Warning: Contains spoilers from Game of Thrones Season Six, Episode Seven.
LONDON Another Game of Thrones episode, another step closer to “Cleganebowl” the much-anticipated showdown that Thrones fans have long been desperately hoping for.
We’re referring, of course, to Sandor Clegane Vs. Gregor Clegane. The Hound Vs. the Mountain. Brother Vs. Brother. They had a little skirmish back in Season One when Sandor intervened to stop Ser Loras Tyrell getting flattened by Ser Gregor’s ginormous sword, and the whole thing felt like a nicely placed bit of foreshadowing for something bigger.
The problem was, they both promptly went and got themselves killed.
For a moment it looked like Cleganebowl was doomed. But for all the many, many times George R.R. Martin and showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have punished us, they do occasionally give something back.
First, The Mountain (or at least some silent, zombified form of him).
And then, as of Sunday’s episode, a whole new Hound.
After everyone’s favourite Clegane made his return in Episode Seven, the Internet went wild.
On Reddit, Cleganebowl-related hype was at an all-time high.
Somewhere, some hero has even made this poster.
The theory behind Cleganebowl goes like this: As was foreshadowed back in Season One, the Clegane brothers will eventually meet and fight each other to the bitter end. It’s no secret that the two of them hate each other (The Hound’s nasty scars are a result of The Mountain holding his face against a burning brazier when they were children), and given their not-exactly-gentle temperaments and should the situation arise a final confrontation seems almost inevitable.
Ever since talk of Cersei’s trial started and it looked like Cersei would choose the freshly-resurrected Mountain to defend her thoughts turned to who the opponent might be. Now that it’s been confirmed that The Hound is most definitely still alive, fan speculation that the two will battle in Cersei’s trial-by-combat is at an all-time high.
So will Cleganebowl actually happen?
It’s closer now than it ever was, but there are still some obstacles. First, there’s the fact that Cersei’s trial should be pretty much any moment now (“in a few days” was how she described it back in Episode Five), and The Hound isn’t currently in King’s Landing. And although he’s now on the move, it seems most likely that his first stop will be to avenge the deaths of Brother Ray (Ian McShane’s character) and the religious group he’d previously attached himself to.
There’s also a big question mark over whether or not Cersei’s trial will actually happen at all. The Lannisters and the Tyrells are working hard to bring down the High Sparrow as quickly as they can, and if they manage to somehow topple him before the trial then the whole sweet dream of Cleganebowl could be thrown into question. We know from the Episode Eight preview that The Mountain is going to dispatch a few sparrows next week, which could mean the High Sparrow’s current reign of power might be nearing its end.
On the other hand, who knows? It’s been hinted at that The Hound may have found some semi-religion through his talks with Ian McShane’s character, so if the trial-by-combat does go ahead then him siding with the High Sparrow wouldn’t be completely out of the question. The thought of taking on his brother and settling old demons once and for all might be motivation enough.
And hey even if the two don’t meet in a trial-by-combat scenario, that doesn’t rule out the possibility of them coming face-to-face at some other stage, somewhere further down the line.
It would certainly make good television.
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