Of all the mysteries launched by Sunday's Game of Thrones episode—what's with Daenerys, how did Cersei get past the Mountain and the Hound, why is Euron so weird, Jaime whyyyyy, etc.—one remains truly elusive. The white horse that majestically rose from the ruins of King's Landing to greet Arya and bear her away to…wherever…has caused plenty of conversation online.
Whether it's commenting on the equine's beauteous and enviable mane or just the sheer WTFness of its sudden appearance, fans are fixated. But there are now a couple of very good theories about what it signifies, and at least one strong theme has emerged: DEATH.
Here are the two main guesses about what Arya's four-legged friend is all about.
It means Arya herself is death.
Hold tight, because we're going to get biblical here. Learned viewers have picked out a significant phrase from the holy book that could point to the horse's meaning:
Revelation 6:8, for those following along, reads: "And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth."
We already knew from her extensive Faceless Men training and her swift assassination of the Night King that Arya is a killer. But fans take this symbolism to mean that Arya is taking off on that "pale horse" to take out someone else. At this point, with Cersei gone, there's only one really dangerous person left in play: Daenerys. Will Arya take out the Mad Queen? People certainly seem to think so.
It means Arya comes in peace—and may be the next ruler.
PopSugar has floated another biblical meaning to Arya's new companion, derived from a totally different Revelations passage: "Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in[a] blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords."
In this passage, the person on the white horse is a person pure of heart. As PopSugar puts it, "Arya is no longer Death; she is a Christ-like figure." I'd take that even further and note the part where the person on the horse uses a sharp sword (have you heard of Arya's sword, Needle?) and "rules" as "King of kings." Is Arya destined for the Iron Throne? If so, the only way for that to happen is if Daenerys is out of the picture—and, again, the way the Mad Queen is going, she'd probably have to be dead for someone else to take the crown.
It means Arya herself is dead.
This one is way less fun for Stark fans. Redditors noticed that Arya's horse strongly resembled Golden Company leader Harry Strickland's steed (just look at that forelock). But the jury is out on whether the horse looks the same because of real-world practicalities (one horse might be cheaper/easier to use on set than two different ones) or because it's actually supposed to be the same horse.
It's an important distinction because if it's the same horse, fans are pretty sure it died on the show. If the horse is dead, then is Arya riding a ghost horse? And is Arya riding a ghost horse because she too is dead? As one Redditor pointed out, "She got all burnt up and a building fell on her." And why would Game of Thrones make such a big point of showing both disasters?
Look, it's a big old battle, and buildings are falling down everywhere and killing people left and right (RIP Jaime and Cersei Lannister). It's all too possible that the youngest Stark daughter is dead and gone. It's also possible that Arya has survival skills few others do, and just dusted the rubble off her breeches and moved on. But if not, it's got to be one of the most ambiguous death scenes so far in this fatality-heavy show, and I'll be very interested to see where that leads in the finale this Sunday.
Estelle Tang Senior Editor Estelle Tang is the Senior Editor covering culture and entertainment at ELLE.com—including TV, movies, books, music, and Adidas tracksuits.