Warning: Potential spoilers for Game of Thrones ahead!
If it’s not clear yet, in Game of Thrones, dead folk have a hard time staying dead. This week on the show, everyone’s favorite half-burned warrior made his triumphant return, this time as a melancholy church goer in Brother Ray’s flock of believers. The Hound, having apparently survived the fight with Brienne, is back and ready for action. But why? We saw Sandor Clegane complete his arc traveling with Arya, and his inglorious death by infection seemed a fitting way to go for the self-hating knight/murderer.
This is one possible theory that explains why the Hound has return to Game of Thrones…
The Broken Man
The Hound has a new destiny, and that’s to kill his brother Gregor Clegane, the Mountain.
Attentive Game of Thrones book readers have theorized the Hound’s survival since A Feast for Crows. In the fourth book, Brienne visits the Quiet Isle, which is the home to a group of monks. There she encounters a gravedigger that very much fits the description of Clegane (remember, Brienne never fights the Hound in the books). The monks are in possession of Stranger, the Hound’s notoriously difficult-to-manage horse. The grave digger is also huge and carries a limp, presumably from the leg injury the Hound suffered from in both the books and the show. This latest episode of Game of Thrones essentially confirmed the theory that the gravedigger is, in fact, Sandor Clegane.
So what’s changed?
While the show version of Sandor has kept his gruff and hostile demeanor, the gravedigger in A Feast for Crows seems genuinely penitent. It’s clear Sandor is born anew and genuinely follows the faith of the Seven:
The Elder Brother told me I had washed up on the tide, naked as my name day. We are all born naked, so I suppose it was only fitting that I come into my second life the same way.
The septon who finds Sandor describes him as a new person, saying “The Hound is dead, Sandor is at rest,” and “The Hound died there, in my arms.” The Hound is essentially a born-again believer in the Seven.
So why does this matter?
Sandor’s religion matters because very soon, the High Sparrow will need a warrior who is loyal to the faith. As showcased in the preview for next week’s episode, Cersei Lannister has chosen to face her upcoming trial using her right to trial by combat. According to Westerosi practices, someone accused of a crime can select a champion to fight a duel on their behalf. Should they win, they are considered innocent in the eyes of the gods and the realm.
We saw Tyrion choose trial by combat, twice, calling on Bronn to fight for him at the Eyrie and the late Oberyn Martell to fight the Mountain at King’s Landing. Cersei will absolutely choose the zombie-like Mountain as her champion. The High Sparrow will also call upon a champion. Who better than the born-again “gravedigger” to put the undead Mountain back in the ground? The High Sparrow needs a combat-ready hero to take on the most fearsome knight in Westeros. The Hound is the perfect candidate.
If this theory is correct, and I believe it is, the Hound is on his way to King’s Landing to wage a battle against his own brother Gregor.
Lovingly called the “Cleganebowl,” this is a fight many Game of Thrones fans are eager to watch. If you recall, the two Clegane siblings have a, uh, “fiery” relationship. It was Gregor who held Sandor’s face in hot coals, giving him that iconic facial scar and his life-long pyrophobia. In fact, the two did already fight once before. Way back in Season 1, Robert Baratheon interrupted a fight between the two brothers during a tourney held in Ned Stark’s name.
It’s time the Mountain died for good, and the born-again Hound should be the one to do it.
What This Means for Cersei
My money’s on the Hound, though there’s a certain poetry in both Cleganes dying in combat.
If Sandor is triumphant, there is a serious implication for the rest of the show. What will happen to Cersei?
Now this is where the Cleganebowl theory gets really interesting. If you recall, when Cersei was young she visited a psychic who gave her three prophecies, including this one described in the books:
And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.
This prophecy foretells Cersei’s death. Now, “valonqar” in High Valyrian means “little brother.” Cersei always assumes this refers to Tyrion, her own little brother. What if this prophecy actually refers to Sandor Clegane, the Mountain’s little brother?
Why did HBO bring back the Hound? Because he’s the one that will bring an end to House Lannister.
Or this is a weird fan theory. What do you think?