[Editor’s note: The following post contains spoilers for “Game of Thrones” Season 8]
“Game of Thrones” ended on a resilient note for Maisie Williams’ Arya Stark as the character headed out on a solo adventure to find out what is west of Westeros, but that doesn’t mean the actress was entirely satisfied with how the final season went down. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Williams expressed some disappointment with how Arya’s storyline panned out over the final six episodes. Mainly, Williams hoped Arya would be able to cross Cersei off her kill list.
“I just wanted to be on set with Lena again, she’s good fun,” Williams said. “And I wanted Arya to kill Cersei even if it means [Arya] dies too. Even up to the point when Cersei’s with Jaime I thought [while reading the script], ‘He’s going to whip off his face [and reveal its Arya]’ and they’re both going to die. I thought that’s what Arya’s drive has been.”
Arya did not get the opportunity to kill Cersei, but that ended up being the character’s choice. While King’s Landing is burning to the ground in the penultimate episode, “The Bells,” The Hound stops Arya and tells her that if she goes through with her plan to kill Cersei then she will end up dying. The Hound asks Arya if she wants to be like him (meaning only live a life of vengeance), and the answer inspires a cathartic moment for her.
“I guess sleeping with Gendry, seeing Jon again, realizing she’s not just fighting for herself anymore but also her family — it’s bringing up all these human emotions that Arya hasn’t felt for a long time,” Williams said. “When The Hound asks her if she has another option, all of a sudden there are so many more things in [Arya’s] life that she can live for, that she can do. It was a shock for me because that wasn’t how I envisioned her arc going this year. Then I realized there were other things I could play, bringing Arya back to being a 16-year-old again.”
For what it’s worth, Lena Headey was also hoping the Arya-killing-Cersei moment would arrive. The actress told EW, “I lived that fantasy until I read the script. There were chunky scenes and it was nothing that I had dreamt about. It was a bit of a come down and you have to accept that it wasn’t to be. There is something poetic about the way it all happens in the end with her and Jaime.”
Cersei ended up dying in the basement of the Red Keep. It was there where the character finally reunited with her brother and lover Jaime and the two were killed as the building collapsed on them. Arya would survive the destruction of King’s Landing and live to see a new side of the world.