This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
Be warned: This article contains SPOILERS for Game Of Thrones season 8 episode 6, “The Iron Throne.”
Game Of Thrones season 8 has come to an end, providing neat little conclusions for all of the main players that are still standing. The surviving Starks fared reasonably well: Jon is beyond the wall again, Sansa is Queen In The North, Bran is king of the other Six Kingdoms and Arya is on a boat headed west. But, as she asks in the episode, what is west of Westeros?
The short version is basically what Jon says in the show: nobody knows what’s west of Westeros, which only makes Maisie Williams’ Arya more keen to go and take a look. Arya has been interested in the seas to the west for a while now, after all, as proven by the fact she asked Lady Crane the same question in season six.
Lady Crane, the actress character played by Essie Davis, suggested that the edge of the world could be all that remains to be found to the west. Arya, ever keen to sample cool new stuff, said she’d like to see that. What if it’s not the edge of the world, though? What if it’s…
A whole new world!
“A new fantastic point of view. No one to tell us no, or where to go, or say we’re only dreaming…”
As the iconic track from Aladdin told us, a whole new world can be a pretty rad idea. In Arya’s case, if there’s more than just the edge of the world waiting to the west, perhaps there could be loads of interesting stuff to discover.
Perhaps there’s another populated landmass, where Arya can meet some fun new characters and go on some exciting new adventures. Maybe it’s like the ending of Pokémon Gold and Silver, where you finish the main game before travelling to a different region, tackling eight more gym leaders and catching loads of extra critters. (In this mash-up we’ve just invented, Arya would obviously have loads of wolf-themed Pokémon.)
In terms of the lore of the books and the show, the furthest westerly point in Westeros (that we known of) is The Lonely Light, the smallest of The Iron Islands that basically functions like a lighthouse. Beyond The Lonely Light, we know there are three small uninhabited islands called Aegon, Rhaenys and Visenya. These three islands aren’t believed to be much bigger than Dragonstone.
Unless she’s planning a little island-hopping cruise, then, Arya will need to venture further. She’s sailing out into the Sunset Sea, which is believed to be vast and impossible to cross. Some Ironborn have claimed to have made the crossing, and they say there’s a big landmass over to the west, but it’s not clear if we should believe them.
Arya isn’t the first Stark to make this journey, either. An ancient Brandon Stark (not the one who’s her brother) once set sail in a westerly direction, taking lots of Northmen with him, but none of them ever came back to tell the tale. It would be quite funny if Arya crossed the mammoth Sunset Sea only to find another bunch of Starks waiting for her, though.
What she’ll find is literally a mystery, and it’s a bit of a win-win situation for Arya: either she discovers a new landmass that nobody in Westeros knows about, or she finds the edge of the world and gets to take a gander at it. Or there is a less interesting third option: there’s literally nothing but sea, so Arya sails around the globe and ends up back in Essos (the continent to the east of Westeros, which houses such cities as Braavos and Meereen).
It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day…
“It’s a new life for me… and I’m feeling good!”
Of course, even if we never find out what Arya is sailing into, her decision to set off for pastures new is a fitting endpoint to her role in the main Game Of Thrones story. After all, she’s already achieved so much in Westeros, and has seen a lot of horrible stuff, and there isn’t really a role in The Seven/Six Kingdoms that would’ve felt like her true calling.
Arya never wanted to be a lady (that’s not her), so marrying Gendry or any other lord wouldn’t have worked. And the political machinations of Winterfell are much more Sansa’s thing, so hanging around at home wouldn’t have felt like a good fit either. Also, the Night’s Watch only takes men, and doesn’t look like much fun anyway. Plus, being a sellsword or an assassin or a kingsguard aren’t particularly thrilling options, either.
There’s literally nothing in Westeros that Arya wanted to do, so she’s decided to travel away and try to find something new. Something exciting. Something that nobody else she’s ever met has witnessed. This feels like a logical thing for Arya to do, and it has a certain symbolic neatness to it. Rather than heading off on another revenge mission, Arya is at peace, sailing away, hoping to find something cool.
It’s probably worth mentioning, seeing as George R.R. Martin has often stated his love for The Lord Of The Rings, that Frodo Baggins also sailed west at the end of his many-books-spanning adventure. Along with Gandalf and some other core characters, he got on a boat, left Middle Earth and made for Valinor, a place where immortal beings such as Elves reside. Although we never get to see it in the main LOTR story, there are said to be angelic – godly, even – beings that live there.
It’s unclear if Arya will make such a grand discovery on her journey, but it is interesting that Martin (and the showrunners of Game Of Thrones) opted to give her story an endpoint that so clearly mirrors The Lord Of The Rings. But is this really the end?
Could there be a spinoff show?
“You’re face to face with the girl who sailed the world…”
HBO has made no secret of its intention to deliver a ‘successor show’ to Game Of Thrones. The network has been looking for a project that could do for Game Of Thrones what Better Call Saul did for Breaking Bad; keeping the story going, keeping the fandom engaged, and keeping those sweet ratings coming in.
As many as six Game Of Thrones spinoffs were in development at one point, with HBO recently opting to press ahead with one from Jane Goldman, which will cover the ancient history of Westeros. That show has the working title of The Long Night, and, obviously, it wouldn’t feature Arya. But what if there was another show that did pick up Arya’s storyline and run (or sail) with it?
Successor shows that narrow their focus from an ensemble cast onto one breakout star have mixed track records: for every brilliant Frasier (that spun off from Cheers), there’s a dismal Joey (that spun off from Friends).
There is one big bonus, at least for the network, in making shows like this: rather than trying to get the whole cast back together for a reunion episode a few years down the line (which would be hugely expensive for Game Of Thrones and arguably isn’t necessary), you just carry one with one character and don’t need to worry about shoehorning a new storyline into every other character’s journey. You don’t need to juggle the schedules of all those other actors or pay them to turn up.
As it stands, though, HBO hasn’t announced any plans to carry on with Arya’s story. But if Maisie Williams was up for it, and if George R.R. Martin will write (or sanction someone else to write) a story that’s worth telling for her, carrying on Arya’s journey could be a worthwhile way to keep the Game Of Thrones fandom on-board while literally expanding the show’s world.
Will an Arya spinoff show ever happen, though? It feels like a long shot, but we’ll just have to wait and see…
Listen to our Game of Thrones season 8 discussion on our Sci Fi Fidelity podcast: