On this week’s episode of “Game of Thrones,” we saw Sandor Clegane make a return to the series so dramatic that it required a cold open to show his burnt face before the credits rolled. Between The Hound, Jon Snow and Benjen Stark’s returns, it feels like a major surprise can come at any moment.
In fact, Sandor’s return to action featured the re-emergence of a group that’s central to a theory some fans think will bring back a long-dead character: House Stark matriarch Catelyn.
So how do fans think Catelyn will return to the living after getting her throat slit at the Red Wedding? The answer lies in the Brotherhood Without Banners, who supposedly killed the peaceful church builders with whom Sandor lived. For those who need refreshing, the Brotherhood are outlaws who were dispatched by Ned Stark to defend the common folk in the Riverlands. After Stark’s death, the Brotherhood pledged to continue its mission, devoting themselves instead to the Lord of Light and to commoners whose land was being burned by Lannister armies as part of a scorched-earth strategy.
That doesn’t mean these guys were exactly heroes. They inflicted cruel deaths on those who were deemed guilty, and had The Hound not defeated their leader, Lord Beric Dondarrion, in a trial by combat, they would have killed him too. They’re also not above doing some dubious things to survive, like attempting to ransom Arya back to the Starks to get some desperately needed supplies and gold.
But if it was truly committed to looking out for the little guy, the Brotherhood broke that vow in this week’s episode by killing Sandor’s friends, including pacifist Septon Ray. It’s still not clear why the Brotherhood would do this, or if they were even responsible at all. But some believe the slaughter might have been ordered by someone who has led the Brotherhood into darker territory: the revived Catelyn Stark.
In George R.R. Martin‘s books, Catelyn’s corpse is thrown into the river by the Freys as an insult to the Starks and Tullys. Her body is found by Beric Dondarrion, who gives up his life force to revive her. However, the process doesn’t go as planned, and Catelyn emerges as Lady Stoneheart, a cruel woman who lacks any of Catelyn’s personality except for her seething hatred at the Lannisters and their allies for destroying her family.
If Catelyn/Stoneheart is to enter the TV series, then a revived Hound would definitely be atop her Arya-style hit list. Upon spotting the Hound in the group and reporting back to Stoneheart, she may have ordered them to slaughter everyone. When the Brotherhood realized The Hound wasn’t around, they left knowing that Sandor would return, see the carnage and come looking for revenge.
The music in the episode’s final scene may also prove this theory. Reddit user PrinceInDaNorf pointed out that the background music that plays as The Hound walked through his slaughtered companions is the same music that plays when Catelyn asked Brienne to swear loyalty to her in season 2.
As for why they made a show out of hanging the kindly Septon Ray’s body? Again, the Brotherhood serves R’hllor, whose followers aim to eradicate the Faith of the Seven from Westeros. No matter how nice Ray may be, his beliefs make him a dead man in the Brotherhood’s eyes, doubly so if Stoneheart has changed their mission from defending the weak to wiping out the Lannisters at any cost.
And wouldn’t Catelyn’s return as this vengeful zombie be ironic? Right as her daughter Arya is about to give up devoting her life to nothing but killing, here she is committing herself to bloodshed. “Game of Thrones” fans have wanted payback against the Lannisters, Boltons and Freys for the Red Wedding. They may be about to get more than they bargained for.
Not every theory can be as plausible as the Lady Stoneheart supposition. Check out some theories that are goofier than a smitten Tormund below.