By Kayleigh Roberts published
Who was Azor Ahai?Is Arya Stark Azor Ahai?How does Arya Stark kill the Night King?
This post contains spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8, episode 3 "The Long Night."
Sunday night's episode of Game of Thrones finally saw the epic showdown between the living and the dead and it was...brutal, TBH. Watching it was a little like watching actual footage of World War II, if the Nazis were zombies and everyone had dragons. It was just a near constant bloodbath, with beloved characters dying and/or almost dying for almost 90 minutes straight.
By the end of the episode, honestly, things were looking bleak. The body count was already significant and the characters who were still alive were all pretty much moments away from death. Then, at the last moment, Arya Stark leapt in (literally, in a flying leap through the air) to save the day long night, stabbing the Night King with Valyrian steel and putting an end to the Army of the Dead.
This begs the question: Is Arya Stark Azor Ahai, aka the Prince That Was Promised, the warrior of legend destined to save the world from the long night?
Fans have actually been speculating that Arya might have been Azor Ahai for years (although, to be fair, they've been speculating that just about every character in the series was Azor Ahai). Here's what you need to know about how Arya connects to the Westerosi legend.
Azor Ahai was a legendary hero who fought against the darkness using a magical sword called Lightbringer. He's revered by followers of the Lord of Light, the most prominent of whom in the series is Melisandre, aka the Red Woman. While Azor Ahai is a legend from Essos, his story lines up nicely with a legend from Westeros about the "last hero," who saved the world from darkness during the Long Night. Since this episode was called "The Long Night" and featured a lot of Melisandre, it seems fair to assume they're related.
Followers of the Lord of Light believe in a figure known as The Prince That Was Promised, who is basically the reincarnation of Azor Ahai, and destined to save mankind from the darkness in its second coming—which, sure seems to have been the White Walkers and the Army of the Dead.
Since Arya killed the Night King and vanquished the darkness, that does seem to make her our Prince (Princess—since the word for "prince" in high Valyrian is gender neutral) That Was Promised. What's more, Melisandre, who has been, by far our greatest link to the Lord of Light and the prophecy of the Prince That Was Promised, made it pretty clear that Arya was the chosen one in several important moments from the episode.
First, before the Battle of Winterfell really kicks off and just after Melisandre arrives back at the castle, she shares a very long, lingering, laden-with-meaning look with Arya.
Then, after Arya shows off some of her badass Faceless Men fighting skills, she's saved by Lord Beric Dondarrion—the eyepatch-wearing, flaming sword-wielding man who the Lord of Light has brought back from the dead a whopping 19 times (according to The Hound) to fulfill his true purpose. That purpose, it turns out, was saving Arya, because he dies in the process and Melisandre all but confirms that Arya is Prince-That-Was-Promised levels of important before echoing the words of her old fencing instructor, Syrio Forel: "What do we say to the God of Death?" To which Arya replies, "Not today," before running off to do something important.
Unlike Azor Ahai, Arya doesn't use a flaming sword or one forged by driving it through the heart of her one true love. Instead, she kills the Night King with good old Valyrian steel—the dagger that was used by the assassin who attempted to kill Bran in Season 1. Arya sneaks up on the Night King as he's preparing to kill Bran at the Weirwood tree and makes a running leap at him. Things look bad for a second when the Night King grabs Arya by the throat and blocks her attack, but she effortlessly drops the dagger into her other hand and stabs him, causing him to shatter into a pile of ice and putting an end to the White Walkers and the undead as well.
This has been the plan for a while now, as the creators revealed in the post-episode recap.
"For three years, we’ve known it was going to be Arya to deliver that fatal blow," creator David Benioff said. "We hope to avoid the expected. Jon Snow is a savior...but it just didn’t feel right for us in this moment. We knew it had to be Valyrian steel to the exact spot where the Child of the Forest put the dragonglass blade to create the Night King. And he’s uncreated by the Valyrian steel."
This article has been updated to cite The Hound's reference to Beric dying.
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Kayleigh Roberts is the weekend editor at Marie Claire, covering celebrity and entertainment news, from actual royals like Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle to Hollywood royalty, like Katie Holmes and Chrissy Teigen. She’s a Ravenclaw who would do great things in Slytherin. To learn more about her, google “Leslie Knope eating salad GIF.
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