Arya’s been a fighter since S1E1; not only in a sling-an-arrow-stick-em-with-the-pointy-end kind of way. Her journey has been one of vengeance, retribution towards those who harmed her loved ones. She’s fought to survive, stay sane, and figure out not only who she is but who she wants to be.
Arya knew deep down what she did not want to be – she was no lady in the way the world formed them. She was a fighter, truthteller, passion-fueled girl who saw her loved ones taken from her again and again – her father, mother, brothers, Gendry. She literally lost her sight when she took vengeance into her own hands and fought back. When death came for her, she ran through the streets of Braavos – wounded but determined. Though trained to be “No One”, the lone wolf made a choice in the House of Black and White: A girl HAS a name – A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell; and she’s going home.
Over the course of two seasons, Arya’s gained those she lost; reuniting with her family, her champions, and her best friend. She opened her heart and made herself vulnerable in ways she could control – still doubtful of letting others see her clearly. Where once she was resigned to a life of death and loss, Arya was suddenly faced (pun intended) with another path. One veiled by uncertainty and vengeance. Now, Arya Stark of House Winterfell has a chance to return home once more – where home ends up remains to be seen.
She’s spent the past seven seasons finding out who she is through what matters to her. She’s always been surrounded by advisors (some who betrayed her and others who offered clarity and reason among chaos) and now at the end of it all she’s got but one trusted ally left (two if you count her dragon).
Daenerys’ trusted inner circle grew as a result of deep respect and belief. She saw those who were tortured and imprisoned as people worthy of her help – and freedom. She believed, and destiny confirmed, that she was the one to save them all. Jorah, Missandei, Grey Worm, Tyrion, and Jon all stood at her side because she’d earned their respect and love. One by one they’ve been taken from her, either through death or perceived betrayal. Her actions in S8E5 were ones of a woman whose world crumbled before her – alone and deceived by destiny. Everything she fought for and those who fought in her name told the story of a brave woman destined to rule – to rid the Seven Kingdoms of the tyranny that’s plagued them. Never do I believe she ever thought that her choices would lead her to become that which she fought against.
QUEENS OF THE ASHES
While Arya’s journey has been one of vengeance, Daenerys’ was justice to those who committed unspeakable acts. When faced with death, Arya chose life. Daenerys chose vengeance. They have been wounded (physically, emotionally, and mentally), burned (literally in Daenerys’ case), and threatened by those who deemed them weak. Time after time, they stood back up. They rose from the ashes and kept moving. These two complex, flawed fighters have been on mirror journeys – how their stories end I do not know. But I will most definitely be watching!
**DISCLAIMER: No endorsement by anyone associated with GAME OF THRONES is implied.**