One of the biggest surprises to come out of Game of Thrones Season 8 happened when Arya Stark killed the Night King to end the Great Battle of Winterfell and take out the greatest threat facing humanity halfway through the final season. If you had trouble believing that Arya could make that epic kill, HBO’s behind-the-scenes documentary, The Last Watch, just revealed how she was able to pull off the maneuver.
HBO released the two-hour documentary on Sunday night, and it includes plenty of footage from the table reads for several key episodes in the final season. That means we get the authentic reactions when the cast learns about the series’ biggest Season 8 moments. Watching everyone react to learning that Arya kills the Night King is triumphant, but because it’s a table read, we also hear the narration from the script.
“Something is hurtling towards [the Night King] out of the darkness: Arya,” producer Bryan Cogman reads. “She vaults off a pile of dead wights, leaps at the Night King, and she plunges the dagger up through the Night King’s armor. The Night King shatters.”
The entire cast explodes with thunderous applause, and seeing Rory McCann, Sophie Turner, and Kit Harington all react while sitting next to each other is a true delight. They play the Hound, Sansa Stark, and Jon Snow — essentially Arya’s three biggest fans.
In the final cut of the episode, it looks like Arya vaults out of the darkness from an elevated position, materializing out of the mist like a specter. It doesn’t make much sense, even if it looks really cool. But this behind-the-scene detail clarifies that she was able to do it by vaulting “off a pile of dead wights.”
We can safely assume this pile of dead wights was slain by Theon Greyjoy and the Iron Islanders that fought alongside him to defend Bran.
This also fully discredits the questionable theory that Jon Snow was shouting “GO!” when he stared down the undead dragon Viserion, distracting the beast long enough that Arya was then able to successfully kill the Night King.
This important detail being part of the script but not part of the actual episode speaks to Game of Thrones’ increased over-reliance on behind-the-scenes details to tell its story. Much of the final season relied too much on the “Inside the Episode” recaps featuring series co-creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff telling viewers what specific scenes meant rather than actually conveying these details dramatically through traditional storytelling means.
It also serves as a reminder that Arya Stark is the most talented and impressive warrior in all of Westeros. It’s almost a shame that she left and set sail for whatever lies “west of Westeros.”
Game of Thrones Season 8 and Game of Thrones: The Last Watch are now available to stream via HBO.