18

I still don't get all the explanations about The Thin Man (Game of Thrones, S5E08, the man who sells "insurance service") which I've read until now in all Q&A forums: the description of the man and the scene in the show, how they coordinate.

According to the explanation, the Thin Man takes the "premium", but refuses to pay the compensation (the "claim") in case an accident occurs to the captain. OK, fair enough - he's a scammer, and the family of the dead resort to the Faceless Men. His life is decided to be taken.

HOWEVER, in the TV show, Jaqen told Arya "a girl would see" [which means Arya would see for herself the thin man is the wrongdoer]. What did she see?

99% of the explanations go by "the man did not pay the captain's family" (?!) In the scene, Arya overheard the conversation in which the captain made his 18th successful voyage, 'without a scratch', and is still alive. How come the thin man have to pay?

When Arya was there to see, it seems that the captain wants to buy the "insurance service" but the thin man refuses to take the "premium" (thus declining to provide his service). He looks at the captain's 'application' and says "Can't do it".

This is totally legitimate in real life. In many cases, it would be a wise decision of the insurance firm, if they deem the deal is too risky. Or - they will do it, it's just the premium will be ridiculously high, so that for the insured it's not worth buying insurance that way. Anyway, insurance is all about risk (probability) assessment and risk-loving/risk-aversion.

Looks like the captain wants to buy insurance for his 19th/future voyage(s), but got turned down by the thin man. The captain showing that he safely returned from his 18th voyage is pretty much like a driver showing the insurance firm that he has a clean record (no accidents, no pulled-over, no claim before...), so that he would get the low premium fee.

But the thin man is not a wrongdoer if we base ONLY on what Arya has seen. He simply doesn't "take the bet". Every words that judge him are from Jaqen's mouth.

(1) Why did the show producer make it so confusing like that?

(2) The thin man is betting that the captain is doing some suicide mission or it's too risky for him to take the deal? That I don't understand as well. Why didn't the Thin man take the money? If the captain returns safely again, he got the premium, if he cannot make it, the thin man still avoids to pay his duty. Strange, isn't it?

Remember that there's no insurance fraud like in these days, where someone intentionally burns down his old garage to claim huge insurance, and the words from Jaqen go like: "It's a strange wager for the captain, he only wins if he loses his life." It is very unlikely that the caption would end his life to get a sum for his family.

  • 4
    That's not really an answer. But it's worth mentioning that the Faceless Men aren't vigilantes; they are assassins. When Jaqen explains the task to Arya, he indicates someone in the room, implying that he's the customer who requested the kill. As long as he paid, it's not really relevant whether he told the truth or not (it's also possible that the Faceless Men were aware of the scam before, or checked if the accusation was funded before giving the task to Arya). – Reyssor Aug 17 '15 at 15:22
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    "the thin man still avoids to pay his duty." It's may be true that he scammed a few people. But he probably does not do it all the time; if it was to become a known fact, nobody would come for his services anymore. Thus, he probably only scam captains whose families are poor and outcast (not a danger to his reputation). The scene witnessed by Arya is not related to the assassination contract (Jaqen directed her there before it happened). In this case, there is indeed no fraud: the Thin Man simply refuses the deal (maybe too risky and/or not a good target for his scam). – Reyssor Aug 17 '15 at 21:30
  • Why did the show producer make it so confusing like that? That's a common thing in a poor show like this one. The huge amount of money put into it allows us to get a few good scenes and entertaining moments; but the show isn't really polished, so we have to live with this kind of shortcomings. – Manuel Aug 17 '15 at 22:03
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    I think in a way they could be described as vigilantes. They are not in it for the money. I think they are probably as likely to take a hit from a beggar as they are from a lord. And they certainly seem to strive for a certain balance and an esoteric fairness only they themselves understand. – Jonathon Aug 18 '15 at 0:06
25

TL;DR

She wasn't observing him to decide his guilt, but to find out the best way to kill him

Longer Version:

When Maybe-Jaqen asks Arya what she saw while observing the Thin Man, he wasn't asking if proof of his guilt was found, but rather what his daily routines were. The Faceless Men, as @Reyssor pointed out, are not vigilantes out to right the wrongs of the world. They are assassins for hire. You pay them to kill someone and they do it, regardless of what the reason for target's death is. Maybe-Jaqen didn't send Arya to kill the Thin Man because he was a scammer, he sent her to kill him because the client wanted the Thin Man dead because he was a scammer. Arya's daily routine as the clam seller was to observe the Thin Man to find the best way to kill him. Whether he was guilty or not doesn't enter the calculation, though perhaps Arya (being inexperienced) might have need to confirm his guilt, although we never get to see her thought process on that front (and the scene was not in the book) so we don't really know either way.

