Movies & TV

Game of Thrones Fans Figured Out the Real Meaning of Arya's White Horse in Episode Five

And it might be a bad sign for Daenerys.
IMAGE HBO
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After an excruciating 80 minutes of television, the fifth episode of Game of Thrones Season Eight ends with a random white horse approaching Arya in the ruins of King's Landing. Somehow only these two survived Daenerys' dragon apocalypse. Arya approaches the horse, hops on, and rides off into the swirling ash.

Visually, it's a quiet, beautiful ending for such a nightmare of an episode. But fans have spent the hours since the show first aired trying to figure out what the hell it means. Theories have been about everything from Arya calling a horse Uber to Bran warging into the horse to come pick her up.

Some fans also noticed that the horse has a shocking resemblanceto the one ridden by Harry Strickland:


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This seems unlikely, though, considering Strickland's horse looked dead as hell after Daenerys blasted through the gates of King's Landing:


But, who knows? Maybe it got back up after that and wandered back toward Arya.

Other fans noticed that this horse might be a reference to the Book of Revelation in the Bible:

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"I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him."

This certainly fits thematically with the apocalyptic nature of this episode. But there is also some mentions of a white mare in the Game of Thrones source material, A Song of Ice And Fire. In A Dance with Dragons, Quaithe tells Dany:

"The glass candles are burning. Soon comes the pale mare, and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun's son and the mummer's dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying. Beware the perfumed seneschal."

Is it possible that Arya coming face-to-face with this horse bodes poorly for Daenerys' fate?

I happen to like this one explanation from one Reddit user that describes the horse as more of a cinematic visual reference than anything specifically plot related:

I think the horse at the end has a much more obvious meaning. In over half a dozen scenes in this episode, we are shown a young peasant girl, and everytime we see her, she is clutching what seems to be her only possession: a small white horse figurine with red-stained legs..

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In quite a few of the shots with her, the horse is literally in the center of the shot and it's the only white thing so it really stands out.. Even when she's struggling to carry her mom, she's clutching her little horse. Then after her death, the camera literally stops and holds this shot for a good three seconds. And what do we pan to right after? A living embodiment of the girl's beloved white horse with stained legs The horse then (unrealistically) just stands and there in the middle of the fire and smoke, and gives itself over to Arya.

The horse is clearly tied thematically to the girl that Arya failed to save. Perhaps it represents her spirit, or simply a reminder of the innocent girl that was killed whom Arya plans to avenge, etc.

I'd guess that the exact answer is in a combination of all of these theories. This horse is a reference to a biblical apocalypse, it's a reference to some of the visual imagery in the episode, and a nod to some of the more prominent prophetic language of George R.R. Martin's book.

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Now if we combine all of that into one theory, it seems like Arya might be the harbinger of death coming for Dany to avenge the destruction she saw first-hand at King's Landing.

This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.

* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Matt Miller
Matt Miller is the Associate Culture Editor for Esquire.com
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