We have to hold our hands up – we were wrong. About a few things actually. Over the last few weeks we’ve had a great old time writing up some Game of Thrones fan theories that could come true, but this week’s episode systematically knocked them all on the head with the sort of efficient cruelty that would put Ramsay Bolton to shame.
So no, the Waif wasn’t really Arya’s assassin inner self trying to kill her good side – she was just a crazy murderer-in-training who had a bone to pick with Maisie Williams (maybe she wasn’t a fan of the Ashildr storyline on Doctor Who). And the person who got stabbed wasn’t someone Arya got to wear her face – it was just Arya, milling around in the open like an idiot. Oh, and there was no return for Arya’s old teacher Syrio Forel, and that WAS just a weird silhouette in a preview picture. Everything was exactly as it seemed.
Elsewhere more cherished theories were roundly put in the ground, with all of last week’s hints that the TV show might finally be adapting the Lady Stoneheart storyline (a plotline in George RR Martin’s source novels where Michelle Fairley’s Catelyn Stark is raised from the dead like Jon Snow to go on a speechless murderous rampage) almost literally pissed on by the Hound.
Despite last week’s appearances, The Brotherhood without Banners (BWB) hadn’t turned to bad, as they did under Stoneheart’s leadership in the novels – it was just a couple of bad apples who massacred the Hound’s friends, with nice leader Beric Dondarrian still in charge (his death in the books led to Stoneheart’s takeover) and the BWB’s mission still for the good of the realm.
This in particular feels like a bit of a deliberate troll by the showrunners on book readers, especially considering one of the bandits who killed the Hound’s friends is one of Stoneheart’s lieutenants in the novels – Lem Lemoncloak, played by Jóhannes Haukur. See look, here’s the actor performing one of Lem’s Stoneheart-themed lines from the books. At least he respects the canon.
And then there’s Cleganebowl, the theory that will be most dearly missed by fans worldwide. For years since it was first hinted at in the books people have been speculating that brothers Sandor and Gregor Clegane, aka The Hound and the Mountain, would have the battle to end all battles at Cersei’s (Lena Headey) trial by combat (the resurrected Mountain as her champion and the newly-penitent Hound as the High Sparrow’s).
Finally, the long-held enmity between the brothers (The Mountain burned The Hound’s face as children) would come to fruition, and we’d see a battle the likes of which Westeros had never seen. When the Hound returned to the series last week, it seemed all but confirmed, and we all got pretty hyped up.
But then Tommen had to ruin everything, with Dean-Charles Chapman’s boy king abolishing trial by combat (and thus ruining Cersei’s plans to have the Mountain fight for her) just as the Hound decided to team up with the Brotherhood without Banners instead of heading to King’s Landing. Damn you, Tommen – no man is as accursed as the Hypeslayer.
So that’s that – some of the most inventive and exciting fan theories ever dreamt up for Game of Thrones all roundly debunked within one 60-minute episode, and we’d be lying if we said we weren’t slightly disappointed. Sure, these theories are always unlikely to come true, but it’s unusual for so many to be roundly dismissed in so short a time.
Still, maybe we should learn something from this. It’s easy to get a little over-hyped on overly-complicated fan ideas, which while interesting written down would probably never work onscreen. Just because fans think an idea is cool doesn’t mean it would play out well narratively, and sometimes we need to accept that TV shows will go for safer choices, which ultimately will be the most satisfying for the majority of viewers.
So, in summary, we….
Well then. This changes things.
YES! CLEGANEBOWL CONFIRMED! WHAT IS HYPE MAY NEVER DIE!
Look, we can learn from our experiences when the series is over, OK?
Game of Thrones continues on Sky Atlantic next Monday at 2am and 9.00pm