The Clegane brothers, better known as the Hound (Sandor) and the Mountain (Gregor), haven’t met in person since their duel in season 1 — in fact, that was the only time they shared the screen. But many fans are anticipating a reunion (read: clash) at some point in the show’s remaining two episodes. After surviving the Long Night, the Hound tells Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) “there’s only one thing that would make me happy.” We have a good guess what that might be: Killing his awful, already half-dead older brother.
In anticipation of Cleganebowl, the fight of the century, here’s what you need to know about Sandor. He’s not quite a hero, but the cynical strongman is definitely the only person worth rooting for in this twisted match.
Who plays the Hound?
Scottish actor Rory McCann has harnessed the Hound's fierce mood swings since the first season of Game of Thrones. Conversely, the Mountain has been played by three different actors — since season 4, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, once crowned Europe's Strongest Man, has played the Mountain. One thing that has changed for Sandor? The make-up for the facial burns on the right side of the Hound's face are way different than they were in season 1.
Why is Sandor Clegane called the Hound?
Sandor is called a Hound for embodying the traits of a dog — but not the warm, cuddly kind. The kind that's on "Beware of Dog" signs.
Back in the day, Sandor was a warrior in House Lannister. Specifically, he was Joffrey's (Jack Gleeson) bodyguard. He was unthinkably loyal. Remember when Joffrey ordered him to murder Mycah the butcher's son in season 1, and he did? That kind of loyal.
Still, he never wanted that loyalty to be attached to the designation of "knight." As he explains to Sansa in A Clash of Kings, George R. R. Martin's second book in the Ice and Fire series, "I like dogs better than knights....A hound will die for you, but never lie to you. And he’ll look you straight in the face."
Fittingly, the Clegane sigil is three hounds. Sandor's grandfather had been a kennelmaster for the Lannisters. When his pack of dogs chased away a lioness, the elder Clegane was rewarded with land and a squire position for his son. The three hounds sacrificed in the fight were incorporated into the Clegane's new sigils.
Who is the Mountain?
Gregor Clegane is a fearsome, violent warrior with no capacity for remorse. According to Martin's books, Gregor is 8 feet tall and 420 pounds. His exceptionally large size got him the nickname "The Mountain That Rides," shortened to the Mountain. Gregor is also called "Tywin Lannister's mad dog" for following through with all of patriarch Tywin's frequently violent orders, like killing Elia Martell and her two children with Rhaegar Targaryen during the Sack of King's Landing at the end of Robert's Rebellion.
The Mountain was killed with a poison spear during a duel with Oberyn Martell. Later, he was brought back to life via dark magic by Maester Qyburn at the behest of Cersei Lannister. He's now the submissive but violent Frankenstein's Monster of Westeros, completely beholden to Cersei's orders.
What happened between the Hound and the Mountain?
One must pity the Hound for being born the Mountain's younger brother. By all accounts, the Mountain seems to be an unflinching sadist. Unlike the Hound, who is capable of self reflection and the occasional monologue, the Mountain's verbal capacity is limited to grunts.
When the Hound was a boy, he experienced the Mountain's wrath directly. As he recounted in season three, young Sandor picked up one of Gregor's wooden toys, which he had previously cast aside. Without warning, Gregor scorched Sandor's against a burning brazier (used for burning coals), leaving Gregor with tremendous scars and a lifelong fear of fire. During the wildfire-filled Battle of Blackwater, he backs away from fighting – and eventually quits the Knightsguard.
What’s the Hound’s relationship to the Starks like?
As the Hound's very recent conversation with Sansa in Winterfell's Great Hall demonstrated so well, the Starks and the Hound go way back. The Starks first encountered the Hound when he was still part of the Lannister entourage.
Their history is frequently a contentious one: The Hound landed a spot on Arya's list for killing her friend, Mycah. After being bested by Brienne of Tarth, Arya left him for dead. Now, Arya and the Hound have achieved a slightly tense mutual understanding and begrudging respect. They're both headed down to King's Landing to fulfill their missions — he, to kill the Mountain, and she, reasons still unclear.
But the Hound always showed kindness to Sansa. He saved her from a mob in the Riot of King's Landing, and offers to take her away from the Lannisters during the Battle of King's Landing.
Why is everyone so hyped for Cleganebowl?
One word: Revenge. The Hound will get the catharsis he's yearned for since he was a child. Over the course of the show, the Hound has gone on a remarkable arc, from the Lannister's "hound" to a man who abides by his own code of ethics — and occasionally shows mercy. His life has been defined by his brother's actions. Here's a chance to eradicate that blight. Sure, violence isn't the answer – but this is Thrones we're talking about.
So: Is the Hound going to kill the Mountain?
The Hound's conversation with Sansa gives us a hint into his intentions. It appears that the Hound is headed to King's Landing to achieve the only thing he's ever wanted: His brother's death.
As for whether the Hound could defeat the Mountain? That's another story — though it seems likely. The Hound is still agile, still strong, still human. The Mountain is a groggy, misshapen creation sewn together in Qyburn's basement. We have just under three hours to find out.