Game of Thrones has been re-introducing long lost characters left and right this season. First, we got Benjen Stark, who had previously been missing in action since Season 1. Next we had The Blackfish and Edmure Tully, not seen since the Red Wedding in Season 3. Then Sandor Clegane, aka The Hound, who was last left for dead in Season 4, made his triumphant return, aided by the power of Ian McShane’s grizzled grin. Although Gendry has yet to return from his rowing trip — a trip Podrick and Brienne are hopefully not replicating after rowing off at the end of “No One;” Game of Thrones characters don’t have a great track record with row boats — that episode brought two more intriguing characters we haven’t seen since Season 3. Thoros of Myr and Berric Dondarrion.
If you’re a casual fan who doesn’t read the books or surf GoT-related internet forums, their reintroduction was probably a big “Thoros of what? Who are these people, why do they know The Hound, and why won’t they let the man eat some chicken?”
But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with this refresher on who these men are, what their return means, and whether you should care.
Thoros of Myr
Thoros is a Red Priest, but his background is rockier than Meliandre’s. He’s a former hard-drinking, hard living fighter who didn’t really believe and was all around a terrible worshipper of the Lord of Light. He happened to resurrect his friend Beric Dondarrion by accident. As he explains to Arya, he isn’t quite sure how the resurrection business works. But it does, so he now he’s a true believer.
As he tells Sandor in “No One” when they meet again, “we’re here for a reason. The Lord of Light is keeping Beric alive for a reason. He gave a failed drunk priest the power to bring him back for a reason.”
Thoros is the reason the Brotherhood Without Banners follows the Lord of Light, and he and Beric are the de facto leaders of the Brotherhood. Recall that the Brotherhood Without Banners is an outlaw group that subscribes to no House —as you can probably guess from its name — and protects the Smallfolk from lords and kings that prey on them and raiding parties during time of war. Parties like the very same one that killed Ian McShane and his hippie commune.
That’s why Beric and Thoros were hanging those men when the Hound came upon them in “No One” — they didn’t want the Brotherhood without Banners to get a bad rep. Also so that this gem of a conversation could happen:
Thoros: The fuck you doing here?
Sandor: Chasing them. You?
Thoros: Hanging them.
Beric beat Jon Snow to the whole resurrection thing, which is likely why he hasn’t surfaced since Season 3. The show wanted us to forget about that so we would be shocked and stunned when Jon Snow returned against all odds.
Aside from being the only character on the show who wears the hell out of an eye patch, Beric is important because he signifies what Jon Snow could be if the writers had more balls. “I came back less” Beric says of his jaunts to the world of the dead.
The least they could have done was given newly not-dead Jon a cool eye patch too.
What this means and whether you should care
Between Melisandre, Kivara and now Thoros, Red Priests are now everywhere, which means they play an important role in the show’s endgame. There are several possibilities for how this might play out: It might relate to Jon’s development and his importance to the larger plot. The show has done a questionable job of making his resurrection feel meaningful so far, so this would be welcome news.
As the Red Priests worship the Lord of Light and the White Walkers are closing in, this clash of light and darkness could also illustrate the Song of Ice and Fire in the book series. It might also just mean nothing more than the fact that that The Hound will get to go around killing more people. But if he does it in as entertaining a way as he did in “No One” — “Those are your last words? ‘Fuck you?’ Come on, you can do better. You’re shit at dying, you know that?” — then even when the show dips into mediocre writing, it will always contain beacons of light that make it worth watching.