Arya Stark Is An Idiot

In last night's episode of Game Of Thrones, everyone's favourite mini-assassin Arya Stark proved herself to be one of the biggest badasses on the show via some brutally efficient "needlework". Unfortunately, she also proved herself to be a complete idiot. (Or at least, the writers of the show did.)

[Warning: Some Season Four (and book three) spoilers follow]

In episode 4.7 of Game Of Thrones, travelling buddy duo Arya and the Hound were attacked by a pair of Brave Companion deserters, which resulted in the Hound receiving a nasty bite to the neck:

In a later scene, Arya attempts to cauterise the wound with fire -- an offer that is sternly rejected by her sort-of captor. The show uses this exchange to play up the Hound's vulnerable side and rational fear of fire. However, he was actually perfectly right to refuse Arya's offer of DIY sterilization. In short, it's one of the dumbest things you can do.

As this Medicine Journal video explains, cauterisation is a big no-no unless you are literally bleeding to death. The risk of dying from systemic infection is far higher after cauterisation. This is due to the creation of third- and second-degree burns which are a perfect breeding environment for bacteria. Applying a naked flame to the Hound's neck is just about the worst thing Arya could have done.

Now granted, Game Of Thrones is set in a quasi-Medieval society where such knowledge might not be commonplace. Indeed, cautery was commonly employed by real-world armies well into the 18th century.

[Book three spoilers below!]

However, the show actually presents this terrible remedy is the safest course of action available. As book readers will be aware, the Hound's refusal to treat his wound will come back to haunt him -- which strongly suggests he should have listened to Arya. Tch.

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