WARNING: This article is dark and full of spoilers.
Seriously, we're not kidding about these spoilers. Skip past the Night's King if you're sure you want to keep reading.
The latest episode of Game of Thrones finally introduced us to Ian McShane's Brother Ray... only to kill the character before the end credits rolled. While McShane's time on the show was brief it was also pivotal in reintroducing us to The Hound (Rory McCann), and the relationship between the two characters is a highlight of the hour.
McShane spoke to Entertainment Weekly about what attracted him to the role; "It was one episode, for a start, which is why I wanted to do it. Obviously he’s going to die. But when I read it, it’s nice. It’s like he’s holding an improvised meeting – not Alcoholics Anonymous, but Murderer’s Anonymous. He’s an ex warrior who’s grown tired of the murdering life and trying to lead another kind of life".
"But I think my main use was to re-introduce a character people thought was long gone and who needed some humanity", McShane continued. "The Hound has not been shown much humanity in his life, and he gets a little from Brother Ray and carries that forward into his character, which makes it more interesting for those who watch him".
While death by hanging is a nasty way to go, filming the actual scene was quite straightforward; "It's very easy", McShane revealed. "You just have to hold your breath for 10 seconds and look sufficiently dead for them to get it". Episode 7 ended with The Hound picking up his axe, and McShane has a good idea of what's on the character's mind; "If they’re following the Western code, he’ll seek to avenge me, then continue his life in a different way". With only three episode remaining this season, we won't have to wait long to see if he's right.
Season 6 of Game of Thrones premieres on HBO on April 24, 2016 in the US, and airs on Sky Atlantic the next day in the UK.