He saw it in the flames.
Warning: This article contains spoilers for the Game of Thrones season 7 premiere, “Dragonstone.”
The season 7 premiere of Game of Thrones was full of murder, exposition and intrigue, and one famous cameo. But the same episode that featured Arya Stark ruthlessly killing off House Frey also featured a character feeling massive guilt for a past transgression and trying to make up for it—hinting at both fanservice and an old theory.
In season 4, Arya and the Hound (aka Sandor Clegane) are offered food and shelter by a man and his daughter in the Riverlands to weather an oncoming storm. The Hound pays for it by robbing the man of all his silver because he figures the man and his daughter won’t live until winter.
“I do know it,” the Hound said to an outraged Arya. “He’s weak. He can’t protect himself. They’ll both be dead come winter.”
The scene is a small one in the grand scope of things—and is overshadowed by others later in the season—but you’ve almost certainly seen how it ends: with Arya calling the Hound “the worst shit in the Seven Kingdoms.”
Three seasons later, we’re back at the same house where the man and daughter once gave Arya and the Hound stew. Winter’s here, and they didn’t survive. Not only that, they’ve been dead for awhile.
“I’d say they were starving,” Beric Dondarrion observed. “And rather than let his little girl suffer, he ended it for both of them.”
The Hound has changed tremendously since that day, thanks in part to Brother Ray’s intervention and wisdom. He clearly recognizes where he is, and his guilt is overwhelming even before he enters the house. Once he finds the man and his daughter, it grows to the point where the Hound is compelled to dig a grave for them and eulogize them according to the Faith of the Seven (the religion they practiced) as best he can.
While the season premiere had plenty of moments of fanservice—hello Brienne and Tormund—Game of Thrones’ inclusion of the Hound as a gravedigger is a nice nod to book readers.
In A Feast for Crows, the Gravedigger is a man working on the Quiet Isle. Not much is known about him and his face is obscured, but descriptions of the Gravedigger’s wounds match the Hound before Arya left him. Some fans also believe his face is hidden to hide the Hound’s burns. Brienne of Tarth visits the Quiet Isle and is told by the Elder Brother—one part of the Brother Ray character—that the Hound is dead. We know that, at least on the show, the Hound is still alive and with more of a moral compass than most.
The scene at the empty Riverlands house, some believe, could also be crucial to reviving a beloved tinfoil theory.
Despite seeing Beric Dondarrion’s resurrection before his own eyes, the Hound still doesn’t believe in the Lord of Light and thinks that Thoros of Myr is full of shit. So Thoros invites the Hound to look into the flames to show him the truth.
“Ice. A wall of ice. The Wall,” the Hound said. “Where the Wall meets the sea. There’s a mountain. Looks like an arrowhead. The dead are marching past. Thousands of them.”
The Hound is likely referring to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, the Night’s Watch castle that Jon Snow sent Tormund Giantsbane to defend because it’s the closest target for the White Walkers and their army of wights to attack. And we know from trailers that Beric Dondarrion is seen fighting in the north with his flaming sword. But the inclusion of “mountain”—which isn’t capitalized in HBO’s official captions—calls back to the theory to end all theories: Cleganebowl, or the ultimate fight between the Hound and his brother the Mountain. (The two have a long and violent history together and apart. It was the Mountain who gave the Hound his burn scars.)
Game of Thrones threw a wrench in the theory last year after then-King Tommen Baratheon outlawed trial by combat, so the exact theorized circumstances of the fight no longer apply. For now, the Hound is far more preoccupied with what he saw in the flames than old-fashioned revenge. But one clip in the most recent Game of Thrones trailer points to the possibility that not only does the Hound go south, he may fight his older brother, Ser Gregor Clegane.
And if he does? It might just be the biggest piece of fanservice of all.
H/T Business Insider