On one level, this statement is definitely true. The Arya that Gendry (Joe Dempsie) meets in the dim yet sultry cellars of Winterfell is not the young woman he had traveled with years ago. She's hardened assassin now. But some tinfoil hat-wearing individuals believe that Arya never actually survived that battle with the Waif (Faye Marsay) in season 4, and that the woman we see is actually just the Waif in disguise. Before you write it off, though, check out the argument.
"A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" contains a major rite of passage for our girl (or our Waif). On the eve of a potentially life-threatening battle, Arya loses her virginity to her old friend, Gendry. Before the act, she takes off her tunic, revealing small thin scars snaking around her abdomen.
The combination of "Arya Stark" and "stomach wounds" should ring a bell. In season 6 of Game of Thrones, the Waif is ordered to kill Arya after she refuses to follow Jaqen H'gar's orders for the last time. A girl couldn't help but remain Arya Stark.
Wearing the face of an elderly woman, the Waif approaches Arya from behind and stabs her in the stomach repeatedly. We're talking gnarly stabs, here — it appeared that the Waif was motivated by her jealousy and dislike for Arya when fulfilling Jaqen's orders.
All in all, this is not the kind of injury a person readily recovers from. And yet: Not only does Arya recover being stabbed in the gut seven times, she manages to kill the Waif in a pitch-black room. After leaving Braavos, Arya goes on to tick off more names on her assassin list, and eventually makes her way to Winterfell.
Honestly, Arya's speedy recovery is hard to believe. So hard to believe, in fact, that Insider asked a doctor if Arya would survive the wounds. He gave a pointed response."What I don't believe is feasible is her ability to avoid any infection, and not be in complete septic shock from immersing in disgusting run-off city canal water with her open wounds," Dr. Jefferey Raunig told Insider. "Without being on a mega-dose of broad-spectrum IV antibiotics, she's as good as dead."
Which brings us back to the scars in this recent Game of Thrones scene. According to an Entertainment Weekly interview with Bryan Cogman, who wrote the episode, the scars are "from all of Arya's encounters, but most specifically when the Waif tried to kill her."
Here's the thing: The long, thin slices seen in the episode are nothing like the scars that would form from deep stabs in the middle of her abdomen, like the ones she got from the Waif (yes, we looked).
Game of Thrones skeptics have long suspected that Arya actually died in that fight in Braavos. Ever since, she's been the Waif wearing Arya's face. The scene with Gendry adds fuel to the theory.
Still, the scars can probably be chalked up to continuity errors. What the scars represent — Arya Stark's changed nature, how far she's come — is more important than their aesthetic being accurate. The years have changed her.
There are other obvious flaws to the "Arya is the Waif" theory. Namely, why would the Waif want to murder the Freys and fulfill Arya's list? If she were the Waif, why would she be happy to see Jon (Kit Harington), who, coincidentally, also was stabbed in the stomach during their long separation?
But for the four remaining episodes of Game of Thrones, we're going to indulge in theories — and study up on scar aesthetics.