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The purpose behind Brother Ray's character on Game of Thrones

The seventh episode of Game of Thrones season six, "The Broken Man," takes us all over the Seven Kingdoms and visits all of our favorite characters, but there's one story in particular we weren't expecting. Sandor "the Hound" Clegane has miraculously survived the injuries he sustained fighting Brienne of Tarth, after Arya Stark left him to die in season four. Here, we find him working as a lumberjack and living with a group of poor villagers, building a church (or as they're known in Westeros, a "sept") under the oversight of the welcoming and charitable Brother Ray. During the episode, Ray tells us a bit about himself, and much of it hits close to home for the former Hound. Based on the books, there's a lot more than you realize at play, which suggests where Sandor is going for season seven. As you could've guessed, there are plenty of spoilers ahead...

Fixing the broken man

Sandor, having abandoned his duties as a member of Joffrey's Kingsguard during the Battle of the Blackwater, was already a shell of a man before Arya Stark left him to die. Now, he's even emptier than before, performing lumberjack duties for Brother Ray's folk likely as a means of gratitude for saving his life and as a steady source of food and drink. We find out that Brother Ray was a soldier who engaged in all kinds of horrific wrongdoings, similar to the Hound, before finding peace and becoming a religious man. Fans of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels should notice that Brother Ray's character is a hybrid of the Elder Brother of Quiet Isle and Septon Meribald—both former soldiers who turned to peace and religion. Even though he's only on the show for a short time, his impact on Sandor seems like it may have been huge.

The fight is rejoined

There's a bit of goodness to the Hound that was only hinted at throughout the previous seasons of Game of Thrones. Towards the end of "The Broken Man," Sandor is saddened and angered to see Brother Ray and his followers slain by the Brotherhood Without Banners, a rebel group of soldiers who abandoned loyalty to the major Houses during the War of the Five Kings in order to defend the peasants of the realm. After finding Ray's corpse, Sandor picked up his axe and headed off to seek vengeance. For once, Sandor's going out of his way to fight for a reason that goes beyond money. Before, he fought for compensation, like taking orders from the king or protecting his ransom. The only other time we've seen him do something like this was when he killed the men attacking Sansa Stark in King's Landing.

Finding the Brotherhood

Sandor is tagging along the good Brotherhood Without Banners members, who executed the trio that attacked Brother Ray's group. Fans of the books still have their fingers crossed for the debut of Lady Stoneheart, who is actually the reanimated body of Catelyn Stark. It turns out Lady Stoneheart becomes the Brotherhood's new leader, and she steers them in a direction of revenge against everyone who betrayed the Starks. We're not sure what's going to happen if Sandor encounters a reanimated Catelyn, especially since he tried protecting both of her daughters, but trying to ransom Arya likely isn't going to go over well with mommy dearest.

Cleganebowl!

For all we know, Sandor could become a warrior fighting in the name of religion, or he might not. Remember, Brother Ray doesn't care what name you call your faith, as long as it brings you peace and makes you a better person. With the Hound's nefarious brother, Gregor "the Mountain" Clegane, having been transformed into a monstrous bodyguard for the newly-crowned Queen, Cersei Lannister. This is almost the perfect setup for what the fans call "Cleganebowl," where we'll finally get our long-awaited fight between the two brothers who hate each others' guts. Better yet, they both kinda died and came back stronger than before. We have a feeling things will boil down the Mountain clearing out dozens of Daenerys or Jon's invading forces, only for the Hound to step up to even the odds.

Moreover, Sandor might be the person to kill Cersei. Remember when Cersei's fortune was told when she was younger? In the books, she was told by the witch in the woods that she'd outlive her three children and die by the hands of something called the "valonqar"—the High Valyrian word for "little brother." Of course, this could explain yet another reason why Cersei hates Tyrion's guts. While it could also mean Jaime, we have a feeling this might be in reference to the former Hound, especially in terms of his relationship to the Elder Brother in the books and Brother Ray on the show.