Warning: This post is dark and full of spoilers.
Episode 5 of the final season of “Game Of Thrones” brought fire and blood as Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and her forces stormed King’s Landing. But in the midst of all the chaos, the penultimate installment also delivered one of the most anticipated fights in the HBO show’s history.
Let’s get ready to Cleganebowl!
Here are the contenders:
Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann)
Nickname: The Hound
Fun fact: Likes chicken
Bio: The Hound has had a vendetta against his brother, known as the Mountain, since he shoved his face in the fire when the Hound was just a kid, scarring him for life. He started out the series as kind of a jerk, murdering innocent people on behalf of King Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson). But after abandoning the king during the Battle of the Blackwater, the Hound went adventuring for a while with Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), who eventually left him for dead on the side of the road following a fight with Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie). The Hound’s hate for his brother kept him going, though, and after fighting on the side of the living at the Battle of Winterfell, he was ready to take on any undead monster he could find.
Gregor Clegane (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson)
Nickname: The Mountain
Fun fact: Currently undead
Bio: The Mountain is perhaps the most outright evil characters on the show. He was a rapist and murderer while living, and he becomes an undead villain after being poisoned during a fight with Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) in Season 4.
In the episode, the Hound meets the Mountain on a staircase as the elder brother is escorting Cersei out of the Red Keep. After some of Cersei’s men unsuccessfully try to take down the Hound, he finally gets to take on Gregor.
Cersei’s all like, “Ser Gregor, stay by my side,” but the Mountain’s all like, “Nah,” and he kills Qyburn (Anton Lesser) when he tries to make him obey.
It’s at this point that Cersei’s all like, “OK, I’m just ... gonna go now,” and tiptoes on by.
Time for the Cleganebowl.
Here’s how it goes down: The Hound first starts continually smacking the Mountain with his sword, but his undead big bro doesn’t seem fazed. That is, until the Hound knocks his helmet off, revealing the Mountain’s new looks:
Yep. He’s apparently one of those giant demon babies that would’ve appeared in “Bird Box.”
“Yeah. That’s you. That’s what you’ve always been,” says the Hound upon seeing his brother’s face. (The Mountain has always been a giant demon baby: confirmed.)
The pair continued to exchange blows until the Hound finally stabs the Mountain through the chest. But the undead man-child isn’t affected.
The Mountain does his best impression of Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Brienne in Episode 4, going all, “Is it hot in here?” But in a different twist he takes off his top to reveal a zombie baby chest.
He eventually chokes the Hound and pulls the same move he did on Oberyn in Season 4, gouging at his younger brother’s eyes.
But the Hound isn’t done, either.
He puts a blade right through the Mountain’s head and tackles him through a wall, at which point the pair both tumble to their deaths in the fire below.
And that’s the Cleganebowl.
“Game Of Thrones” showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss talked about the fight in an “Inside the Episode” video released Sunday.
“It struck us that it would be kind of apocalyptically beautiful to see them fighting on this stairway to nowhere with the sky in the background, and the dragon flying by, and the flames everywhere,” Benioff said.
“We knew that these two were going to die together at each other’s hands and we knew that the Hound’s death had to be a death by fire, so the one thing stronger in the Hound than his fear of fire is his hatred of the person who put that fear there in the first place,” Weiss said.
The fight between the brothers had been anticipated and hinted at for years.
“You know who’s coming for you. You’ve always known,” the Hound told the Mountain in the Season 7 finale.
Actor Rory McCann told HuffPost that moment was just proof of how much the Hound has wanted to take down his brother ― and for how long.
“It just shows you it’s still very important to him,” McCann said. “It’s still burning away at him, and he hates him.”
Both men have previously claimed their character would win in a fight, with Björnsson telling Entertainment Weekly that the Mountain would beat the Hound. But McCann brushed that off, telling HuffPost, “That’s ring talk.”
“There’s absolutely no chance he’ll win. It’s 100 percent that I will win,” McCann said. “The Hound will win.”
In the end, neither could really claim victory. It’s like they say, “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you tie.”