You might not like your brother, but you probably don’t hate him as much as Sandor and Gregor Clegane do. Westeros’ most bitter sibling rivalry has been raging since long before the War of the Five Kings, the Red Wedding, and that ill-advised trek “Beyond the Wall” — and, if fans have their way, it’ll finally reach its end in this weekend’s Season 7 finale “The Dragon and the Wolf.”
Few shows lend themselves to obsessive fan theories quite like “Game of Thrones,” and Cleganebowl is the most hype-worthy of them all. An entire subreddit is devoted to the idea that the Hound (Sandor) and the Mountain (Gregor) will soon fulfill their shared destiny and fight to the death; memes, videos, and “CLEGANEBOWL CONFIRMED” declarations abound across the internet. So what is Cleganebowl, and why should you, a casual viewer of television’s most fire-breathing show, care?
Because it’ll be awesome in the same way that finally seeing Drogon lay waste to Lannister soldiers a few episodes back was awesome, of course. The stakes have never been higher than they are now, and with precious few hours of screentime remaining, almost every event that gets pride of place on “Game of Thrones” is meant to be a climax unto itself. The Hound has emerged as a fan favorite on the strength of his vulgar witticisms and subtle redemption arc, while the Mountain brutally murdered an even more beloved character in a previous battle (RIP, Oberyn). Why wouldn’t we want to see them finally settle their differences in the only way that matters in Westeros?
This all began, like so many high-body-count blood feuds, in childhood. Gregor and Sandor of House Clegane never got along, with the older and more sadistic brother bullying his younger sibling throughout their youth. The signature burns across the Hound’s face? Those are from when Gregor pressed his baby bro’s face into a flame, scarring him physically, mentally, and emotionally for life. Not that Sandor is a pushover — as we’ve seen throughout “Game of Thrones,” the chicken-eating warrior is among the fiercest in the Seven Kingdoms.
We first saw their mutual enmity onscreen back in Season 1, when Gregor responded poorly to losing a jousting contest to Loras Tyrell and Sandor took it upon himself to prevent his brother from killing the Knight of Flowers in act of sore-loser vengeance. There hasn’t been any love lost since, though the deep-seated vitriol that exists between the two of them has mostly been implicit since their journeys diverged all those seasons ago.
As for why it might finally happen now, well, that’s for the same reason as most else happening on “Game of Thrones” right now: The show’s many narrative threads are finally converging. The Mountain has been a semi-undead version of himself since his brutal trial by combat with Oberyn Martell, protecting Cersei Lannister with mindless, brute strength; the Hound is returning from north of the Wall alongside Jon Snow to prove to none other than Cersei that wights and White Walkers do, in fact, exist.
We’ve already seen from the trailer for this weekend’s episode “The Dragon and the Wolf” that the show’s few remaining major characters are about to meet for a sitdown in the Dragonpit. If that includes the Mountain and the Hound, as some internet sleuths have determined it does, who knows whether they’ll be able to prevent themselves from finally going all out — boys will be boys, especially in a world where fratricide is as a common as jousting.
The “Game of Thrones” finale airs Sunday, Aug. 27 at 9 p.m. on HBO and will run for an extended 79 minutes and 43 seconds.