Season 6 of Game of Thrones has been brimming with long-lost and newly not-quite dead characters — Jon Snow; Benjen Stark; The Blackfish, Edmure Tully, — but Sandor Clegane, aka the Hound, is the best. His return isn’t surrounded by a media bread and circus the way Jon Snow’s was and although it’s good to see Benjen again at last and nice to see The Blackfish have a snark-off with Jaime Lannister, nobody holds a candle to the Hound. More than any other character, he’s always been the best embodiment of the show itself: Crude, dirty, violent; overall kind of a dick — but oddly charming and endearing in spite of it all. Not to mention, wildly entertaining.
Now that he’s back, though, his storyline remains dark and full of terrors. “The Broken Man” ends with him presumably taking up arms to avenge Ian McShane, because as Ray Stevenson — the only guy who makes a better Blackbeard than Ian McShane — once said, “They thought they could kill Ian McShane’s character and get away with it. They failed to account for me.”
Okay, maybe that’s not his exact wording, but close enough.
The Hound clearly has a larger role to play in the forthcoming narrative. Here are the four most likely paths for his storyline to take.
The Brotherhood Without Banners
Sandor’s first stop is to kill those Brotherhood assholes who ruined the only peaceful place in Game of Thrones. This is why you can’t have nice things, Westeros.
One Game of Thrones undead character who has yet to be introduced is Lady Stoneheart, the vengeful corpse of Catelyn Stark. In the books, she leads the Brotherhood to do her murderous bidding. If the show is planning to introduce her, tying her to Sandor would give her narrative — abandoned for three seasons now — more stakes. Especially since Sandor was close with both her daughters.
The Hound Heads North
Speaking of her daughters, Sandor was genuinely fond of Sansa, doing as much as he could to shield her from the horrors of King’s Landing. Ironically, after a young Sansa foolishly pined for handsome princes, the scarred crude killer is the closest “white knight” type she’s ever had. Though she’s perfectly capable of saving herself these days, she could certainly use another fighter to help take back the North. If Sandor gets wind of her war efforts, he’d gladly bring his axe and help out in the battle to come.
Cleganebowl is the best Game of Thrones fan theory because it has less to do with plumbing complicated plot history and more to do with the simple desire to see things go smash. Specifically, The Hound and his brother, the re-animated Mountain, facing off in a trial by combat.
Is there anything in the immediate future to suggest this happening? Other than Jaime and Cersei’s references to her upcoming Trial By Combat, not really. But the Game of Thrones showrunners have made so many fan theories come true at this point, there’s no real reason not to get hype.
Sandor and Arya were the ultimate dream team, arguably even better than Jaime and Bronn or Podrick and Brienne. Though Arya never admitted to liking him, Jaqen did get her to admit he was no longer on her kill list. That’s basically a declaration of love for her. And she’s in dire need of assistance right now. Sandor genuinely protected her during their time together, dragging her forcibly away from The Red Wedding, teaching her how to fight, and pretending she was his rent-girl so other creepy traveling men wouldn’t claim her. He isn’t petty enough to leave her bleeding just because she did the same to him.
Perhaps a reunion is in order.
Either way, Game of Thrones might be egregiously killing off all it’s direwolves, but the Hound is back in town at last.