Game of Thrones Power Rankings, Season 8, Episode 2

I will be treble-sinew’d, hearted, breathed,
And fight maliciously: for when mine hours
Were nice and lucky, men did ransom lives
Of me for jests; but now I’ll set my teeth,
And send to darkness all that stop me. Come,
Let’s have one other gaudy night: call to me
All my sad captains; fill our bowls once more;
Let’s mock the midnight bell.

Antony and Cleopatra, Act III, Scene XIII

With that – power rankings!

The Others

1. The White Walkers (Last Week, #1)

One of the things I love about the new opening credits is how it tracks the position of the Night King’s army.  In the books, Daenerys has a dream of the final-final battle being at the Trident, but she has a vision on the show of a decimated King’s Landing.  It will be interesting to see where the final-final showdown takes place (hint: it won’t be at Winterfell next week).

Lannister

2. House Lannister (Last Week, #2)

Away from the coming battle/dumpster fire?  That is still the best place to be.  Cersei continues to guzzle wine this week in the relative safety of King’s Landing.

Greyjoy

3. House Greyjoy (Last Week, #5)

For the sake of consistency, the groups farthest away from the undead army are doing better than the groups that are in harm’s way.  It’s safe to assume that Yara re-takes the Iron Islands off-screen, setting up a potential safe haven for the inevitable retreat next week.

Arryn

4. House Arryn (Last Week, #6)

The majority of the Vale forces are at Winterfell.  However, the Eyrie offers another potential safe-haven for retreating forces.  Sansa has been talking to Yohn Royce a lot the last two weeks. I can’t help but think that there is a backup plan in place involving what is supposedly the most impenetrable fortress in the world.

Stark-2

5. House Stark (Last Week, #3)

Has Sansa gotten smarter, or has she become merely Cersei-lite?  If it’s the former, she may end up being the most capable leader left.  If it’s the latter, disaster could ensue.  By the way, why on Earth does anyone have to tell Daenerys about Jon’s parents at this point?  Win the battle first, then sort it out!

Targaryen-2

6. House Targaryen (Last Week, #4)

Daenerys has always had a bit of an edge to her, but being in Westeros has emphasized her worst qualities.  She’s been using her dragons as the source of her power for a long time, but in some ways, they’ve become a crutch.  She’s lost all sense of nuance, and has been all fire and blood, all the time as of late.

Baratheon-3

7. House Baratheon (Last Week, NR)

Does this mean Arya gets Storm’s End now (whether or not Gendry makes it)?  Because that would be awesome!

Also receiving votes: The Night’s Watch, Florence + the Machine, the ghost of Ser Pounce, ridiculous stories about giants, pre-battle boozing, those “here’s a picture of my sweetheart” moments, that’s “Ser Brianne” to you, and the Crypts are definitely NOT safe!

(c) 2019 D.G. McCabe

Game of Thrones Power Rankings, Season 8, Episode 1

A cold wind comes from the north. That’s a bit of an understatement, right? The revised opening credits emphasize that the doom of this world approaches. Anyway, let’s get right into the power rankings.

1. The White Walkers (Pre-Season, #1)

Yeah, these guys aren’t going anywhere for a while on the Rankings. This being Game of Thrones, there’s a decent chance that everyone dies, and the Others win. There might be actual riots in the street, but it could happen.

2. House Lannister (Pre-Season, #4)

CGI money doesn’t grow on trees, so no elephants. Pachyderms or no, there’s a lot of space between the Dead and Cersei, and for that reason, she’s in better shape than her enemies. Good on her for “celebrating” with “eccentric” sea captains.

3. House Stark (Pre-Season, #2)

Lyanna Mormont: We made you king!

Jon: Um, there’s an army coming…

Sansa: Also, your new girlfriend is lame.

Jon: Um, I really don’t think…

Arya: Also, I like Sansa now.

Jon: Um, guys…

Sam: Also, you’re the one, true king!

Bran: THE DEAD ARE COMING! WE DON’T HAVE TIME FOR ANY OF THIS SHIT!

4. House Targaryen (Pre-Season, #3)

Daenerys is usually pretty observant, so she should realize that only Targaryens can typically ride dragons, right? Or maybe she figures her idiot brother was lying about that.

