With only seven episodes in the latest season of Game of Thrones, the show had to make every action and line count (with the exception of a handful of dick jokes). But while we were busy thinking about Dany and Jon's incestuous hookup and trying to figure the logistics of how a zombie Viserion could breathe blue fire without dying, a seemingly flippant but potentially game-changing conversation escaped our radar.
Think back, if you will, about the last time we saw Melisandre. Stoic as ever, she informed Varys that she was about to embark on a journey to the city of Volantis. The conversation as a whole was pretty forgettable, but The A.V. Club points out that her imparting words could set the stage for the series finale.
"I will return, dear Spider, one last time," she almost sneered. "I have to die in this strange country, just like you."
Melisandre, whom characters often refer to as the Red Witch, does have a flair for the dramatic. Upon first listen, it would be easy to discount her message to Varys as nothing more than theatrical, but what if she was warning him about something much more powerful?
For seasons, fans have listened to Melisandre go on about the prophesy of Chosen One/The Prince Who Was Promised – which foretells a hero born again during the Long Night, during which a brutal winter befalls the lands and an army of the dead rises in the North – to save the world from destruction and darkness. At this point in the story, Melisandre has already concluded that Stannis was not the promised saviour and instead speculates that the Chosen One could be either Daenerys Targaryen or Jon Snow (Aegon Targaryen).
As for her mission to Volantis, The A.V. Club found a theory on Reddit from a user named Dr. Tibbles that suggests how the city could help ensure the prophesy comes true. In the book A Dance With Dragons, Volantis is where the Fiery Hand, a ruthless army that guards the Temple of R'hllor (which is dedicated to the Lord of Light), holds their post – and more soldiers equals a better chance at defeating the Night King.
"Is Melisandre going to get Volantis to get the Fiery Hand," Dr. Tibbles asks. "She told Varys last episode that she is heading to Volantis and also that she is going to die in Westeros. So she is obviously planning on returning from Volantis and I'm guessing it will be to bring a small army back with her."
Dr. Tibbles then suggested that the Temple of R'hllor would be willing to let some of its 1,000 soldiers stand by The Prince Who Was Promised — again, thought to be either Jon or Dany at this point — as he or she embarks on a bloody battle to save Westeros.
"[The soldiers] could be used as a surprise addition at a very fortunate moment (like Aragorn with the army of the dead in Return of the King), especially after the huge blows [Melisandre has] taken these last couple of episodes," the Reddit contributor continued.
Though the show hasn't talked about Volantis being the location of the Fiery Hand, Dr. Tibbles seemed confident that people could catch on fast since they "are already familiar with faith militants and Volantis has been mentioned a few times in the show already."
This theory still doesn't answer the question of why Melisandre said she will "die in this strange country," but perhaps she will have fulfilled her life's purpose by serving her Lord? Hopefully we'll find out when Game of Thrones (eventually) returns.