Sunday, May 22, 2016

Game of Thrones Power Rankings (S6, E4)

Season 6, Episode 4: "Book of the Stranger"

Last week's rankings: "Oathbreaker"

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. Khaleesi the Unburnt, Bow to Her!

Hey, remember when I posited last week that "Khaleesi" was a title that had outgrown its use to Daenerys, and was becoming a bit inconvenient? Ha! Shows you what the hell I know. 

Has the Mother of Dragons officially become the greatest lady badass in television history? Can we invoke the mercy rule on any other contestants? It was exactly 30 episodes ago that Daenerys calmly said "dracarys" to Drogon, taking command of the Unsullied while cooly eliminating the slave lords of Astapor, and then dropping the whip and granting freedom to her soldiers. That was a strong contender for greatest scene in the series, and has remained as such for the subsequent three years. I don't quite think Khaleesi's emergence from the flame-engulfed Dosh Khaleen tops it, but the fact that it's debatable is amazing enough. 

Also of note is the performance of Michiel Huisman, the actor who plays Daario, during that scene. Remember, Daario as a character had yet to see Daenerys withstand fire. He wasn't there in Season 1 when she hatched her dragons in Khal Drogo's funeral pyre. Even though Daario has been following her and sleeping with her for several seasons, he hadn't yet had reason to view her as a pseudo-deity. Huisman played the moment beautifully. 

2. Ramin Djawadi

You don't know who that is, do you? As the music composer for Game of Thrones, Ramin has been the series' secret weapon since the first episode. He's deservedly revered for the show's epic credit sequence music, which never gets old no matter how many time you hear it. Seriously, I've watched every episode 3-4 times and I still don't fast-forward through the opening credits. 

But Djawadi doesn't get nearly enough attention for how much he does in the scoring of individual scenes, characters, and motifs. His best work was on display twice in "Book of the Stranger," first when Sansa and Jon embraced, and then, of course, during the epic emergence of Daenerys through the flames of the Dosh Khaleen. It's the same music we've heard during every great Khaleesi moment, and it never fails to achieve immediate goosebumps. 

3. Hugs

That Sansa/Jon embrace at the beginning of the episode was legitimately the most heart-warming moment in the history of the show, right? And is it the first non-bro hug of actual, genuine affection that we've ever seen? Maybe even the first one that's ever occurred in Westeros? Shout out to hugs. Hugs are the best. 

4. Armies

Okay, big picture talk here. What I really noticed in this episode was all of the main characters gathering into factions and beginning to militarize their forces. While Season 2 gave us the War of the Five Kings (all of whom are dead now), this is looking like a War of the Seven Armies. We have 1) Jon Snow, Brienne, Davos, Castle Black, the Wildlings, Littlefinger, and the knights of the Vale; 2) Ramsay, the Bolton bannermen, the Umbers, and the Karstarks; 3) The Greyjoys and the Iron Islands; 4) The combined Lannister/Tyrell forces; 5) Daenerys, Jorah, Daario, Tyrion, Varys, all of Dothraki, the Unsullied, and three dragons; 6) Ellaria, the Sand Snakes, and the Dornish; and 7) The Night's King and the Army of the Dead. It's looking like all of these factions are about to start going at it, and shit's gonna get real. This feels like the beginning of the endgame. 

5. Littlefinger

In five plus seasons, this guy has never even come out on the losing end of a conversation. His mouth is like Ser Arthur Dayne's double-sword attack. 

Honorable Mention: Brienne of Tarth

A lady always remembers the first time a giant bearded wild man eye-fucks the shit out of her. 


1. The Great Khals

Like the Republican Party over the last 160 years, they had a good run. But unlike the Republican Party, this new boss won't be the same as the old boss. 

2. Melisandre

Brienne will want her dead as soon as she confirms that Melisandre was responsible for the smoke demon that took Renly from behind (see what I did there?), and Davos will want her dead when he inevitably finds out what happened to his favorite bedtime storyteller, the Lady Shireen. These bad portents are compounded by the fact that Jon Snow has now been resurrected, which means Melisandre as a character has probably served her purpose to the show. As we saw with Doran and Trystane Martell just a few episodes ago, as soon that Game of Thrones writer's room doesn't know what to do with you, you're done for. 

3. Ramsay Bolton

We just saw what happened to the Great Khals after they threatened to let their armies gang rape a resourceful woman. Ramsay did the same thing in his "Come at me" letter to Jon Snow, which may not prove great strategy. The North remembers, you sack of shit. 

4. Diplomacy

Showrunners Benioff and Weiss said they based Tyrion's strategy off of Abraham Lincoln, who first tried to use diplomacy to end slavery and avoid war. Lincoln failed, and war came. Whether Tyrion's diplomatic attempts will be any more successful remains to be seen, but this is fucking Game of Thrones we're talking about. Bet on war. 

5. Osha

It has to be disheartening for an actress to not be used on a show for over two years, and then be called back for less than five minutes of screen time, just to get stabbed in the neck. Has SAG filed a grievance yet? 

Honorable Mention: The Ale of the Night's Watch

A bunch of dudes, sequestered in the cold at the edge of the world, for thousands of years. Wouldn't you think learning to make a good ale is like the FIRST thing they'd do? In a show with dragons and ice zombies, Castle Black not having a good brew might be the single most unrealistic element. 

Confirmed Kills: 16 (I think)

*2 Dothraki out for a night on the town (both killed by Daario Naharis, one from a broken neck, the other stabbed and then face-smashed by a large rock)
*Osha (stabbed in the neck by Ramsay during a failed seduction attempt)
*13 (my best count) Khals and bloodriders in the Dosh Khaleen (incinerated by Daenerys the Unburnt after openly asking how she tastes)

Season Death Tally: 44


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