5. House Greyjoy (Pre- Season, #6)

Yara is thinking ahead, and that’s good for her. But with the Dead bearing down on Winterfell, does Theon have time to get there? That part didn’t make much sense.

6. House Arryn (Pre-Season #5)

I guess they’re loyal to…Sansa? I might be done ranking these guys. Despite having one of the largest extant armies, they’ve become inconsequential to the story. Unless someone ends up retreating to the Eyrie, that is.

7. The Night’s Watch (Pre-Season, #7)

The White Walkers looked at what’s left of the Watch, considered adding them to the army of the dead, and concluded, “Nah, we’re good.”

Also receiving votes: grandson of Ser Pounce, Hot Pie, Sam’s library fines, pirate swagger, the continued embrace of pointless nudity, and creepy dragons who like to watch.

(C) 2019 D.G. McCabe

Game of Thrones Season 8 Pre-Season Power Rankings

And we’re back! Seven more power rankings articles ever, well unless the Long Night series is any good. In the meantime, our list of houses and orders to power rank grows thin. Let’s get started!

1. The White Walkers

Oh yeah, everyone is good and screwed now. I doubt the series ends with the ultimate big bad winning, but I also wouldn’t be surprised. On the opposite end of the spectrum, they could be quickly dispensed with, with the last few episodes re-focusing on Cersei as the main antagonist. Most likely, it takes all season to beat them, and only a handful of our heroes make it out alive.

2. House Stark

The Starks have gathered an impressive list of allies to their cause: Brianne of Tarth, The Hound, The Brotherhood Without Banners, the Night’s Watch, Jaime Lannister, the Vale, the Targaryens, and of course a reunified House Stark itself. It won’t be enough to win right away, if at all, but it’s impressive.

3. House Targaryen

For now, Team Daenerys is one and the same with team Jon. This particular alliance has cracks in it, however. We’ll see how the Mother of Titles handles it when she finds out her new beau is actually her nephew, and ahead of her in the line of succession for the Iron Throne.

4. House Lannister

Underestimate Cersei Lannister at your peril. She’s chugging away (flasky, glug, glug motion), behind her high walls, waiting for her mercenaries, and chuckling while the world burns around her. That doesn’t seem threatening, but Cersei is at her most dangerous when she has nothing to lose.

5. House Arryn

For simplicity of narrative, I could see the Vale remaining in the Stark fold. However, the Starks just whacked Lord Robin’s beloved uncle. That may cause problems going forward.

6. House Greyjoy

Reminder: Theon is currently on a quest to rescue his sister. That is all.

7. The Night’s Watch

YOU HAD ONE JOB!!!!!!!

Also receiving votes: a whole bunch of vanquished houses (Martell, Tyrell, Baratheon, Frey, Tully); a whole bunch of people in Essos who don’t matter to the story anymore; son of Ser Pounce; and HBO’s own white walker threat, that is, people cancelling en masse six weeks from Monday.

(C) 2019 D.G. McCabe

Game of Thrones Books vs. Show: Everyone Else

I had initially intended this post to focus on House Lannister.  Then, I thought about it some more and realized that I basically already covered Tyrion, and there was no point on spending a whole post on two characters.  Instead I’ll just wrap up this series, book-ended below with the Lannister twins.  Here’s a Lannister sigil before we get into spoilers:

Jaime Lannister

The show has taken Jaime’s story so far from the books that it’s easy todeclare that none of his story from the show past Season 4 will be in the books at all.  Some elements will probably be in the books, but only as elements, not as full plot threads.  For example, Myrcella is a goner, but Jaime is so far from Dorne right now in the books that he won’t have much to do with that plot.

Does Jaime survive his encounter with Lady Stoneheart?  It seems that he probably will.  Having Stoneheart kill Jaime would be like if the show killed him during the dragon battle this season.  It would make some sense, but there just seems to be more for the character to do.  That’s about the only clue we have from the show.

The Freys

Maybe Arya kills Lord Walder, maybe Lady Stoneheart will.  One way or another the Freys are toast.

