In Game of Thrones S08E03, we see Arya killing

the Night King.

How does she manage to sneak up on him given that he's surrounded by an army? Did she use the face of someone from the army?


4 Answers 4


Contrary to KharoBangdo's reasoning, I would theorize that Arya snuck up on the Night King in one of two different ways.

To get some other details out of the way, looking at the scene, I do not believe her flight angle is correct to imagine that she has been hiding in a tree this whole time, waiting for the Night King to approach. Yes, the screen is slightly tilted up from Bran's perspective, but as Arya is in flight, she seems to be flying straight for the Night King - and the momentum shift slightly before they make contact (and when the Night King catches her) makes it seem much more like horizontal momentum.

Anyway, here's really the detail that I think blows the whole 'waiting in a tree thing out of the water' -

You'll notice in the scene just prior to Arya revealing herself, one of the White Walkers notices something. The Walker feels a breeze, and you can see the Walker's hair get blown slightly (either by the wind or someone moving swiftly by). The Walker then looks to the right, as if the breeze came from there (or something / someone passed there).

This detail leads me to two theories:

  1. That breeze was produced by Arya sneaking by. It's unclear whether or not she was making her dash straight to the Night King then or if she was making a dash through the tree line to remain relatively unseen while she approached (before making her big run up through the open ground). Perhaps some of her training from Jaqen was used here to be 'invisible' on her approach.

  2. A little more far fetched, but not out of the question. The Walker is Arya, who simply feels a breeze and looks to the right. Arya is borrowing the Walker's face to blend in and get close to the Night King. The breeze (and the subsequent look) are an indication that something is about to happen - or perhaps that the time is right.

I think #1 is more likely, though I do hope they reveal a bit more about how this scene unfolded. Would be interesting to hear (or see) the scene from Arya's perspective.

At the very least, I do feel like there is some level of significance from that subtle breeze and motion the Walker makes just prior to the Night King dying. The sound of wind blowing rises up slightly over the dramatic music, and I'd like to think that was a purposeful touch.

  • 4
    I'm inclined to agree that productions involving this much money don't leave details up to coincidence. Everything that's in it is on purpose (or an oversight by multiple people involved with production, which doesn't seem likely to me in this case).
    – JJJ
    Apr 29, 2019 at 11:02
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    Have we seen a White Walker die that didn't immediately explode? That would be the only way she could wear his face.
    – DeeV
    Apr 29, 2019 at 13:59
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    The main problem with the idea of taking a Walker's face - when has a killed Walker ever not shattered or completely disintegrated? Plus, the taking of a face takes some time. Seeing as how all the Walker's were pretty much together, how would she kill one, peel off its face, put it on, and then take its place without them noticing? Seems more likely she snuck by, which was the whole point of her sneaking by the dead in the library, to lay the groundwork for "she can do that.".... IMO, of course. Good to have ideas thought out and put out there for discussion, in any case. Apr 29, 2019 at 21:24
  • 2
    @JJJ You've clearly never seen a superhero movie, like when Hulk sneaks up on Thanos in the beginning of the Avengers movie, even after the ship was boarded and prisoners captured. Since when does Hulk ever sneak?
    – Chloe
    Apr 30, 2019 at 2:30
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    @Chloe additionally, the budget goes to actors and CGI, it's pretty clear the money isn't in the writing the last few seasons.
    – JAD
    Apr 30, 2019 at 6:49

There are a lot of trees in the Godswood. She was hiding on top of one of them. Hence, she could sneak up on Night King and jump from above.

The angle at which Arya jumps and the way Night King catches her indicate that she can't do it from the ground. Also, the Night King was away from the castle walls. So, a tree is a logically correct deduction.

When Arya meets Melisandre inside the castle, she tells Arya that she will shut blue eyes. This is to prophesise the Night King's death.

Melisandre ask Arya: "what do we say to the God of Death?" She says "Not today" and walks off. Arya understands clearly what needs to be done and she goes away from the battle to hide in a tree as she knows that the Night King will come for Bran in the Godswood.

