arya and syrio

aflatoffkingsroad  asked:

What do you think Arya gains, thematically, from each of her companions from Syrio through Yoren, through the Brotherhood, through to the Hound? How, if at all, do they compound or compliment or build on her "becoming Batman" arc?

Interesting question!

There are many lenses through which one could view Arya’s mentors (I’m assuming you don’t mean comrades like Gendry and Hot Pie), but for me, the most compelling one is how they all contribute to the question of what one does in the face of widespread, systemic, seemingly unstoppable injustice. Syrio dies a classic Glorious Death to buy Arya time to escape; he can’t save himself from Meryn Trant, but he can save her. She then accompanies Yoren on his trek through the hell that is the war in the Riverlands, and observes as Yoren stubbornly sticks to the values of the Night’s Watch even in the face of that hell. The Brotherhood consider themselves king’s men despite said king’s death, and fight an uphill battle in defense of the smallfolk against all the nobles, including Arya’s own family. The Hound tells her (as he told Sansa) that all of this is bullshit because the world is awful, but his actions gradually reveal that he too still wants to be a true knight. Arya is left to sort among these lessons and decide how she is to live. 

Arya was always meant to be a Water Dancer. That was always her path. 

DredgenWard posited a great theory/argument that could be revealed in the upcoming episode.

I’ve always had a problem with the way the Faceless Men seemed to reward Arya for failing to follow orders by advancing her to the next stages of training. It wasn’t until the other day when I rewatched S6E06 “Blood of my Blood” that Arya never stopped her water dancing lessons with Syrio Forel/Jaqen H'ghar, and just completed her final test.

“Just so. Opening your eyes is all that is needing. The heart lies and the head plays tricks with us, but the eyes see true. Look with your eyes. Hear with your ears. Taste with your mouth. Smell with your nose. Feel with your skin. Then comes the thinking, afterward, and in that way knowing the truth.”

“Just so,” said Arya, grinning. (Arya IV AGOT)


This is a water dancer’s greatest tool, but also the hardest to learn to use. Arya’s blindness allowed her to learn how to uses these physical senses to understand the world around her. The montage with the Waif fighting Arya in the show was a good depiction of Arya learning to use her senses to compensate for the lack of sight, but Blind Beth in ADWD also provides an example of the way Arya has begun to use all of her senses together to make sense of her world.

The blind girl rolled onto her side, sat up, sprang to her feet, stretched. Her bed was a rag-stuffed mattress on a shelf of cold stone, and she was always stiff and tight when she awakened. She padded to her basin on small, bare, callused feet, silent as a shadow, splashed cool water on her face, patted herself dry. Ser Gregor, she thought. Dunsen, Raff the Sweetling. Ser Ilyn, Ser Meryn, Queen Cersei. Her morning prayer. Or was it? No, she thought, not mine. I am no one. That is the night wolf’s prayer. Someday she will find them, hunt them, smell their fear, taste their blood. Someday.

She found her smallclothes in a pile, sniffed at them to make sure they were fresh enough to wear, donned them in her darkness. Her servant’s garb was where she’d hung it—a long tunic of undyed wool, roughspun and scratchy. She snapped it out and pulled it down over her head with one smooth practiced motion. Socks came last. One black, one white. The black one had stitching round the top, the white none; she could feel which was which, make sure she got each sock on the right leg. Skinny as they were, her legs were strong and springy and growing longer every day. She was glad of that. A water dancer needs good legs. Blind Beth was no water dancer, but she would not be Beth forever. (The Blind Girl, ADWD).



The purpose of training potential water dancers in the guise of the Faceless Men is to find out if the student’s personal identity is strong enough to keep true to who you are despite what face you’re wearing and who you’re pretending to be. The result of each of Arya’s attempts to become “no one”, is an even deeper connection to her true identity.

Winterfell, she might have said. I smell snow and smoke and pine needles. I smell the stables. I smell Hodor laughing, and Jon and Robb battling in the yard, and Sansa singing about some stupid lady fair. I smell the crypts where the stone kings sit, I smell hot bread baking, I smell the godswood. I smell my wolf, I smell her fur, almost as if she were still beside me. “I don’t smell anything,” she said, to see what he would say.

“You lie,” he said, “but you may keep your secrets if you wish, Arya of House Stark.” He only called her that when she displeased him. “You know that you may leave this place. You are not one of us, not yet. You may go home anytime you wish.”

“You told me that if I left, I couldn’t come back.”

“Just so.”

Those words made her sad. Syrio used to say that too, Arya remembered. He said it all the time. Syrio Forel had taught her needlework and died for her. “I don’t want to leave.”



Arya believes she needs to become “no one” to become a Faceless Man, but what she doesn’t realize is the Faceless Men are called “no one” because they are the dead bodies whose faces are added to the Hall. Her teacher is displeased because Arya refuses to say what what she’s thinking instead of what she thinks he wants her to say.

“Watching is not seeing, dead girl. The water dancer sees. Come, put down the sword, it is time for listening now.”

