Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5
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Credit: HBO

Game of Thrones: The Hound actor breaks down the 'sacrifice' of Cleganebowl

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May 13, 2019

Last night's Game of Thrones finally delivered on something fans have been waiting eight seasons for: Cleganebowl, the epic sword battle between Sandor Clegane/the Hound (Rory McCann) and his older brother, Gregor Clegane/the Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson).

WARNING! The following contains major plot spoilers for "The Bells," Episode 5 of Game of Thrones' eighth and final season.

"I’m dead. It would have been nice to keep living and go on a road trip and do a spinoff. But I’m absolutely delighted. I’m blessed to be given this storyline," McCann told Entertainment Weekly. "The Hound seems to get some great one-liners. You could have a T-shirt factory with just the one-liners I’ve been given."

Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5

Credit: HBO

As Cersei (Lena Headey) is fleeing the Red Keep amid Dany's fiery rampage on King's Landing, Sandor steps into the foyer in order to engage his sibling in combat, the sibling who left him disfigured after shoving his face into fire when they were kids. Unable to resist, the Mountain Frankensteins Qyburn (Anton Lesser) and begins the battle.

Realizing that his new and improved brother is basically un-killable, even with the repeated use of pointy objects, Sandor (nearly suffering the same fate as Prince Oberyn Martell for a second there) sends them both over a cliff and into a raging conflagration, thus overcoming his fear of fire and bringing his revenge-based character arc full circle in one fell swoop.

"Of all the things Cleagane has to do, he has to go into the fire. That’s the sacrifice. But his pain is over," McCann added. "Maybe he could have found peace and wandered off. But this is a fine way to go. It seems pretty beautiful to me. How lucky to be an actor who ends up on one of the biggest and best shows in the world. I see panic in some [fellow castmates'] eyes: 'What are we going to do now?' Relax. Don’t worry. We’re on the map now."

You can learn more about the creation of Cleganebowl in the 35-minute featurette below. The behind-the-scenes content for that scene begins at 20:54. Indeed, the parallels to Mary Shelley aren't too far off, as the crew came to refer to the pale and decaying Gregor as "Franken-Mountain."

"It struck us that it would be apocalyptically beautiful to see [these brothers] fighting on this stairway to nowhere with the sky in the background and the dragon flying by and the flames everywhere. It's just pretty epic and what we wanted," says co-creator/showrunner David Benioff in the video.

Episode 6 of Season 8—aka the series finale—airs next Sunday at 9 p.m. EST on HBO. You can read our recap of Episode 5 right here.


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