Back at “The Bloody Hand,” the adaptation-within-an-adaptation has reached Season 4 and Joffrey’s death. Arya, watching from the crowd, is quite affected by her target Lady Crane aka “Cersei” (Essie Davis) as she cradles Joffrey’s actor. The play casts Tyrion as a nefarious dwarf who killed not only Tywin but Joffrey as well. During “Tywin’s assassination,” Arya hesitantly sneaks back stage to poison Crane’s rum, as she planned last week.
Lady Crane enters from the front while Arya attempts to exist, and lo and behold, they stop for an encounter, as if to say “we’re going to make this as hard on Arya as possible.” While Arya escapes before too long, she returns, saving Crane from murder and herself from murdering. The Waif watches and returns to Jaqen with the news of Arya’s betrayal. He is sad but nonetheless allows the girl her request: to kill Arya. For the littlest Stark girl’s part, she retrieves Needle, officially reclaiming her identity as Arya Stark and putting end to the endless stick fighting (thank god).
I’m thankful and surprised this storyline wrapped up so quickly this episode. After so much wheel-spinning, it conditioned me to expect more but it actually obscured how this Bloody Hand plot furthered Arya’s development (observing actors playing roles, re-witnessing her father’s death and seeing Joffrey’s – or a version). It catalyzed her purpose, although now the Faceless Men are after her, with her hated rival the Waif eagerly looking to kill her.