Sunday, May 1, 2016

Game of Thrones Power Rankings (S6, E1)

Season 6, Episode 1: "The Red Woman"

Last week's rankings: Season 5 Recap

In the Game of Thrones, you win or you die. In that spirit, here’s your weekly look at who’s winning and who’s (slowly, painfully) dying.


1. Sansa Stark, Wardeness of the North

Finally, a little over 50 hours into the Game of Thrones saga, we saw Sansa make a good decision that was truly in her best interests. Now, she has three sworn protectors and is headed to Castle Black, where... Oh, yeah, no one there that's alive cares about her. 

Bold prediction: Sansa will be the key to bringing Jon back to life.  Melisandre (allegedly) needs king's blood to work her best magics, and Sansa's brother, Robb, was the King in the North. Whether or not Sansa has to die for this is still TBD. 

2. Brienne of Tarth

The Lady Brienne is officially a knight! Now we can look forward to seeing how she gets along with Melisandre, who birthed the smoke demon that killed King Renly, and who may be especially interested in Sansa's blood in the very near future. 

3. Podrick

He really acquitted himself pretty well there, didn't he? Maybe soon he'll be a legend for using real swords instead of just anatomical ones. 

4. Arya Stark

I mean, she's about to become Daredevil, right? Seriously, this is literally the origin of Daredevil--blind kid gets trained to fight by older, wiser blind person who wields a stick. Maybe soon, she and Jaqen H'ghar will be hopping around the Braavosi rooftops like this:

5. Ellaria Sand

She and the Sand Snakes have taken charge of Dorne, but she's starting to feel a bit like the Cersei of the south--a spiteful woman who spends waaaaaay more time thinking about revenge than she does about consequences. 

Honorable Mention: Melisandre

Not looking too bad for her age, huh? 


1. House Martell, (Former) Rulers of Dorne

And we thought things went bad for the Starks! Well, at least there's one less noble house of Westeros to keep track of now. 

But is it just me, or did the murders of Prince Doran and his son, Prince Trystane, feel a little like "Fuck it, we don't know what to do with these guys" on behalf of the show runners? Keep in mind, this is the first season of the show where there's no text from George R. R. Martin to provide a blue print. And yes, the show runners received his basic road map for where things were headed, but no one really knows how detailed that was, or how much they're sticking to it. But here's what I'm going on--at the end of last season, Prince Doran arranged for Trystane to travel to King's Landing and serve on the Small Council. Now, just one episode later, he's dead, and it's a death that certainly didn't require any traveling to happen. The Sand Snakes could have easily just killed him in Dorne. This has always been a show where no plot point or character movement has ever been unnecessary, but now it seems that Trystane going to King's Landing is just that. All shows use season breaks to course correct in small ways, but the death of Trystane feels like a giant "We changed our minds" red flag. We'll see if there will be others. 

2. The Targaryen Invasion of Westeros

Hey, remember when we all thought this would happen in our lifetimes? After spending two season in Meereen, we thought the arrival of Tyrion might finally portend real development and movement of this seeming eventuality. But then Khaleesi was whisked away on a dragon, kidnapped by a Dothraki horde, and now all of her ships have gone up in literal flames. I'm starting to wonder if the entire Daenerys pollen has been a red herring since day one and she's actually never leaving Essos. 

3. Daenerys Targaryen, Widow of the Great Khal Drogo

Speaking of the Breaker of Chains, not a great turn of events for her this week. After finding out the fate of a widowed khaleesi, a small part of her had to be thinking, "Damn, I should have just kept my mouth shut and let them all have sex with me." It is known. 

4. Jon Snow, the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch

Still dead. Is Vegas taking bets on how many episodes Kit Harrington will just be playing a dead body? 

But the good news is, at least Castle Black has been left in good hands!

5. Walda Frey 

Doesn't it feel like every time Roose Bolton mentions her pregnancy, she moves further up Ramsay's list of potential new torture buddies? And since all of his old torture buddies seem to have fled the premises...

Honorable Mention: Davos Seaworth

His immediate future looks dark and full of terrors. 

Confirmed Kills: 10

6 of Ramsay's bannermen (3 killed by Brienne, 2 killed by Podrick, and 1 killed by Theon), Areo Hotah (stabbed in the back by Tyene Sand), Prince Doran Martell (stabbed in the chest by Ellaria Sand), a Dornish messenger (knife thrown in his back by Tyene Sand), and Prince Trystane Martell (speared through the head by Obara Sand, because she's a greedy bitch)  

Season Death Tally: 10

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Game of Thrones Power Rankings (Season 5 Recap Edition)

Good day, Watchers on the Wall! 

Welcome back to your regularly scheduled Game of Thrones Power Rankings! To prepare for tonight's epic premiere, let's take a quick look back at what happened last summer. Who won? Who lost? Who had the best quip? And who got got? 

