By Valerie Tejeda
Warning: This post contains major spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 3.
If you’ve ever wondered just how badass Arya Stark truly is, Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones (“The Long Night”) gave us a very clear answer. As the Battle of Winterfell progressed, things went from bad to downright hopeless. The great battle was all but lost, and as the Night King slo-mo walked toward Bran and reached for his icy sword, Arya (a.k.a. No One) leapt from the shadows and ultimately slayed the Night King with a perfectly placed thrust of her Valyrian steel dagger, striking him in the exact place the Children of the Forest ceremonially inserted the dragonglass into his chest all those thousands of years ago. Arya single-handedly saved the entire world, including the North, and those in it still among the living (R.I.P. Theon, Lyanna, Jorah, Edd, and many more).
I have always been a huge fan of Arya and House Stark in general, but just as Sansa has become one of the smartest in the seven kingdoms, Arya has grown to be one of, if the not the, greatest warriors. But is she that warrior — Azor Ahai, the prince or princess that was promised?
If you’re unfamiliar with the prophecy, the prince that was promised is implied to be the reincarnation of Azor Ahai, a legendary warrior who lived thousands of years ago. According to Melisandre, a red priestess of the Lord of Light, the prophecy goes like this: “Darkness will fall heavy on the world. Stars will bleed. The cold breath of winter will freeze the seas, and the dead shall rise in the North. In the ancient books, it is written that a warrior will draw a burning sword from the fire. And that sword will be the Lightbringer.”
For the longest time, all signs pointed to Jon Snow being that prince. He was brought back to life after being stabbed multiple times by his own men from the Night’s Watch, he’s the secret son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, and Melisandre even said to Jon in Game of Thrones Season 6, “The Lord let you come back for a reason. Stannis was not the prince who was promised, but someone has to be.” So, yeah, Jon seemed like the clear front runner.
Then, Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, emerged as a candidate after it was discovered that in High Valyrian, the word that corresponds to “prince” is gender neutral. Meaning, the prophesied savior is “the prince or princess that was promised,” so it could be a man or a woman.
But after Arya Stark’s heroic deed it seems that someone other than Jon and Daenerys could be Azor Ahai reborn, and that person is the Night King slayer herself. Arya may not have been literally “reborn amidst salt and smoke,” but perhaps the rebirth is more metaphorical; after all, Arya was reborn as No One, a lethal assassin.
When Melisandre first arrives for the Battle of Winterfell she eyes Arya from a distance. At first, I thought Melisandre was giving Arya that look because she either knew about her and Gendry’s tryst in the previous episode (we know Melisandre loves those Baratheons) — or because of their prior exchange in Season 3. But as “The Long Night” continued it was clear that there was much more behind that gaze. Did Melisandre know that Arya is Azor Ahai?
Back in Season 3, Arya had a brief encounter with Melisandre, who told her: “I see a darkness in you. And in that darkness, eyes staring back at me. Brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes. Eyes sealed shut forever. We will meet again.” The priestess reminded Arya of this down in the cellars of Winterfell, where it became clear that those “blue eyes” belonged to the Night King.
So was killing the Night King enough to make Arya the promised savior? Maybe. Melisandre’s focus on Arya makes it seem like a big possibility — not to mention, the red witch died just before dawn, thereby fulfilling her duty to the Lord of Light (and her service to the plot of the show) — as does the fact that Beric Dondarrion countless resurrections over the years appear to have been for the sole purpose of sacrificing himself to save Arya during the Battle of Winterfell. “The Lord brought him back for a purpose,” Melisandre told Arya upon Beric’s end. “Now that purpose has been served.” Yes, she didn’t kill the Night King with Lightbringer as the prophecy states, but we know that in the world of Game of Thrones all things are not to be interpreted in the literal sense.
Plus, the prince that was promised wasn’t necessarily prophesied to rule the Seven Kingdoms, they were prophesied to bring peace to the land. They’re a leader, a savior, and a hero who saves the world from darkness. By killing the Night King, Arya has saved humanity.
I’ve always thought Season 8 would let the Starks rise up and see better days. So if Arya is Azor Ahai, let’s hope that means we’ll see her by Queen Sansa’s side in King’s Landing, working as her Hand (because while Arya would never want to be queen, Sansa would be a great one), being her badass self, and keeping the realm safe and sound. That sounds like a Westeros I would want to live in.
But first, Arya has to fulfill that “shutting the green eyes forever” part of the prophecy and take out Cersei. And, honestly, it’d be much appreciated.