This Sunday’s episode of “Game of Thrones” will be the “Battle of the Bastards,” and while we can’t wait to see Jon Snow’s forces take on Ramsay Bolton’s we’re still thinking about last week’s closing scene with Arya and Jaqen.
After defeating the Waif, Arya Stark visited the House of Black and White and told her former mentor, Jaqen H’ghar, she isn’t “no one,” she’s Arya Stark of Winterfell, and she’s going home.
Jaqen seemed to have a hint of a smile when the Faceless Man stood there as she reclaimed her name, paid her debt to the Many Faced God and left, seemingly for good. Access Hollywood spoke with Tom Wlaschiha, who plays Jaqen, for his thoughts on what the surprising storyline meant.
AccessHollywood.com: A question everyone wants to know after watching last week’s episode was the expression on your face… what were you trying to convey with that?
Tom Wlaschiha: I just followed the script. I’m a Faceless Man, I have no interests of my own (laughs). Actually, I think that Jaqen – I mean, he’s taken on this job of training Arya for three seasons and I think he was pleased to see her come out of this unharmed and to see her ready to go back to like — because the last task was really a difficult one and it wasn’t easy for her, so, yeah.
Access: Why do you think he let her walk away? Do you think he always knew that she needed to go back home and she needed to become Arya Stark again?
Tom: In my opinion, it was clear from the beginning. I mean, that’s the reason he trained her. He didn’t train her to become a Faceless Man and stay in the House of Black and White in Braavos forever. I think that Faceless Men, they certainly have an interest [in] what’s going on in Westeros, otherwise why would he [have] just shown up out of the blue, in Season 2 and picked Arya and offered her to train her? So there must be some sort of interest and I think, yeah, what’s the point of training her if she can’t put that training to use?
Access: For sure. … That’s kind of one of the things that I sort of took away from that storyline was maybe that whole idea of sometimes you have to go far away in order to come back home or to appreciate your home, or to appreciate yourself.
Tom: Also for the others at home to appreciate you.
Access: Yes. That’s a good point too. …. So how did you feel when you read the script a couple of episodes ago when Jaqen was asking Arya to kill someone, and it kind of was a contract killing, because that was an interesting twist, that obviously we didn’t know the resolution to that at the time, but [she was asked to murder one actress for another jealous other actress]?
Tom: It’s not the first time that he asked her to do that. He asked her in Season 5, but of course she killed the wrong person. That’s what the Faceless Men do — they’re hired killers and if she wanted to become one of them, she had to follow through with this. It happened to be Lady Crane. I think for the Faceless Men, death isn’t that horrible or anything. It’s part of life and it’s what they do, it’s their job, they administer the ultimate gift to people who seek death. I mean, the whole contract-killing thing is just a side job. But, an important part.
Access: How do you think he changed Arya? Do you think he helped her find her confidence, and who she is?… She was not as bold and kick a** when he first met her.
Tom: When he first met her, he immediately recognized the potential in her. She posed as a boy and everybody but him believed it and so already when she was a little girl, he could see that she had quite some talent to do these things or to become a different person, and when she left Westeros, she was still a little girl and now, over the course of her training, she’s grown up and now she goes back to Westeros and she’s a totally different, yeah, she’s a totally different person. She’s an adult.
Access: So Waif — do you think Waif was just a character that really didn’t like Arya, or do you think she was doing what she was supposed to do? I’m curious what your perspective [was] on that because you were kind of her boss.
Tom: The Waif… Yeah, the whole story, it kind of came across as she was somehow jealous of Arya, but you could also look at it from another point of view. She didn’t want anyone in the House of Black and White who wouldn’t be ready or wouldn’t be fit to be a Faceless Man. … I don’t know if she had to be that mean to her, but ultimately, I mean, trying to kill her… when Jaqen told the Waif, ‘Go ahead and kill her, but don’t let her suffer,’ I think the Faceless Men, in their philosophy, they’re kind of evolved [beyond] all those human things. As I said, death is a part of life, so if Arya had died, Jaqen would have probably regretted it or would have been sorry, but that would have only meant that she wasn’t the person that he’d been looking for. So he probably put Arya to that ultimate test to see the outcome, that’s why in the end, when he realized she’d managed to escape the Waif and kill her, he was also pleased because his student had excelled.
“Game of Thrones” continues Sunday nights at 9 PM ET/PT on HBO.
— Jolie Lash
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