Maisie Williams ‘thought everybody would hate’ her part in ‘The Long Night’ (spoilers)

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SPOILERS for Game of Thrones

There are a million recurring themes with Game of Thrones, but surely one of the most important themes is “never underestimate a Stark girl.” People always do underestimate Sansa and Arya – Sansa because she’s not a warrior, and Arya because she’s so little. But men have laid down their lives to protect Sansa and Arya for seven seasons, and those two women have proven why. Episode 8.3 “The Long Night” was a reversal of what many predicted, a showdown between the Night King and Jon Snow. We thought Jon would be the one to take down the NK. He was not. The NK handed Jon his ass in about ten different ways. Arya had to step up, and that was foreshadowed too – her training, her ninja skills, her knife/blade skills, Bran giving her the dagger that she used on the NK. It was epic. Here’s Maisie talking about the episode to Entertainment Weekly:

She didn’t read the script for Episode 3: “I was coming into work and everybody was talking about episode 3 and [director Miguel Sapochnik] was like, ‘Have you read the [season 3 script] yet?’” she recalls. When GoT star said she had not yet read the episode, Sapochnik replied, “Oh, I can’t tell you then.” Williams couldn’t understand his reluctance. “I was like, ‘Are we fighting the wights? Does The Night King die? So who kills him? What happens?’ And no one would say anything. Why is no one saying it? This is crazy.”

Maisie worried that people would hate it: “It was so unbelievably exciting. But I immediately thought that everybody would hate it; that Arya doesn’t deserve it. The hardest thing is in any series is when you build up a villain that’s so impossible to defeat and then you defeat them. It has to be intelligently done because otherwise people are like, ‘Well, [the villain] couldn’t have been that bad when some 100-pound girl comes in and stabs him.’ You gotta make it cool. And then I told my boyfriend and he was like, ‘Mmm, should be Jon though really, shouldn’t it?’”

Maisie understood Melisandre’s prophecy: “When we did the whole bit with Melisandre, I realized the whole scene with [the Red Woman] brings it back to everything I’ve been working for over these past 6 seasons — 4 if you think about it since [Arya] got to the House of Black and White. It all comes down to this one very moment. It’s also unexpected and that’s what this show does. So then I was like, ‘F—k you Jon, I get it.’”

Kit Harington though Jon would do it: “I was surprised, I thought it was gonna be me!” Harington says. “But I like it. It gives Arya’s training a purpose to have an end goal. It’s much better how she does it the way she does it. I think it will frustrate some in the audience that Jon’s hunting the Night King and you’re expecting this epic fight and it never happens — that’s kind of Thrones. But it’s the right thing for the characters. There’s also something about it not being the person you expect. The young lady sticks it to the man.”

Maisie is glad she finally got to use her warrior skills: “I’ve never been in a battle before. Arya’s never in it. Episode 9, I skip every year. Which is bizarre since Arya’s the one that’s been training the most. I’ve never been around that way of working. I feel like I’ve always been part of this big show but in terms of being part of the episodes that really define us, this is my first taste of it. And I’ve been thrown in the deep end, as well … You try and you train but nothing can prepare you for how physically draining it is. It’s night after night and again and again and it just doesn’t stop. And you can’t get sick — you have to look out for yourself because there’s so you have to do that nobody else is going to … But the sense of achievement after a day on set is unlike anything else. One of those really tough days, you know it’s going to be part of something so iconic and it will look amazing.”

[From EW]

I know there are some mixed feelings about how everything went down, but I feel strongly that the Arya part saved the episode – I love the feint of “Jon Snow is going to get to Bran in time” and then no, Jon can’t get there and it’s Arya who saves the f–king day. It was a great payoff for the Arya character and all of the training she’s done, and for all of the interest other characters have shown for her. Arya was always like Jon and Sansa – there were people looking out for her, people who saw that she had a huge role to play.

Also: we got to see Melisandre, Beric and The Hound all come out for Arya. In the final episodes, will A Man, Jaqen H’ghar, come out one last time too? I say that… why not? We got Mel back, how hard would it be to see A Man one final time?

2019 Virgin Money London Marathon

2019 Virgin Money London Marathon

Photos courtesy of HBO/Game of Thrones.

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46 Responses to “Maisie Williams ‘thought everybody would hate’ her part in ‘The Long Night’ (spoilers)”

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  1. Sara says:

    It makes total sense. I hated those endless seasons of training Arya washing dead bodies and I was so happy she did it.

  2. Coco says:

    Arya was a highlight for me in an episode that was disappointing compared to all the other big battle episodes.

  3. Lucia says:

    I have mixed feelings on the episode as a whole but Arya taking out the Night King made the episode an overall win for me. I also appreciate Maisie Williams’ modesty. I kind of feel like she doesn’t understand just how loved Arya is.

