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The Hound isn’t much for magic. He’s certainly not much for fire. But the two loathed concepts collide within Sandor Clegane’s world all the same, originating all the way back in the fourth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones.
As a means of setting the stage, we return to “Breaker of Chains,” the third episode of season four, which begins on one of the most iconic images in the show’s history: King Joffrey’s dead, purple-stained face. The hour predominantly deals with the fallout of the Purple Wedding, but it’s the storyline involving the Hound (Rory McCann) and Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) that holds the most intrigue given the show’s most recent season.
In the episode, the unlikely traveling companions encounter a farmer and his daughter, Sally, who are gracious enough to offer food and lodging for the weary warriors, meager as their rations and shelter are. The farmer offers the Hound to stay on as a ranch hand and veritable bodyguard, fending off thieves and raiders who attempt to pillage the land. In exchange: hidden silver for his troubles. “Fair wages for fair work,” he insists. The Hound agrees to the terms — and subsequently betrays the farmer in the morning, roughing the man up and stealing his possessions, not two episodes after he said he wasn’t a thief.
“He’s a good man. His daughter makes a nice stew. They’ll both be dead come winter,” the Hound tells a furious Arya. “He’s weak. He can’t protect himself. They’ll both be dead come winter. Dead men don’t need silver.”
The Hound doesn’t have the same prophetic powers as, say, Melisandre (Carice Van Houten), but he doesn’t need fire magic to call his shot. In season seven, in the thick of his redemption arc, the Hound returns to the same farmer’s land, only to find that he was right: The farmer and his daughter are both dead, and winter is here. A self-fulfilling prophecy indeed, especially given the Hound’s direct role in harming both of these individuals’ livelihood.
Was there something the farmer and his daughter could have done differently to avoid their terrible fate, or are they representative of the morality of Westeros, a land where bad things inevitably happen to good people? That’s one way to view the manner the world works within not only Thrones, but outside of it. But the Hound’s arc in season seven suggests an alternate path, one in which atonement trumps redemption, as people who have committed great acts of terror in the past can still make a positive impact on the future.
Prophecy and morality are at the heart of the discussion this week on “Winter Was Here,” the Game of Thrones rewatch podcast collaboration between Post Show Recaps and The Hollywood Reporter, as we take on “Breaker of Chains.” Other topics include:
• How Tommen and Tywin’s conversation predicts the young king’s future fate
• The infamous Sept scene between Jaime and Cersei, which has only gotten worse with time
• A reconsideration of Olly, the most hated member of the Night’s Watch
• Mourning the loss of Strong Belwas, a character from the books who didn’t make it onto the show
Listen to this week’s podcast in the player below.
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