This morning, I woke up to 78 texts. They were all about Taylor Swift's new single "Look What You Made Me Do" and the reactions were...mixed. It felt like we had been waiting so long for this to happen, and then when it did, it wasn't at all what we were expecting. I realised pretty quickly that this was a familiar feeling. There was another person I had spent three years rooting for only to be totally thrown off guard when I got what I thought I wanted: Arya Stark. The Game Of Thrones character, played by Maisie Williams, finally gave fans what they had been asking for this season when she returned to Winterfell to reunite with her brother Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and her sister Sansa (Sophie Turner). But that warm fuzzy feeling we were hoping for never came. Instead, something about Arya is...off. She's threatening, aggressive, and slightly unhinged. This time away changed her, just as it changed Taylor.
Once you notice this similarity, it's hard not to see it in every aspect of the singer's new song. Most notably, when she mentions her list.
"Honey, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time," she sings. "I've got a list of names and yours is in red, underlined."
Arya is notorious for the list of people she plans to kill. She repeated it to herself every night, and told Sansa about it earlier this season, and Sansa reacted about the same way we did when Swift dropped this single: nervous laughter.
There are other similarities, as well. The two both feel wronged, and spent years biding their time until they could come back on top. In the song, Taylor even says that her old self is dead, the same way Arya isn't Arya anymore. She's faceless. It would be disingenuous for Taylor to come back with a bubbly song about love, because that wouldn't address everything she's dealt with these past few years, just like expecting Arya to get over her own (make no mistake, much worse) trauma and be buddy, buddy with her family would feel just as unnatural.
When it comes to both of them, it's easy to be disappointed by this harsh change — but I'm optimistic. The song needed to happen, but it's not Taylor's last word. For both women, their stories are far from over, and I can't wait to see what happens next.
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