This post contains spoilers for Season 8 of Game of Thrones, so no whining.
After her (literally) death-defying stunt wiping out the Night King and his undead armies, Arya was mostly absent from this week’s episode. We got to see everyone’s favorite assassin in just handful of scenes, including when she gently rejected Gendry’s marriage proposal just as his fortunes seemed to be turning.
The last we saw of Arya, she was accompanying the Hound on horseback to King’s Landing, just like their murderous road trip from earlier seasons.
“You going to leave me to die again if I get hurt?” he asks her. “Probably,” Arya replies with a wry smile.
It’s a nice callback to the way their last journey ended and another reminder of how their relationship—and Arya herself—has changed. But could it also be some foreshadowing of how the Hound meets his demise? It certainly seems like it.
Let’s take a trip back in time to look at their relationship.
Arya and the Hound had bad blood going all the way back to Season 1, Episode 2, when the Hound rode down and murdered Arya’s friend as a punishment for her spat with then-prince Joffrey. And things only went downhill between the two from there. As Joffrey’s bodyguard, the Hound was present on the dais when Ned Stark was publicly executed, and was the one to hold Ned’s head up for the crowd to see.
Arya encountered the Hound again as a captive of the Brotherhood Without Banners, when he sold her out to the group and told them her real name. She returned the favor by ratting him out for killing her friend, at which point the Hound kidnaps an escaping Arya to ransom to her family. On their travels, Arya witnesses the Hound commit several senseless murders and promises him that she will kill him one day in retribution for her father’s death. From then on, the Hound gets a spot on Arya’s hit list.
Still, the two survivors bond over their desire to kill the Hound’s brother, the Mountain (AKA the zombified Ser Robert Strong), as well as their general penchant for murder.
The Hound even gives Arya her first real lesson in killing. When they happen upon a mortally wounded farmer, the Hound offers the man mercy in the form of a dagger to the chest and uses it show Arya “where the heart is.” Immediately after, the Hound incapacitates a criminal and allows Arya to practice her new heart-stabbing move, earning her some rare praise.
When Brienne of Tarth finally catches up with the two, she and the Hound get into a knock-down, drag-out brawl that ends with the Hound broken, bloody, and begging Arya for death. He tries to get her to give him a quick end, taunting her with all the horrible things he’s done, but she refuses. Arya instead robs him and leaves him for dead.
But Arya’s never been a heartless killer like the Hound—which is exactly why she’s going to kill him. Here’s how it’s gonna go down.
Towards the end of Episode 4 of Season 8, Arya and the Hound are setting off once again, this time on a daunting mission of revenge that neither expects to return from. The Hound wants to kill his brother the Mountain and Arya wants to kill both the Mountain and Cersei, giving the deadly duo a chance to work together and take him out so Arya can get to Cersei.
Though the Game of Thrones gods are cruel, the Hound will emerge as the victor of the highly anticipated Cleganebowl, though he’ll suffer some mortal wounds. Arya will share a final teary moment with her former captor, sometimes mentor, and frequent tormentor before he asks her (again) to put him out of his misery. Maybe she’ll try to convince him he can survive. Maybe he’ll tell her how much he admires her. Maybe, to mirror the last time he begged her for mercy, he’ll apologize for all the suffering he caused her instead of mocking her with it.