Season 5 Winners:

1. The Night's King

We spent 47 1/2 episodes predominantly caring about who controlled the Iron Throne. Then this guy, with one dramatic raising of his arms, rendered all of that virtually irrelevant. #ComeAtMeWesteros

2. Tyrion Lannister

He began the season stuffed in a small crate, pushing his shit out through the air holes. He ended the season ruling a city, just about as far away as possible from the Night's King and his army of the dead. Yes, there was a failed brothel visit and a near-disastrous trip to the cock merchant mixed in there, but still, that's as much winning as this show really allows. 

3. Brienne of Tarth 

After nearly four seasons of being a major character, we finally got to see her fulfill one of her sacred vows, killing Stannis Baratheon and avenging his murder of King Renly. Next up, saving a Stark girl, which she should have the opportunity to do now that Sansa is on the run and in her general vicinity. 

4. Samwell Tarly 

Got laid? Check. Escaped Castle Black before likely betrayal and murder at the hands of his brothers? Check. On his way to fulfilling his dream of becoming a Maester? Check. Yeah, he nearly got beat to death at one point, but few characters had it that good in Season 5. 

5. Littlefinger & Varys 

Though they both only appeared in a few episodes last season (and in the case of Littlefinger, we don't even know where he is at the moment), it just sort of feels like things are proceeding exactly as they both planned. 

Honorable Mentions: 

House Bolton - Consolidated their control of the North by slaughtering Stannis Baratheon's army. Plus, trophy wife Walda is pregnant! (Though trophy wife Sansa is on the run.)

The High Sparrow - It feels like the other shoe's about to drop, but at least for the time being, he's really nailing this whole #OccupyKingsLanding thing. 

Jorah Mormont - He's still Lord Commander of the Friendzone, and is still being secretly ravaged by greyscale, but at least he's back in the good graces of Khaleesi. That's all the poor guy wanted. 

Theon Greyjoy - After literally three seasons of just making everything worse when he was onscreen, he finally (finally!) seems like he's on the long road to redemption. 

Tormund Giantsbane - He began the season in chains, but ended it a free man, having rescued many of his people and given lands to farm south of the wall. 

Ellaria Sand - A reckoning is probably coming, but in the meantime, she got her vengeance against the Lannisters. 

Season 5 Losers (Still Living Grouping):

1. The Night's Watch - Despite the fact that they think they killed the traitor in their midst, these guys are so fucked. 

2. Cersei & Jaime Lannister - Well, let's see. Their daughter died in Jaime's arms, just after he thought he'd successfully rescued her. Cersei managed to turn every other member of the royal family against her, including Lady Olenna, who already successfully (and secretly) murdered her son. And then Cersei had to complete the greatest walk of shame the world has ever known. Not a good year. 

3. House Tyrell - Roll call: Mace Tyrell? Abroad in Braavos, with his protector just killed by Arya Stark. Loras Tyrell? Imprisoned for his sexual proclivities. Queen Margaery Tyrell? Imprisoned for lying in the defense of her brother. Lady Olenna? Unable to talk the High Sparrow into releasing her grandchildren. Not a good year. 

4. Daenerys Targaryen: Breaker of Chains, Mother of Dragons, Khaleesi, Mhysa - After what wasn't exactly a good trial run of successfully ruling a people, now she's the new prisoner of a Dothraki horde. How do you say "Release me or my dragon will eat you" in Dothraki? 

5. Sansa Stark - Yes, she has escaped, maybe, but that was only after being wed to the sadistic son of the man that betrayed and murdered her brother, and then being routinely raped every night. And that all came on the heels of what hasn't exactly been a pleasant five-year run for Lady Sansa. 

Honorable Mentions: 

Melisandre - After her blood magic failed to lead Stannis to victory, she's faced with realizing that A) Maybe her powers aren't all that, B) There's absolutely no one left that believes her or is inclined to protect her, and C) she burned a little girl at the stake for apparently no reason. If only there were a recently deceased Lord Commander for her to somehow revive. 

Davos Seaworth - His favorite reading companion is dead, his king is dead, his army is dead, and his cause is dead. 

House Martell - With Ellaria having just killed Myrcella Baratheon, Doran Martell has unwisely sent his son, Prince Trystane, right into the hands of the Lannisters. And maybe even onto the Small Council.  That's bound to be a toxic situation. 

Season 5 Character Deaths (In reverse order of how depressing they were):

13. Ser Meryn Trant – While exhibiting a disturbing sexual proclivity for beating young girls with a stick, he had his eyes gouged out, then was stabbed repeatedly, and finally had his throat slit by the Faceless Artist Formerly Known as Arya Stark. All told, it was the season's most gratifying death. 

