Where Is Arya In 'Game Of Thrones' Season 5? Be Patient — She's Somewhere We've Been Before

Game of Thrones doesn't often leave us with a major cliffhanger. Season 2 ended with a glimpse of an army of White Walkers (who have yet to invade Westeros); Season 3 ended with Daenerys being carried aloft by a grateful crowd she had just freed from slavery; and Season 4 ended with Arya on a boat, sailing across the sea. But where Arya is in Game of Thrones Season 5 will have huge ramifications for the show. It's all a part of the pattern that showrunners David Benioff & D.B. Weiss have set up over four seasons of Games Of Thrones insists that the most climactic, game-changing event of each season much occur in the ninth episode: Ned's beheading, the Battle of the Blackwater, the Red Wedding, the Battle at the Wall. Then the tenth and final episode is usually devoted to moving all of the show's various characters and plots into position for the following season, like pieces on a chess board. While this is an effective way to structure a season, it doesn't often yield a cliffhanger that leaves you gasping for breath.

Season 1's cliffhanger — the birth of Dany's three dragons — was undoubtedly the most dramatic to date. Arya perched on the deck of a ship might seem tame in comparison. But I would argue that Season 4's ending was the most game-changing since the first. Not only does it represent Arya finally taking agency over her own life (after wandering through the Westerosi wilderness while captive to various men for three seasons running), but it also signals a massive shift in the series' storytelling. Through the show's first four years, all the action (except for Dany's) took place in Westeros. Now the Mother of Dragons is being joined in Essos by Arya, Tyrion, and Varys. Add to this the introduction of Dorne and all its inhabitants, and Season 5 is shaping up to be the biggest yet.

So where exactly is Arya going? As soon as she gave that iron coin to the captain and told him "Valar morghulis," the ship had only one destination: Braavos, a free city in the north of Essos, sprawling over a series of canals much like Venice. While we'll likely get to see much more of Braavos than ever before this season, it's actually a place we've glimpsed before — and one we've certainly heard much about.

We first heard Braavos mentioned way back in Season 1, when Ned Stark procured a "dancing master" for Arya. Her sword-fighting instructor, Syrio Forel, was from Braavos — and although he perished before the end of the season, he left a lasting impression on the young girl. The second Braavosi character we met was also through Arya: Jaqen H'ghar, a captive of the Night's Watch who turns out to be a Faceless Man, one of a league of expert assassins out of Braavos. After Arya saves Jaqen, he repays the debt by helping her escape from Harrenhall... and giving her the iron coin she later used to buy her passage across the Narrow Sea.

The only character we've seen connected to Braavos other than Arya is Davos Seaworth, Hand of the King to Stannis Baratheon. In Season 4, he ventured to the free city to secure a loan from the famed Iron Bank of Braavos in order to finance Stannis's war against the Lannisters. There, the smuggler haggled with a banker named Tycho Nestoris, played by Sherlock's Mark Gatiss... who will reappear in Season 5, tipping off Braavos' growing importance to the plot of the series.

Lest you fear that Arya's journey to a foreign land is about to become bogged down by a zillion characters we've met before, rest assured that there will be at least one familiar face there — someone who will be a surprise for book-readers and non-book-readers alike: Jaqen H'ghar. Although the Faceless Man vanishes from the books after parting ways with Arya, Jaquen will resurface on the show to help train Arya in becoming a master assassin.

Now that you're prepped for Arya's Season 5 journey, you should be warned: Despite what Season 4's cliffhanger may imply, Arya does not actually appear in the new season's premiere. I know; bummer, right? But the budding assassin will return in full force in Episode 2, "The House Of Black And White" — and she'll be a large part of its focus, if the title is any indication. The House of Black and White is the temple of the Many-Faced God, the deity whom the Faceless Men worship, and where they train their newest recruits.

Game Of Thrones may now be departing more and more from George R.R. Martin's novels... but as long as Arya's storyline leads up to this chill-inducing scene, I'll be a happy camper.

Images: Macall B. Polay, Helen Sloan/HBO; beaufortplace/tumblr