Thursday, April 16, 2015

Game of Thrones Power Rankings (S5, E1)

Season 5, Episode 1: “The Wars to Come”

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.   Consequences

For a show that, like Breaking Bad, has partially always been about the theme that actions will have consequences, the emphasis on those consequences seems to have already taken a major role this year. House Lannister is in ruin, the Wildling army lies captive, Daenerys is finding ruling to be much more difficult than conquering, and Tyrion spent his summer in a box, pushing his shit through air holes. As if all that weren’t enough, the season opener began with the show’s first-ever flashback, where a young Cersei learns an unenviable set of portents for her future. Fast forward back to that future, and older Cersei lays this sexy gem on her brother/lover:

You’re a man of action, aren’t you? When it occurs to you to do something, you do it, never mind the consequences. Take a look. Look at the consequences. Here they are.
She was literally talking about the dead father that was sprawled out in front of them, but figuratively, she might as well have been talking about “The Wars to Come” in Season 5.

2.   “The Good of the Realm”

For the first time since Game of Thrones began, we have a season debut where the realm actually isn’t in worse shape than it was this time last year. Now, I don’t dare suggest that Westeros is turning into a nice place to live, but without Joffrey’s reign of wretchedness, Tywin no longer writing letters and cutting deals, Castle Black safe from Mance Rayder’s Wildling army, and Arya, Tyrion, and Sansa finally free from several seasons of glorified imprisonment, things are indeed looking up.

Since almost day 1 of the show, “the good of the realm” has been one of Varys’ favorite phrases to utter anytime he’s trying to get what he wants, but suddenly those words seem far less cryptic than normal.

And speaking of…

3.   Varys

Way back in Season 1, episode 5, Arya overheard a conversation between Varys and Illyrio Mopatis about their plans for the realm, and it’s indicative of the kind of long game that Thrones has been playing that now, 36 episodes and four years later, we’re beginning to understand what those plans really are, as well as how carefully plotted they always were. When the show began, we were conditioned to believe that the right family name meant everything. But more and more every year, it seems Varys and Littlefinger have the real power—that of anonymity.

4.   Jon Snow’s Sexual Prospects

I mean, when Ygritte died, you probably weren’t thinking that Jon would be getting laid again anytime soon, what with living on a wall of ice with several dozen dudes, and having vowed to take no wife and father no children. But then in swoops the creepy-as-fuck Melisandre, asking about Snow’s virginity during a supremely awkward elevator ride. Does anyone know if the vow of the Night’s Watch to father no children includes smoke babies? 

5.   The Brothels of Mareen

When a city is patrolled by thousands of (literally) dickless warriors, it would seem the local brothels were missing out on a lot of potential clients. But who knew?? It turns out The Unsullied just want to cuddle, and are willing to pay dearly for that pleasure, from both their pockets and their throats.


1.   Mance Rayder

For a solid minute or two there, as the flames around Mance kept getting higher and any prospect of rescue had been snuffed out, it looked like he was about to have his full-on Braveheart moment, taking his execution in total silence until one last shout of “FREEDOM!!” to bring a final flurry of pride and meaning to what’s left of his army. But then Jon Snow shot him. Jesus, Jon, haven’t you seen Braveheart? Didn’t you know what was about to happen?!? You know nothing, Jon Snow.

2.   Ciaran Hinds (The Actor Playing Mance Rayder)

We’ve been hearing all along that Season 5 is when the show would start departing from the books in significant ways, and here’s the first example of that. Extensive Wikipedia research has taught me that Mance Rayder is not dead in the books, and that begs the question of when showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss settled on this particular plot point.

When Ciaran Hinds was hired to play Mance Rayder three years ago, it was a major coup in the casting seemingly on the promise of Mance playing a major role. But this was no Sean-Bean-as-Season-One’s-lead-star-and-then-oh-no-he’s-dead-style swindle by HBO. Hinds only appeared in five episodes, in what feels like a grand total of eight or nine scenes. On the assumption that this early exit was decided well after Hinds was already secured for the role, it feels like a waste of such a great acting talent.

3.   Daenerys Targaryen’s Invasion of Wersteros

Back in Season 3, Episode 4, when Khaleesi acquired The Unsullied, kept her dragons, then used both to start sweeping a bloody, slave-clearing path across Essos, while dropping the whip like it was basically a mic, it seemed the Baratheon/Lannister rule of King’s Landing was royally fucked.

But now, 17 episodes later, it’s inevitable to start wondering when this long-gestating invasion will actually happen. We’ve been stuck in Mareen for a while now, The Unsullied are starting to seriously miss their dicks, Jorah Mormont has gone from friend-zoned to exiled, two of the dragons are locked up, and the third is probably off killing babies with all the zeal of Cersei Lannister cleaning up her dead husband’s trysts. Things have definitely looked better for Khaleesi’s Iron Throne prospects.

Hopefully when she meets Tyrion and Varys (which hopefully will happen soon), things will get back on track.

4.   Robin Aryn’s Masculinity

Jesus dude, get your shit together. It’s cool if you don’t know how to fight, but maybe don’t whimper just from picking up a shield?

5.   Cersei Lannister’s Sexual Prospects

Of all people that we thought wouldn’t ever have to go through a dry spell as long as her family’s around, things suddenly aren’t looking so good. She’s pissed at Jamie, and they just missed a phenomenal chance for more awkward sex at another family deathbed, while her backup Jamie, cousin Lancel, has now become a religious zealot and walks around in a dirty robe. Well, at least there’s still Loras Tyrell, who, ummm, certainly kept his bed warm this week.

Confirmed Kills: 2 (Mance Rayder, 1 Unsullied who just wanted to cuddle)

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