Since season one of Game of Thrones, Cersei has been on Arya’s list of people to kill. Thanks to a little prophesising from Melisandre, fans think that the death could happen in episode four. Here, we break down this popular fan theory.
When has Melisandre done literally anything of use? When? Name me one time, and I’ll show you when she messed up royally. She’s the Professor Trelawney of the Game of Thrones franchise, only instead of being batty and harmless up in a Hogwarts Divination tower, Melisandre insists on continuing to stick her finger into as many pies as she can, just for the fun of it.
And yet I have to admit, Melisandre was actually pretty important last week. She helped on a granular level by being the only person to provide us, the poor viewers, with some lighting so that we could see what was happening. She lit those Dothraki swords and she lit the Winterfell trenches. And, at a very crucial moment, she lit a fire in Arya’s belly by reminding her of the prophecy she foretold for her future.
Melisandre’s words, when she first met Arya and Gendry on the road with the Brotherhood back in season three, were thus: “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.”
In the Battle of Winterfell, Melisandre repeated those words back to Arya, emphasising the blue eyes component. Despite her flagging spirits and her fear of the Night King’s army of zombies, this was all the push that Arya needed to grab Littlefinger’s Valyrian steel dagger and rush to the Godswood, where she stabbed the Night King right through the middle. Her triumphant hero won the battle, ended the Night King’s army (maybe), and saved the day.
But it’s important to take another look at Melisandre’s prophecy, to see what else might be divined from it. We know that Arya has killed many people with brown eyes. People like Walder Frey, for example. The blue eyes belonged to the aforementioned King of the Night.
Now, let’s talk about green eyes. Who has green eyes on Game of Thrones? None other than Cersei Lannister. (A quick note: in the books, Littlefinger has grey-green eyes, but in the series his eyes are more grey-blue. We’re counting him in the blue column.)
Cersei should be worried: Arya is a hardened, battle-sharpened warrior now, with a bag full of faces courtesy of her Braavosian assassin training. Cersei has also been top of Arya’s kill list since season one, when the Lannister queen tormented the Stark family to no end. For eight long seasons, Arya has been reciting Cersei’s name like some kind of depraved mantra. Of all the people Arya wants to kill, none figure quite so prominently as Cersei.
Of course, she’s not the only one on Arya’s kill list. Ser Ilyn Payne, the executioner who chopped off Ned Stark’s head, is still alive. So are The Mountain and The Hound, though the latter has probably been removed by now. That just leaves Cersei in the final position.
It would certainly be satisfying to watch Arya fell the final blow that ends Cersei’s life. Much like Cleganebowl, a showdown between these two characters has been built into the language of the series since season one. No one hates the Lannisters quite like Arya Stark. And no one is better equipped – as we saw in the Battle of Winterfell – to take them down.
But there’s more than one prophecy about Cersei’s death. Game of Thrones has spoken of the demise of the blonde-haired, green-eyed Queen before, courtesy of a prophecy from Maggy the Frog. In a flashback shown during the show’s fifth season, the witch tells Cersei that all of her children will die, while her husband’s children will survive.
In George RR Martin’s books, Maggy’s prophecy is slightly extended, however. In the series, it ends with Maggy telling Cersei that “you’ll be queen, for a time. Then comes another – younger, more beautiful – to cast you down and take all you hold dear.” In the books, it came with a teeny, tiny footnote: Maggy prophesied Cersei’s death at the hands of a Valonquar.
Valonquar is High Valyrian for “little brother”, which many fans have taken to mean that either Jaime Lannister or Tyrion Lannister would be the one to kill Cersei. Both are her little brother, Tyrion both younger in age and smaller in stature than Cersei, and as of season eight, both have reason to kill her.
But, as Missandei reminded Daenerys in season seven, High Valyrian words don’t always have to be gendered. Sometimes a more accurate translation is one that is gender neutral. Therefore, Cersei’s Valonquar could be a person who is, themselves, a younger sibling. And who is the youngest Stark daughter? Arya.
A word of very important, crucial warning: the fact that Maggy’s extended prophecy only appears in the books could be a sign that it will have no bearing on the final season of Game of Thrones. If it wasn’t included back in season five, it was probably for a reason, right? And is it likely that Game of Thrones would lean on something that it hasn’t mentioned until the final three episodes of the show?
Probably not. The Valonquar theory might end up being something that is only relevant in the books, or not relevant at all. Sometimes fan theories and predictions are only ever just that.
But the fact that Melisandre’s words to Arya proved so crucial during the Battle of Winterfell are a sign that maybe hers is the prophecy that we should be paying attention to, not Maggy the Frog’s.
And with episode four showcasing Daenerys’ army on the high seas, sailing towards King’s Landing, we might get to see an Arya/Cersei fight sequence much sooner than anyone anticipated.
Game of Thrones airs on Sunday nights on HBO in the US and Monday mornings (and again in the evening) in the UK on Sky Atlantic and Now TV.