TheoryBox: The Hound and Arya will meet again in season seven

Welcome to TheoryBox, a Looper series focused on original TV and movie theories. From Game of Thrones to the upcoming Dark Tower movie and beyond, join me on a trip down the rabbit hole with my own slightly crazy theories every week. Even though I am personally of the /r/freefolk mindset that spoiler tags are for the weak, I'll offer this disclaimer: Below the cut, this article contains multitudinous untagged spoilers from the entire Game of Thrones TV series as well as the A Song of Ice and Fire books. You've been warned!

In "The Broken Man" (Season 6, Episode 7), Game of Thrones fans were treated to an awesome surprise when the first cold open since the season five premiere revealed a fan-favorite character presumed to be dead—Sandor Clegane. I'll admit, the second I saw the Hound on screen carrying that gigantic wooden beam, I let out a little squeal of excitement. (You did too. Don't lie.) His appearance (and the episode title) validated a long-held fan theory: that the Hound survived after Arya abandoned him. Now Arya is back in Westeros, and I think she and the Hound are on a collision course that will bring them together again. It's 255 leagues to King's Landing, we've got a full barrel of ale, half a dozen chickens, it's winter, and we're wearing sunglasses. Hit it.

Meet you at the crossroads

As of the season 6 finale, both Arya and the Hound are in the Riverlands. Arya is at the Twins, the hold of House Frey. While we don't know exactly where the Hound is located, he's definitely in the Riverlands as well, and probably close to the Twins. I personally think that based on the cliff seen rising behind the church being built in "The Broken Man," the settlement was probably east of the Kingsroad and north of the Trident, in the foothills of the Mountains of the Moon. Interestingly, this geography and the storyline (people building a settlement) is similar to a location from the books that Arya and the Hound visit in A Storm of SwordsPalisade Village.

When Sandor leaves the settlement and pursues the attackers, he's likely moving west or northwest, into the wooded areas closer to the Kingsroad and the Green Fork. He encounters the Brotherhood Without Banners, who allow him to hang the murderers before asking him to join them against a worse enemy to the north. We also know the Brotherhood has been attacking the camps and supply trains of the Freys all throughout the Riverlands. It seems likely that Sandor will head north soon, right towards Arya. If Arya goes South from the Twins to King's Landing, their paths will likely intersect soon.

First, a little jailbreaking

Arya's been hanging around the Twins for at least a couple of days—long enough to kill a serving girl and take her face, then serve at the table for the feast, kill Lothar and Black Walder, and carve them up and bake them into a meat pie, which she serves later to Lord Walder before slitting his throat. We don't know if her murder of Lord Frey is the next day or a week later; timelines are very fluid on the show. Even if she's only been at the Twins for a few days, it's very likely she's heard of her Uncle Edmure's captivity in a cell there, as well as the Brotherhood's operations against the Freys nearby.

Although she can't hang around for long before Lord Frey's body is discovered, I would be a little surprised—and very disappointed—if Arya didn't assist her uncle in escaping. He may not want to leave his wife and baby behind, and so Arya may soon be saddled with getting three people to safety. Riverrun is lost, Lord Baelish rules the Eyrie, and Winterfell is hundreds of miles away. The only safe harbors to be found nearby are the rebels against the Freys: House Mallister of Seagard and the Brotherhood Without Banners. In my mind, the simplest way to save her Uncle would be for Arya to hide Lord Frey's body and take his face, or that of one of his sons. She could use this deception to get past any guards watching Edmure and get him (and maybe his wife and child) out of the castle. After their escape, Edmure would most likely go to Seagard and try to rally the rebellion from there. This would free Arya up to continue her journey towards King's Landing.

Who's on the list?

At the end of season 6, it's clear that Arya is on a mission to check off the remaining names on her list. She could have taken a ship to White Harbor or Eastwatch and gone directly to the Wall or Winterfell; instead she went to the Twins. She is focused on finishing that list before trying to reunite with any of her family. So who exactly remains on her list? Well, that's up for some debate. In "First of His Name" (Season 4, Episode 5), Arya tells the Hound about her list. It's interesting to note that the Hound replies, "If we come across my brother, maybe we can both cross a name off our list." Here are the names that appeared on it at that time:

- Cersei Lannister, for having her father arrested (Alive)

- Joffrey Baratheon, for ordering her father's execution (Dead, poisoned by Lady Olenna and Littlefinger)

- Ser Meryn Trant, for killing Syrio Forel (Dead, killed by Arya in the brothel)

- Tywin Lannister, for orchestrating the Red Wedding (Dead, killed by Tyrion)

- Walder Frey, for killing Catelyn and Robb (Dead, killed by Arya)

- Polliver, for killing Lommy and taking Needle (Dead, killed by Arya)

- The Mountain, for torturing people at Harrenhal (Alive, sorta?)

- Melisandre, for taking Gendry (Alive)

- Ser Ilyn Payne, for beheading her father (Status unknown)

- Beric Dondarrion & Thoros of Myr, for selling Gendry to Melisandre (Both alive)

- The Hound, for killing Mycah (Alive)

Didn't she shorten the list?

Later, in season 6, episode 3, Arya tells the Waif that the Hound is dead, and that she had taken him off her list before he died. The Waif asks "Who else was on Arya Stark's funny little list?" Arya only gives her three names at that point: Cersei Lannister, Gregor Clegane, and Walder Frey. The Waif remarks that the list is short, and asks if Arya isn't forgetting someone. At this point, I think that Arya's response—"Which name would you like a girl to speak?"—is just Arya testing her ability to lie. The previous part of the scene shows the Waif catching Arya in lies about Jon and the Hound.

I think Arya's list isn't actually shortened, but that she purposefully left out names to test the ability of the Waif to catch her in a third lie. Coupled with the montage showing Arya improving her other skills, it seems obvious that the point of the scene is to show she can effectively lie now, too. To back this up, Entertainment Weekly asked actress Maisie Williams to prioritize the remaining names on Arya's list. She told them, "Arya still has a medium-length list of people she wants dead, if I had to put them in order…it would probably go: Cersei, Melisandre, then the Mountain, or Ilyn Payne."

Obviously, the names she gave the Waif were not her full list, and I seriously doubt that Beric Dondarrion or Thoros of Myr have earned a reprieve. It's interesting that Maisie Williams mentioned Ser Ilyn, because many have speculated that the royal headsman was quietly removed from the list after Wilko Johnson—the actor who played him—was diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer. But in 2014, Johnson was given a miraculous reprieve when doctors were able to perform radical surgery and remove the cancerous tumor. Now cancer-free, Payne may yet return to the show—at least long enough for Arya to kill him.

We're on a mission from God (the Many-Faced one)

After leaving the Twins, Arya will likely head south in search of the Brotherhood. She knows they're nearby harassing the Freys, and she probably knows the approximate area of their hideout, where she was held in season three. Since the Hound is with the Brotherhood, this is likely where they'll meet again. When Thoros and Beric sold Gendry to Melisandre, all three of them ended up on Arya's list. Melisandre herself prophesied that she and Arya would meet again. With Melisandre an outcast from Jon Snow's service and exiled from the kingdom of the North, she will need to ride south of the bogs of the Neck in order to avoid execution. This will put her close to the Twins and the Riverlands in the near future. Melisandre may also seek out the Brotherhood, in order to get advice from the only other red priest in Westeros—Thoros of Myr.

Arya will attempt to kill her three Riverlands targets, but I suspect she won't be completely successful. In particular, I think Melisandre still may have a role to play in the war with the White Walkers. Arya may kill Thoros or Dondarrion, but be caught by Melisandre or the rest of the Brotherhood. I think that Thoros is most likely to die, because if she fails to kill him, he can just perform his Lord of Light mojo-jojo and bring back Dondarrion, which would cheapen the kill for viewers. If Arya is captured, the Hound may have to decide where his loyalties lie—with the group of outlaws who once captured him, put him on trial, then stole his money, or with the wild wolf-girl who was his traveling companion and erstwhile sidekick for months. It will be interesting to see how Sandor reacts to seeing the girl who left him for dead, and how Arya reacts to seeing the Hound alive and well.

Getting the band back together

Once Arya and Sandor reunite, they'll have to decide what to do next. Will they head North to face the White Walkers (who probably won't be impressed by Arya's Faceless Man skills), or go to King's Landing on a mission of death? Given the Hound's skeptical eye-rolling during Beric's speech about fighting for a greater cause, I don't think he's particularly attached or dedicated to the Brotherhood's new mission. While his partnership with Arya has had its ups and downs, I think he feels some loyalty to her and will go with her to King's Landing. Until the Hound sees the new skills that Arya has acquired in Braavos, he may feel that he needs to protect her from getting killed by the Mountain.

So while I think the team-up of Arya and Sandor is all but inevitable at this point, there's no reason that they will remain only a duo. There are two loose ends from Arya's past which the show has never tied up to viewers' satisfaction: the fates of Nymeria, Arya's direwolf, and of Gendry, who has supposedly been rowing a boat away from Dragonstone ever since season three. Nymeria was set free by Arya in the Riverlands, near the Crossroads Inn at the Trident.

If Gendry took the closest crossing to the mainland from Dragonstone, he probably made landfall somewhere along Crackclaw Point, a peninsula to the east of the Riverlands. Given his history in King's Landing, Gendry may make his way further into the Riverlands to try and make some sort of peaceful life for himself. While this is just wild speculation on my part, I know that I (and legions of Game of Thrones fans) would love to see some sort of reunion between Arya and Nymeria, and/or Arya and Gendry.

We traded Cleganebowl for this?

Presuming that Ilyn Payne returns to the show, I think he will probably be the first to fall to Arya once they reach King's Landing. This would be a good warm-up act for what's to follow. Even though I'd love Arya to take out Cersei, I think Jaime is going to rob her of that chance when he kills Cersei himself. If you want more details on that theory, see my TheoryBox article about why Jaime will be the one to kill Cersei. That leaves the Mountain—the one person both Arya and the Hound hate deeply.

Fans were heartbroken when Tommen outlawed trial by combat, thinking it meant an end to Cleganebowl. However, I'm confident that a variation of Cleganebowl is still happening, but with Arya and the Hound as a tag team vs. the Mountain that Rides. Maybe we can call it #Caninebowl, or #Murderbowl. Even with all her Faceless Men training, I don't know if Arya is capable of taking down Gregor Clegane alone, especially now that he's a freakish reanimated golem. Hell, I don't even think Sandor could take him alone anymore. How do you kill a monster that doesn't feel pain and may not actually even be alive? I'm not sure, but I think it is going to take the combined powers of Arya and the Hound to bring him down once and for all. When it happens, I'll be ready and waiting—with four fried chickens and a Coke to celebrate.