It’s been awhile since we’ve seen our favorite chicken-eating Clegane brother on Game of Thrones. The last time he appeared onscreen, Arya was refusing to give him the gift of mercy, and it he seemed that he slowly bled to death after a violent battle with Brienne of Tarth. Game of Thrones Season 4 really was all about Arya and The Hound’s journey through the Riverlands and to the Vale of Arryn, all the while bonding over mass murder and learning what the [email protected] a Lommy was.
Warning: Spoilers and Speculation abound beyond this point.
The question left to fans at the end of Season 4 was: Is The Hound really dead? I mean, he didn’t die onscreen, and he was most certainly breathing when last we saw his beautifully burned face.
There are fan theories, of course, that hold that he lived, at least in the books. According to these theories, the Hound came to be at a place called the Quiet Isle, where his body and spirit were healed through quiet contemplation and the teachings of the Seven. His old, angry persona was buried and laid to rest, and he experienced a metaphorical rebirth. I, too, believe this.
Let’s look at the details. In A Feast For Crows, the fourth book in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, Brienne and Pod are taken in by a wandering septon named Septon Meribald, a character I think Ian McShane will portray in Season 6. He leads them to a place called the Quiet Isle, where they are told multiple times by the Elder Brother, who leads the community there, that The Hound is dead. Taking the Elder Brother’s story at face value, it would seem that the Elder Brother found the Hound where he lay dying, and nursed him through his final moments before taking his horse back to the Quiet Isle. Here’s what the Elder Brother had to say on the subject:
“The Hound is dead, Sandor is at rest.”
“The man you hunt is dead.”
“The Hound died there, in my arms.”
But that explanation doesn’t quite sit right with readers of the books, who by the fourth novel had gotten used to Martin’s subversive tactics. Consider how the Elder Brother explains to Brienne and Pod how he himself came to live on the Quiet Isle.
“I never saw the blow that felled me. Before I could turn something slammed into my head and knocked me back into the river, where by rights I should have drowned. Instead I woke here, upon the Quiet Isle. 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.”
So, we have a Brother of the Quiet Isle who describes the transition from his old life to his new one by making an analogy to death and rebirth. Sandor Clegane could have gone through much the same process.
There’s more contextual evidence for Sandor’s survival. Here’s the Elder Brother talking about the Hound’s horse:
“That was his warhorse, Stranger. A blasphemous name. We prefer to call him Driftwood. Handsome he may be, but Driftwood was surely whelped in hell. When we sought to harness him to a plow he kicked Brother Rawney and broke his shinbone in two places. We had hoped gelding might improve the beast’s ill temper, but… Brother Gillam, will you show them?” Brother Gillam lowered his cowl. Underneath he had a mop of blond hair, a tonsured scalp, and a bloodstained bandage where he should have had an ear. Podrick gasped. “The horse bit off your ear?” Gillam nodded, and covered his head again.”
The Hound’s horse, Stranger, is infamous for his ill temper. Only the Hound could calm and lead the beast. At several points throughout the books, others have tried to force Stranger to do their bidding, much to their great undoing. How could a bunch of Brothers on the Quiet Isle lead Stranger to the stables, unless Sandor himself was there to help?
Finally, we come to what most readers, myself included, consider to be irrefutable proof that Sandor Clegane is alive and well.
“They passed a lichyard where a brother bigger than Brienne was struggling to dig a grave. From the way he moved, it was plain to see that he was lame. As he flung a spadeful of the stony soil over one shoulder, some chanced to spatter against their feet. “Be more watchful there,” chided Brother Narbert. The gravedigger lowered his head. When Dog went to sniff him he dropped his spade and scratched his ear. “A novice,” explained Narbert.”
Here’s what we know:
- A Brother bigger that Brienne…and that’s big. The Hound-size big.
- He is a novice, denoting that he is a new brother on the isle. The Hound would have arrived just recently.
- He’s described as lame. The Hound took injuries before Arya left him for dead.
- Septon Meribald’s dog, named Dog, went to sniff him, and the brother drops his spade to scratch his ear. House Clegane’s sigil is three hounds on a yellow field.
At the end of Season 4, many A Song of Ice and Fire fans were quick to proclaim that the Hound was not dead strictly based on this chapter from A Feast for Crows.
So what does this all mean? Well, a source over at Watchers on the Wall has said that actor Rory McCann—The Hound—has been seen in Belfast, staying at the same hotel where the cast and crew stay while filming Game of Thrones.
There are other signs that we’ll be returning to the Riverlands, where the Quiet Isle is located, in Season 6. Casting notices call for what appears to be groups of men in the Riverlands, there are reports that Walder Frey may return, and another casting call describes a character fitting the exact description of Septon Meribald: “Priest, in his 40’s or 50’s. A gruff ex-soldier who found religion. Now a no-nonsense rural priest who ministers to the poor of the countryside. He’s salt-of-the-earth man who has weathered many battles.” Together with the Rory McCann sighting, does all this evidence mean that Sandor Clegane will making his triumphant return in Game of Thrones Season 6?
Now, let’s talk about what Sandor Clegane might do in Season 6. As we well remember, at the end of Cersei’s long and humiliating walk of shame in the Season 5 finale, a gargantuan knight dressed in the garb of King Tommen’s Kingsguard lifted Cersei in his arms and carried her to safety. It’s no secret that that this is the reanimated body of Gregor Clegane, The Mountain that Rides, and Sandor’s hated brother.
With Cersei’s trial by combat coming in Season 6, might the Faith choose Sandor Clegane as their champion? And, if that happens, will we finally get the much ballyhooed Cleganebowl? I think it’s time to get hype brothers and sisters, this could get epic.