Game of Thrones season 7, episode 2 featured the return of a beloved member of the Stark family. According to writer Bryan Cogman, we were supposed to see another familiar face this week.
Spoilers for Game of Thrones season 7, episode 2!
The seventh season of Game of Thrones continues to barrel through emotional moments, long-awaited meetings and reunions, paying off so many things that were set up in early seasons of the series.
In last night’s episode, Arya (Maisie Williams) made the fateful decision to head for Winterfell rather than King’s Landing, after learning from none other than her old friend Hot Pie that her brother Jon has taken back Winterfell and is now the King in the North.
Possibly as a cosmic reward for rediscovering her inner Stark, Arya was visited at her campfire by a pack of wolves led by — you guessed it — her own direwolf Nymeria, whom she forced to abandon her all the way back in season 1, to save her from being executed on Joffrey’s orders.
Although Nymeria didn’t join Arya on her journey to Winterfell, the reunion was a heartfelt, emotional moment that called back to season 1. When Arya tells Nymeria “no, that’s not you,” she’s repeating the words she once told Ned Stark when he said she was destined to be a great lady and wife. “That’s not me,” she said then, and repeating the words to Nymeria now indicates that the wolf has found her own path, and a new pack, and Arya respects that.
But Nymeria wasn’t the only direwolf that was supposed to be back this week. The episode’s writer Bryan Cogman revealed on Twitter that he’d written in a scene between Jon Snow and his direwolf Ghost, which was unfortunately cut from the episode:
FYI… We shot a Jon/Ghost scene. Didn't make it in. I tried! Thx for watching, everybody. #Stormborn
— Bryan Cogman (@b_cogman) July 24, 2017
Ghost was last seen in the beginning of season 6, though he’s been mentioned a few times since then, and is presumably safe at Winterfell with Jon. Of course Jon has just left Winterfell in Sansa’s capable hands to go meet Daenerys at Dragonstone, but Cogman’s cut scene indicates that Ghost has stayed behind, perhaps to look out for Sansa, since she doesn’t have a wolf of her own.
Ghost and Nymeria are the only two remaining direwolves from the litter that Ned Stark discovered in the very first episode: Sansa’s wolf Lady, Robb’s wolf Grey Wind, Bran’s wolf Summer and Rickon’s wolf Shaggydog are all dead.
Which Stark children’s direwolves have survived, and how emotionally connected Jon and Arya are to theirs, has been speculated to be an indication of which Starks are most in tune with their Northern roots and family values.
This popular theory certainly seems to fit with Arya (who reunited with Nymeria on her way back to Winterfell) and Jon (who has (we assume) left his direwolf behind to meet Daenerys and, hopefully, discover his Targaryen heritage). It is somewhat undercut, however, by the fact that as of this week’s episode, the direwolf-less Sansa Stark is officially Queen in the North. It doesn’t get much closer to Stark Goals™ than that!