This article contains SPOILERS for both HBO’s Game of Thrones and George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels.
A lot happened in the Season 6 finale of HBO’s Game of Thrones that is still being talked about, analyzed, and compared to the book series. While it’s impossible to please everyone, this season did an excellent job when it came to fan service and advancing the plot to its inevitable conclusion. Unfortunately, with only a handful of episodes left–as was recently confirmed by showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss–there probably isn’t time to wrap everything up in a satisfying way and include every nook and cranny from the books.
So it’s with a heavy heart that I’m coming to the realization that Lady Stoneheart will probably never make an appearance on the show. I thought that, perhaps, the necessary pieces of the puzzle were aligning for an appearance by the character in Season 7, but an emerging fan theory is starting to look more likely. (I’ll assume you’ve noticed our spoiler warning and are continuing to read of your own accord.) Basically, the theory goes that the show’s version of Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) will be a bit of a stand-in for the fan-favorite character, Lady Stoneheart.
For the uninitiated, Lady Stoneheart is actually the resurrected Catelyn Stark, who was brought back to life after her violent and bloody death at the Red Wedding. In the books, she was dead about three days before shuffling her ill-fitting mortal coil back on, but in the TV show she’s been dead much longer. Unless someone revived her along the way and we just haven’t seen it yet, Catelyn Stark is likely long gone. Arya, however, has recently gone through some dramatic transformations of her own, ones that seem to parallel those of Lady Stoneheart, suggesting that Arya’s arc is a sort of merging of the two. Let’s get into it.
Catelyn Stark was infamously killed at the Red Wedding by Black Walder, who slits her throat. After a day and a half, her naked body is then dumped into the Green Fork river.
Though Arya never technically died, she’s been reborn in water a number of times: She’s sailed back and forth across the Braavosi sea and survived drinking from the well of the House of Black and White to regain her sight. After being brutally and repeatedly stabbed by the Waif, Arya jumps into the river to escape.
Catelyn’s body is pulled ashore by Nymeria, Arya’s Direwolf, who has been roaming the Riverlands as the alpha in a pack of wolves and wild dogs. There, she’s revived by Beric Dondarrion, who performs the “last kiss,” essentially exchanging his life for hers. However, it’s not a complete revival as Catelyn still retains unhealed wounds and the appearance of a water-logged corpse.
Though Arya doesn’t appear to actually die, she does suffer mortal wounds that require healing from Lady Crane, an actress in a theatre troupe that Arya was once tasked with assassinating. A little milk of the poppy, some bandages, and bed rest make Arya good as new and ready to kill again.
Now dubbed Lady Stoneheart, Catelyn soon begins leading the Brotherhood without Banners as they systematically hunt down members of the Frays, Lannisters, and Boltons in order to slake her thirst for revenge after the Red Wedding. Lady Stoneheart, in a manner befitting her new name, makes little distinction between those guilty in earnest, and those guilty by association.
After dispatching the Waif (and offering her face to the Many-Faced God), Arya returns to Westeros in disguise and assassinates Lothar Fray and Black Walder Rivers off-screen. In a nod to “Titus Andronicus” and earlier moments in Game of Thrones, Arya bakes the Frays into a pie, which she feeds to their lord, Walder Fray. She soon reveals her true self to him, just before she slits his throat.
Now that last bit is what really drives home the idea that Arya might be a stand-in for Lady Stoneheart. She’s got a few names left on her list, which still includes Cersei Lannister, Ilyn Payne, Gregor “the Mountain” Clegane, Sandor “the Hound” Clegane (though he’s probably forgiven by Arya at this point), Melisandre, Beric Dondarrion, and Thoros of Myr. Conveniently, these folks are all split into only two groups, with Cersei, Ilyn and Gregor in King’s Landing, and the rest hanging around the Riverlands before heading north to fight the White Walkers; Melisandre is currently headed south from Winterfell and is rapidly running out of allies.
With the Hound and the Brotherhood without Banners having been established more recently as “good” characters in this world, and owing to the fact that Lady Stoneheart was their leader in the books, it’s likely that Arya will be focusing her newfound assassin skills on taking out Cersei, Ilyn, and Gregor. (Arya vs Gregor would be a helluva thing to see…) If the Game of Thrones showrunners want to be particularly cheeky, they could even find a way for Arya to wear her dead mother’s face as she exacts her revenge, thus completing the Lady Stoneheart crossover.
Do you think Arya will continue her single-minded pursuit of slaughtering everyone on her list without regard for larger consequences? Do you think there’s a sliver of a chance that the real Lady Stoneheart will show up? Let us know in the comments below!
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