Warning: The following contains spoilers for Game of Thrones’ “The Last of the Starks.”
A girl knows who she is. Arya Stark has never allowed anyone to tell her what to do or how to live her life. From the very first season of Game of Thrones, Arya has known that she doesn’t fit into the expected societal structures that surround her. In the latest episode, “The Last of the Starks,” her journey came full circle when she turned down Gendry’s proposal.
Though the pair shared an intimate moment before the Battle of Westeros, when it came to committing her life to be the Lady of Storm’s End, Arya just couldn’t bring herself to do it. Though the decision probably left many fans, and the blacksmith, heartbroken, it was the only choice that made sense for the girl who’s been explaining since she was a child that the life of a lady is not the life she wants. This statement has defined much of her journey.
This moment between Arya and Gendry reflected one of Arya’s most memorable conversations with Ned, when her father laid out her future before her, telling her she’d marry a high lord, rule his castle, and bear him children. It was the first time that Arya uttered, “That’s not me.” It’s exactly the same refrain that she says to Gendry when he suggests, just like her father did, that she become a lady and spend her life as his wife.
She’s repeated this same phrase at another point in the series. When Arya was reunited with Nymeria, she asked her to return to Winterfell with her, but then realized that her beloved direwolf had clearly grown used to the wilderness. She whispered, “That’s not you.”
Arya and Gendry’s relationship has also had this clear thread running through it, with the blacksmith often referring to her as “my lady” despite Arya’s demands that he stop. Perhaps if he had listened a little closer he wouldn’t have made the mistake of presuming that Arya wishes for the same status as he clearly had growing up in Flea Bottom.
Being true to herself is something that’s clearly vital to Arya, and though she could have never have seen the strange and violent future that lay ahead, she always knew that she wouldn’t fit into the world of ladies, courts, and high lords that her father saw for her. With Gendry’s suggestion, she was taken right back to that conversation in King’s Landing, and to her rejection of the life that was expected of her. It was not only a great callback to the earliest days of Game of Thrones, but another solid step forward in Arya’s story.
Arya’s rejection wasn’t of Gendry per se, but of a life that she never wanted. Maybe there’s a compromise: Seeing him pursue her to King’s Landing and possibly offer up a quiet life of assassination, sex, and blacksmithing would be a satisfying happy ending for the pair. (But first she has to make it back alive from killing Cersei.)