This week’s episode offered a glimpse of Qyburn’s workshop, but what exactly is he working on? And what could be so important that the characteristically aloof Cersei would actually care?
He has evidently required a dwarf’s head and a dead rat to make progress with this mysterious project. But most revealing of all was the sudden lurch from what can only be a body under the sheet on his table.
Last season left us watching him performing a macabre procedure on Ser Gregor Clegane, the Mountain. This monstrous knight had been poisoned during his fight to the death with Oberyn Martell. For a moment, it seemed as if the Red Viper would indeed have the revenge he died for, but he may not have been so lucky.
Pycelle has noted that Qyburn was expelled from the citadel for a,”curiosity deemed dangerous and unnatural.” For a man of Pycelle’s morals to be outraged at Qyburn’s ability to work freely speaks volumes. Another telling detail on the nature of Qyburn’s work on the Mountain was his note of warning to Cersei before beginning, “you should know, the process may… change him, somewhat.”
But change him how exactly? Assuming the show will follow the books, the coming appearance of a suspiciously large knight may hold some answers.
Who is Robert Strong?
Gregor Clegane’s skull was officially sent to Dorne as a means of appeasing the infuriated House Martell. We have little reason to doubt that the skull is genuinely his. But it does beg the question: what happened to the Mountain’s body?
While readers ponder this question, a freakishly massive knight (who never removes his helm) is added to the Kingsguard. Without a head, or perhaps with a dead dwarf’s sewn on at the neck, it would be understandable for him to keep the helmet on. Ser Robert Strong, as he is called, also never speaks. Which conveniently, Qyburn has an explanation for: claiming the enormous knight has taken a vow of silence.
Furthermore, he is never seen eating, drinking or using the privy.
Kevan Lannister had an explanation for this strange behavior, “We do not even know if he’s alive… Strong took neither food nor drink, and Boros Blount went so far as to say he had never seen the man use the privy. Why should he? Dead men do not shit. Kevan Lannister had a strong suspicion of just who this Ser Robert really was beneath that gleaming white armor.”
Outside of King’s Landing we have further evidence. During a greendream Bran experiences a symbolic revelation, “Over them loomed a Giant in armor made of stone, but when he opened his visor, there was nothing inside but darkness and thick black blood.”
The absence of a head can be explained by the package sent to the Martells, and thick black blood could well be the substance Qyburn injected into the Mountain or perhaps the manticore venom that Prince Oberyn poisoned him with.
The Mountain (or his body at least) may indeed continue to commit atrocities in the Seven Kingdoms.
What Should we Expect?
Spoilers for the book follow.
After Cersei’s walk of shame, she is carried away to safety by Ser Robert. Who she notices, lifts her as if she were a baby; an ominous and suspicious strength indeed. This great strength will be put behind a sword in time. In her coming trial by combat Ser Robert is to serve as Cersei’s champion, and depending on perspective, it won’t be his first time.
In his current state, it seems that this Knight is even more dangerous than before. Qyburn shed some light on this terrifying figure, “He has sworn to not speak until all His Grace’s enemies are dead and evil has been driven from the realm.”
If this is indeed true, Cersei’s long list of enemies have a good deal to fear.