The Brotherhood without Banners

Whatever role Beric will play on the show going forward will probably be played by Lady Stoneheart in the books.  Otherwise, Gendry never fell out with the Brotherhood and Thoros is still there.  I could also see the Hound meeting up with them at some point (if he hasn’t already).

Brienne of Tarth

Brienne and Jaime are similar in that the show has moved their characters so far from their book counterparts that it becomes impossible to predict where they go from here.  It seems possible she might survive her Lady Stoneheart encounter because she’s still alive on the show, but when was the last time she actually did much of anything of importance on the show?

House Martell

Doran won’t go down so easily in the books, but he will probably go down.  His behind the scenes manipulation keeps failing.  Additionally, he’s about to throw his lot in with the Mummer’s Dragon – fake Aegon.

House Tyrell

George R.R. Martin has indicated that Loras’ two older brothers, who were written out of the show, have a big role to play in the books.  This would take the Tyrell story in a completely different direction.

Samwell Tarly

The show skipped over Sam’s long travelogue, but in the end, he got to the same destination where he’ll probably end up at in the books:  Winterfell by way of Oldtown.  I don’t see much evidence for any big differences here.

House Greyjoy

Euron is a big, scary bad guy in the books already, but the show has pretty much given him Victarion’s storyline.  The show hasn’t provided us with much evidence for how either of those stories will play out in the books.  Theon and Yara/Asha are captives of Stannis at the moment too, which would be a radical starting point for any of their show adventures since last season.

House Baratheon

Speaking of Stannis, he’s still very much alive in the books.  Ramsey probably defeats him after a time.  Beyond that, it’s hard to say what else happens since show Stannis didn’t bring his family with him to attack Winterfell.

Cersei Lannister

Finally, we have the other big Lannister character still on the board.  While some of the circumstances may be different, Cersei is in the same spot in the books currently that she was at the end of season 5.  Here’s where she goes from here, I think, with one of my bolder predictions.

First, Margaery wins her trial.  Sometime after that, Cersei convinces Tommen to pledge fealty to fake Aegon.  This sets up a coronation scene in the Sept of Baelor where Margaery and MaceTyrell, two of the three Sand Snakes, the High Sparrow, Fake Aegon, and Arianne Martell are all in the same room.  But wait, where are Cersei and Tommen?  That’s when the Sept blows up.  This will be Arianne Martell and/or Jon Connington’s last point of view chapter.

Myrcella and Tommen may die in similar ways that they do on the show, but I think the, “Cersei blows up the Sept and steals the Iron Throne” story plays out more or less the same.  The next question is how Cersei reacts to Daenerys and Jon, and there’s no evidence so far that it’s too far from the books right now.

Anyway those are my Winds of Winter/Dream of Spring predictions based on where we are on the show.

(c) 2017 D.G. McCabe

 

 

 

Game of Thrones Books vs. Show: House Stark

As promised, volume 2 will focus on the Starks. This will focus on four characters: Arya, Bran, Sansa, and Jon Snow. Spoilers abound below the sigil.

Arya

Arya’s Braavos storyline will probably be pretty similar in the books. The pre-release chapter describes her time with the mummers and her dispatching of Meryn Trant. It follows that the Faceless Men would then try to kill her for going rogue and she would fight them off, earning the right to quit.

However, the Waif-fight sequence feels like a show contrivance. It would be out of character for the Faceless Men to kill for their own purposes, and hard for them to get the drop on Arya, who is a warg in the books. It’s more likely they just kick her out.

That’s where her plot becomes hard to predict. Maybe she finishes off Walder Frey, but the Northern Lords might take him out first. There’s no Great Northern Conspiracy on the show after all. She’s been warging Nymeria since A Clash of Kings, so a meeting probably will be unnecessary. Finally, this season’s conflict between Sansa and Arya feels like a show-only thing, although there might be some tension when they meet in the books.

Sansa

The show threw out Sansa’s story from the books and gave her Jeyne Poole’s in Season 5. That was a shortcut rightly savaged by critics at the time. Instead, except her to continue climbing the ladder in the Vale, eventually turning the Lords of the Eyrie to her side. Robin isn’t quite as gross in the books either, he’s like 6. I think she dispatches Littlefinger long before heading North too.

