With Game of Thrones now almost exclusively navigating beyond the edge of George RR Martin’s literary map, the stakes for revelations and twists in the narrative have been raised. The dynamic between book readers and Game of Thrones has differed depending on the nature of the revelation. In some cases — such as Jon Snow’s fate and the yet-to-be divulged mystery of his parentage — book readers would have preferred secrets to be unveiled on the page by Martin, but by and large were confident enough in the prevailing theories of the likely outcomes that they didn’t feel robbed. In other instances — such as the “Hold the Door” moment of episode five and Daenerys’s conflagration of the Khals– the show truly did catch book readers off guard, even if it remains unclear whether those events will eventually unfold in the same manner on the page. However, one unique instance existed where the majority of book readers actually preferred to see their theory confirmed on screen. Or perhaps I should say F*&KING CONFIRMED?
The revelation that Sandor Clegane (aka “The Hound”) was not dead set the stage for an epic confrontation between the two Clegane brothers in Cersei Lannister’s trial by combat — an event that is more commonly known as CLEGANEBOWL.1 While foreshadowed in the books, the showdown between the Hound and the Mountain was not quite as much a sure thing that Jon Snow’s resurrection. After being left for dead by Arya Stark, Sandor Clegane never officially resurfaces on the page, yet a certain large figure in the background of a particular scene has long been speculated to represent the rejuvenated Hound.
Combined with the established backstory of the two brothers Clegane and the knowledge that Ser Robert Strong (aka Zombie Gregor) would fight as Cersei’s champion, CLEGANEBOWL was far from a tinfoil theory. However, in the realm of Game of Thrones reddit, CLEGANEBOWL morphed into the most pervasive Game of Thrones meme ever. YouTube hype videos were created. A CLEGANEBOWL subreddit emerged. Someone even made and then sold foam fingers for the event. CLEGANEBOWL even developed its own internet vernacular, made up of the following terms/phrases:
GET HYPE – This is what you do in anticipation for CLEGANEBOWL. It is all you do.
100% F**KING CONFIRMED – this describes the odds of CLEGANEBOWL actually happening
EVERY F**KING CHICKEN IN THIS ROOM – what the Hound is gonna have to eat if you keep doubting CLEGANEBOWL
WHAT IS HYPE MAY NEVER DIE – The unofficial words of House CLEGANEBOWL, though other variants such as “HYPE GATHERS AND NOW MY WATCH BEGINS” may also be seen.
So naturally this happened when Sandor Clegane was revealed to be alive and well in the opening moments of Sunday night’s episode. But aside from being consistently hilarious, the CLEGANEBOWL phenomenon marks a unique dynamic between book readers and Game of Thrones. For once book readers are not making peace with revelations they expected to be made on the page instead occurring on screen — rather they have actively anticipated the Hound make his reappearance on screen for over a year. And even though the Hound is currently alone wandering the Riverlands, it’s a near certainty he will eventually stand as the champion of the Faith against his brother in what will be the most anticipated trial by combat on Game of Thrones.
For now though I’m fresh out of chickens, so I’d best wrap this piece up.
- GET HYPE! ↩