If there is one lesson to be learned from Game of Thrones, it's that anyone bearing the last name Stark should always be wearing chain mail. Talisa, Robb, Jon, and now Arya have all been stabbed in the gut. Arya's stabbing in Braavos on Game of Thrones is devastating, as fans don't want to lose another favorite any time soon. It's so devastating, in fact, that some have already started making their way through the five stages of grief, the first of which is denial. Fans suspect that the Arya who was stabbed was not actually Arya. Could it be true? Is this all just a massive ruse meant to scare fans? Some people think someone else was disguised as Arya.
At the end of the episode "Blood of My Blood," Arya goes into hiding, wielding her recently-retrieved sword Needle. She is on guard, aware that the Faceless Men are after her. Then, when she's seen in "The Broken Man," Arya is confidently throwing around sacks of money and doing the exact opposite of laying low. It's no wonder she's found so easily by The Waif. In fact, maybe she's found a little too easily. There are signs that the Arya fans watched get stabbed isn't really Arya.
Arya is a fantastic assassin, but she's not an extravagant thief. Accumulating two sacks of coin large enough to purchase a cabin on a ship to Westeros seems like a tall order for a girl last seen in a cave clutching the last part of herself. Reddit user grounded_astronaut points out that when Arya asks for that cabin, she "sounds exactly like a rich person skipping town, which lines up with the Waif's opinion of Arya." The same user finds Arya's hiding place odd. "She'd probably know by now that the best way to hide is in a crowd, in plain sight. Instead, she hangs out alone on a bridge, where she'd be easy to spot." While grounded_astronaut believes that this means Arya is attempting to lure the Waif out by pretending to be injured, others believe that Jaqen H'ghar could be pretending to be the version of Arya that the Waif sees in her head.
It's been shown before that Jaqen and other Faceless Men can wear Arya's face, but why would he go to such lengths to save Arya? A strong possibility is that Arya is not meant to be killed by the Waif. The Faceless Men have a strong belief structure when it comes to who deserves death, and it's been shown that Jaqen has a soft spot for Arya. The Waif's vendetta against Arya seems to go against the Faceless Men philosophy, and perhaps the only way to satisfy her is to give her what she wants. Adding credibility to this theory is that "Arya" is seen without her most important possession: Needle.
Where Is Needle? Arya Stark, trained swordswoman and enemy number one of the Faceless Men — a group of people who can literally disguise themselves as anybody — is wandering the streets of Braavos sans weapon? This is the most alarming sign that even if Ja'qen isn't disguised as Arya, something isn't right about this scene. Arya may have had a plan that went awry once she got brutally stabbed in the stomach and thrown off a cliff. That wound seems awfully difficult to survive. It may make more sense for Ja'qen to sacrifice himself for Arya than for Arya to somehow bounce back from that stabbing.
Additionally, the Waif's behavior has been unbecoming of a Faceless Man. She's taken personal offense to Arya, and seems to take pleasure in wanting her dead, which is exactly what Ja'qen has been advising Arya against during her training. Ja'qen specifically tells the Waif not to let Arya suffer, and yet she stabs her in the gut and twists the knife. Perhaps Ja'qen sought to teach the Waif a lesson in what it means to truly be a Faceless Man, and she will be punished for her actions. Unless, of course, Arya and the Waif are the same person.
Many factors point to Arya not having truly been Arya, and the writers are likely saving that reveal for a later episode in Season 6. Even if that was Arya who got stabbed, there's a larger plan in play here, and things are certainly not what they seem, as the case often is when it comes to Game of Thrones. Remember that this episode also reintroduced the long-thought-dead Sandor Clegane. Game of Thrones knows what fans expect upon seeing something, and will often give them the exact opposite of what seems to be the truth. The fact of the matter is that no matter who was stabbed on that bridge, Arya Stark is far from dead or dying. It is already known what she says to the God of Death.
So don't fear too much for Arya. No matter what happened on the bridge, I'm sure she'll be just fine.
Images: HBO, Giphy (4)