Brow Beat

How Does the Many-Faced God on Game of Thrones Decide Who to Kill?

Arya, you’re not the only who is confused about how this religion works.

Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

After a harrowing season, capped off with a typically bloody Game of Thrones finale, the gods took the Worst Person in Westeros crown this week. After all, as the season has been building, they’ve been responsible for two of the biggest turns of fate: Cersei’s—she elevated the Sparrows for her own benefit only to have the plan backfire—and Stannis’—he put all his faith in Melisandre’s prophecies only to have it, well, backfire in an even worse way, resulting in his own death. But there is still one character struggling to figure out her relationship with her current chosen God: Arya Stark.

Arya has spent Season 5 training with the Faceless Men: She’s, very slowly, been learning the trade, scrubbing bodies and lying to people looking for help, all to serve the Many-Faced God. In the finale, it was clear that Arya still didn’t understand how the Many-Faced God works—she killed a man she wasn’t told to—and was punished. But is it so shocking that she was confused? The show hasn’t really done a great job of explaining this religion.

For a long time, Arya has been moving toward becoming a tiny assassin—one of her most defining characteristics was the list of names she recited before bed: all the people she was going to kill for doing her wrong (she’s doing a pretty good job so far!). But her motivation is revenge—and, while she’s been trying to fit in with the Faceless Men, she keeps slipping up.

The Faceless Men have a pretty simple creed, even if Jaqen H’ghar does not do much to clarify it on the show: Death is a gift, a merciful end to human suffering. That’s why they treat assassination like a sacrament to the Many-Faced God; of course they take a nice sum of money for their services, too. (They believe that the other gods are simply some of the Many-Faced God’s faces—like the Stranger in the Faith of the Seven.) The catch for Arya: They only kill people they’re hired to kill, and can’t choose who is worthy on their own. If Arya really understood that, would she still be camped out in Braavos? Or would she be trying to make more dents in her list?