She followed him over to the wall, where he settled onto a bench. “Syrio Forel was first sword to the Sealord of Braavos, and are you knowing how that came to pass?”

“You were the finest swordsman in the city.”

“Just so, but why? Other men were stronger, faster, younger, why was Syrio Forel the best? I will tell you now.” He touched the tip of his little finger lightly to his eyelid. “The seeing, the true seeing, that is the heart of it.

"Hear me. The ships of Braavos sail as far as the winds blow, to lands strange and wonderful, and when they return their captains fetch queer animals to the Sealord’s menagerie. Such animals as you have never seen, striped horses, great spotted things with necks as long as stilts, hairy mouse-pigs as big as cows, stinging manticores, tigers that carry their cubs in a pouch, terrible walking lizards with scythes for claws. Syrio Forel has seen these things.

"On the day I am speaking of, the first sword was newly dead, and the Sealord sent for me. Many bravos had come to him, and as many had been sent away, none could say why. When I came into his presence, he was seated, and in his lap was a fat yellow cat. He told me that one of his captains had brought the beast to him, from an island beyond the sunrise. ‘Have you ever seen her like?’ he asked of me.

"And to him I said, 'Each night in the alleys of Braavos I see a thousand like him,’ and the Sealord laughed, and that day I was named the first sword.”

Arya screwed up her face. “I don’t understand.”

Syrio clicked his teeth together. “The cat was an ordinary cat, no more. The others expected a fabulous beast, so that is what they saw. How large it was, they said. It was no larger than any other cat, only fat from indolence, for the Sealord fed it from his own table. What curious small ears, they said. Its ears had been chewed away in kitten fights. And it was plainly a tomcat, yet the Sealord said 'her,’ and that is what the others saw. Are you hearing?”

Arya thought about it. “You saw what was there.”

“Just so. Opening your eyes is all that is needing. The heart lies and the head plays tricks with us, but the eyes see true. Look with your eyes. Hear with your ears. Taste with your mouth. Smell with your nose. Feel with your skin. Then comes the thinking, afterward, and in that way knowing the truth.”

“Just so,” said Arya, grinning. (Arya IV, AGOT)


When Arya goes to see the play to kill Lady Crane, she is up close to where Cersei’s monologue lamenting the death of Joffery takes place. Just off stage, the other actress that paid to have Lady Crane killed is mouthing the causing Ayra to start thinking about her own reasons behind wanting Cersei dead.

After the play Arya runs into Lady Crane ends up asking Arya how she would change the part where Cersei reacts to Joffery’s death. Arya’s answer make her understand that she has experienced the same loss and pain that Cersei did. Her final lesson from Syrio is showing mercy to those who have already suffered enough for what they’ve done. The important truth Arya figures out was even the ones we hate still suffer the same way we do, and taking a life is just as important as know when to grant mercy.

This will give Arya the water magic to change her face at will without the need of a mask, and she will kill the Waif before stepping onto a ship to Westeros.

Syrio sets up Arya being a futre sword of Braavos the first time we meet him in A Game of Thrones too.

“Boy, girl,” Syrio Forel said. “You are a sword, that is all.” He clicked his teeth together. “Just so, that is the grip. You are not holding a battle-axe, you are holding a—”

“—needle,” Arya finished for him, fiercely.

“Just so. Now we will begin the dance. Remember, child, this is not the iron dance of Westeros we are learning, the knight’s dance, hacking and hammering, no. This is the bravo’s dance, the water dance, swift and sudden. All men are made of water, do you know this? When you pierce them, the water leaks out and they die.” He took a step backward, raised his own wooden blade. “Now you will try to strike me.” (Arya II, AGOT)

Another interesting reference:

Arya lowered the splintery point toward the ground. “How did you know I was here?”

“A man sees. A man hears. A man knows.”

She regarded him suspiciously. Had the gods sent him? “How’d you make the dog kill Weese? Did you call Rorge and Biter up from hell? Is Jaqen H'ghar your true name?”

“Some men have many names. Weasel. Arry. Arya.”

She backed away from him, until she was pressed against the heart tree. “Did Gendry tell?”

“A man knows,” he said again. “My lady of Stark.”


Syrio Forel’s wooden sword is splintered in two when Arya last saw him, and now Arya has a wooden sword with a splintery point, she lowers it to the ground after seeing Jaqen like the broken piece that fell from Syrio’s wooden sword. (similar to the piece missing on the Titan of Braavos statue “Arya” was staring at in the last episode).

Jaqen H'ghar is from Lorath as such, he always refers to himself in 3rd person.

The only time he refers to himself in the first person is when he uses a first person possessive pronoun expressing a personal connection to Arya.

“My lady of Stark.”

Jaqen H’ghar: Arya Stark…how do I begin to explain Arya Stark?

Gendry: Arya Stark is flawless.

Syrio Forel: I hear her sword is insured for 10,000 dragons.

Varys: I hear she does oyster, clams, and cockles commercials…in Braavos.

Yorren: One time she met Gendry in King’s Landing—

Hot Pie: —And he told her she was pretty.

Meryn Trant: One time she stabbed me in the eyes…it was awesome.