- Warning: Spoilers ahead for “Game of Thrones” season eight, episode two, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.”
- On Sunday’s episode, Arya Stark had sex for the first time with Gendry, her old friend from earlier seasons.
- “We’re probably going to die soon,” Arya tells Gendry, initiating the encounter. “I want to know what it’s like before that happens.”
- While some fans initially reacted with discomfort and disappointment, others are passionately defending the decision and celebrating Arya’s agency.
HBO’s latest episode of “Game of Thrones,” titled “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” was a watershed moment for Arya Stark.
“We’re probably going to die soon. I want to know what it’s like before that happens,” Arya tells Gendry, just before grabbing and kissing him. She then proceeds to strip down and commands Gendry to take his own pants off.
Viewers have watched Arya grow from a precocious 11-year-old to a disciplined fighter, almost entirely preoccupied with revenge – and so, for many, this scene was an unwelcome surprise. Some fans questioned her age and maturity, while others simply felt it was out of character for her to prioritise romance in the midst of a war.
After the scene received backlash, however, fans began to mount a passionate case in defence of Arya.
HBO confirmed that Arya is 18 years old on season eight
Although the show has been purposely vague about characters’ ages from season to season, HBO UK confirmed Arya’s onscreen age via Twitter on Sunday morning.
By age 18 in Westeros you should have:
– Had a pet.
– Moved out on your own.
– Travelled extensively.
– Had a kill list.
– Pretended to be the opposite sex to evade capture.
– Been blind for a while.
– Ticked at least three people off of your kill list.
— HBO (@HBO_UK) April 21, 2019
Arya is portrayed by Maisie Williams, who’s 22 years old. She may look much younger than Gendry, who’s portrayed by 31-year-old Joe Dempsie – but she’s just a few years younger than him in the book series.
According to “A Song of Ice and Fire,” Gendry is just five years older than the youngest Stark, which would make him 23 on season eight.
Viewers praised the show for its rare depiction of sex as both consensual and ’empowering’
Feminist writer Mikki Kendall found Arya’s first time refreshing, especially for a show that has been criticised for using sex and rape gratuitously.
“Arya is 18, in full control and making a choice,” Kendall wrote. “She’s having probably the least weird, and most empowering consensual interaction in the whole show. Ever. EVER.”
She went with a guy she always liked, who has a little experience, a body she likes looking at, isn't 8 million years older, isn't cruel, isn't weird in some horrifying way, he's never even been dead. It's amazing.
— Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) April 22, 2019
“Making sure she didn’t die a virgin might be the most normal thing Arya has done in years,” she continued. “YEARS.”
I think Jon and Ygritte was the last sex scene that didn't involve coercion, manipulation, the recently undead, or incest.I might have missed one. But that seems likely.
— Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) April 22, 2019
Indeed, the scene featured clear consent from both characters. While Arya was taking full control and ownership of her desires, she never coerced Gendry and made sure he was an equally willing partner.
And “take off your own pants” sounds sassy, but she’s giving Gendry agency when he just told her someone stripped him against his will.
— HandmadeHumanist (@hndmadehumanist) April 22, 2019
— Kiksten ???? (@Kiks_ten) April 22, 2019
Others pointed out the disproportionate reaction when Arya engages with brutality and violence.
As HBO’s tweet conspicuously noted, Arya may seem young, but she has brutally killed many people and long since lost her innocence.
“I haven’t seen Arya as a baby since she cut that man up in the bordello,” Kendall wrote in her Twitter thread, referring to Arya’s vicious murder of Ser Meryn Trant on season five. “She was grown emotionally long before.”
Indeed, to many viewers, it seems strange to be accepting of Arya’s life as an assassin while condemning her decision to have sex.
"Arya can't do that! We've been watching her since she was a little girl."
*Arya murders people*
— 9GAG (@9GAG) April 22, 2019
Innocent? Our Arya is a full murderer. https://t.co/SKB5Hs6pQn
— liz lemon is my spirit animal ???? (@nkathizzles) April 22, 2019
Please let’s kill this “sweet and innocent” talk about Arya. Sis slaughtered a whole house ON HER OWN! Now that it’s time for the secks y’all are cringing. A girl is GROWN!#GOT8 pic.twitter.com/d01Jrjd4HF
— Grey (@Moyin__xo) April 22, 2019
— HotChocklate (@NOLAchocklate) April 22, 2019
Ultimately, fans are proud of Arya for continuing to do whatever she wants
“She was absolutely true to her character,” wrote another. “She wanted to do something so she simply did it.”
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, “Game of Thrones” writer Bryan Cogman said the showrunners wanted to be honest about “what a lot of these characters would do on their final night.”
“For Arya, there’s an attraction to Gendry and she’s like, ‘If I’m going to die, I might as well see what all the fuss is about,'” he said. “She executes that encounter and Gendry is more than happy to go along.”
- Read more:
- 15 details you might have missed on the latest episode of ‘Game of Thrones’
- Why Theon and Sansa are the perfect non-romantic pairing on ‘Game of Thrones’
- The final moment of Sunday’s ‘Game of Thrones’ spells serious trouble for Daenerys and Jon’s romantic future
- Next week’s ‘Game of Thrones’ episode will be nearly 90 minutes of epic battle. Watch the new teaser here.
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