“Eh, it’s Arya. She’s fine.”
That sentiment is how most Game of Thrones fans — including Maisie Williams, who plays Ned Stark’s younger daughter on the HBO juggernaut — has viewed the scrappy character for the past five seasons. But Williams tells TVLine the upcoming sixth installment finds Arya in a pretty bad place.
“She’s still very much the student. And she’s still very much the underdog. She’s not the same Arya that we’ve seen in previous seasons,” the actress says. “Sometimes, you watch Arya scenes and you think, ‘She’s got this. Don’t worry.’ This is a season where you watch and go, ‘Oh, she really doesn’t.'”
Sophie Turner, who plays Williams’ onscreen sister, Sansa, concurs.
Arya is “so vulnerable this season, and it’s so exciting to see her in that place, because you see her as this badass. And she still is a badass. But she’s been dealt the upper hand and she’s been very lucky, and this is about her really getting challenged for the first time,” Turner says. “It’s going to be a big season for her.”
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But Arya’s faltering will only draw the audience closer to Sansa’s little sis, Williams notes.
“It’s interesting for people to see characters they’ve invested so much energy into now not pull through and not keep up that bravado,” she says.
Forthcoming episodes will find Arya, who indeed has lost her sight, suffering what Williams calls “pure loneliness” as she tries to learn as much as possible from The Waif and J’qen.
“At the beginning, she’s like, ‘Whether or not I like it, I have to trust these people,'” the actress says. “The feisty Arya doesn’t kick in until a little bit later. She starts rebelling, and she gets her confidence back.”
Game of Thrones returns to HBO on Sunday, April 24 (9/8c).