Season 5, Episode 2: “The House of Black and White”
Last Week's Rankings: "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. Arya Stark
With no better candidate for poll position (more on that at #5), Arya Stark ascends to the top of the rankings for having the most badass moment of the week: when three young men on the streets of Braavos threatened to take her sword because of how much it’s worth, she pulled it out, looked them dead in the eye, and coldly said, “Nothing’s worth anything to dead men.”
The days of people fucking with Arya Stark are over, and who knows how much deadlier she’ll get hanging out with Jaqen H’ghar in “The House of Black and White.”
2. Jon Snow, the 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s
Being elected Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch—a position one presumably holds for life—doesn’t really fit my personal definition of winning, but whatever. Jon seems happy about it, and happiness is so fleeting in Westeros that it can’t go ignored.
(Also worth mentioning: the deciding vote for Lord Commander was cast by Maester Aemon, who is of the Targaryen family, and may or may not be related to Jon Snow.)
3. Kevan Lannister, Master of Telling Cersei to Shut It
Anyone that takes no shit from Cersei is a winner.
It’s a bit creepy and disconcerting how much he has Sansa under his thumb, to the extent that she won’t accept protection from a knight sworn to protect her. In terms of how much his schemes and plots seem to be working out, Littlefinger is probably the only character on the show that’s really and truly winning the Game of Thrones at the moment. Which brings me to…
With Joffrey and Tywin kicked off the playing board last year, doesn’t it feel a bit like no one’s actually winning (yet) this season? Things haven’t been this bad for Khaleesi since she kept shouting “Where are my dragons??” way back in Season 2, Tyrion is the most wanted man in the world, Jon Snow lost Ygritte and now has the creepy attentions of Melisandre, Sansa is with Littlefinger (no further explanation necessary), Jamie is about to go on what looks like a suicide mission, and Cersei is just running up the score on the title of Least Popular Girl in the Seven Kingdoms.
Things are certainly better in Westeros post-Joffrey and Tywin, but it’s also hard to win without an opponent.
Honorable Mentions: The Counsel of Ser Barristan, Cersei’s Vengeance Meter, Bronn’s Tolerance for Non-Silence, Drogon Living the Dream
1. Daenerys’s Karma and the Ghost of Robb Stark
Everything that happened to Khaleesi this week—had a prisoner awaiting trial, who's killed by someone her side, who she then had to execute to preserve the rule of law—we already saw play out with Robb Stark in Season 3. He had two Lannister cousins captive, they were killed by one of his Bannermen, Rickard Karstark, who Robb then executed to prove that the high concept of justice really means something. As we all know, that sent Robb’s karma into an unrecoverable tailspin, and the Red Wedding happened a few episodes later.
Now, I don’t think Daenerys necessarily needs to worry about her whole army getting slaughtered at a wedding in a few weeks, but Game of Thrones has shown us plenty of times that there’s no sure reward for trying to do the right thing. Sometimes, you get the opposite.
2. Cersei Lannister, Definitely Not the King's Hand
Meetings of the Small Council haven’t been this much fun since the bygone days of Season 2, when Tyrion was Hand of the King. More please.
3. The Dwarves of the Seven Kingdoms
Because their lives were so great already, but now Joffrey isn't around to employ them, and Cersei is having them all killed. Sorry 'bout ya.
4. Brienne’s Protection Resumé
She’s been in charge of protecting five people:
· The 1st was murdered by a shadow demon (and she got the blame)
· The 2nd had her throat slit after watching her son, daughter-in-law, and unborn grandchild get slaughtered at a wedding
· The 3rd only had his hand cut off
· The 4th refused her protection and then watched her fight to the death against someone called “The Hound” before scampering off
· The 5th refused her protection in favor of a brothel owner named “Littlefinger”
So, ummm, not such smooth sailing for Brienne’s dream of noble knighthood.
5. The Legendary Bravery of Janos Slynt
Tell it like it is, Sam.
Honorable Mentions: The Son of the Harpy, Mareenese Lawbreakers, Podrick’s Horseback Riding Ability, Not Having a Hand of the King, The Pigeons of Braavos
Confirmed Kills: 6 (2 of Littlefinger’s guards, 2 executions in Mareen, 1 dwarf that was definitely not Tyrion, 1 decapitated pigeon)
Season Death Tally: 8