Director Alan Taylor, who helmed the latest Game of Thrones episode, 'Beyond the Wall', teased a violent ending to the storyline between Arya (Maisie Williams and Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner). For five seasons, HBO's sprawling fantasy drama followed the roadmap laid out by George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire book series, but that changed when the series continued on passed where the author's latest release left off. As such, book and TV fans alike have been watching the show without any knowledge of what might happen - though the theorizing hasn't slowed down a bit.
For its part, season 7 of Game of Thrones has featured a number of long-awaited meetings and reunions, particularly the first meeting between King in the North Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Mother of Dragons Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). Fans have also enjoyed the reunion of many of the Stark children, with Sansa and Jon finding each other in season 6, while Sansa, Arya, and Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) have been reunited at Winterfell for a few episodes now in season 7. However, the relationship between Sansa and Arya took a dark turn in this past Sunday's Game of Thrones episode, 'Beyond the Wall', as the sisters found themselves facing off.
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In 'Beyond the Wall', Arya confronted Sansa about the letter she found in the previous episode, which the elder Stark sister wrote in season 1 while she was under the control of the Lannisters following her father's imprisonment. In turn, Sansa discovered Arya's satchel of faces - including Walder Frey - and the sisters circled each other not sure what the other was going to do. According to Alan Taylor, who directed the episode, these scenes laid the groundwork for a more violent confrontation between the Stark sisters. He told HuffPost of their confrontations in 'Beyond the Wall':
I think both characters have been through absolute hell since the death of their father in very different ways, and have turned into absolute lethal individuals. We’re very aware of how lethal Arya is, because she’s displayed it over and over again. But I love the fact that the tables do turn back and forth between them; it really is a shifting back and forth of power between them in those scenes we had. And when Sophie says she won the Battle of the Bastards, she’s right. I love the fact that these two come back, they’re both lethal, and I just wanted to give the impression, as much as possible, that one of them is going to die. But you’re not sure which one.
These conversations between Sansa and Arya in 'Beyond the Wall' do feature a great deal of power shifting back and forth between the two sisters. Arya has proven herself a capable, lone wolf assassin, while Sansa is much more adept at the political machinations of Winterfell. Taylor went on to discuss Sansa's decision to send Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) to King's Landing in her stead to meet with Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), indicating it may somehow escalate the antagonism between the Stark sisters:
Arya is certainly lethal and sort of threatening, but when Sansa sends Brienne away, who is Arya’s natural protector, something is coming very soon between them, and it will be violent but surprising.
Of course, many fans have taken issue with the dark dynamic between Sansa and Arya, both because it seems out of character for either of the sisters to betray their family - despite what Arya might think of Sansa - and because it's an obvious ploy by Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) on two characters who have proven to be much smarter than to be manipulated by him. In fact, one fan theory posits Arya is simply playing along with Littlefinger's manipulation in order to cross another name off her list and she has no actual antagonism toward Sansa.
Whether that fan theory turns out to be true remains to be seen. At the very least, we know based on Taylor's comments that their final confrontation will arrive soon - potentially in the Game of Thrones season 7 finale - and it will be "violent but surprising." He also indicates one of them may die as a result, but perhaps Littlefinger will be the one to die. Unfortunately, fans will just have to wait to find out exactly what Game of Thrones has in store for Arya and Sansa Stark.
Game of Thrones season 7 concludes next Sunday @9pm on HBO.