    I think A Man will show be there. He needs to take A Woman back where she belongs. Since Arya left the House of Many Faces, I’ve said her character will return there when all is said and done. Once Arya’s list is completed, she will become No One. After the last few episodes, I believe Gendry will die and that will cement Arya becoming No One. That is the price she must pay to complete her list. My husband hates me for saying that – he wants Arya to have a happy ending but I believe it to be true.

    • FHMom says:

      I think you are right about where Arya will end up. I also don’t think this is going to end with closure. It’s going to be left open so that GRRM can finish his writing.

      • Original T.C. says:

        GRRM has said the remainder of his books will not follow the TV Show. Thank god. The characters are in different places in the book, and the magic is a bigger part of the books. The show based yesterday’s episode on their love of current actors and a typical TV troupe.

        As a TV show , Arya killing the NK was great but would not make any sense in the book. I have a feeling that book readers may come to hate Arya because of the HBO show.

      • Lucia says:

        Storywise, I can see Arya return to Braavos in the TV show. In the books, I doubt she’ll ever leave Braavos as she has a similar warging power as that of Bran and I suspect The House of Black and White wants to exploit it and will.

      • Cali says:

        “GRRM has said the remainder of his books will not follow the TV Show. Thank god. The characters are in different places in the book, and the magic is a bigger part of the books. The show based yesterday’s episode on their love of current actors and a typical TV troupe.”

        There is hope for traditional GOT fans, thank you for the information!!!

        I didn’t hate Arya’s part at all, just thought we’d be in for Hardhome or Battle of the Bastards pt 2, but instead was left with Meh.

      • SKF says:

        In the books her sense of herself as Arya Stark is too strong to be wiped out by her training. Her trainers know it too. She cannot let go of who she was – who she is still deep down.

        I don’t know how it will end for her in the show or in the books; but I don’t think the House of Black and White will just let her go on her merry way with no consequences.

        As for killing the Night King… Well in the books no such character has even been introduced. There was the Night’s King who was someone completely different and who GRRM has clearly stated died thousands of years ago. The White Walkers are called The Others (and look totally different!), and I think there will be a much more extended and explained ending for them.

        I highly doubt there will be the sortie to get a wight and thus Viserion getting zombified. I think that was all a gimmick to get the wall down quickly without having to dip too deeply into the mythology of the books that is hard to explain. Also to have dragon-on-dragon battles which look cool on TV. The wall coming down is more likely to be something that he has sown the seeds for in the books like the horn or something to do with Bran or something else.

        I think that the fight against the dead will be much more extended. GRRM has also said he will explain why the seasons are so off-kilter and I believe that will have something to do with The Others and the original Long Night as well.

        Who knows how the final fight with The Others will come out; but I always believed that Jon, Arya and Bran together would play some big role. The film and TV tropes employed in this episode will not exist. If you watch the “Behind the episode” program (itself 40minutes long!) you can see that they came up with this all themselves and I don’t think a lot of it fits with GRRM’s world’s rules and history and mythology. So, for example, the walls of Winterfell are supposed to be imbued with the same magic as the Wall. So technically I do not think the wights would just be able to climb it and break through. Also there is a lot about the crypts that I do not think they have covered in the show. The steel swords keeping the dead at bay, the sheer size of them (much bigger than Winterfell in every way and going far beneath the earth), the secret exits that exist to help the Starks of the past escape if they needed to, etc. etc. I suspect that if it comes down to a battle at Winterfell – which it probably will – it will play very differently and perhaps those who survive will escape via those secret tunnels? Or they will play some kind of role? Perhaps there is a way to call the Stark dead to fight for the living? Or only those with swords missing will come into play (Bran, Osha, Meera and Rickon take several of the newer swords with them when they escape and the verrrrrry old ones have rusted away). Will Lady Stoneheart play a role? There are so many different elements at play.

        Beyond the fact that there isn’t currently a Night King in the books, I don’t believe that GRRM is going to “trick” readers by making Arya Azor Ahai after everything that has been foreshadowed. That is not how his foreshadowing works. In his world characters always behave in line with who they are and not in service of plot. Tiny little hints are laid everywhere that often only become clear once something has happened. Those old stories are important as are the various visions and myths. He definitely lays down red herrings, but everything still makes sense. And his various religions are much clearer as are their differences.

