After a wait that felt longer than a montage of Samwell Tarly cleaning poop out of chamber pots, Game of Thrones has finally returned to once again sweep the world up in the last remaining vestige of monoculture. It’s been ages since these power rankings happened/were relevant, but like I do every year, I’ll be ranking the characters every episode until I get too busy or tired.
7.01 Power Rankings
1) Arya Stark
What an end for House Frey1 . When we last saw this murderous bunch of traitors, Arya was cutting the throat of old Mr. Filch, er, I mean, old Walder Frey, using her faceless man powers. The opening scene of this week’s episode brought us back to The Twins, where Walder has uncharacteristically decided to hold a feast for his entire family. Of course, since we saw him get face-snatched in the last episode, this could’ve only been the terrifyingly bloodthirsty Stark daughter in full disguise. The North remembers! Faceless Men in the corridors, Faceless Men in the corridors! Arya has officially gone full assassin.
Perhaps the best Arya revelation this week was the one that got laughed off by one Ned Sheeran(!!) and his merry men. After her massacre in the Twins, Arya decides that instead of heading home to reunite with Jon, Sansa, and (soon?) Bran, she’s going to King’s Landing to finish off Cersei. Her priorities are clearly a little skewed, but if she keeps up through the Riverlands maybe she’ll run into Nymeria, her long lost direwolf pup that is currently terrorizing the area. While I’m disappointed that we won’t get the remaining Stark siblings/cousin (@Jon) in the North together for a while, Arya’s new John Wick style precision is the most welcome character transformation this side of Dany. So, to recap, she killed an entire noble family, had her first (?) drink, and flirted with Ed Sheeran, international pop star. Pretty good week, no?
Quick aside: Ed Sheeran and the rest of the Lannister soldiers being nice and friendly was just one of many welcome bits of levity in this episode. “Lannisters are people too” is one of those scenes that showcases the real human cost of rich people fighting over territory they don’t even live on. Much like the community that the Hound lived in near the end of S6, as well as the family he buried this week, the people that suffer the most during these wars are the underclass farmers and peasants whose names we never learn. Game of Thrones may have become a cultural phenomenon on the strength of battles and twists, but what sets the show apart from other fantasy dramas is its ability to showcase intimate human moments, which are poignant even in the context of magic, zombies, and dragons.
2) Younger Siblings’ Quick Wit & Savage Takedowns
a) Sansa Stark crushed this episode with drolly delivered takedowns of her creepy uncle/prospective lover Littlefinger. My personal favorite was her dismissal of his own verbal gymnastics with the mic-drop line, “No need to seize the last word, Lord Baelish, I’ll assume it was something clever.” She also spoke her mind to Jon and displayed her power in front of the whole Northern contingent, potentially earning some respect from the assembled squad in the process. I’m not entirely convinced her praise of Jon (“You’re actually pretty good at this.”) won’t be a foreshadow of how he’s really bad and gets killed and she takes over, but hey, let’s not be presumptuous about the ability of the writers to kill off main characters.
b) Euron’s marriage proposal was flatly denied by Cersei, but he did manage to throw immense shade at Jaimie. “I have two good hands” was a classic jab. Despite the bizarre, 80’s punk rocker wannabe outfit, Euron seems like he’s being set up to be a major player going forward. His “gift” assuredly will be something sinister that helps Cersei in her fruitless war for the Seven Kingdoms. In the books, Euron is the most accomplished sailor/pirate type, who has found relics of all eras across the world. Potentially this gift could be a dragon horn, which allows you to bend a dragon to your will, or some special weapon from Valyria. Either way, it doesn’t bode well for Jon and Dany. At least he came to play with the jokes.
c) The Hound has found a spot with Beric Dondarrion and his men, and is ripping apart the receding hairlines of Red Priests all the way. He also delivered a great attempt at a eulogy with the ever classic, “I’m sorry you died.”
I don’t think Sandor is by any means a winner this week, but his scenes deserve to be talked about. Sam mentions to the archmaester that he is helping that people don’t believe in the stories of the walkers. We see that firsthand with Sandor at the beginning of this episode. We also see his terrified reaction upon his realization in the flames; the walkers are real, and they’re coming. This is not a matter to be trifled with. That said, to me, the most striking part of his appearance was the grave-digging. Funny eulogy aside, the Hound has really transformed into one of the most nuanced and interesting characters in the show – a filthy mouth, terrible attitude, and distaste for power softened by a sense of empathy for those who have been wronged through no fault of their own. He’s almost completed his destiny a twisted champion for the less fortunate. The only stop left is either slaying White Walkers or actually championing the people in Cleganebowl.
