Many Game of Thrones fans were shocked during the Season 7 premiere when everyone’s favorite foul-mouthed, grouchy old brute, Sandor "the Hound" Clegane, was able to look into the flames and quickly conjure such profound visions. The Hound’s apparent Fire Sight spawned a number of theories, including a Reddit which predicted the Hound has had these cryptic powers since he was very young, earning him the gruesome scars on his face. But could this theory hold any truth?
Everyone knows the brotherly story of the Mountain and the Hound, told in a sincere recount by Sandor himself. The young Hound had been innocently playing with his big brother’s toy by the fire, when out of nowhere, an enraged and psychotic Gregor grabbed him and shoved his face in the coals.
The Reddit theory, by user 440K, suggests deeper context to Gregor’s barbaric actions:
“Sandor saw his brother's death in the fire, and told him of it. Gregor became enraged at the thought of his death and so he pushed Sandor into the fire he was reading.”
Kissed By Fire
We know little brother Clegane is clearly traumatized by his childhood near-death experience with fire, and being an otherwise merciless brooding giant, it gives the character a certain human element to have his one Achilles’ heel.
However, in agreement with the Reddit theory, it’s hard to imagine his vision in the presence of the "fire worshippers" was a solitary occurrence, especially because he didn’t seem strikingly moved by the fact that with very little effort, he managed to see all this:
“Ice…a wall of ice. The Wall. It’s where The Wall meets the sea. There’s a castle there. There’s a mountain; looks like an arrowhead. The Dead are marching past…thousands of them.”
Assuming the Hound's PTSD has ever let him stare long enough into the flames prior to this moment, as a man known for not being particularly moral or religious, he would have been conflicted or in denial of what he saw. Mixed with this innate fear, it would create a total aversion to the flames all together, which backs the idea although he possessed the sight, he wasn't going looking for these visions.
The Bear Of Ice And Fire
While considering the possibility of this theory, we should consider other moments from the series where the Hound actually stared into fire. We know he ran from the Battle of Blackwater, yet he fought (and won) a trial by combat against Beric Dondarrion and his flaming sword in Season 3 — and while he was certainly freaked out, he was neither petrified in fear nor staring lost in the flames, so it's not likely he was fire reading on either of those occasions.
In fact, the only other potential moment for fire reading was in Episode 6 of this past season, “Beyond the Wall” — specifically, the scene where Jon Snow and his suicide squad came face to face with a charging, zombified polar bear. In their efforts to kill the undead beast, Ser Beric Dondarrion strikes it with his flaming sword and the wight bear catches fire, yet continues wreaking havoc on the group.
At one point, we see the bear turn its dead-blue eyes to the Hound, who remains frozen in place as it advances on him. Thoros of Myr jumps in front of the Hound, brandishing his flaming sword, and the bear begins thrashing the Red Priest around like a rag doll — all the while, the Hound seems to be in a trance, starring at the flames licking around the bear instead of helping the poor top-knotted priest. It’s not until Ser Jorah comes storming in with his dragonglass dagger and finishes the bear off that the Hound’s trance is broken.
Here is the full scene for reference:
It is clearly a very different reaction to the other instances, where he adopted a "fight or flight" response. Keeping this theory in mind, perhaps it is possible that the Hound, crippled by his PTSD, saw something momentarily in the flames of the blazing, wight polar bear that he couldn’t tear his eyes away from until it was too late.
Did His Childhood Burns Gift Him His Fire Sight?
To challenge this Reddit theory, instead of Sandor reading his brother’s death prior to being scorned by the flames, is it possible that the Hound received his Fire Sight because of this savage act? It seems more satisfactory for the Hound, in any case, that he would receive favor by the Lord of Light for his unwarranted suffering.
However, like the theory suggests, it does make sense that Sandor has always envisioned himself killing his evil older brother, and a little #Cleganebowl premonition could very well be what he was seeing in the flames of the wight bear attack. This would explain why he soon after reminds the reanimated corpse of the Mountain: “It's not how it ends for you, brother. You know who's coming for you. You've always known."
We might be reading too deep into the contextual flames, but either way, we don’t need Fire Sight to predict these questions that likely won't be answered until 2019 when Cleganebowl inevitably takes place. We’ll have plenty of time to mull it over waiting for the final installment of Season 8 of #GameOfThrones.
What do you think? Has the Hound always had Fire Sight? Or was it always just a fear of the flames? Comment below!