On the seventh day, God created Game of Thrones, and with it the fan theory was born. You, I and the rest of the internet have spent this week trying to work out what the hell happened to Arya in Sunday's episode, 'The Broken Man'.
Did Jaqen impersonate Arya in order to prove that the Waif was not truly no-one? Did Arya and the Waif go all Cage/Travolta and engage in a weird face-swap, meaning the Waif is the one nursing the stab wound? Or perhaps Arya and the Waif are actually one and the same...
While the above are all perfectly plausible theories, it strikes me now that we might have been asking the wrong question. Regardless of who we saw in the cobbled streets of Braavos, I believe there's one important detail we may have overlooked.
A Debt Is Owed
When a Faceless apprentice is given an order to take a life, a life must be paid to the Many-Faced God. Arya was ordered to take the life of Lady Crane. For her failure to do so, the Waif was given permission to take Arya's life.
For each order given to take a life, the God must be paid with a life, but it's never been stated that the life must belong to the original target of the assassination. The God simply demands a life. That leaves us with a situation in which two lives have been promised — Lady Crane and Arya — but none taken, meaning two lives must still be paid. In short, a debt is owed.
Here's my theory in brief: In Episode 8, 'No-One', that debt will be cleared. The Many-Faced God will receive his two lives. Jaqen and the Waif will die.
The Green-Eyed Monster
Before I explain, let's rewind back to Episode 5, when the Braavosi theater troupe was first introduced. Ostensibly, the purpose of bringing Lady Crane into Arya's story was to give her a kill target, a symbolic method of proving whether or not a girl was ready to give up being Arya Stark and truly become no-one.
Look a little deeper, though, and I think Lady Crane actually served a dual purpose: to illustrate that it was not just Arya, but also the Waif, who is incapable of becoming no-one. The Waif believes on some level that she is already no-one, but she uses Arya's inability to take Lady Crane's life as justification for her deep-rooted hatred of Arya, even though that hatred has existed since their first meeting.
Put simply, the Waif despises Arya because she came more or less from nothing, whereas Arya was born into a noble House. That jealousy has been simmering beneath the surface, driving the Waif in everything she does, illustrating that the Waif has not forgotten her own roots and is still very much someone.
When the Waif subsequently uses Arya's failure to complete her training as the basis of her request to take Arya's life herself, in order to repay the debt of one life owed, Jaqen effectively receives confirmation of his suspicion that the Waif, too, has failed her training. He no longer cares if the Waif lives or dies, and so he permits her to kill Arya, knowing that the Waif has most likely already been added to Arya's kill list, and is therefore at high risk of having her own life taken by Arya.
A Debt Is Paid
I'm almost certain that it wasn't the real Arya who was stabbed, for a number of reasons, the main giveaways being the absence of Needle, the fact that Arya demanded a cabin from the sailor (before sailing to Braavos, she specifically said she didn't need or want a cabin), and the villager who crossed the bridge with her hair worn in the double-knot hairstyle Arya usually wears. But it's not important. Whomever was stabbed on that bridge in Braavos, the trailer basically confirms that Arya is alive in the next episode.
Which brings us back to the question of who will die. Two lives are owed. The Waif has been undone by jealousy and resentment, and will be the first life paid to the Many-Faced God, presumably at Arya's hand, allowing her to check another name off her kill list.
That will leave Arya and Jaqen, one of whom must die, and it creates a clever situation in which Arya effectively does complete her training by putting emotion aside and taking the life of the man who was once her friend and protector. Jaqen H'ghar pays the debt with his life. The Many-Faced God is satisfied. It's weirdly poetic when you think about it.
Check out the preview above for Season 6, Episode 8, the ominously-titled 'No-One', and let me know if there are any glaring holes in my theory.