Why Arya Stark Is Destined to Kill Dany in 'Game of Thrones' Series Finale

She's riding on a pale horse.

Arya Stark is seeing red as she gallops towards Daenerys Targaryen at the end of Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 5. While it wasn’t planned as such in the books, Dany’s green eyes in the HBO adaptation means she might be the fulfillment of Arya’s prophecy, as told by Melisandre, which means the “Mad Queen” could be Arya’s next target.

The parting shot in this week’s episode is also proof death is coming to Dany.

Spoilers for HBO’s Game of Thrones ahead.

How Not to Make a Mad Queen

With the series finale of Game of Thrones next week, fans are doubtful showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff will stick the landing of their eight-year fantasy saga. And to be honest, things aren’t looking pretty.

“The Bells,” the series’ penultimate episode, had Daenerys turn heel — that’s pro wrestling carny talk for “become the bad guy” — when she refused to acknowledge the city’s bells of surrender. She then sets fire to King’s Landing, burning the place and its innocent people to an ashy crisp.

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While anyone who’s been paying attention will argue this was Dany’s darkest side bubbling to the surface, the problem is that Dany has always acted out of logic and tactics. This, whatever it was, ain’t that.

Daenerys Game of Thrones
"Dany, you're not yourself. Eat a Snickers."

Before “The Bells,” Daenerys only ever exercised her wrath against those she felt deserved it, and only then, after careful deliberation. Burning King’s Landing — the people she intended to rule over — is a foolhardy way of getting what she wanted. The entire scene makes Dany out to be uncharacteristically prone to emotion despite spending the last seven seasons maturing into the exact opposite.

It’s not Dany being the Mad Queen that perturbs viewers like myself; it’s that the journey to the moment was clearly, and terribly, short.

Instead of another season or even just a half season to let Daenerys grow into that place where she felt like she had no choice but to burn King’s Landing (and we couldn’t argue against it), the show just darted straight for the finishing line in the clumsiest way possible. The subsequent moments of misery and devastation just felt gross instead of heartbreakingly inevitable like it should have actually felt.

There is a compelling argument that the series, and by extension author George R. R. Martin, has long set up Daenerys Targaryen (First of Her Name, Breaker of Chains, Haver of Nice Hair, etc.) to be the show’s true big bad. The Night King, spooky as he was, was not the endgame for Game of Thrones but rather the bridge to get us to where Martin wanted us all along.

(I do think we were robbed of one good table conversation between the Night King and Jon Snow, à la Batman and Joker or Pacino and de Niro in Heat, but that’s what happens when you’ve also got to budget for dragons, I guess.)

And where is it Martin wants us? Dany, at the receiving end of Arya’s blades.

Game of Thrones Melisandre Green Eyes
In "The Long Night," Melisandre promised Arya's prophecy is not yet fulfilled, but that it soon would be.

Why Arya’s “Green Eyes” Prophecy Matters

By now, Game of Thrones fans know about Melisandre’s prophecy. In Season 3, and again this season during the Battle of Winterfell (“The Long Night”), Melisandre told Arya that she has yet to “shut forever” eyes of blue and green. When Arya first heard the prophecy, Melisandre said, “I see a darkness in you. And in that darkness, eyes staring back at me: brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes. Eyes you’ll shut forever. We will meet again.”

Most of this came true. In Season 6, Arya killed Walder Frey (he had brown eyes) as revenge for the Red Wedding. She then shut the “blue eyes” of the Night King when she thrusted her Valyrian dagger into his ribs.

That leaves green eyes. For the last two weeks since “The Long Night,” fans suspected Arya would kill Cersei, who has green eyes. Makes sense! But then Cersei died with Jaime in King’s Landing (another giant mess we’re not going to get into right now), leaving Arya’s prophecy painfully unfulfilled.

Except maybe it’s not. In the books, Daenerys has vivid purple eyes, but actress Emilia Clarke has green eyes. Because Martin’s last two books have yet to be published, it’s unknown what will become of this green/purple eyes business. But for the show, it all matches up perfectly to let Arya be involved, in some way, in the death of the (new) Mad Queen.

And yeah, on a pale horse Arya rides. In a show riddled with opaque symbolism, at least this one is crystal clear.

Game of Thrones will air Sunday, May 19 at 9 p.m. Eastern on HBO.

Media via HBO