  • 11
    is this just a speculation? or do u have any proof
    – J M
    Apr 29, 2019 at 6:38
  • 3
    @JM logical reasoning based on the angle at which she jumped on NK. She could not have gained that elevation from ground. So trees are the only place as they were away from the wall Apr 29, 2019 at 6:47
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    I could swear I saw wind blow the leaves “differently” right before that scene.
    – kojiro
    Apr 29, 2019 at 10:47
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    There is a gif (link to reddit thread) of the Making Of Episode 3 that clearly shows that Arya did not jump out of a tree.
    – Ian
    Apr 30, 2019 at 7:58
  • @Ian ya I saw that yesterday in the Game Revealed. It shows, she standing on a table & then jumping using strings attached. That was just for filming. Unless D&D specify, I m sticking to mine. Unless she managed to sneak in the table also, then she can jump Apr 30, 2019 at 8:51


One of the most popular theories going around right now is that she disguised herself as a walker to get close.
Arya didnt jump over a ton of white walkers. she was wearing the face of one, hence melissandre: "Brown eyes, green eyes, BLUE EYES"#NotToday

This does seem like a plausible explanation.

We know that Arya's training under the guidance of her former mentor, assassin Jaqen H'ghar, taught her how to successfully wear the faces of others, enabling her to get into places that she couldn't if she looked like herself.

So, is that what happened there? Did Arya disguise herself as a White Walker so that she could sneak into the Godswood entirely undetected and then, when the time was right, slay the head zombie?

A lot of people are convinced that that was how she slipped in undetected and did her very worst.

Is this how that dramatic Game of Thrones moment really happened? - DigitalSpy

Among other explanations, it's believed that she was noticed.

There is a moment, right before the Night King is about to kill Bran, when the camera pans to one of the White Walkers stood behind him, who then turns their head to the side.

It's a minuscule detail – if you weren't paying attention you could very easily have missed it – and some might argue that it was entirely insignificant. But then again, is anything on GoT done without significant reason? [...]

There's every chance that the other White Walker, by moving his head, had picked up on Arya's presence. But by then it was too late. She was already mid-air and the Night King had turned around to face her and finally meet his maker.

Is this how that dramatic Game of Thrones moment really happened? - DigitalSpy

So, in conclusion there are various different possible explanations.

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    I like the theory and would applaud it, but for me there would need to be an explanation as to how she removed the face from a being that would have smashed in to ice the instant it was killed as (all?) other white walkers have done? Apr 29, 2019 at 16:17
  • Seeing as how the Wight's eyes are clouded over, for the ones that still have any eyes at all, I don't think a largely visual disguise would make them think she's dead. Apr 29, 2019 at 21:20
  • The disembodied face may have still been alive in the manner of severed limbs...
    – mckenzm
    Apr 30, 2019 at 5:26
  • @LamarLatrell: I don't subscribe to the Walker-face theory, but if so, who says the Walker needed to die/shatter?
    – Flater
    May 16, 2019 at 15:46
  • @PoloHoleSet: Wights without muscles can still move. Wights without lungs can still make a sound. Having eyesight with cloudy eyes is not really any weirder from a physical perspective.
    – Flater
    May 16, 2019 at 15:48

The sneak attack was merely a diversion--presumably Arya and Melisandre know one can't sneak up on the Night King.

Strategically, it was a feint, allowing her to get close enough to the Night King to kill him. The way they shot the knife dropping from her hand while she is being choked strongly implied she was losing consciousness or dying, only to have it revealed as a stratagem.

This was foreshadowed by Lyanna Mormont's killing of the undead giant earlier in the episode.

The producers may not have considered it strictly necessary to show how Arya got positioned for the sneak attack since it was merely a narrative device. The more meaningful aspect is that Theon's self-sacrifice bought her the time.

It's likely Arya's youth, sex, and small size compounded the night king's folly--he toys with her instead of immediately ending her because he fails to recognize her as a serious threat.

  • 7
    I'd say it was more foreshadowed when she did that exact move (drop the dagger to the other hand) when she first trained/sparred with Brianne of Tarth. Apr 29, 2019 at 22:01
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    Brianne of Tarth - "Who taught you that", Arya - "No one"
    – ashveli
    Apr 30, 2019 at 5:19
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    @ashveli - "No one can kill the Night King!" "I'll get right on that." Apr 30, 2019 at 16:33
  • 1
    I'm pretty sure there is a Boromir (Ned Stark) meme generator where you can input "One does not just sneak up on the Night King" as the line. Apr 30, 2019 at 16:36
  • 2
    @ashveli Odysseus also called himself "no one" (outis) when he stabbed the Cyclops Polyphemus in the eye!
    – DukeZhou
    Apr 30, 2019 at 16:38

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