3) Daenerys Targaryen & Her SQUAD
She didn’t say anything until the last few seconds of the episode, but she made it home and got that bone-chilling, excitement inducing, long awaited line. “Shall we begin?” Dany has officially entered the Game of Thrones, and all signs point to her as the main protagonist of our last 13 hours of the series. She looks damn good on that throne.
4) Lyanna Mormont
How can you not love this girl? She’s the anti-Robin Arryn. You’re damn right she won’t stay at home knitting while men go to fight! She’s so fucking cool. The Karstark and Umber kids should take note, this is how you lead before you’re legally allowed to drink.
Honorable Mention: Brienne, Tormund, and Pod
No Thrones episode is complete without a little Podrick and Brienne riffing. Pod’s valiant effort to beat Brienne in training is topped in comedy only by Tormund’s wistful remark about how lucky Pod is to get beaten up by a woman like Brienne. Just get together and produce Hagrid already, I’m begging you!!
3rd from Last) Pledgewell Tarly
Sam has a lot going for him. He found out that Dragonstone has a ton of dragon glass under it (more on this later) and still has a lovely girlfriend & kid while training to be a maester. He’s a much stealthier reader of books in the restricted section of the library than a young Mr. Potter ever was, even if he didn’t get invited to the meeting of the maester branch of the Slug Club. He’s even lost some weight, and has definite Neville Longbottom potential for the rest of the season. Would not be shocked if he used Heartsbane to slay the Night’s King after Jon gave his life as Azor Ahai. However, that doesn’t change the fact that Sam, for the moment, is a lowly pledge.
The montage of Sam cleaning shit over and over again could be a great short film in itself. Maester rush 2017. It seems like a horrifying existence. Dude is getting HAZED hard by the maesters, spending all day cleaning up shit and taking bowls of vomit from blacked out victims of Greyscale. Speaking of which…
2nd from Last) Jorah Mormont
If you didn’t catch it, Jorah is suddenly in Oldtown, waiting for Dany to arrive and slowly succumbing to an increasingly gross bout of greyscale. It is possible that Sam will be able to find a cure, but it is much more likely Jorah is going to give some crucial information to Sam before turning fully into a stone man. Jorah is in Oldtown for a narrative reason, but he doesn’t appear very likely to make it back to his queen.
Last) House Frey
Things to Look Out For:
Bran’s triumphant, return to the land south of the wall was met with a shocked Lord Commander Dolorous Edd. Bran monologued his way into the wall faster than Emma Stone in La La Land’s “Audition,” but don’t necessarily think that his appearance at the wall is a good thing. He’s still marked by the Night King, and if they were able to infiltrate and destroy the oldest weirwood tree held by the Children of the Forest, something has me believing that they’re going to make it south of the wall. Horace Slughorn’s foreboding, “The wall has never fallen.” monologue to a chastened pledge Tarly only makes me more convinced that Bran is going to get everyone killed.
Cersei’s Increasingly Frayed Relationship with Jamie:
Westeros’s former most eligible bachelor is clearly (and finally!) losing his patience with his twin sister and lover. He shoots down all of Cersei’s plans, even disputing the number of kingdoms that she rules (3, at best). He makes some very good points. While it is difficult to imagine him leaving his sister, it’s not out of the question. How will Jamie’s redemption arc finally end? Will he go to Dany? To Winterfell? Will he be the one to kill Cersei? Another popular fan theory has Arya killing Jamie and then killing Cersei wearing his face, fulfilling the Valonqhar prophecy… kind of.
Next week’s episode is called “Stormborn.” This likely refers to Dany, given that she’s sometimes called Daenerys Stormborn due to the giant storm that raged on during hir birth. Could this be another episode with heavy Dany Tyrion and Co. banter? Or, perhaps more intriguingly, is it possible that this episode will feature Bran learning about the Targaryens and how they can help defeat the walkers?
Ned Sheeran, Littlefinger, Cersei, Jamie, Dolorous Edd, Meera “I just carried a Stark thousands of miles and nobody cared” Reed, Ja’qen, Mellisandre, that huge map of Westeros, Oysters, Clams, Cockles, the new maester of Winterfell, Horace Slughorn the Maester, the cadaver, Gilly, Lil Sam, Tyrion, Grey Worm, Yara Greyjoy, Theon Greyjoy, and the Cock Merchant
1. How many of the notable high-born families have been cut down now? In addition to the Freys, The Tyrells have no heirs, the Lannisters are down to their last two, and the Baratheons have been scorched from the earth (is Gendry still rowing?). Houses Umber and Karstark have clearly fallen a bit since their leaders have a combined age of 20. By the end of the show, all of the 7 Kingdoms could be under the control of new families.