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Why Arya Stark and Beric Dondarrion are frenemies on Game of Thrones

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A brief season 8 exchange has deep roots in season 3

Image: HBO

Spoilers ahead for Game of Thrones, season 8, episode 2, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.”

“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” the second episode of Game of Thrones’ final season, is crammed with fireside chats and cold reunions, including one between Arya Stark and two men she traveled with in earlier seasons: the Hound and Beric Dondarrion. It’s a meeting heavy with unspoken emotions coming from bad memories. Beric tells Arya, “My lady, it’s good to see you again. I’m sorry we parted the way we did.” Nothing further is said about their history. It’s been five seasons since Beric and Arya last shared a scene together, so it’s understandably difficult to remember how they parted, unless you’ve recently marathoned the series.

First off, Arya’s father, Ned Stark, originally tasked Beric and his men with executing Gregor Clegane, aka the Mountain. Armed with a hundred men, they ride to Gregor’s keep in season 1. Arya runs into them in season 3 after Beric has undergone a religious conversion, and he now believes in the Lord of the Light. He has good reason to do so: his friend Thoros of Myr has brought him back to life six times by praying to the Lord of Light. By that point, he’s somewhat abandoned his original goal of executing the Mountain. Instead, he’s formed the Brotherhood Without Banners, a rogue organization that defends commoners from soldiers of houses like the Lannisters and Starks.

This background positions Beric strangely as an ally of sorts to Arya in season 3, when she, Hot Pie, and Gendry are captured by the Brotherhood Without Banners. He’s willing to challenge the Hound to a trial by combat after Arya accuses Sandor of killing her friend. Beric also promises to reunite Arya with her mother and brother in Riverrun, albeit by ransoming her off. Beric loses the duel, and the Hound overpowers him and kills him. Thoros then resurrects Beric, who determines that the Hound is not guilty “in the eyes of god” since he won the duel.

Image: HBO

Beric’s new religious convictions and reluctant fealty to House Stark mean he and Arya are ultimately too different to stay traveling allies. He also exacerbates her frustration by selling Gendry to Melisandre, then deciding to send his ragtag army to harass some Lannister soldiers a bit north from where they’re camping, which is the opposite direction from Riverrun. Arya explodes at this new change in plans to head further from Riverrun, shouting, “You’re a liar. You lied to Gendry, and you lied to me. I hope the Lannisters kill you all.” She runs off, and adds Beric’s name to her kill list, alongside Melisandre and Cersei Lannister.

All of this happened in season 3, episode 7. The Red Wedding, where Arya’s mother and brother were killed, was just two episodes later. So Arya was justified in her haste to get to her family. By the time she actually arrives at Riverrun, she’s too late, and they’re all dead. Arguably, if she’d gotten there sooner, she would have died with them.

Maybe that explains why Arya doesn’t appear to hold much of a grudge against the Hound and Beric now. Or maybe it’s because she’s aware they’re all allies against an even larger and more deadly enemy, the Army of the Dead. She does call them both “miserable old shits” before ditching them to go see Gendry, so they’re not exactly friends. But it’s worth remembering just how much history is packed into Beric’s apology and into that short, simple reunion between three people who are setting aside their pasts in the hopes of eventually having a future.

Correction April 25th, 12:46PM ET: This article has been corrected to reflect Beric was tasked with killing Gregor Clegane, The Mountain, and not his brother, The Hound.