        So, for example, in the books Mel hates the old religion of the First Men, she burns every Weirwood tree she can get her hands on. She despises the Three-Eyed Raven (and the wolf-boy beside him) and sees him as an enemy of her god and religion. Granted, she is often misguided and misinterprets her visions and thus her mission. However, the TV show seems to have simplified all this stuff and just combined the Prince Who Was Promised / Azor Ahai with the Last Hero of the First Men (a possibility but the stories aren’t actually the same) and mushed all these various beliefs and powers together and pretended that Bran, Melisandre, etc. could work together without issues because they are all on the same side against the Night King. In the book world, it is more complicated and grey. It is not just bad ice vs good fire. They are all morally grey and there are multiple ways to be on the side of life. It is also still possible that The Others are some kind of counterbalance to the excesses of men. So many options! But all seeded.

        Arya as the one to end it all is not seeded. Having watched the Behind the Scenes show it seems they chose that option because it is a big surprise and kick-a$s moment. The books don’t do that. They lead up to things, seed them, hint at them, and follow an internal logic that always makes sense when it happens. They don’t surprise without laying the ground for that surprise first. Yes Arya has training, and she is often overlooked; but I just don’t see it playing out this way in the books. I think her role will be significant; bus something else lies in wait…

        Mind you, that’s if HE EVER FINISHES THE DAMN BOOKS [insert eye roll here]. Yeah yeah, authors don’t “owe” us more books, I get it! But when you start a massive story and finish your last book on massive cliff hangers about characters who your readers are massively emotionally invested in, it’s pretty sh*tty not to finish the story!

  4. Jenns says:

    I love that it was Ayra and not Jon. Honesty, the NK kept getting the best of Jon. I said this in the other thread, but Jon’s final option last night was to just yell at the dragon, so I’m fine with him having a seat here with killing the NK.

    • huckle says:

      I wondered about that part actually. I wonder if they filmed him yelling as it was part of the script and that the ice dragon would bow down because Targ and then they decided to go another way in editing and just kept that in.

  5. Lucy says:

    Not today.

    • elimaeby says:

      I will not lie, when Melisandre asked what we say to the god of death, I screamed “NOT TODAY, B!#@H!” so loudly that my SO gently scolded me because we have neighbors and the pets all ran away from us lol.

  6. Dhavynia says:

    That moment with Melisandre telling her about what the God of Death says, “not today ” damn talk about a pep talk an unexpected one

  7. Becks1 says:

    I LOVED that it was Arya. I get what she is saying about having to do it in an intelligent way – and there were some other issues with the episode/season like we’ve been discussing elsewhere. But Arya being the one to kill the night king? that was awesome.

    • smcollins says:

      Absolutely. When she came out of nowhere and finished him I was all “F*ck yes! Arya!” Although when he had her by the neck my first response was “Oh, shit! Valiant effort, but…shit.” Loved that it went down the way that it did. Exciting and unexpected.

  8. Lo says:

    Her boyfriend is a c*nt

    • Lizzie says:

      100 % – she needs to find a new man stat

    • Nibbi says:

      yep. dump him, chica.

    • bananapanda says:

      Still disrespecting women! Anyone who isn’t excited for his girlfriend to get that badass moment isn’t worthy of her.

      • Original T.C. says:

        She didn’t say her boyfriend disapproved because she is a girl. No articles who hated Arya as The Prince that was promised thought Arya wasn’t *capable* of killing the NK. The objection was to a non Tarygaren doing it. The fandom agreed it could equally be Dany or Jon, no gender preference. Last I checked Dany is just as short as Arya and worse yet, has zero fighting skill. But the NK is a magical creature that was supposed to be killed by a magic tool from a Targaryen.

      • terra says:

        Why not with a magical tool by a *Stark*? You know, a member of the same family as the person who defeated the others the *first* time around.

    • Ellev says:

      yup that was my immediate thought – throw out the whole man lol

    • Jess says:

      Ditto. Sounds like jealousy to me. Get a man who supports you being awesome, Maisie! And no way did Jon deserve that big moment. Arya had been training for exactly that moment for seasons. As Lainey would say, she was showing her work!

  9. CES says:

    Arya coming out of nowhere and killing the NK was the best moment in the entire show. Fight me.

    • Mel says:

      It was THE best moment! I don’t know why I was so shocked when it happened but it makes total sense. She was the most trained of all to do it. Arya has been my favorite since season 1, for her to kill the night king, while unexpected made me so freaking happy!

    • Lady D says:

      I got woke up 5-6 times last night, and every time I did, Arya killing the Night King was on my mind. I was cheering when she did that.

  10. EMc says:

    I thought she was badass, and it was so unexpected and perfect. I had just said to my husband, ‘its over.. they need a miracle.’ There was so much despair, with Jon and the ice dragon.. wondering if Dany’s dragon made it.. Theon.. then bam, here she comes! For an instant I thought she was going to die. I got totally wrapped up in it and it was very satisfying to see her kill him. I didnt think the battle would end in 1 episode.

  11. IlsaLund says:

    Was the ice dragon, Viserys, guarding the entrance to the Godwoods so Jon couldn’t enter and confront the Night King?

