Whether you expected the Night King to be destroyed or not in “The Long Night,” his killer was a bit of a surprise. Instead of classic hero Jon Snow, the leader of the Army of the Dead was taken down by Arya Stark, the young woman we’ve been watching develop into a lethal assassin since Season 1.
And although surprising in the moment, the series’ creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have known for several seasons that Arya would be the one to save humankind. Here’s a look at some of the nods to former episodes and hints dropped along the way.
We already knew Arya could flip a dagger from one had to the other when needed (most memorably seen when she parried with Brienne in Season 7, Episode 4), but she also struck the Night King where it counts — the same spot Bran once observed the Children of the Forest insert dragonglass in order to create him.
Back in Season 3, Episode 6 Melisandre noted a certain darkness she saw in the young Stark as well as “brown eyes, blue eyes, and green eyes” that she would close forever. The Red Priestess reminded Arya of this moment just as she looked like she might give up the fight, and the next time we saw her, she was attacking the Night King.
What was known ahead of the episode was Arya was carrying a very important weapon: the Catspaw dagger. Fans recognize this, of course, as the blade that almost killed Bran, but did you catch its quick appearance in one of Samwell’s Citadel books in Season 7, Episode 1 while he’s perusing a dragonglass book for ways to kill the wights? Perhaps this weapon was always destined to be the tool for the heroic deed.
Hear David Benioff and D.B. Weiss speak more about “The Long Night” and Arya’s incredible feat in the “Inside the Episode” video below.
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See more from “The Long Night”: