That was a solid season premiere. I especially liked how the action kept moving forward, since previous season premieres have felt more like “check the box, check-in” than this one did. Let’s jump into our power rankings:
1. House Lannister (Pre-Season #2)
Everyone’s hold on power is incredibly tenuous right now, but the Lannisters have best of a series of weak hands. The High Sparrow was fooling himself if he really thought that Cersei would stand “trial” after releasing her. In addition, they still have the Iron Throne in their grasp. As powerful as the Sparrows have become, they really don’t seem to have clear designs on how to move forward in an organized fashion like the Lannisters always do.
2. The Faith of the Seven/Faith Militant (Pre-Season #1)
Even if the Faith no longer has its hands on Cersei, they’ve still brought House Tyrell to heel. Perhaps this changes once Mace gets back from Braavos. Or perhaps he’ll remain the affable Lord Oaf of Highgarden, a nickname given to him by his own mother.
3. The Dothraki (Pre-Season #3)
Daenerys has some Dothraki related issues right now, but it isn’t all bad. At least they’ll leave her alone until either 1) Drogon is healthy enough to roast her captors alive or 2) she is delivered to a hut filled with old women. Even so, by having the Mother of Dragons under their dominion, the Dothraki have real power, even if they never care to realize it.
4. House Stark (Pre-Season #9)
Sansa finally catches a break, and although success is always fleeing in the Game of the Thrones, it should be celebrated when it actually happens. Arya isn’t in as bad of a spot as she seems either – The Faceless Men might actually be accelerating her training. Next week we get to see Bran hang out with the Three-Eyed-Raven/Brynden Rivers/Bloodraven, who has been re-cast with legendary actor Max von Sydow.
5. House Lannister in Exile (Pre-Season #5)
“She thinks you want to eat her baby.” That about sums up Tyrion’s position right now. He’s a stranger in a strange land, asked to run a city he knows little and less about. Still, the Meereenese haven’t made a move against him. Yet.
6. House Bolton (Pre-Season #4)
I’m actually kind of surprised that Ramsey didn’t stab his own father yet for being absolutely right. The Boltons’ hold on power has never been secure, but now it’s on the edge of a knife. And not a moment too soon.
7. The Meereenese (Pre-Season #6)
Just because they haven’t made their move on Tyrion doesn’t mean they aren’t going to in short order. Varys is right after all. The coordinated attack on the fighting pit demonstrates the presence of sophisticated leadership.
8. The Free Folk/Wildlings (Pre-Season, Not Ranked)
For the first time in a long time, the Wildlings are back on the countdown. Davos, Ed, and the other Jon Snow loyalists have clearly allied themselves with what’s left of Tormund’s group. Since they physically have Jon Snow’s body, the Red Woman, and Ghost, they’re in a slightly better position than it appears at first glance.
9. The Night’s Watch (Pre-Season, Not Ranked)
Thorne’s coup isn’t sitting well with about half of the Black Brothers, but they also seemed to reluctantly accept it. We’ll see if he and his co-conspirators pay for their crime in short order. This is Game of Thrones, however, so at this point justice would be a bigger shock than getting away with it.
10. House Targaryen (Pre-Season, #10)
As noted above, Daenerys got a little bit of a lifeline from the horselords, but it won’t be enough. With only Daario and Jorah coming after her, she’d better hope that Drogon gets healthy enough to fight soon, otherwise she could be stuck for a while.
Also receiving votes: House Martell (now under new management), House Greyjoy, House Tyrell, House Tully, House Arryn, The White Walkers, playing chess with death, Ser Pounce, the aged true form of Melisandre, and macabre doggie kibble.
(c) 2016 D.G. McCabe