  • If they are simple assassins for hire and nothing more, why do they care so much that Arya killed the kingsguard in the brothel and balance needs to be made with regards to that? – user985366 Aug 18 '15 at 15:25
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    @user985366 They are assassins, but as mentioned by Jonathon Wisnoski, money isn't their primary motive. They are also a religious order (their awoiaf page will tell you more). If you played The Elder Scrolls games, think of The Dark Brotherhood (for their relation to a deity, their moral codes are still very different). – Reyssor Aug 18 '15 at 16:16
  • @user985366 I am reminded of the Thieves Guild in Discworld. Theft is a carefully controlled operation and they heavily punish when the "wrong" people are stolen from. In general I think part of being a good Assassin is causing as little collateral damage as possible. This group seems to have elevated those concepts to a religious level. – Josh Gagnon May 6 '16 at 20:21
  • @JoshGagnon Better yet, the Assassin's Guild. Killing without a contract is a big no-no for them. – JAB Jun 27 '17 at 19:24
10

For question #2, for a brief moment you can see that the man is holding a map of Valyria. Presumably this sailor was taking the route through and near the Doom of Valyria, which is generally considered cursed by the majority of people in Essos and Westeros. It would be perfectly normal for the thin man to believe this superstition, giving him reason enough to decline his services to the sailor.

As you can see in the below picture, the route that is shown goes straight through the ruins (it's the cluster of islands at the bottom right side of the map - the route goes through it). Superstition aside, it could be considered a highly risky suicide mission and the thin man's business is based around minimizing risk, so his rejection is kind of understandable.

5

All the answers were very nice and it's much clearer now. I should only leave a comment but for the sake of completeness/clarity and to be able to quote image (some interesting notes I found on the internet as well), I'm grouping the point in a single answer.

  • First of all, it should be made clear that the captain in the scene - who was turned down by the Thin Man (which Arya overheard) has nothing to do with the other ill-fated captain (who was dead in his voyage and his family was denied their rightful insurance claim).

  • The Faceless Men were contracted to kill the thin man because he refused to pay the claim on a different captain, by that unseen captain's family. He had already been selected for death before the scene we see ever takes place.

  • (@Reyssor) The Thin Man probably does not cheat all the time. Maybe he was a cunning insurance seller in just one case, maybe in a few cases, maybe he would cheat only in the case of the captains whose families are poor and outcast, or cannot enforce him to pay. If he cheating was to become an obvious fact, nobody would come for such kind of "service" anymore. His cunning trick is perhaps not that bad (punishable by death) but someone already ordered the FM to kill him.

  • And who to say it's not that Maybe-Jaquen was just lying to Arya? The whole thing since Arya was in the House of Black and White was like a limbo to her. How to tell who is who, how to tell something is the truth or a lie? The viewers, like Arya, only know that someone ordered a hit on the Thin man. Now the whole story about him cheating the insurance money from a widow is a perfect excuse ;)

  • (@System Down) The most plausible explanation of sending Arya was to observe the daily routine of the thin man, and to "test" if he would try some of her oysters then a simple way to kill him is to poison him (movie-based, in the book it's somehow different, and in the book the thin man even has a bodyguard that tastes his food).

  • (@stupidbunny) For the reason why the thin man rejected the deal with the captain on the scene, some very interesting details that his 'application' shows the route going through Smoking Sea ("East of Westeros lies the Smoking Sea, where no ship dares sail. There are those who swear it to be demon-haunted. And who's to say they're wrong?" ―Viserys Targaryen) Who in their right mind would sail through there? The captain seems desperate as he knows this voyage is dangerous and he would travel without insurance.

who in their right mind would sail through there?

Anyway, the show runners were a bit off-course from the book (especially in season 5?), and when they try to get back on the track, they mixed things, and sometimes not in a good way. (E.g. this very example shows how misleading and confusing the content could be if they mix and match the scenes that way. Bad way to illustrate his wrongful acts/business model).

3

This is with reference to the book. She wanted to find a way by which she could kill him and no one else without getting caught. It took her three days to find a way.

“The guards go with him even when he slips out to make water,” she said, “but he doesn’t go when they do. The tall one is the quicker. I’ll wait till he is making water, walk into the soup shop, and stab the old man through the eye.”

“And the other guard?”

“He’s slow and stupid. I can kill him too.”

“Are you some butcher of the battlefield, hacking down every man who stands in your way?”

“No.”

“I would hope not. You are a servant of the Many-Faced God, and we who serve Him of Many Faces give his gift only to those who have been marked and chosen.”

She understood. Kill him. Kill only him. It took her three more days of watching before she found the way, and another day of practicing with her finger knife. Red Roggo had taught her how to use it, but she had not slit a purse since back before they took away her eyes. She wanted to make certain that she still knew how. Smooth and quick, that’s the way, no fumbling, she told herself, and she slipped the little blade out of her sleeve, again and again and again. When she was satisfied that she still remembered how to do it, she sharpened the steel on a whetstone until its edge glimmered silver-blue in the candlelight. The other part was trickier, but the waif was there to help her. “I will give the man the gift on the morrow,” she announced as she was breaking her fast.

A Dance With Dragons

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    I think this also illustrates a partial answer to "why is it confusing". Arya is a very likable character, but the books, and to a lesser extent the show, have been constantly, increasingly dropping hints that she's amoral if not borderline sociopathic. I think the books and show are teasing us, letting us think she only kills people when it's morally right (because so far, that's - mostly - the only times she's needed to), but I suspect her darker, less discriminating side is going to shine clearer... – user568458 Aug 18 '15 at 15:24
  • She was intended to be one of the major character of the series when GRRM had planed ASOIAF to be a trilogy. – Vishvesh Aug 18 '15 at 23:49

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