What’s the best thing about season four of Game of Thrones so far? Better than the increased swear count, more alarming than Jamie Lannister’s new haircut, and more surprising than even the blonde bloke Khaleesi fancied being replaced by another, more beardy, actor?
It is the glorious rise of Sandor “The Hound” Clegane. The man we just can’t help but whoop and cheer for (albeit inwardly) as he rips out someone’s throat. Ranked a measly 18 in Rolling Stone magazine’s recent countdown of the best GOT characters, here’s why the 6ft6 man-mauling beast is number one in our book.
01 Deft use of swears
The Hound peppered the first episode of Season 4 with enough cunts and fucks to make a White Walker blush. The most effective is when he manages to sum up the pomp and ridiculousness of the rest of Westeros in one amusing retort. “A lot of people name their swords,” says his child side-kick Arya.“A lot of cunts,” he replies.
While everyone else is titting around giving weapons fancy names, trooping garish flags, and spouting off about history and honour, The Hound simply gets stuff done (stuff mostly being killing people in a brutal yet workman-like manner).
02 He’s the new Omar
“A man’s got to have a code” says The Hound while explaining why he’s okay putting a child to the sword but not with stealing a horse. Sound familiar? In The Wire, Omar utters exactly the same maxim to Detective Bunk.
It’s the Thrones writers making a very deliberate nod, telling us that the Hound is destined to be our new favourite anti-hero. Just like Omar - the criminal taking on other criminals, The Hound is evil fighting evil. A walking, talking, murdering embodiment of all those sick revenge and vigilante fantasies festering in the head of every bloke. And we love him for it.
03 He’s also a bit Arnie from T2
Originally the Terminator was bad to his titanium bones but come the sequel, Arnie had switched sides. He became John Connor’s loyal protector who, in the words of John’s mum Sarah: “would never leave him, never hurt him, never shout at him, or get drunk and hit him”. Is the same destiny on the cards for Clegane? Will his aggression and talent for disembowelling be turned against Joffrey and his cronies?
Like the Terminator though, he’s not acting out of honour. When he dispatches a pack of the King's Guards in an inn, they might be torturers and rapists, but The Hound seems to be mostly be motivated by the urge to eat a chicken (or two).
04 He’s damaged goods
The Hound has a handy backstory for redemption. Badly burnt by his even brawnier brother The Mountain as a child and used by Joffrey for some of his sickest deeds, he’s like an enormous, mistreated dog who has only ever been shown cruelty.
Is there anything more satisfying in life than seeing a poor, abused animal finally turn on the bullies that have teased and beaten it? The prospect of Joffrey and his mates getting their comeuppance at the vengeful, club-like hands of Sandor Clegane is one we relish.
We are, by the way, fully aware that now we’ve written all this, The Hound will probably be killed off in the next episode. Westeros, eh? What a wonderful shit hole.
Words by Joe Barnes.