As we approach the April 24 premiere of "Game of Thrones" Season 6, we'll be checking in with characters to look at what they've been up to and what the future may have in store for them. This post contains spoilers from past seasons and farfetched guesses about forthcoming ones.
The character: Sandor "the Hound" Clegane (played by Rory McCann) was a member of the Kingsguard under Joffrey Baratheon until he deserted during the Battle of Blackwater. After that, he kidnapped Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) in the hopes of selling her to her aunt for a hefty profit. He's known for burn scars on his face — the result of a childhood spat with his brother, Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane — and his languorous delivery of filthy witticisms.
Here's some classic Hound wisdom during an exchange with his captive-turned-sidekick Arya:
Arya: Polliver stole my sword and put it right through [Lommy's] neck. He's still got it.
Hound: Got what?
Arya: My sword. Needle.
Hound: Needle? Of course you named your sword.
Arya: Lots of people name their swords.
Hound: Lots of c—s.
Last time we saw him, he was…: begging Arya to end his life during the Season 4 finale. Following a savage battle during which Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) pulled a Mike Tyson on the Hound's ear, he tumbled off a cliff. He survived — barely. When Arya found him, he was battered, broken and coughing up blood. "You going to die?" she asked. "Unless there's a maester hiding behind that rock, aye," he told her. "I'm done."
The Hound tried to provoke Arya into putting him out of his misery, telling her about how he killed her friend, the butcher's son. When that didn't work, he asked, "Do I have to beg you?" But no matter how many times he whimpered "do it," or screamed "kill me," she wouldn't. She walked away, leaving him to bleed to death.
So now what? The rule on "Game of Thrones" is: If you don't see someone decapitated onscreen, then he or she may still be alive. (And even then, you never really know.) So, ever since Arya walked away from a seemingly done-for Hound, there's been speculation. Was there a maester hiding behind that rock?
Well, it certainly seems that way based on a recent interview with Ian McShane, a.k.a. HBO's worst nightmare. The network is so afraid of spoilers it isn't releasing screeners to critics, but somehow they released McShane to do publicity rounds.
During one interview, the actor revealed that he'll be playing "an ex-warrior who's become a peacenik" and leads a group of like-minded pacifists. What's more, he brings back "a much-loved character everybody thinks is dead." Innnnnnteresting. Of course there are loads of beloved characters that viewers (the non-conspiracy theorist, at least) think are dead. Could it be Jon Snow? One of the Starks? Stannis?
But the description of McShane's character sounds a lot like Elder Brother, a religious man in the books, who lives on the Quiet Isle and gets questioned by Brienne of Tarth about the Hound. It's curious, she thinks, that the former Kingsguard's horse is stabled nearby. But Elder Brother claims he buried the Hound himself. During the scene, a gravedigger stands nearby — a huge man with a scarf covering his face and wounds suspiciously similar to the Hound's.
Intrigue! Add to that the fact that McCann was allegedly spotted in Belfast, where "Game of Thrones" was filming, and, well, maybe we haven't seen the last of the Hound.
What would his role be? He could hypothetically just show up in the background, "Where's Waldo?"-style, during a chat between McShane's character and Brienne. Or, if you want to get really deep into the weeds of fan theories, he may one day end up battling to the death again another character rescued from death — his own brother, now a Franken-Mountain working for Cersei — in what hopeful fans describe as Cleganebowl.