During Game of Thrones Season 4, Episode 6, we finally saw Yara Greyjoy’s rescue attempt of her brother Theon, which she first embarked upon in the Season 3 finale. During the scene, Yara and her Greyjoy soldiers leave Theon (Alfie Allen) with Ramsay after being scared away by some dogs, despite the fact that they were fully-armored, outnumbered the Boltons, and Ramsay was non-threateningly shirtless. So why didn’t Theon go with Yara? The showrunners explain.

In an HBO inside the episode video, showrunner David Benioff explains the reasons why the Greyjoy reunion didn’t go quite how Yara planned. “It’s probably a surprise for both Yara and Theon/Reek when they first see each other ... she’s expecting to find someone who’s been damaged but I don’t think she knew quite how far he’s sunk,” David reveals. “Theon/Reek doesn’t want to admit that he even recognizes her because to admit that would be to admit that he’s Theon which means rebelling against his master which means he’ll be tortured more... when he sees her and she’s trying to get him to flee with her all he’s thinking is, ‘How can I stop this, how can I be loyal to my master’... She can’t really believe it at first, but ultimately, he’s truly dead to her.”

Poor Theon. We really hope the guy ends up with a good payoff because he might be the most tragic character on the show at this point, and that’s saying something.