By Fluids, Guest Contributor:
What have been your fondest wishes for Arya Stark since Ned’s execution? Mine have been for Arya to:
- Become a fantastic fighter (when she is fully realized)
- Exact revenge on all those who have wronged her and her family
- Reunite with her family
- Be an efficient, accurate, shape-shifting, discreet, mysterious killer. Cool and calm in the face of danger, like Jaqen H’Ghar
Can Arya change her appearance at will? No… Is Arya a fantastic fighter? No… Is she mysterious? No way…
As of Season 6, Episode 8, I think Arya is at best a good fighter with a tougher exterior for lying about who she is in order to take on new identities and achieve her avenging goals. The journey to get to the Faceless Men over the past five seasons hasn’t been as mysterious, magical, or interesting as I think it could have been. Why is that?
There have been sketchy story-lines that lack details to really define the mystique, magic, power, and the unemotionally non-subjective nature behind the gift of death the Faceless Men bring to the people of this world. If they had just added more details Arya would exude some of this mystique herself and better define who she has been dealing with in her journey. Instead as viewers we are left to piece together what we think the show runners are trying to convey after we watch, not during. For example:
- Who really is Jaqen? It’s a little vague. Is he really no one? It appears so. Is he just a face or personae all the Faceless Men have been using? Yes and chances are Arya has dealt with at least three Faceless Men in the series using his identity: One that was in Westeros that pointed her to Braavos; one that was in the House of Black and White that drank poison and one that switched from using the Waif’s face to Jaqen’s in Season 5, Episode 9. So I don’t think Jaqen had a plan all along from season to season for training and mentoring Arya. That could only happen if Jaqen was a person and he’s not. I think Arya has interacted with a lot of Faceless Men in her journey.
- Who really is the Waif? Is she a Faceless person too? It’s vague. When another Faceless man using Jaqen’s face drank the poison (S5E9), she either was the Waif in training taking on Jaqen’s face or it was another Faceless man who had been using the face of the Waif changing it to Jaqen’s. I tend to believe she’s a Faceless person in training.
- The Faces and the Hall of Faces: How come they have not deteriorated in quality over time? After all, they were someone’s faces before they were collected. Have they been transformed by some type of magic so they don’t deteriorate and also allow the users to change their body size and shape as well as hug naturally to their faces? If there is magic, why haven’t we seen Arya learn that or use it? The waif’s face Arya left in the House of Black and White didn’t look processed like others do. It was bloody, so I can only surmise she didn’t learn how to process faces to remove them properly for future wear. Perhaps learning how to use magic with faces requires some time? Also, a face appears to be a persona; not just a face. The wearer not only sounds like and has the appearance of that person, they also have their mannerisms. I theorize that they may also have the memories of anyone who has worn that face; including its original owner. If that is the case, where are all those memories stored? Perhaps the faces form a network themselves feeding experiences back to the collective conscience in the Hall of Faces like the Weirwood Trees of Westeros? Perhaps each faceless person learns to tap into that knowledge to achieve the stealth they are known for when they use a face?
- Jaqen’s goal with Arya: Was it to put Arya through the Faceless process to see if she could be Faceless for her own cause or to help her figure out who she truly is? I tend to believe they put Arya through the Faceless process; lives and deaths always have to balance each other as part of that. Arya gave a face that was owed so they are even and she could go free. Since she originally told them she wanted to be “no one,” they tested her to make sure she was “no one.” After she passed, she decided not to be one of them and they don’t seem to hold that against her. I don’t believe that has to do with any sort of past adventures or history with Jaqen, since she’s dealt with many faceless persons. The waif held things against Arya because she truly wasn’t a Faceless person yet.
- Arya’s goals: Did Arya put on an act saying she was “no one” just to learn how to fight better or learn how to wear faces? So she could plow through her list faster? I believe so. Somehow she learned to lie convincingly enough to avoid death from drinking the pilgrim’s water and regain her sight in the process.
- Jaqen’s goal with the Waif: Was she being tested to become a Faceless person or was she already one herself? I believe she was being tested and she failed and it cost her not only her face but also her life. Was that made clear? Not at all. They could have had Jaqen say the Waif didn’t pass her test, however a girl’s debt has been repaid (with Arya providing the face.)
- Rules for being a Faceless person: Do you have to be objective about who you kill? Do you have to be subtle with how you kill someone so you don’t get caught? Can you hold personal grudges against anyone or want to kill someone specifically? I think you do have to be objective and unemotional about killing because if you are “no one,” how could you hold a grudge? You don’t exist to anyone, right? Getting caught means death.
Do you think Arya possesses any of the Faceless Men’s qualities besides changing her identity, lying and fighting? Will she improve the skills she has now? Can she actually wear faces? Remember Jaqen said only truly “no one” can wear faces. Share your thoughts below!