Game of Thrones has a reputation as one of the bloodiest, most brutal dramas on television, and it's well deserved. (Just ask Ned Stark's severed head.) But this show's still got a beating heart under all that battle-worn armor, and last night's episode was a perfect reminder of that.
For seasons now, the ongoing rehabilitation of Sandor Clegane has low key been one of the best subplots on Game of Thrones – and "Dragonstone" brought us one of its finest moments yet.
The episode spends just two scenes with Sandor. We first encounter him with the Brotherhood Without Banners, as they decide to seek refuge from the cold night in an abandoned home. But something about the home troubles Sandor, and he's extremely reluctant to go inside.
Longtime fans will know exactly why Sandor seems so spooked by this innocuous-looking house: it's the same spot that he and Arya stopped in during their travels in Season 4. At the time, the farmer and his daughter who lived there welcomed Arya and Sandor into their home – only for Sandor to repay their hospitality by beating the farmer and taking his silver. When Arya objected, Sandor brushed it off by shrugging, "They'll both be dead come winter."
"Dragonstone" proves Sandor right. Both the farmer and his daughter are dead; Beric theorizes that the farmer killed his girl and then himself rather than starve to death. But Sandor doesn't react in his usual gruff manner. The next scene finds Sandor outside in the snow, shoveling graves for the dead. He even attempts to recite a prayer before giving up (he doesn't remember the words) and using his own inelegant but devastatingly sincere words:
I'm sorry you're dead. You deserved better. Both of you.
With those ten words, Sandor demonstrates how far he's come since the last time he encountered that home – not to mention how much he's changed from Season 1, when he slaughtered Arya's friend without a second thought.
But to paraphrase all those smug red priests, it looks like the Lord of Light has greater plans for him yet. The other big thing that happens with the Hound in the Game of Thrones Season 7 premiere is that he looks into the flames and has a vision of the undead marching on the Wall. (Also note: When the Hound approaches the fire, he's literally facing his biggest fear. Character development!)
As you'll recall, reading the flames is kind of a thing with these R'hllor fans, but interpreting them is an inexact science. (If it were easy, Melisandre and Stannis could've saved themselves a whole lot of trouble.) So Sandor's surprise vision has fans speculating about what it all means. More specifically: is this a clue that Sandor Clegane is the Prince That Was Promised?
Sandor's looked into the flames and is unsure about this fan theory.
Yeah, we're not sure, either. But one thing's for sure: Sandor Clegane is the prince of my heart, at least for this episode. Ride on, you grouchy old bear.
MVP for "Dragonstone": Sandor Clegane
Finest Moment: The Hound's ten-word eulogy damn near brought me to tears. There's more sincere emotion in those few seconds than there are in entire seasons of King's Landing storylines. In second place: hats off to Rory McCann for making "staring into a fire" one of the most riveting events of this entire episode.
Best Line: "It's my fucking luck that I end up with a band of fire worshippers."