The following post contains spoilers about the Game of Thrones season 7 premiere, “Dragonstone.”
You could argue 2016 Emmy-nominee Maisie Williams actually had two surprise scenes in the Game of Thrones season 7 opener — Arya’s murderous slaughter of hundreds at House Frey and later stumbling upon pop singer Ed Sheeran in a cameo as a Lannister soldier.
Briefly regarding the latter: Showrunner David Benioff previously explained at the South by Southwest Festival: “We knew that Maisie was a big fan of Ed Sheeran and for years we’ve been trying to get him on the show so we can surprise Maisie. This year we finally did it.” (To which Sansa Stark actress Sophie Turner quipped: “I’m still waiting on Bieber.” GoT actually has a history of famous musicians making subtle cameos (such as Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol, Will Champion from Coldplay, Sigur Rós, and Mastodon), but Sheeran’s spot as a soldier singing for his fellow troops at a campfire was arguably the most noticeable.
But the scene we really want to talk about was that opening sequence with Williams poisoning as many high-ranking Freys as she could round up. By putting the scene before the credits of the premiere, the sequence initially plays like it might be a flashback, with viewers gradually figuring out that Arya is secretly in disguise.
“When I heard first heard about the Faceless Men, I always thought it would be really cool if she switched faces with a leading character rather than an unknown person’s face,” Williams told EW. “I really hope [viewers] don’t guess it’s her straight away.”
RELATED: Dive Deep Into the Premiere Episode With EW’s Game of Thrones Weekly Podcast
At the premiere screening in Los Angeles last week, the audience’s tittering reaction to the speech given by “Walder” suggested some were onto the ruse pretty quickly. The scene concludes with Arya striding out among all the men she’s poisoned, once again taking her murderousness to a whole new level.
“It’s so f—ed up!” Williams says. “Even Arya is surprised she has so much power. In that last moment she’s staring out at all those men dying, she’s turned into a bit more of a monster than she’s ever realized. I don’t think she’s sad about that but she’s got it on her mind.”
With Arya back in Westeros and able to impersonate anybody she kills, the actress also has a clever idea about how the series’ final moment could play out in season 8.
“I’ve always had this fantasy in the back of my head — I don’t think it’s a good ending and fans might not like it — but that somebody would sit on the Iron Throne at the end and then they whip their face off and it’s Arya instead,” she says. “I’ve always had that dream.”
More Game of Thrones season 7 premiere coverage: Check out our deep-dive recap, our chat with Pilou Asbæk (Euron Greyjoy) about the flirty return of his “douchebag” pirate, and subscribe to our Game of Thrones Weekly podcast (listen to the latest episode above).