A Girl Has A Name, And It's Not Mary Sue: Arya Stark Was The Right Woman For The Job | Opinion

Spoilers ahead for Game of Thrones Season 8, episode 3.

After Arya Stark killed the Night King at the last possible moment this week, some people took to Twitter to call her a 'Mary Sue.' That's a character just too perfect to be true. Others claimed she 'didn't deserve' the glory. Just as Maisie Williams worried they might. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, she said: "I immediately thought that everybody would hate it; that Arya doesn't deserve it... I told my boyfriend and he was like, 'Mmm, should be Jon though really, shouldn't it?'"

Some of the grumbling about Arya's moment is just tired old misogyny from people who have apparently failed to notice over the last eight years that the women of Westeros are fully capable of playing the Game of Thrones. Those people should probably just watch another show from now on. One with no Cersei Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, Lyanna Mormont, Olenna and Margaery Tyrell, Melisandre, Brienne of Tarth, Yara Greyjoy, Ygritte, Lysa Arryn.

Other people have misplaced ire about plot development. It should have been (the character formerly known as) Jon Snow because he is the series' hero. He would have done something that Daenerys couldn't and demonstrated his right to the throne. But as an audience, we don't need that proof, and Daenerys already has a lot to chew on. Failing to fry the Night King on top of learning she's not the only heir will have been enough for one day.

Jon Snow/Aegon Targaryen's moment is still to come. His fight is for the Iron Throne. Our attention has been fixed on the White Walkers for a while now, but we forget that they're really a side issue. That's been Cersei's gamble, and given the state of the Stark-Targaryen army right now, you can kind of see her point.

arya hbo game of thrones
Maisie Williams as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones. HBO

Arya was the perfect person to kill the Night King. Partly, because it worked in terms of the dramatic tension of the episode. All eyes were on Jon, hoping Valyrian steel would do the trick. We were surprised—and surprised to be surprised. But it also worked because the Night King was coming for Bran, Arya's little brother. There are other warriors in the series with the skill to have done it, but Arya's primary motivation, throughout the whole series, has been to protect and avenge her family. That is why she went to Braavos to learn to be an assassin in the first place. In fact, her inability to forget her family was why the Faceless Men ultimately rejected her. That girl always had a name.

As Williams said: "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*** you Jon, I get it.'"

She fully deserved her glory. Arrogant, stubborn, and supremely rude, Arya has never been perfect. But she has been brave. Her situation has been hopeless from the start—even when she was a little girl tormented by her airhead big sister and destined for some icky marriage, it's been awful—but she has always grabbed her one chance with both hands and ran with it. Catching her falling knife with her right hand (not Arya's fighting hand) to kill the Night King as he choked the life out of her is the fullest expression of her character. She never resigns herself to her fate. She knows, as we all know, that the God of Death will have his due, but she will fight on whatever the odds. She was exactly the right character to tell him, 'Not today.'

Justine Firnhaber-Baker (@mediaevalrevolt) holds a PhD from Harvard University. As well as being a sci-fi/fantasy nerd, she is senior lecturer and chair of Medieval History at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

A Girl Has A Name, And It's Not Mary Sue: Arya Stark Was The Right Woman For The Job | Opinion | Opinion