This was a fairly sedate week for Game of Thrones, setting up various characters on a course for what promises to be an explosive finale.
But just because it was a quieter episode, don’t think we haven’t still got a few more mysteries to explore, from the return of some characters to the possible end of others. Starting with…
1. Is Arya a goner?
A Girl didn’t seem in great shape this week, having been stabbed in the gut by Faye Marsaye’s Waif and left staggering through the streets of Braavos while losing a lot of blood.
However, scenes from the series trailer have suggested that we’ll see more of Arya this year, and many fans doubt that she’d go out so ignominiously. Current theories include that the stabbed girl wasn’t really Arya (with Maisie Williams’ Lady Stark sending out someone with her face to act as a metaphorical mine canary), that Arya will get healed by a Red Priest or that the whole thing was just a dream, and she’s really still waiting for the Waif in the dark room where we saw her last week.
Alternatively, it could be that Arya will get her brother Jon and uncle Benjen’s treatment and get raised from the dead, perhaps taking the place of her resurrected mother in the books (Catelyn Stark’s resurrection has been left out of the TV show) and wreaking undead revenge on the Freys. As long as we get to see her kick some arse, we don’t really mind how it gets pulled off.
2. Who did Sansa send that letter to?
We’re betting that after failing to rally the north to House Stark’s side, Sansa has decided it’s time to take Littlefinger up on his offer and add the Knights of the Vale to their team. Not sure how Jon’s going to feel about that…
3. Has Margaery been brainwashed?
As many had theorised it seems like the Queen’s conversion to the High Sparrow’s cause is all a ruse, with Margaery slipping her grandmother a drawing of the family crest and a subtle warning to flee the capital. Though with Septa Unella looking on, we’re not sure how long she can keep up the deception.
4. Was that the guy from Blackadder?
Don’t be ridiculous, darling – character actor Tim McInnerny (playing Robett Glover in the show) is a man with a long and varied career not entirely defined by the years he spent acting alongside Rowan Atkinson in a certain BBC sitcom.
(But yes, it’s totally him. Cool right?)
5. Where were all the other characters?
This week marked the second episode in a row that we’ve been without Tyrion, Varys and the Meereen gang, with characters like Bran, Daenerys and Sam also left out of the runtime. Still, we don’t mind too much – it allowed for a bit more time with a certain returning character.
6. Who were the men who killed Septon Ray and his pals?
Poor Ian McShane’s soldier-turned-priest wasn’t long for Westeros, barely getting his church and hippy commune off the ground before he and all his followers were brutally slain (except of course legendary fighter Sandor Clegane aka The Hound, who he had previously nursed back to health).
But the reason for their death is a little odd, apparently coming at the hands of good-guy outlaws the Brotherhood without Banners, previously seen fighting Robin Hood-style for the common people back in season three.
So why have these guys turned evil? Have they lost the leadership of multiply-resurrected Lord Beric Dondarrian or Red priest Thoros of Myr? Have they become desperate in survival? Or could they possibly have a murderous new leader who doesn’t care much for the little people in a broader campaign of revenge? Once the vengeful Hound (Rory McCann) finds them, we bet we’ll be learning more very soon…
7. What’s next for the Hound?
Probably some axe-happy revenge on the Brotherhood, and seeing as he’s in the same area of Westeros we wouldn’t be surprised if he bumps into Brienne for an epic rematch. Unless of course he decides to head straight back to King’s Landing and finally make the Cleganebowl fan theory happen.
8. What is Cleganebowl, and why does everyone keep going on about it?
OK, here goes. Cleganebowl refers to a popular fan theory in which brothers Gregor and Sandor Clegane (aka The Mountain and The Hound) have a duel to the death, probably as part of Cersei’s trial by combat. The brothers have a long history of hating each other (The Mountain is the one who burned the Hound’s face as a boy), and have even crossed blades once before back in season one, so there’s been a bit of build-up for this sort of clash.
The thinking is that the somewhat-zombified Mountain would be named as Cersei’s champion in her trial by combat for her various sins, with the Hound named as The High Sparrow and the Faith’s champion accordingly. In the books this makes slightly more sense as it’s heavily implied the Hound has become a monk of the Faith (his return far less explicit than it is in the TV show), but we suppose the whole “believing in God thing” might not be essential to be chosen to fight. Or he could always fake it to team up with the High Sparrow and get revenge on his brother.
Anyway, the theory itself is far less interesting than the internet subculture which has sprung up around it, revolving around the fact that people should “get hype” for the battle, which is basically “f***ing confirmed” by this point (to use the two phrases most associated with the movement. The Hound’s love of chickens is also referenced quite a lot, and if you want to know more it’s worth checking out the Cleganebowl subreddit for all the madness.
Hopefully it comes to pass, or we could have a riot on our hands…
9. And finally – when can we see more of Lyanna Mormont?
The pre-teen head of House Mormont was a hit with viewers this week, with her no-nonsense style and surprisingly canny tactics marking her as wise beyond her years.
Credit is due to young actress Bella Ramsey for bringing her to life, and hopefully we’ll see a lot more of her over the coming weeks. If nothing else, she seems like she’d make a much better ruler than pretty much any other noble we’ve seen in Game of Thrones this year…
Game of Thrones continues on Sky Atlantic next Monday at 2am and 9.00pm