[This article contains SPOILERS for Game of Thrones through season 5 and the Song of Fire and Ice series.]
With HBO's Game of Thrones set to begin adapting unpublished material from George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels, there's an untold amount of Season 6 still up for speculation. Some characters' fates remain unknown, while others have been more or less confirmed. Important plot points from books four and five remain untouched, while set reports hint at developments that no fan - book reader or not - can confirm.
Along with that, there's little known about many of the new additions to Game of Thrones sprawling cast. Some new cast members were chosen for specific roles, like James Faulkner as Sam's father, Randyll Tarly, but most are listed as filling unspecified roles. Richard E. Grant and Essie Davis (The Babadook) have been cast in two of these unknown roles, as has Spartacus' Joe Naufahu. Also currently listed as playing some unknown character for Game of Thrones Season 6 is actor Ian McShane, but in a recent interview, McShane shared an insightful clue to the identity of his mystery character.
Speaking with Pop Goes the News, McShane had this to say concerning his upcoming stint on Game of Thrones: "I’ll give you one hint. I am responsible for bringing somebody back that you think you’re never going to see again. I’ll leave it at that."
First of all, let's do away with the first name on everyone's lips when we discuss characters coming back - Jon Snow. Not to say it's impossible that McShane's character is involved in resurrecting or returning the soul of the late Lord Commander, but there are more interesting theories at play (for both Snow's return and McShane's mystery character).
The next candidate is, of course, Lady Stoneheart - a character who's been rumored as appearing since even before Catelyn Stark met her bloody end. Again, an eventual reveal of Lady Stoneheart isn't entirely without merit, but with how often Game of Thrones' producers have denied ever bringing Lady Stoneheart on the show, having her pop up without so much as a whisper of her leading the Brotherhood Without Banners (as she does in the novels) feels cheap.
This leads us to our most likely option for a return from a character we didn't think we'd ever see again - The Hound, Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann). Last we were with The Hound he was dying of wounds received from his duel with Brienne of Tarth. After begging Arya to kill him, Clegane is left to bleed out and die in the Riverlands - or so we were led to believe.
Without a definitive death, a return from The Hound is left open. And while last season's somewhat ambiguous death of Stannis Baratheon was eventually confirmed as being the real deal, no such declaration has ever been made of the younger Clegane. There's evidence within the fourth novel, A Feast for Crows, too, that hints at The Hound being recovered and healed by the Brothers of the Quiet Isle, a subset of the Faith of the Seven.
The scenes come from Brienne and Podrick's continuing travels throughout the Riverlands where they meet Septon Meribald - a character many believe will appear in Season 6 given this casting breakdown. He then takes them to the Quiet Isle to meet the Elder Brother, who informs them of The Hound's death. However, his description of death is vague, at one point explaining that he himself died and was later reborn on the Quiet Isle. And because of this, many readers have taken his wording to mean that the violent side of Clegane, The Hound, has died, while a more pious and gentle man was reborn.
So is The Hound dead? Yes and no. Is McShane playing either Septon Meribald or the Elder Brother? Possibly, but it's more likely he's playing a character that'll be a little of both as combining similar characters to better streamline the narrative is something Game of Thrones often does. McShane's role has also been described as one of "key importance," but that he'll have "a relatively small amount of screen time." That fits in nicely with a one-off appearance as The Hound's redeemer, healing the man in both body and soul.
But if The Hound, or rather, Sandor is up and walking around, then to what purpose? This theory goes on to speculate that in Cersei's forthcoming trial by combat, wherein the mysterious Ser Robert Strong (a.k.a. a zombified Gregor Clegane, The Mountain) will stand as Cersei's champion, the Faith of the Seven will elect as their combatant a redeemed and penitent Sandor. That's right, Season 6 could very well give us Clegane vs. Clegane, in what will undoubtedly be one epic showdown.
What do you think? Does this theory that The Hound will return a redeemed man to fight for the Faith against his brother hold any truth? Do you believe Ian McShane is hinting his character is responsible for bringing back Sandor Clegane? Let us hear your speculation in the comments below!
Game of Thrones season six is expected to premiere on HBO in spring 2016.
Source: Pop Goes The News