WARNING: SPOILER ALERT!
Turns out the ‘Broken Man’ of the latest Game of Thrones episode is Sandor Clegane.
Before the opening sequence even kicked off, we were given the shocking image of The Hound alive and well, living in the medieval equivalent of a hippy commune. Very Woodstock meets Westeros.
Leading that commune was Ian McShane as Brother Ray, an ex-warrior who adopted a peaceful life after killing left him unfulfilled.
Despite meeting his maker before the episode was over, Brother Ray was instrumental in nurturing The Hound back to health after Arya left him for dead back in season four.
Of course, he was a far too positive force in the show so he had to die. But his death has given The Hound a great incentive to get back to life as a vigilante warrior – and maybe this time it will be for good, not evil.
There’s a character in the books known as the Gravedigger, which some fans believe could be a reformed Hound.
In the books, the Gravedigger is a novice monk living on the Quiet Isle, a refuge for those sworn to the Faith of the Seven. He is a large man who wears a cloak covering his face and digs graves for dead bodies. Many believe it is Sandor, digging a grave for each of the men he has killed in his life.
Arya: dead or alive?
Could it be, however, that in order to get The Hound back we have to sacrifice Arya?
The showrunners sure want us to think the youngest Stark daughter is dead given they left her helpless on the streets of Braavos, bleeding from the multiple stab wounds inflicted on her by the Waif.
If that scene left you screaming “LEAVE THE STARKS ALONE” at the top of your lungs, fear not.
If there’s anything The Hound’s return taught us, it’s that you can’t believe anyone is dead on this show unless you see them take their last breath with your own eyes. Even then, Jon Snow proved that’s not a guarantee.
Furthermore, the preview for next week’s episode showed the Waif chasing someone through the streets of Braavos and it makes sense this person would be Arya. If her injuries enable her to run, there’s a chance she will live.
And from there, what? She had intended to board a ship back to Westeros, but will she still be able to make it?
The fact Arya is now sporting the exact hairdo her father once had could be a clue that’s she’s ready to be a Stark again.
As for the rest of them…
Sansa Stark is most certainly reaching out to Littlefinger to get some back-up from the Knights of the Vale. Even though little Lyanna Mormont looks more than equipped to take on everyone in Westeros and then some.
Margaery Tyrell is clearing playing the long con, trying to get her family out of harm’s way whilst getting the Sparrow on side. Next step is getting Loras out of jail.
Cersei Lannister, meanwhile, seems quietly confident she has all her bases covered. In the preview for next week we saw her tell the Sparrows “I choose violence”. There is speculation she plans to finally make the most of her alliance with Qyburn by getting him to make some wildfire. Then, she could use it to wipe out all the Sparrows in one fell swoop.
The Blackfish is holding the fort at Riverrun and doesn’t give a damn what Jaime or the Freys do. It’s about to get a lot more hectic though because Brienne is on her way to petition the Tullys to join the Starks in reclaiming the North.
The Greyjoy siblings are going through their own unusual grieving processes. Their dad was just killed, Theon has been castrated and tortured and their evil uncle has overtaken their home. Time for booze and prostitutes! On the plus side, they’re the only characters smart enough to recognise the potential of Daenerys – and they’ve got the ships she desperately needs!