(Editor's note: This post is dark and full of spoilers.)
Wondering just what the hell is going on with Arya Stark's bloody possible demise in the last episode of Game of Thrones?
Prepare to have your mind blown.
One redditor has a pretty solid theory about who exactly got stabbed by the Faceless Man apprentice known to viewers as "the waif" — and it's not Arya who took a dagger to the intestines.
Here's their theory about what might be happening in Braavos, as established over several episodes from this and prior seasons. Drawing on inconsistencies, what we know about the shape-shifting assassins in the House of Black and White, and little bit of magic, they've constructed a well-evidenced guess as to just what is going on.
It's not as crazy as it might sound. The House of Black and White, the temple in which the Faceless Men worship their "Many-Faced God" of death, is well established in A Song of Ice and Fire as a place commoners only dare to go to draw their dying breaths. Those seen in the temple are the Faceless Men themselves and citizens of Braavos who wish to drink the poison flowing in the building's central hall — a kind of assisted suicide for the sick, the despondent and those with guilt so wrenching they can't bear to live with it any longer.
Arya had to wait several days to gain entrance, and presumably was only admitted because the assassins knew she was presenting herself as a possible apprentice.
If entering the temple marks one for death, then it's possible the assassins are pitting Arya and the waif against each other as part of the training process. As Jaqen H'gar, the identity assumed by multiple Faceless Men to communicate with Arya and the waif, is fond of saying:
"Only death pays for life."
So perhaps to become an assassin and keep their life, one must kill their rival apprentice. What complicates the process is that Arya has turned her back on the temple, creating a choice opening for the waif to prove her value to the Faceless Men.
Unfortunately for the waif, her open desire to claim Arya's life is in violation of the rules of the House of Black and White as well, since the assassins have been quite clear they don't get to choose who lives and dies. Assassination is a ritual in service of the Many-Face God, not to be interfered with by the trifling desires of mere servants. The waif further violated Jaqen H'gar's only requirement to kill Arya when she twisted the knife in the Stark child's belly — "Don't let her suffer."
In the end scenes of episode seven, Arya (or the person wearing her face) was quite clearly suffering.
The Faceless Man on Arya's list may also feel obligated to exchange his life for Arya's, seeing as his name was never withdrawn from the promised kill list. While both apprentices are failures, Arya has an ace card up her sleeve she might not even be aware of.
And so... a girl lives.
It's not the only theory that something more than meets the eye is going on in Braavos. Several astute viewers noticed the Stark child appears to be being followed by a mysterious man in blue, the only colorful personage among crowds of peasants and traders garbed in rough-spun brown tunics.
Said man appears in the preview of episode eight, meaning he's either an extra conspicuously cast in multiple scenes or some sort of spy.
However, with Arya Stark's death unlikely — why the narrative dead end? — the theory originating on Reddit as to the true identity of the dying, bleeding girl staggering through the streets of Braavos is certainly one of the more intriguing.