Entering season seven, virtually every Game of Thrones fan expected to see Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) return home to Winterfell. It was only a matter of when she would arrive back in the North, not if, no matter how hard the premiere episode worked to convince you otherwise.
What wasn’t expected was the return of another instrumental player not seen in Winterfell since the first season: the Valyrian dagger that almost killed Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) shortly after he was pushed from high above by Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau).
For those who don’t remember the weapon, a brief history: Bran was nearly assassinated with this dagger while he was bed-ridden and comatose following his “accident.” The would-be killer brandished the blade in Bran’s bedroom, and would have pulled off the crime — not to mention the added homicide of Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) — if not for Summer ripping the man’s throat out just in time to save the day. Much was made about the fact that the weapon was made from Valyrian steel, a material we know is all-too-precious in the world of Game of Thrones, and clearly came to the deceased criminal from someone with resources. During a trip to King’s Landing, Catelyn learned the weapon originally belonged to Littlefinger (Aiden Gillan), but he lost it in a bet against Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), seemingly implicating the Imp in the assassination plot. Shortly thereafter, Catelyn found Tyrion by chance on the Kingsroad, made a citizen’s arrest, and ignited the violent events that have reverberated throughout Thrones ever since.
“That very dagger is what started the War for the Five Kings,” Littlefinger tells Bran in “The Spoils of War,” as he hands the weapon over to the young lord. “In a way, that dagger made you who you are today.”
Very quickly, Bran makes it clear that he doesn’t care too much about the dagger. His powers extend further than the reach of a single blade. But it’s a very useful instrument in the hands of Arya Stark, now that she’s returned to the North just in time for the White Walkers’ arrival. The young wolf’s future has been somewhat unclear since she returned to the Seven Kingdoms. Would she resume her quest for vengeance against the people remaining on her list? Would she instead rededicate herself to House Stark, as her final words at the House of Black and White indicated? For now, we know where she stands, and for now, she has one of the few weapons that can actually do damage against the Night King and his minions: Valyrian steel, one of the few White Walker weaknesses alongside dragonglass and, one hopes, dragon fire.
In short: Arya has a Valyrian weapon, which means Arya is going to kill at least one White Walker before all is said and done. It is known, and it is groovy.
But will Arya’s new weapon find some other victims before or in addition to the Army of the Dead? We have already speculated that Arya might kill Melisandre (Carice van Houten) some day, given the Red Woman’s prophecy in season three that the two of them would meet again some day, combined with her recent assertion that she’s destined to die in Westeros, but is currently heading to Volantis for the time being. Perhaps it would be a crueler irony for Melisandre to experience some sort of fiery death, but the idea of her dying at the edge of a blade forged from Valyrian steel, long associated with fire and dragon magic, packs an ironic punch as well.
Another likely candidate on the board: Littlefinger. It was his dagger originally, by his own assertion, and there are some who speculate he was the one who sent the assassin to kill Bran in the first place. In the books, Tyrion comes to believe that Joffrey (Jack Gleason) was the one who put out the hit on Bran, having had access to the weapon. The show never made much out of this, however, and given that the show often streamlines events from the books — and given that we’re in the homestretch of the series, where time is even more precious than dragonglass — it’s not a stretch to imagine a future scene in which Littlefinger is implicated for the crime, especially in light of all the other atrocities he’s committed in the past.
Then again, if the show decides to veer in the direction of the books, perhaps it will come to light that Joffrey was indeed responsible for the attempt on Bran Stark’s life — or, in another twist of fate, his mother Cersei (Lena Headey) could be the one who put those violent wheels in motion, finishing the job where her brother failed. In both scenarios, one can imagine Arya returning to King’s Landing after all, and attempting to settle the score with the same weapon that started this entire war. One way or another, then, the Valyrian dagger would return to House Lannister, arguably exactly where it belongs.