  12. Anna nuttall says:

    GOT Youtube channel just put up a BTS video of the episode and if you go to the .030 marks, you will see how they shot the NK death. Thought it was really interesting:

  13. Jay says:

    How heartbreaking – for a talented you g actress, for a professional female actress, for an actress on a popular show, whatever – that she thought people would think her young female character wouldn’t “deserve” that plot point/climax.

    And her boyfriend messed up by saying what he said. He’s contributing to the very misogynist crap that Maisie herself was grappling with – in her, internalized – that Arya didn’t “deserve” it because….she’s a young woman?! The only acceptable response from a supportive partner would be, nah, babe, you got this! You earned this! You’re going to kill it! Your character is amazing and you make her amazing!


    • Lilly (with the double-L) says:

      I screamed “Arya!” when she came in like the assassin she is. She did deserve it and I agree about her bf, he needs an intensive course at the Tormund Giantsbane school for boyfriends who don’t unconditionally support good.

      • Nibbi says:

        Ha!! I love that Tormund is supposedly this utter savage, but ultimately he’s so much more evolved- he’s totally shocked that a badass like Brienne isn’t a knight already and says “fuck tradition,” and is genuinely thrilled (that cute way he’s clapping 🙂 :)) when she becomes Ser Brienne.
        In that way, with their female warriors and apparent egalitarianism, the Wildlings are more civilized than those south of the Wall.

      • SKF says:

        Absolutely! The Wildlings are seen as savages by the Westerosi; but they are so much more evolved! They choose their own kings, and only when they “need” one. Their women choose their own partners. Their women have agency and equal rights. They fight, they are warriors too. They are FIERCE. The men respect the women as equals. I love that GRRM shows that all the finery and supposed chivalry of the Westerosi is a thin veneer of bullsh*t. Knights who are sworn to be honourable do horrible, terrible things. Sansa is the one who learns these lessons more than anyone. Sansa starts off believing in the surface veneer: in chivalrous knights in shining armour; great, noble and wise kings; and beautiful, sweet, chaste ladies who behave as ladies “should”. She is quickly disabused of these foolish notions. The Wildlings, who are initially portrayed as savages way behind the Westerosi, in terms of civilisation; turn out to be the ones who are more evolved in many ways – whilst still being pretty (yes) savage.

    • Original T.C. says:

      I don’t think it’s because she’s a girl, it’s because she’s not a Targaryen or touched by magic. If Dany was the one to kill the NK tampering a sword either by killing Jon or with Dragon fire mixed with her blood, it would be logical and loved by book fans. Arya is a Stark with no connection to the prophecy. Arya is the most loved character in the books for being badazzed especially by male fans.

      Maiseis talking the prophecy in the books book readers. And she doesn’t strike me as a fragile flower cowered by sexism. I’m sure she prefers honesty from her BF. Can we give her agency please.

      • SKF says:

        Yeah she doesn’t fit into any of the prophecies and the showrunners picked her because it would be surprise. So, not really in line with the internal logic of the books. For the show though it was an EPIC moment!

  14. lulu says:

    I really liked that it was Arya that got him. It was kind of perfect that the story went in that direction. BUT, honestly, I thought the script writing for it was really poor. That she comes out of nowhere, flying through the air for him seemed kind of like a throwaway. How did she find them? And how did she get through the thousands of dead army to make her way to him? Thought they could have done a much better job in that respect.

    • Lala11_7 says:

      It didn’t look to me that she came out of nowhere….once the “Red Woman” reminded her of her true purpose…I think she ran to that window…hoped her tail on out…and used her years of stealth training to do what she was born to do…

    • Sayrah says:

      I think she was in the tree. They couldn’t show us because they would have given it away

    • SKF says:

      She knows that he is going to go after Bran and where Bran is. She grew up as a little rascal in that castle and knows the tricks of it. It seems that she went through the castle and then jumped (her cat training?) from above. Whether that is from a window, or an inner wall, I do not know; but it would appear that she wriggled her way to where she needed to be with speed and stealth and then waited for her moment (him to appear, him to be separated from his crew, him to be distracted) and leapt at him. She was capable of it, she just lost her confidence when she took that knock to the head. Melisandre gave her the push she needed to get her confidence back and start utilising her skills again.

  15. Monsy says:

    Her boyfriend 😒…

  16. The Recluse says:

    There is the most awesome clip of people in a sports bar reacting to that scene.
    Never mind: edited from a sports match. Not cool of someone to do that, but it was a nice idea.

  17. SallyTomato says:

    I’ll be the shallow one here, but THANK YOU for Jaqen H’ghar.

  18. A.Key says:

    I always knew Jaqen was important, him taking an interest in Arya basically saved the world.