WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8 episode "The Bells," which premiered Sunday on HBO.
Game of Thrones resolved multiple storylines in its penultimate episode of the series, many of which, unsurprisingly, ended in death. Amid the chaos of the fiery devastation of King's Landing and the fall of the Red Keep. Amid the chaos, one sequence fans have clamored for since the first season finally came to fruition. Sandor Clegane, aka the Hound, confronted his brother Gregor, aka the Mountain, in a duel that concluded the only way it could have.
What's become known by die-hard fans as Cleganebowl was first implied in Season 1. Then, both the Hound and the Mountain were loyal subjects of King Robert Barratheon and his family. In their youth, the Mountain held his younger brother's face near a fire, leaving him physically and emotionally scarred for the rest of his life. That fostered a hatred for Gregor in Sandor that continued well into adulthood. The first hint of their fateful duel was when the pair came to blows during a joust in the series' fifth episode, "The Wolf and the Lion." That ended with the Mountain storming off after the fight was stopped by Robert.
As Sandor went on to become a fan favorite and developed slowly into a better man, the Mountain became more monstrous. After his brutal Season 4 duel with Oberyn Martel, during which he was poisoned with manticore venom, the Mountain was transformed into something ... else by disgraced maester Qyburn. The thought of a battle between the pair began to gain traction online online, with fans crafting theories about how they reunite for a fateful duel. "Cleganebowl" became shorthand for the anticipated confrontation, with the meme "CLEGANEBOWL GET HYPE" circulating online. That came to a head in the Season 7 finale, in which Sandor reminded Gregor -- and the audience -- that he was coming for him.
The Battle Itself
As Daenerys Targaryen laid waste to King's Landing and the Red Keep crumbled, Cersei and Qyburn attempted to flee, accompanied by the Mountain and remaining Queensguard, only for their escape to be cut off by the Hound. After dispatching most of her guards, he challenged the Mountain to the battle they've both wanted for so long. Tossing aside his oath to the queen as easily as he did the body of Qyburn, the Mountain engaged his brother in a brutal duel. However, Despite his strength and renowned skill with a sword, the Hound couldn't do much to the Mountain at the beginning of the fight. His size amplified by his seeming inability to feel pain, the Mountain batted away sword blows with just his hands, and even shrugged off an impaling.
As the Red Keep fell around them, their fight became more heated. Sandor (and audiences) finally got to see what the Mountain looks like beneath his helmet: a decaying corpse that, somehow, remains standing. The Mountain in turn nearly killed the Hound the same way his brother dispatched Oberyn, taking one of his eyes and trying to crack his skull. Sandor only survived by stabbing his brother through the skull. But even that wasn't enough to kill the undead warrior. Nothing Sandor did proved able to stop Gregor, so the Hound lunged at him and the pair went tumbling through a collapsing wall. Both men fell from the Red Keep and into the fires far below, ending the Clegane line.
The Hound became one of the most complex characters on Game of Thrones, learning restraint and nobility even while murdering people for chicken. His final moments with Arya Stark crystalized that, allowing him one final chance to mentor the girl he protected years earlier. He helped her to recognize when revenge might not be worth it, and gave her the opportunity to survive the Battle of King's Landing. But he could never let go of it himself, and he ultimately fell into the flames he'd feared most of his life. It was a fitting end for the Hound, finally quenching his thirst for revenge, at the cost of his "worthless" life. It's tragic but perfectly in-tune with his character arc. And, if nothing else, his final moments gave fans with the confrontation they'd been waiting eight years to see.
Airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO, Game of Thrones stars Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister, Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, Maisie Williams as Arya Stark and Kit Harington as Jon Snow.