In Game of Thrones, if the worst hasn’t happened yet it’s because it’s still only mid-morning. Good things just don’t last in Westeros – We’ve learnt this lesson over and over again. Ned’s figured out about Cersei’s kids? Oh dear, looks like he’s dead. Rob keeps beating the Lannisters on the battlefield? Look, he’s got a wedding invitation. So when Tyrion started this week’s show with his elaborate plan to win Cersei the Iron Throne, we instinctively knew someone was going to take the contents of their chamber pot and pour it all over his neat little schemes. Didn’t we?
Episode two was a little overwritten in parts this week, giving credence to some fans who’ve claimed this season has started out slow. By the end though, we were treated to a full on naval battle and even some rather nasty looking character deaths. I feel very confident in saying Jack Sparrow would have been slumped on the port-side of the ship trying to stop his small intestine flopping through the sword wound in his stomach and unravelling across the deck by the end of this battle.
Anyhoo, if you’re keeping score, here’s who’s on top of this week’s Game of Thrones Power Rankings:
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I said last week that Euron might win Cersei a few victories, and we saw the first of these in the final minutes of this week’s show. The more I see of Euron, the more I think he might be one scary motherfucker, and this week he caught Yara and Theon’s fleet completely by surprise. Also, he killed two of the Sand Snakes in a scene that made me realise how attached I’d gotten to them. Yara is captured (I’m against this move FYI) along with Ellaria and the last Sandsnake, and Theon’s legged it.
That’s a big win for Team Lannister. Daenerys has armies and dragons, but without ships she can’t hope to move her horde onto the mainland. Perhaps the only crack in the Lannister armour this week came from Lord Tarly – Sam’s dickhead dad. Tarly’s an ace general – the only one ever to beat Robert Baratheon in battle, as Jamie kindly reminded us – but he’s not exactly over the moon about siding with Cersei. In fact, that whole Red Wedding business has him deeply cynical about the Lannisters in general. It’s interesting to see actions from seasons past come home to roost here, and I’d quite like to see more of it.
Daenerys has been in training for the Iron Throne for years, but this week she got her first lesson in Westerosi realpolitik. Most people don’t survive long enough to get a second lesson, but for now Dany still has cards to play. She has a new and seemingly humbled ally in Melisandre, and let’s not forget the Unsullied, the Dothraki and the fucking dragons. Also, she probably has the best set of advisors in the entire game. The Queen of Thorns, Olenna Tyrell, in particular gave her a piece of advice we’re probably going to see in action sooner rather than later.
We didn’t get much else from Dragonstone this week, apart from a very interesting conversation between Dany and Varys. Here Varys laid out plainly what I’ve suspected since he spoke to Ned Stark in the dungeons at the end of season one: he acts in the interests of the realm, not the ruler. And for Varys that means the people. Considering he grew up as a street urchin, that kind of makes him a working class hero. Team Varys all the way.
Jon had a big decision to make this week, and it centred around Daenerys. The Mother of Dragons extended an olive branch (with strings attached, naturally) to the North, and a lot of people had a lot of different advice for him. Sansa, who is now a successful alumni of the School of Thrones, thought it was too dangerous. Certainly she recognised Tyrion as a different kind of Lannister, but the North has been burnt so many times by the south she suspects it would be folly to accept the Khaleesi’s invitation. I think, were I in Winterfell, I’d probably back Sansa’s call on this one.
The most interesting thing to me about the North right now is the big meetings we seem to see every week. Whether there’s any canon history of the Stark bannermen gathering for meetings like this, I don’t know, but it feels a lot like a proto-parliament. With Jon in charge, at least, it seems each house leader is free to offer their advice and caution – even if it sounds like outright criticism. If I were the sort of person to extrapolate, I’d say it could evolve into a full parliamentary system in a couple of hundred years, especially considering how poorly absolute monarchy seems to be serving Westeros right now.
In the end, Jon made the same decision his father (uncle?) and brother (cousin?) did before him. He’s going south, to meet with Dany. Maybe it’s a Stark thing. Perhaps the writers are intentionally making a parallel with Ned and Rob, the better to keep us biting our fingernails. Either way, Sansa is now in charge while Jon is away, and if Littlefinger wasn’t up to something before, he most definitely is after Jon threatened him in the crypt. Starks seem to be born for misery.
On the upside, Arya’s on her way North, which is cool. That’s a nice thought, so let’s end on that. See you next week.