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Cousins Cersei (Lena Headey) and Lancel (Eugene Simon) were once close — closer than most cousins, in fact, but that’s House Lannister for you. These days, however, a Mountain stands between them … and that Mountain is Strong.
The full-length trailer for season six of Game of Thrones contains enough Easter eggs for deep-cut fans of the series (like the Tower of Joy sequence) and subtle hints about the future of Jon Snow to last until the premiere. However, no subtextual analysis is at all required when it comes to Gregor Clegane, now operating under the alias Robert Strong. When it comes to this man (or once-was-a-man, as Cobra Commander might call him), things are as straightforward as it gets: This is a creature who represents nothing but head-bursting trouble.
The erstwhile Mountain makes his first impact in the season six trailer during a seismic scene between the aforementioned Lannister cousins. Lancel — once Cersei’s sexual plaything, now in league with her enemy the High Sparrow — stands before the disgraced Queen Regent, accompanied by fellow members of the Faith Militant. Though Cersei earned her freedom during the demoralizing walk of shame at the end of season five, it seems she’s still a ripe target for Lancel and his fellows.
There’s just one small problem, and it’s actually a big one: Robert Strong, the gargantuan new member of the Kingsguard. He’s a zombified version of the man once known as Gregor Clegane, the Mountain that Rides, mortally wounded during his otherwise decisive victory against Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) back in season four. This monstrous creature steps in between Lancel and Cersei, prompting the following exchange:
“Order your man to step aside,” Lancel says, “or there will be violence.”
“I choose violence,” Cersei hisses back.
For Clegane, violence is not a choice, but the only course of action, as evidenced by his very first scene on Thrones, in which he angrily decapitated his own stallion and nearly did the same to Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones). In subsequent seasons, the Mountain’s immeasurable cruelty has continued, enacted by a series of three successive actors: Conan Stevens, Ian Whyte, and the current holder of the title, Icelandic bodybuilder Hafthor Julius Bjornsson.
Bjornsson stands out as the most recognizable of the Mountain men, first appearing in the HBO show’s fourth season cleaving a man in half with his sword, more or less just for kicks. The way he popped the Red Viper’s head like a pimple is the stuff of legend, too, producing one of the most nausea-inducing moments in the show’s history. Then there’s the actor’s real-life credits to consider: battling UFC champions, breaking ancient weightlifting records and other assorted feats of impossible strength.
In short, both the character and the actor are a perfect marriage of muscular mayhem, and Game of Thrones season six looks particularly primed to take advantage of these strengths — what with King’s Landing in disarray and Cersei more desperate than ever, with an unquestionably obedient living killing machine as her personal sidekick.
For his part, Bjornsson contributed to the madness this week by posting a provocative piece of fan art on his Instagram page. It depicts King’s Landing in flames, consumed by neon green wildfire, as a showdown ensues between Gregor and his little brother Sandor (Rory McCann). Given this fan art and the blazing-hot rumors about The Hound’s return in season six, perhaps Gregor isn’t the only Clegane worth keeping an eye on in the weeks ahead.
A photo posted by Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (@thorbjornsson) on
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