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Consider This Theory About Arya Stark’s Next Target (Season 8 Episodes 1-3 Spoilers!)

Leah Rachel von Essen

Senior Contributor

By day, Leah Rachel von Essen is the editor-in-chief of Chicago Booth Magazine at the University of Chicago. By night, she reviews genre-bending fiction for Booklist, and writes regularly as a senior contributor at Book Riot. Her blog While Reading and Walking has over 10,000 dedicated followers over several social media outlets, including Instagram. She writes passionately about books in translation, chronic illness and bias in healthcare, queer books, twisty SFF, and magical realism and folklore. She was one of a select few bookstagrammers named to NewCity’s Chicago Lit50 in 2022. She is an avid traveler, a passionate fan of women’s basketball and soccer, and a lifelong learner. Twitter: @reading_while

Hey all. It’s me. Your friendly Game of Thrones theorist. Now, you’re going to see some spoilers ahead, okay? So don’t keep going if you haven’t seen episodes 1, 2, and 3!! of Game of Thrones season 8. All right?

So here we go. Our little murder child, Arya Stark, now grown into a full murder woman, has come through and killed the Night King. That should be enough? Maybe she can retire from being a murder woman? But many fans noticed that Melisandre had something very specific to say about Arya-as-assassin.

M: “The Lord brought him back for a purpose. Now that purpose have been served.”
A: “I know you.”
M: “And I know you.”
A: “You said we’d meet again.”
M: “And here we are at the end of the world.”
A: “You said I’d shut many eyes forever. You were right about that too.”
M: “Brown eyes. Green Eyes. And blue eyes.”

There’s a lot to unpack there. But most of it frankly is about the Night King, and he’s ice now. So let’s unpack one part specifically. Who is the #1 person on Arya Stark’s list, who also just happens to have green eyes?

That’s right, our favorite super-evil wine-mom villain, Cersei Lannister.

It’s possible that Arya will waltz on in to King’s Landing and just take Cersei out, right? We’ve seen that she’s capable of tremendous things just through her ability to become a shadow alone—her ability to distract, to play off of how people underestimate her. And it’s worth noting that from her days training with Syrio Forel, Arya knows how to get into Cersei’s castle through secret tunnels and sewers.

But frankly, we shouldn’t underestimate Cersei’s intelligence, and I doubt Arya will. Cersei assumes everyone is out to kill her, and if she sees Arya Stark, it will be a stab-on-sight policy. She’ll have guards on the tunnels—any she knows about—especially since that’s how Tyrion escaped. And she’ll be suspicious of anyone she meets.

Plus, there’s a huge issue with Arya killing Cersei. Namely, the prophecy, which is 90% fulfilled (a review: Cersei will not marry her crush of the time (Prince Rhaegar), but will be queen, but will not have the king’s children, and while he has many children, she will have only three, “gold will be their crowns, gold their shrouds”). The final line of the prophecy tells us that Cersei will be killed by “the little brother.” “Valonqar” in Valyrian. People have floated that this means Jaime or Tyrion. Less likely, but feasible, are other people who are famously the “little brother,” such as the Hound.

But my sister and I have had a theory for a while. It seems like we haven’t seen the full extent of Arya’s skills since she returned to Winterfell. I personally love that: she has kept her skills very close to her chest, a very wise move. Until the battle began, Brienne, Sansa, and Podrick were the only ones who knew how good she was—remember Jon asking her if she’d ever used Needle? and how she didn’t even show him her Valyrian steel dagger, even when he bragged about his own Valyrian sword?—and even now, Jon, Daenerys, and Tyrion, among other key players, are ignorant of just how good she is.

But even against the Night King, we haven’t seen one specific skill out of her for quite a bit: she hasn’t changed faces recently.

What if Arya kills Cersei with Jaime’s face on?

This would fulfill the prophecy, because technically Cersei would be killed “by Jaime.” Also, if Arya is the Prince Who Was Promised, that prophecy is in Valyrian, and it might explain something that has long puzzled fans: why the witch called Cersei’s future murderer “valonqar” in Valyrian, instead of just saying “little brother” in Cersei’s own language.

There’s one other thing to note. Maisie Williams is right-handed, but she learned to sword fight left-handed. Because Arya is left-handed. That’s important because of commitment to a character, right? But also, if Arya went in against Cersei, she would have to have the details right. And Jaime just happens to have lost his right hand. So Jaime is now left-handed too.

If you liked this theory, check out my endorsement for Sansa Stark for the Iron Throne, which includes a couple predictions about people Arya might kill. Also check out Rioters’ votes for who will take the Throne!

What do you think? Are you in on the theory? Let me know in the comments!

(Note: please do not share anything in the comments that you learned from watching or reading leaks from future episodes. It ruins it for the rest of us.)