When word broke that Deadwood star Ian McShane had been cast in Game Of Thrones Season 6, speculation ran rampant about who the Brit would be portraying. Sam's stern father, Randyll Tarly? Freaky pirate king Euron Greyjoy? Mysterious wight Coldhands? One of the most popular rumors centered around the character Septon Meribald. While the aging priest isn't a big part of George R.R. Martin's books, he does play a crucial role: he's responsible for bringing back a fan-favorite character that many readers had long assumed dead. Well, in an interview with BBC Breakfast, McShane dropped a huge spoiler about his Thrones character that basically proves those Meribald rumors right.
During the interview, the actor had this to say about his mysterious role on the popular fantasy show: "My character really is like an ex-warrior who's become a peacenik." This is a perfect description of Septon Meribald, who is described in Martin's fourth novel, A Feast For Crows, as a former soldier who turned to the Faith of the Seven after experiencing the horrors of war and watching his three brothers die. McShane went on to tease that, "I bring back a much-loved character who everybody thinks is dead."
Who is this "much-loved" character McShane will be bringing back? I can hear the cries of "Jon Snow lives!" already. Not so fast, everyone. While we're like 99 percent positive the Lord Commander will be rejoining us in the land of the living before long, sadly, not even a devout Septon has the power to resurrect someone after they've been stabbed in the gut a half dozen times. (The only two people we've seen with that power so far are the red priest Thoros of Myr and the white walker leader The Night's King.) No, the person that Meribald "brings back" isn't technically dead… even if viewers currently think he is.
(Spoilers ahead!) In AFFC, when Meribald brings Brienne and Podrick to his sept on the Quiet Isle while they're out searching for Sansa, the traveling companions see a large man in a cloak digging a grave. The physical description of the gravedigger, along with the presence of a certain infamous horse in the sept's stables, have led readers to the conclusion that this man is none other than "The Hound" himself, Sandor Clegane, and the horse is his trusty steed Stranger. The theory goes that Septon Meribald came across the wounded knight, abandoned by Arya after Sandor's battle with Brienne (or his battle with his brother Gregor's men in the books), nursed him back to health, and inducted the changed man into the Faith. This theory is so widely accepted by Martin's fandom that it's practically considered canon at this point.
Well, now we can pretty consider that theory officially confirmed. If McShane is playing Septon Meribald, as it would appear from his own description of his character, and he does "bring back a much-loved character," then who could it be other than Sandor Clegane? How many other ambiguously dead character are there in the Riverlands right now? Thanks to McShane's loose lips, we can now say with some amount of certainty that The Hound will return to Game Of Thrones .
And you know what that means… Cleganebowl confirmed. Get hype.
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