Arya Stark has always been trigger-happy, but the sixth season of Game of Thrones seemed to have pushed her over the edge. Not only did she viciously murder a man (who, to be fair, murdered her family), she baked his relatives in a pie, made him eat them, then smiled as she slit his throat. It was revenge that soared past “sweet” and went to the next level, or seven next levels. Sure, Walder Frey absolutely deserved to have a Stark smile on him as he died, but baking relatives into a pie and turning the guy into a cannibal is some twisted serial killer shit. There’s no way Ned, Catelyn, or Robb Stark would approve. Arya crossed a line.
And yet, if we look at her character arc, while extreme, the act isn’t such a departure from what she’s always committed. As far back as the first season, when she had that fateful fight with Joffrey that led to the exile of her direwolf Nymeria, she was ready to kill him. It was only thanks to Sansa’s coaxing that she snapped out of her rage.
She might not have had the guts to bake humans into pies — she can thank her time at the House of Black and White for that, assuming Jaqen H’ghar gave her cooking lessons off-screen — but even Ned saw the wildness in her. It’s why he signed her up for lessons with Syrio_Forel.
Arya is supposedly quite similar to Ned’s sister Lyanna, otherwise known as Jon’s newly revealed mother. And Lyanna was a headstrong girl who loved horses and — depending on the version of the story you hear — ran off with a prince, disregarding his wife, her own intended, and the possibility of provoking a war. That’s ballsy and more than a little crazy.
Arya’s life experiences have hardened her, sure — but even had she not watched Ned die, had she not gone on the run, traveled with The Hound, lost most of the rest of her family, and ended up A Girl in Braavos, she still would have wound up slitting a man’s throat as she smiled. It was always in her, and it was only a matter of time until it emerged.
Now that she’s back in Westeros, it’s anyone’s guess how the remaining Stark siblings will react to Arya with her murderous side fully unleashed. But if Jon ever knew her, he shouldn’t be surprised.