of loyalty to the Iron Islands;
• The spectacular sequence in which Tyrion Lannister plays Pycelle, Littlefinger and Varys like violins;
• An early sign that foreshadows poor Hodor’s final fate;
• And more!
Listen to the full episode of the podcast in the player below.
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