‘Game of Thrones’: Ian McShane Finally Appears, So Does A Long Thought Dead Character, But What Did It All Mean?

Ian McShane finally made his appearance in Season 6 of HBO’s Game of Thrones. But in a series that has an enormous cast, McShane’s character and storyline got a little lost amid the return of a long thought dead character. But who did Ian McShane play, and who were those men that turned up and threatened McShane’s group?

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains information on Episode 7 of HBO’s Game of Thrones as well as information about the book series the TV show is based on. Please proceed with caution if you wish to avoid spoilers.

According to Screen Crush, by Season 5 of Game of Thrones there were at least 150 characters in the TV show. This characters range from fairly unimportant right up to the main contenders for the iron throne. However, sometimes these characters only show up once or twice before being forgotten. Some of these characters may never be seen again, others will appear seasons down the track and you are left trying to work out who they are and whether they are important. Others return, but a different actor is used, and fans are left wondering if that was an old character or an entirely new one.

And this is what happened in Episode 7 of Game of Thrones. We saw a new character arrive who was with a character fans thought was dead and then, just to confuse the scene even more, a bunch of old characters turned up. So who were these people and what do they mean in regards to the bigger picture? Let’s have a look.

Ian McShane

HBO's Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 7 The Broken Man Brother Ray and The Hound
Earlier this year, Ian McShane burst into the Game of Thrones universe by releasing potential spoilers and referring to the popular TV show as nothing more that “t**s and dragons.” Now it has come time for his role to be revealed and to work out just how spoilery his comments were. According to Entertainment Weekly, McShane played a character called Brother Ray. This character led a small band of people who were building a structure of some kind. It appeared Brother Ray was a Septon, and when he gave a rousing speech, the connection was made between Brother Ray and a book character called Septon Meribald, who also gave a grand speech that is known as “The Broken Man” speech.

If Brother Ray is, in fact, an amalgamation of the Meribald character, it means this segment of Game of Thrones played out on the Quiet Isle and he and his followers were a segment of the Faith of the Seven cult. However, Brother Ray’s main task in Episode 7 of Game of Thrones was to reintroduce a long thought dead character to the audience.

The Hound

HBO's Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 7 The Broken Man The Hound
The Hound (Rory McCann) is the perfect example of why you should never leave a near dead character alone. In Game of Thrones, you should always wait until they are fully dead before leaving them. In Season 4 of Game of Thrones, Arya left the Hound (whose real name is Sandor Clegane) for dead after she found him badly injured as a result of his battle with Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie).

But now, after a season and a half, fans have discovered that the Hound lives. He was nearly buried alive by Brother Ray until it was realized the Hound was alive. From there it was a long journey to recovery for this character. But recover he has, and Episode 7 of Game of Thrones saw him chopping wood like it was butter.

While there was some religious reckoning when Brother Ray gave his speech, it was the fear seen on the Hound’s face when the a group called the Brotherhood Without Banners turned up that piqued the audience’s interest. So why was the Hound afraid of this group? In Season 3 of Game of Thrones, the Hound was captured by this group and had to battle Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) to the death in order to escape their accusations. It was likely he didn’t want to be recognized by this group again.

Brotherhood Without Banners

HBO's Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 7 The Broken Man Brotherhood Without Banners
So who are the Brotherhood Without Banners, why did they kill Brother Ray’s group and what had they accused the Hound of?

Firstly, the Brotherhood Without Banners was formed originally thanks to Ned Stark (Sean Bean). The aim was to bring the Lannisters and their sympathizers to justice. However, after a while, this group branched out on their own and decided to be a group with no banner over their head, instead deciding to fight for the common people of Westeros because it appeared the major houses weren’t.

Brother Ray’s group was likely killed by the Brotherhood Without Banners merely because Brother Ray refused to offer them hospitality. It could also be assumed that the request for hospitality had a hidden meaning. The most recent mention of the Brotherhood Without Banners in Game of Thrones was when Lothar Frey (Daniel Tuite) and Walder Rivers (Tim Plester) announced to Walder Frey (David Bradley) that the Brotherhood had rallied the common folk against House Frey. So could this request to Brother Ray be a way of finding out where his group aligned themselves? By refusing hospitality, could the Brotherhood have seen it as Brother Ray’s group siding with the Freys?

When the Hound was captured by the Brotherhood Without Banners back in Season 3 of Game of Thrones, they charged him with crimes associated with his long allegiance to the Lannisters. Being a group that does not like the major houses in Game of Thrones, just by supporting a major house is crime enough in their eyes.

What did you think of Episode 7 of the sixth season of Game of Thrones? Let us know by commenting below!

Season 6 of Game of Thrones returns to HBO with Episode 8, entitled “No One” on Sunday, June 12, at 9 p.m. ET.

[Image via Helen Sloan/HBO]