If you haven’t seen episode five in Game of Thrones’ eighth and final season and don’t want to know what happens, stop reading now.
After nearly an hour of carnage, Game of Thrones’ penultimate episode ‘The Bells’ ended with an almost silent scene.
Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) emerges from the rubble of King’s Landing and discovers she is the only living soul on a street littered with charred bones and fallen ash. Well, she’s almost the last one standing.
A beautiful pale white horse, clearly spooked and covered in blood, appears. Arya slowly approaches this gorgeous animal, calms it, and then mounts it.
So what gives? Is the horse a nod to the Biblical verse about the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse, Death, and his pale horse?
Is it a sign that Arya is going to kill Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke)?
Who’s horse is it?!?! What does it mean?
Here’s everything we know about the pale horse in Game of Thrones.
DOES THE PALE HORSE SYMBOLISE DEATH?
The pale horse is certainly a symbol of death in Christian culture. In Revelations, it is written, “I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him.” Depending on the translation, that ashen horse is sometimes a pale horse or white horse. The implication that the horse carries death.
Now the horse that Arya encounters certainly seems to fit the image of a pale, white horse that brings death. Also, Arya has been consumed with facing down death — i.e. “What do we say to the god of death?” “Not today” — and bringing death through her assassin training throughout the eight seasons of the show. So it would follow that Arya herself is meant to fulfil a deadly deed with the help of this horse.
Then again, it could mean something a lot nicer.
DOES THE WHITE HORSE MEAN HEROISM?
As Time magazine notes, a white horse can mean a lot of things. Besides, death, white horses are also symbols of chivalry, honour, and heroism. Even on Game of Thrones, we have seen Ned Stark (Sean Bean) ride a white horse, and famously, Khal Drogo’s first gift to Daenerys was a gorgeous silvery-white horse. When she loses that animal, she exchanges it for a dragon. (Maybe that symbolises Dany’s own transformation?)
Over at Time, they are speculating that when Arya mounts the horse, it means she has once again been cast in the role of hero, and that her next task will be to defeat the evil that Daenerys has come to represent.
In a funny way, this reading validates both the chivalrous interpretation of the pale, white horse, and the deathly one. Arya is embodying the spirit of heroism by potentially bringing with her death.
WHERE IS ARYA STARK GOING WITH THE HORSE?
While it looks like Arya is hightailing it out of King’s Landing — which is personally what I would do — next week’s teaser suggests that she is not leaving the city at all. In fact, it looks as though as some point, Arya dismounts the horse and creeps up on Daenerys’s army on foot.
WHOSE HORSE IS ARYA’S PALE HORSE?
While we don’t know for sure where the horse came from — does it belong to a Lannister soldier, a fallen Dothraki, or a random King’s Landing merchant? — there is an interesting theory floating around.
The rumour is the pale white horse is Harry Strickland’s horse, which would mean it’s from Essos. Strickland’s steed is also a thin white horse with a fabulous mane and uniquely pink snout.
However, we see the horse seem to fall and die when Drogon blows through the city wall. So it’s possible that Strickland’s horse got back up and made it into the city, or that this is just a random white horse in the wrong place at the right time to spirit Arya away.
In the end, does it matter whose horse the horse was? He’s Arya Stark’s pale white horse now.
This article originally appeared on the Deciderand was reproduced with permission