It was one of the most emotional gut punches of "The Long Night," the third episode of the eighth and final season of HBO's Game of Thrones:
The moment Melisandre, the Red Woman, realizing her purpose has finally been fulfilled, removes the charmed amulet that confers her youthful appearance, and greets death, reverting to her true, ancient figure, before collapsing and dying in the snow.
We have nothing but praise for actress Carice van Houten's powerful performance, but fans still have a lot of questions, noting that one of the show's more beguiling prophecies remains seemingly unanswered. You'll need a bit of a refresher, so stay with us.
The episode's title, "The Long Night," refers to the standoff with the Night King at Winterfell. But "The Long Night" has happened before, as we learned from a tale passed down in earlier seasons about a warrior who ended the Long Night centuries ago.
Followers of the Lord of Light, the religion with which Melisandre has aligned herself from the beginning, believe that this warrior, Azor Ahai, will return in some capacity to save the world from the Night King's forces.
Here's where things get interesting: In earlier seasons, Melisandre believed that Azor Ahai was Stannis Baratheon, who fell under her influence once she informed him she believed he was the reincarnation of the legendary warrior.
Melisandre even supported Stannis's claim to the Iron Throne. A lot.
Melisandre proclaims Stannis as Azor Ahai reborn - S02E01 Game Of Throneswww.youtube.com
Several seasons later, suffering a crisis of faith, Melisandre comes to believe Azor Ahai, the "Prince That Was Promised," is actually Jon Snow.
But as we saw on Sunday night's episode, the one who finally put an end to the Long Night wasn't Jon Snow, but Arya Stark, who knifed the Night King with a blade forged from Valyrian steel.
People are confused, to say the least.
Does this mean the show's writers decided to ignore the prophecy altogether, or is something else in store?
Arya: *Kills the Night King* Azor Ahai Prophecy: https://t.co/k0uDEfWaCw— Ishita🇮🇳 (@Ishita🇮🇳) 1556546831.0
Trying to connect Arya to the Azor Ahai prophecy #GameofThrones #BattleOfWinterfell https://t.co/BbDx1ULaDH— Frank Scorpio (@Frank Scorpio) 1556505034.0
#Melisandre when she has to explain how is Arya Stark Azor Ahai? https://t.co/q9Gvq8Tx5j— Aap kon (@Aap kon) 1556566260.0
Maybe the #AzorAhai prophecy will still happen and it might take place on the battle for the Iron Throne. Maybe the… https://t.co/UOqVYvtvT4— Seo Jose 🔥🐉🔥 (@Seo Jose 🔥🐉🔥) 1556535689.0
it’s kind of stupid that hbo just threw away the entire azor ahai prophecy, when that has been foreshadowed for seven seasons.....— ben (@ben) 1556544307.0
#GameofThrones So, is Arya the "Prince Who Was Promised"? It'd be a neat nod to the fact that she is often mistak… https://t.co/eQLl6qGyVD— ᴄᴀꜱᴇʀꜱᴀᴛᴢ (@ᴄᴀꜱᴇʀꜱᴀᴛᴢ) 1556542842.0
Complicating matters: Last season, it is Missandei, the aide to Daenerys Targaryen, who reveals that Azor Ahai doesn't mean "Prince That Was Promised" as we first thought, but could be either "Prince" or "Princess."
Melisandre was a sorceress––that's not in doubt––but fans have long argued that her crisis of faith likely impeded the true scope and breadth of her abilities.
Of course, she figured it all out, emerging from her self-imposed exile with the Lord of Light's power at her side. How?
There are three episodes to go before this series wraps up for good, and this Sunday is bound to give us some clues. Arya's the most popular girl in Winterfell right now, and everyone's bound to have questions.