The second episode the season 8 of HBO’s hit show Game of Thrones aired just a day ago, and about three-quarter in, it showed a scene that led to a massive spike in the number of search for “Maisie Williams age” on Google.

Arya Age Search
The search to find out the age of Arya's actress Maisie Williams spiked up during the latest Game of Thrones episode

If you have watched the episode, you can easily guess what scene that is: On the night before the much-anticipated battle against the undead army led by the Night King, every major characters gathered to make plans and preparations, then dispersed to enjoy their possibly last night on earth. Williams’ character Arya Stark came to her… “friend” Gendry to make a proposition. Since it seemed very likely that they’re both going to die very soon (or at least that’s what Arya thought), she wanted to experience what it’s like to be with a man. Naturally, this led to some pretty hot moments. This is Game of Thrones after all.

For many fans, this development was fulfilling: the climax of a long-hinted relationship between two of the well-loved characters of the show, and an opportunity to witness a strong young woman take charge of her very first sexual experience. On Twitter, renowned writer Saladin Ahmed praised the scene as an excellent demonstration of character development, saying that “Arya has spent the past several seasons thinking of Death as her master. Now on the night she might die she realizes it’s the enemy. So she consciously moves toward life rather than hanging with old men who only know war.”

Game Of Thrones Arya Kiss
Arya had an intimate moment with Gendry, but this has led to a lot of controversies

Some people seem to disagree. For them, the scene was embarrassing and uncomfortable. Arya’s audacious seduction of Gendry — which started with her questioning him about his previous sexual partners and then developed into the Stark girl expressing her desire to be Gendry’s sexual present — did not feel like a young woman eagerly embracing sexual intimacy. It felt forced, like an inexperienced girl trying to act like a grown, sexually commanding woman. Instead of being the culmination of natural intimacy, it appeared like a lazy effort to meet Maisie Williams’s demand to get a sex scene of her own. They kind of just rushed the 2 characters from point A to point B.

To a certain extent, this discomfort was caused by fans’ impression of Arya’s age. For most of the show, the character has largely been demonstrated as a child; in several seasons, the actress (who is already 22 years old by the way) was asked to bind her breasts to appear like a prepubescent girl. The sudden change from a child to a sexually commanding grown woman felt rushed, as though the showmakers were focusing more on bringing Arya to her destination than on how she might get to that point.

Maisie William
Maisie Williams is already 22 years old, but many people still see her as a child

But it also indicates that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss doesn’t really understand female sexuality, and have no real desire to get to know the complicacy of women’s sexual motivations. Over the Game of Thrones seasons, the duo have been criticized on multiple occasions for promoting and glorifying sexual assault, whether by having Daenerys Targaryen (who is still supposed to be a teenager at the time) fall in love with the man who raped her in the first season, or by claiming that Jamie’s attempt to force himself on Cersei in the season 4 episode 3 “became consensual” as the act went on.

To clarify, the encounter between Arya and Gendry was portrayed as an entirely consensual one, and yet it somehow still appeared completely lacking in any real understanding of what choosing to have sex might mean for such a young woman as Arya. For years we’ve watched as Arya deal with her various trauma by becoming hardened and shutting out any emotion, shaping herself into a merciless killer driven by vengeance.

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Arya has hardened herself over the years to deal with trauma

While there are indeed women who deal with trauma by turning into excessive sexual consumers — which is what Arya appeared to be in that scene — we have never had any indication that that is Arya’s own experience. In fact, she has never shown the slightest interest in sex, even to the point of leading some to believe she’s asexual. The only time she’s been remotely close to a sex scene was at the brothel where she killed Meryn Trant, which was not exactly an experience that could lead a young woman to enthusiastically force herself on a man.

Arya does have some history with Gendry, as the two became quite close during their time traveling together after escaping King’s Landing and then later being trapped in Harrenhal. However, that bit of backstory pales in comparison to everything that Arya has gone through since they parted ways. When they first met, Arya was only a naive girl; yet when they reunited at Winterfell, she had become a hardened assassin. The idea that such a personality would melt immediately just by running into her sort-of old crush looks illogical.

Arya Sex Scene
This scene feels rushed and could have been handled a lot better

The crucial part that Game of Thrones fails to grasp is that for young women, sex — especially the intimate sex that Arya was supposed to be having with Gendry — requires vulnerability, which is something that a character like Arya is very unlikely to be interested in.

The scene could have been handled a lot better. Let’s look at a theoretical version in which, after their reunion at Winterfell, Arya and Gendry go on to fight alongside one another, protecting and coming to trust the other person. After years of detaching herself from others and cut off her emotions, Arya could start to learn that there is value to being taken care of by other people, and slowly she would let down her defenses while around Gendry. Then, a sex scene between the couple would be an evidence that they have established a strong bond that makes vulnerability not only possible but actually attractive for someone like Arya instead of just a rushed effort to cross an item off a list. Unfortunately, given that the screen time of Game of Thrones final season is relatively limited with only 6 episodes, we will never get to see such a vision come true.