Your BwB meta is the best. One of the things in the series which makes me the saddest, tbh-- their transformation from social bandits with some sense of purpose to those they originally formed themselves in opposition to.
It really is saddening. :( That’s something I don’t think the anon understood. I don’t hate the BWB because I think they’re villains – in the beginning of ASOS they’re arguably protagonists, because Sandor is still playing an antagonist role. (Albeit a deliberately reader-sympathetic one, and on reread even more so, but he’s certainly an antagonist to Arya at that point.)
But it’s in his trial you see they’re already starting to become what they were fighting against. That willingness to kill someone entirely uninvolved in the crimes they accuse him of, the guilt by association – and Beric and Thoros had been regular King’s Landing residents, they were at the Hand’s Tourney, they knew of Sandor’s animosity to Gregor… but it didn’t matter to them. All Cleganes are the same, even if one’s never touched the fighting in the Riverlands because he was in King’s Landing as they knew he was.
And if Arya hadn’t been there in the Hollow Hill with her (semi-justifiable) claim about Mycah, you think they’d’ve let Sandor go? Fuck no. They wanted to kill him, they’d’ve found some jumped up reason for a trial no matter what.
And, yeah, sure, Thoros, you saw the dead Targaryen babies… oh, wait, why were you in KL at the time? Because the high priests of R'hllor knew Aerys had a thing for fire and wanted you to convert him, right? Huh. Were you there when Aerys had Rickard Stark burned alive? Maybe not, but how about the Hand Qartlon Chested? Did you stand and watch like everyone else in the court, saying nothing? And you saw those dead children laid at Robert’s feet… but that didn’t stop you from becoming Robert’s best buddy, did it. And sure, you regret your actions before you found your faith… but I suppose nobody else regrets stuff they did in the past, do they?
It’s this absolute and total hypocrisy, that culminates in Brienne’s “trial” – Brienne, who saved the people they claim to protect while they were off on a mission of empty vengeance – but that doesn’t matter, she’s connected to the Lannisters, therefore she’s a whore who must die. It’s a damn good thing that when Jaime went off with her he didn’t take his squires… doesn’t matter that they’re children, sons of Riverlander lords, their fathers made peace with Lannisters and they served Jaime, nothing would save them.
I can understand how one might think of the BWB as heroic when hearing about them in ACOK. Or at the beginning of ASOS (even with the trial and even with how they frustrated Arya), or even at the end (because Freys, y'know). But I don’t understand how one could finish AFFC and still love them unwaveringly, still think of them as heroes selflessly helping smallfolk.