Game of Thrones season 8's penultimate episode ends with Arya barely surviving the destruction of King's Landing and riding out of the city on a white horse. Where is she going now? And what might be the significance of the white horse?
Game of Thrones season 8, episode 5, "The Bells" sees Daenerys bring fire and blood to King's Landing, decimating the city and killing thousands. Daenerys has truly become a mad queen, accomplishing the devastation her father was thwarted of doing by Jaime Lannister years ago. Speaking of Jaime, he and his sister, Cersei, do appear to die in this episode. And surprisingly, Game of Thrones does not make Jaime a Queenslayer but instead has the Lannister twins die in each others' arms, crushed to death as the Red Keep collapses. Not only does Jaime not kill Cersei, but Arya doesn't either - though she chooses not to kill Cersei, taking the Hound's advice and deciding that striking the last name off her list isn't worth dying for.
However, it does appear that Arya has added a new name to her list - Daenerys. After giving up on her revenge, Arya leaves the castle but is quickly swallowed up by the crowds desperate to flee the total devastation being reigned down on them by Daenerys and Drogon. In the streets, Arya sees this massacre of King's Landing first hand, and she is horrified by what she witnesses. Once the dust settles and she's miraculously survived, Arya sees a white horse standing alone in the street. She slowly walks towards it and rides it out of the city, knowing what she must do - kill Daenerys Targaryen and put an end to her reign of terror.
Arya has already killed the Night King, bringing a swift end to his reign of terror. Killing another tyrant is a task she's clearly suited for. Game of Thrones season 8, "The Bells" doesn't have Arya declare that she's off to kill Daenerys, but one look at her face as she surveys the death and destruction all around her - especially the mother and child she tried to rescue, now burnt to crisp - and it's obvious what she's going to do next. Arya never was a fan of Daenerys, and now that everyone's worst fears about the Dragon Queen have come true, Arya sees no other option.
Game of Thrones employs a strong sense of symbolism in this scene as well. Arya is riding off on a white horse to slay the dragon like she's a knight in shining armor, becoming the heroic warrior she always hoped she could be. Along with that fairy tale imagery of Arya on a white steed, the scene also evokes a line from New Testament describing the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse: "I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death." In this reading, Ayra is off to bring death to Daenerys.
The horse is also reminiscent of the white horse Daenerys received as a wedding present from Khal Drogo. In this case, it's a reminder of the woman Daenerys used to be before she was repeatedly betrayed and lost everyone she loved, before she descended into madness. This adds an additional layer of sadness to the whole affair, reminding viewers of what might have been while at the same time implying what is most likely to happen.
There is only one episode of Game of Thrones season 8 remaining, and just how this epic series concludes is still anyone's guess. But it does appear all but certain that Arya will at least try to kill Daenerys. If she succeeds or not remains to be seen, but more importantly, how will those who are still alive (i.e Jon) react to Arya attempting it?
Game of Thrones season 8 concludes Sunday, May 19 at 9:00pm on HBO.