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‘Game of Thrones’ Recap: Another Fan Favorite Returns

If this season of Game of Thrones has an official motto, it’s probably that pithy little quote they’re always saying round the Iron Islands: What is dead may never die.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in 'Game of Thrones'
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in ‘Game of Thrones.’

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Ever. Not even if it looked really, completely, imminently dead the last time you saw it, and haven’t seen it alive in years. It just can’t die, OK?

Jon Snow? Alive. Benjen Stark? Alive. The Mountain? Alive! Well, OK, sort of. The point is, this season — and particularly the latest episode — of Game of Thrones is duly invoking the rule that no character is ever dead until you see a body … and sometimes not even then. Remember that as you read on to find out what went down (and who resurfaced) this week in Westeros.

Who Let The Dogs Out?

Let’s just start with the big reveal, which came right off the bat in this episode’s cold open: Ian McShane made his Game of Thrones debut, in his juiciest role since he played a serial-killing Santa Claus in American Horror Story.

Oh, and also, the Hound (Rory McCann) is still alive.

Yep, you read that correctly: Despite looking like a goner when we saw him last (on the losing end of Brienne’s fighting skills in season 4), Sandor Clegane was back, brawny and burn-scarred as ever. Cue the backstory: After being found near death by McShane’s Brother Ray, the Hound made a full recovery and joined up with the Westerosian version of a religious hippie cult, where members spend their days raising barns and their evenings listening to Brother Ray speak with regret about his past life of violence and debauchery.

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In other words: Not exactly where you expected the head-crushing Hound to end up. But in light of the man’s history, it’s easy to see why he’d be seduced by Ray’s simple message: “It’s never too late to stop killing people!” (I know, right? Let’s get that printed on a T-shirt!)

Margaery’s True Allegiance, Revealed

After being born-again into the cult of the High Sparrow, Margaery (Natalie Dormer) seemed fully converted — to the point where she has stopped doing the bang-bang with her teenage husband because she just doesn’t feel those sinful desires anymore. (The High Sparrow’s response: “Congress does not require desire on the woman’s part.” Y’know, just in case we needed another reason to really dislike the guy.) But after realizing that her grandmother Olenna (Diana Rigg) might be thrown in the Sept dungeon next, Margaery piously insisted that Granny take leave for Highgarden … and secretly slipped her a picture of a rose, the sigil of House Tyrell, and a sure sign that she hasn’t drunk the cult Kool-Aid after all. The only question remaining is what kind of long game Margaery is playing, but whatever it is, all bets are on that pious smirk being wiped off birdman’s face by season’s end.

A Tiny Army Assembles

The campaign was on as Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) tried to rally all of their allies for a fight to retake Winterfell. On their side for sure was Tormund Gianstbane (Kristofer Hivju), as well as Giant McGiantface and all the Wildlings — plus a mini-army of 62 men promised by Lady Lyanna (Bella Ramsey) of House Mormont, the baddest kid leader in Westeros.

But, alas, that’s all they’ve got. With many allies lost and the Tully army at Riverrun under siege, the Starks needed either a) a miracle, or b) to become political bedfellows with someone supergross. That was when Sansa spotted a raven and discreetly penned a note. No prizes for guessing that it’s going to Littlefinger, because, ugh, it probably is.

Brothers Step Up

Meanwhile, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) arrived at Riverrun just in time to watch the Frey boys look like a pair of impotent fools when the Blackfish (Clive Russell) dared them to kill hostage Edmure Tully. On the downside, Jaime had no better luck negotiating and promised to kill every man in Riverrun. On the plus side, Jaime’s golden prosthesis makes for a hell of a whoopin’ hand.

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And at the same time, poor, penisless Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) was sitting miserably in a brothel with sister Yara (Gemma Whalen), who had stopped there with two ambitions: One, to [expletive] the [expletives] off one of the wharf whores (whorves?) before setting sail for Mereen, and two, to make her baby brother stop skulking around, drink a beer and live, damn it. And yes, she accomplished both these goals. Yara Greyjoy, you overachiever.

Arya Falls Down

Finally, in Braavos, a girl had a name and a high-class cabin on a boat home — until an evil Waif put a knife in her guts. Arya (Maisie Williams), caught bizarrely off guard by her tormenter from the House of Black and White, was stabbed half a dozen times but escaped by plunging into the canal … which would be really worrying on any other show! But last we saw Arya, she was still alive enough to wander bleeding through the streets looking for help, which means she’s still much too alive to die on Game of Thrones. We’ll freak out when her head shows up on a spike, and not a moment sooner.

And the Hound Rises Again

Because you don’t bring back Sandor Clegane unless you’re going to bring back Sandor Clegane, y’know? In the final moments of the episode, the Hound ran from the forest toward the sound of screams, arriving to find all his happy hippie friends slaughtered, and Brother Ray gruesomely hanged — probably by the three menacing riders who passed by earlier that day. And the last we saw of Sandor, he was grabbing his ax and going after them. Because it’s never too late to stop killing people, but for the Hound, it’s definitely too early.

Tell Us: What did you think of the Hound’s return?

Game of Thrones airs on HBO Sundays at 9 p.m. ET.

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