Each week, Fawkes’ resident Maester, Matt Atwell, will be taking all of your Game of Thrones questions, You can ask them in the comments section below, at our Facebook page, via email at FawkesDotCom@gmail.com or through twitter @FawkesCulture & @Matwellsays.
Max asks, “After all that training, why is Arya like ‘nahh this faceless (wo)man thing isn’t for me’? Can’t Jagen H’ghar easily hunt her down and kill her? Can Arya still change faces?”
Well, to be fair, Arya was never really all that committed to her training until the very end of it.
Arya always had great difficulty giving up her Stark name. She joined the House of Black and White so that she could her enemies, which for the most part are also Stark enemies. She never consciously chose to serve the Many Faced God and do his bidding. She continually struggled have no name. We saw this time after time, especially in her gruesome murder of Meryn Trant in the final episode, which brought on her temporary blind spell.
It wasn’t until she was blind that Arya finally came around to truly being no one and fully committing to her training. It was this commitment that led Jagen H’ghar to give a girl a second chance, much to the Waif’s disapproval. However, beginning in Episode 5, when Arya first sees the mummers perform “The Bloody Hand”, it is evident that she hasn’t totally locked away her days as a Stark. I mentioned in my recap for “The Door” that it was clear in her questioning of Jagen that she was still holding on to a Stark-like code of ethics and still had doubts about fulfilling the wishes of the Many Faced God.
In the end, her doubts outweighed her commitment to the House of Black and White and Arya is unable to kill an innocent woman just because of another’s jealousy.
But keep in mind, for Jagen H’ghar to giver Arya a second chance means that her training had been completed. She is officially a trained assassin. While Jagen could be hundreds, and possibly even thousands of years old, with all kinds of tricks up his sleeve, Arya is no easy target.
It is also important to keep in mind the fact that Jagen clearly has some affinity for the girl, as he is visibly disappointed when Arya fails to follow through on her orders. He initially has sent the Waif to find and kill Arya. If the Waif fails, will Jagen himself seek her out or will he be content to watch Arya from afar? I’m not sure, partially because the show did a poor job of ever really explaining the complex and ancient ideology of the Faceless Men. I get it, death must pay for life. I understand why it was created. But where does their power hail from? What is their end goal? Surely it isn’t simply fulfilling the wishes of randos praying for death. It is clear that it isn’t in the A Song of Ice and Fire novels. But, who knows? Maybe this is another casualty of the show’s (necessary) truncation of the novels.
As for Arya’s ability to change faces, my bet is that she still can. Again, she fulfilled her training and learned how to do so. Unless the magic and tools required to change your face cannot be replicated/used outside of the House of Black and White (again something the show should have brought up by now), there is no reason to believe she’s lost her ability to. After all, we’ve Jagen H’ghar change his face and appearance on the fly in Westeros so let’s assume Arya has learned to do the same.