By displaying a fierce determination to go against convention, Arya Stark has left viewers spellbound with several standout moments in the HBO series Game of Thrones, based on best-selling books by George R. R. Martin. A daughter of the Lord of Winterfell, she is stubbornly independent and headstrong – and rarely without Needle, the sword she so skillfully uses to display her impressive fighting skills. As the fifth season of GoT gets underway (check here for listings), here are five of the most awesome badass Arya Stark moments we’ve seen…so far:
After Arya joins efforts to thwart the attack on Yoren, she loses Needle when Polliver knocks her over and takes it from her. He ends up getting his just desserts for the murder of Lommy Greenhands, not to mention payback for saying that he’ll use the sword to pick his teeth, when Arya, with some help from Sandor “The Hound” Clegane, gets Needle back and kills Polliver with it at the Inn at the Crossroads. The “badassness” of this moment is fairly clear, especially the irony of Arya killing Polliver with the sword he stole from her. (Season 4, Episode 1)
Shortly after receiving Needle as a gift from her brother, Arya gets back to her training exercises as she continues to hone her abilities with the sword. After stumbling upon some dungeons, Arya overhears talk of a possible war. She follows the men she overheard and discovers a passage out of the castle. In an effort to get back in, she displays her feisty side on a grand scale by giving the guards a piece of her mind, confronting and threatening them to get back into the castle. How badass is that? (Season 1, Episode 5)
In a lighter badass moment from the series, Arya is having a discussion with her father about Bran, who won’t be a knight since he’s paralyzed. Arya goes on to ask her father if she can become a knight. Amused that a daughter of his would ask such a question, Eddard laughs and tells her that she’ll marry a lord and have children who may grow up to become lords and kings – assuming that they’re males. “That is not my destiny,” a defiant Arya replies. It’s a badass moment because such an attitude was unheard of in the time period in which the series takes place. (Season 1, Episode 4)
In the Riverlands, Arya and The Hound continue to make their way eastward. After mercifully killing a seriously wounded man they come across, the two are attacked by Biter and Rorge. The Hound kills Biter and, after learning that the other man is named Rorge – a name on her “death wishlist” – stabs him directly in the heart. It’s a badass moment because Arya showed no fear or hesitation. In her mind, it was part of her purpose. It’s also a moment that’s in line with Martin’s style of not falling in line with convention by having a strong female who doesn’t let gender dictate her actions. (Season 4, Episode 7)
Some moments are badass because what you expect to happen doesn’t happen. Arya makes a decision that seems to go against her apparent desire to become a lean, mean killing machine when she refuses Jaqen H’ghar’s offer to go with him to learn his killing abilities. Instead, she takes an iron coin that he gives her with “Valar Morghulis” on it, a phrase she is told to say if she should need to find him again in the future. (Season 2, Episode 10)
All of these moments, so expertly acted out by Maisie Williams, whether involving some type of physical action not characteristic of women of the time period or making decisions that seem to have no rhyme or reason (including the decision not to mercifully kill a mortally wounded Hound at the end of season four), show that Arya Stark is a total badass on many levels. She is clearly her own person with all of her motivations for doing what she does yet unknown to Game of Thrones viewers.