Sunday nights episode of Game of Thrones saw Arya reunited with Hot Pie while on her way to King’s Landing. Arya is a woman (yes I think we can stop referring to her as a girl now, she murdered an entire extended family) on a mission. Hell bent on revenge, Arya is trading baking tips with Hot Pie when he innocently questions why she isn’t headed north to Winterfell. Arya can’t imagine why he would ask such a thing, until he reveals that her brother Jon is now King in the North. Arya can’t drop her goblet fast enough and she’s out the door towards home.
Arya is headed for the Stark reunion we’ve all been waiting for, but not before a more unexpected reunion that comes in the form of her former Direwolf, Nymeria. Alone in the woods with her horse, Arya is surrounded by a pack of wolves being lead by a gigantic Direwolf. It doesn’t take Arya long to recognize this furry beauty as her own sweet pet, Nymeria. Hoping for a warm reunion, Arya pleads with Nymeria to come home with her. Nymeria stops snarling and gazes at her former family member before turning and leaving as if to say, I remember you, but this is my life now. Arya, hurt at first, steps back and wistfully watches Nymeria walk away, “no that isn’t you” she says, almost proudly.
This moment harkens back to season 1 when a much younger, unaffected Arya told her father that frilly dresses and castles with young Lords just wasn’t her. She recognizes in this moment that while all of this has been going on, Nymeria has made her own life. She has found her own pack. Perhaps, being someone’s pet was never for her.
In the books, the wolves play a much larger role than they do on the show. The showrunners have explained that apparently they’re too expensive to conjure up on tv? Butttt dragons… yeah, anyway, in the books, Arya and Jon have warg powers like Bran and often see through their wolves in their dreams. There are tales of a large pack of wolves killing off Stark enemies, like the Frey’s, led by Nymeria. A wolf killing Frey’s? Sound familiar? There is a reason each Stark child had a Direwolf and each wolf reflected their child. Nymeria, like Arya was thrust into a life of loneliness and fear. And like Arya, she found a way to make herself the strongest, the bravest, and the fiercest of the wolves.
Nymeria cannot go home with Arya, because a pet in Winterfell is a home that no longer fits her. One has to wonder if this is a reflection of Arya herself. After all she has been through alone, after everything she’s done, can she just go home? What will be there for her when she does? Arya has grown up so much, no longer the little girl she once was, now a Faceless Man and skilled assassin. Jon is having a tough time dealing with Sansa being grown, however will he manage Arya? Sansa, scarred by her experiences is no longer trusting, will she be able to connect with her sister? Perhaps, this journey home won’t bring Arya the warmth and happiness she’s wishing for. Perhaps, it no longer fits. Maybe, it’s not her.