12. Miranda – After threatening to shoot arrows into basically every part of Sansa except her head, heart, and vagina, she was thrown off a castle catwalk by the Dickless Artist Formerly Known as Theon Greyjoy. Also quite gratifying, especially because it's bound to piss off Ramsey. 

11. Janos Slynt – Decapitated by Jon Snow for refusing to relocate to an abandoned castle on the far edge of the wall, it was a nicely awful way to go for a character everyone hated. But seeing him beg for mercy at the end, as well as Jon being so cold-blooded about it, took some of the joy out of the whole ordeal. 

10. The Lord of Bones – In the type of “I see what you did there” karmic irony that only this show would give us, he was beaten to death by his own bone staff. Humorous, but nowhere near as gratifying as those above him. 

9. Hizdahr zo Loraq – Stabbed to death by his own rich cronies, yet deprived of the opportunity to be a trophy husband to Khaleesi. Meh. He didn't add much to the proceedings. 

8. Maester Aemon Targaryen – He officially became the first character on the show, and maybe in the history of Westeros, to die of old age, at 102. In the context of this show, that's pretty un-depressing, even for a character that everyone liked. 

7. Mance Rayder – Shot in the heart with an arrow by Jon Snow to save him from the agony of being burned alive by Stannis Baratheon, it just feels like we didn't quite get all we should have out of Mance as a character, and especially out of Ciaran Hinds as a member of the cast. More wasteful than anything. 

6. Selyse Baratheon – Getting into outright depressing territory, Selyse hung herself after realizing that, just maybe, allowing her husband to burn their daughter alive was unwise. 

5. Ser Barristan Selmy – After finally allowing us to see the legend of his swordsmanship, he lost an 8-on-1 fight against the Sons of the Harpy, who stabbed him in a great many places. Everyone always liked Ser Barristan, and it's just cruel to kill him off only moments after revealing what a badass he really was. 

4. Myrcella Baratheon – Literally kissed to death by Ellaria Sand, who got her revenge on Cersei for the death of her paramour, Prince Oberyn Martell, it was a sad moment. Had she died in the arms of her mother, we could have taken joy out of Cerise's pain. But killing a young girl off right after a touching heart to heart with her father is just cruel. Which, of course, is why Game of Thrones did it twice in the final two episodes of the season. 

3. Stannis Baratheon – Yes, Stannis deserved to die after what he did to his own daughter. And it was gratifying to see how he went out, killed by Brienne of Tarth, finally fulfilling her vow to get vengeance for the death of King Renly. But Stannis was also one of the best characters on the show, and his Season 5 downfall was just so Shakespearean in its karmic grandeur. Plus, regardless of where the mystical good luck came from, everyone really, really wanted to see him kill Ramsay Bolton. Getting robbed of that, meaning the death of Shireen was all for nothing, is what made it so depressing. 

2. Princess Shireen of the House Baratheon – Burned at the stake by her own father in the hopes that it would provide him mystical good luck (which it didn't), I thought this was just about as depressing as Season 5 could get. And it would have been, had the season finale ended five minutes earlier. Alas. 

1. Jon Snow – Stabbed to death by a rogue faction of his sworn brothers, who believed he was a traitor to the sacred order of the Night’s Watch, this is the death where Game of Thrones really topped itself. The word "unbelievable" is incredibly overused, but the death of Jon Snow is actually, by definition, unbelievable. Literally, no one believes he's dead. That's how you know a character death is depressing, when the entire audience just collectively says, "Sorry, no." A friend's Facebook status after last year's finale said it all: "I'm officially in an abusive relationship with my favorite show." 

Season 5's Best Quotes:

10. Stannis Baratheon: “You’re as stubborn as your father. And as honorable.”
Jon Snow: “I can imagine no higher praise.”
Stannis Baratheon: “I didn’t mean it as praise. Honor got your father killed.”

9. Tyrion Lannister (to Varys): “Can I drink myself to death on the way to Mereen?”

8. Daario Naharis (to Daenerys Targaryen): “All rulers are either butchers or meat.”

7. Malko, the Slaver: “A dwarf’s cock has magic powers. It’s worth a fortune at the cock merchant’s.”

6. Queen Margaery Tyrell (to Cersei Lannister): “Get out, you hateful bitch!”

5. Tormund Giantsbane (describing Jon Snow): “He’s prettier than my two daughters, but he can fight. And he’s young, but he can lead.”

4. Lady Olenna (to Cersei Lannister): “Put the pen down, dear. We both know you’re not writing anything.”

3. Queen Margaery Tyrell (to Cersei Lannister): “I wish we had some wine for you. It’s a bit early in the day for us.”

2. Tyrion Lannister (to Hizdahr zo Loraq) “It’s easy to confuse ‘What Is’ with ‘What Ought To Be,’ especially when ‘What Is’ has worked out in your favor.”

1. Arya Stark (to a few street thieves): “Nothing’s worth anything to dead men.”