From there her story could match up well. She might save Jon’s hide, become Lady of Winterfell, and be there when Bran and Arya return.

She’ll be there when Davos brings Rickon to Winterfell too I’d suspect. Yeah, he’s not going to die due lack of zigzagging in the books. I predict that was a shortcut to stop paying two actors. Shaggydog might be fine too for similar reasons – no need to decrease the direwolf effects budget in a book.

Bran

Bran’s story probably matches up okay. I suspect the only show contrivance so far was the “let’s kill the mutineers” sequence from Season 4.  He’ll continue to train with the Three Eye-Raven/Brynden Rivers until something happens forcing him to flee.  Hodor will die holding a door.  Jojen will probably die somehow too.  Summer may or may not.  If he does, he’ll die doing more to protect Bran.

Otherwise, Bran hasn’t done much on the show.  It’s hard to predict how his story would play out in the books beyond the part where he’ll have to escape the tree cavern for some reason.

Jon Snow

Here’s one of the predictions you’ve probably been waiting for.  The key thing to remember about Jon Snow in the books is that he’s significantly more intelligent and less impulsive than Jon Snow on the show.  He’s been called more dull in the books too, so maybe the show made him more impulsive to liven things up.  He can also warg Ghost.  With that understanding, predicting Jon’s actions in the books becomes a bit easier.

Warging Ghost will have something to do with how Jon survives his assassination.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the a chapter or two with him inside the direwolf.  His body might still be resurrected by the Lord of Light, or it might be another kind of magic.  Also, expect Val to play the Davos role for a while.

Once he’s back, he will execute the traitors and hand off his Lord Commander role to someone else.  That’s a bit more complicated since Castle Black is  crowded at this point with Stannis’ people. Additionally, Jon has sent his closest allies to man other castles.  Jon won’t just impulsively hand over the duties to Ed, he’ll take the temperature of the remaining Night’s Watchmen first.

I think Ramsey’s letter is legit in the books.  Jon will have to gather his forces and fight the Boltons.  To make this work, the Great Northern Conspiracy would have to fail to a certain extent, and Stannis would have to lose the Battle in the Ice.  Jon’s depleted force might be on the brink of losing too, until Sansa rides in with the Lords of the Vale to turn the tide.

Don’t expect Jon to rush the Bolton lines himself or do anything dumb in planning the battle.  The books have proven him to be a competent strategist.  He just won’t have the manpower to outmatch the combined Bolton/Frey forces without the Vale coming in to save the day.

After Jon and Sansa take Winterfell, he may be summoned to Daenerys.  Some of their interaction seems Martinesque in Season 7, so it might track fairly closely.  I would not, however, expect a dumb plan to capture a wight and bring it to Cersei, that screams shortcut.

Jon will be King in the North too, but it won’t be just because everyone loves him that much.  In the books Robb wrote a will legitimizing Jon and making him heir to the North.  Robb’s wife, Jeyne Westerling, is still alive too, and might play a role in delivering said will to Winterfell.

Anyone, next up are the Lannisters.

(c) 2017 D.G. McCabe

 

Game of Thrones Books vs. Show: An Introduction and House Targaryen

Another season of Game of Thrones is in the books (no pun intended).  There is only one more season of the show left, but eventually, maybe, supposedly, if the legends hold true, we’re due for two more novels.  The reality is that a good chunk of the major plot points of the future books have already been revealed to us on the show.  But how much, and what are they?

I should point out that eventually I’m going to get into major spoilers from the show and the books.  If you’re interested in keeping either unspoiled you should stop now.

The show began diverting from the books in a major way in season two.  In seasons two through five, and to a lesser extent season six, it was readily apparent what was changed from the source material.  Most notably, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons (books 4 and 5) were collapsed into one season.  Whereas creative license was taken in adapting A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords, the adaptations of books 4 and 5 completely re-arranged characters and storylines.  Some of these edits had creative justifications such as fewer travelogues.  Other edits had clear financial/Hollywood reasons, like cutting new characters so they could pay the current cast more money, and reducing the role of the direwolves to save special effects money for dragons.

With the changes in the television adaptation, patterns have emerged.  My central hypothesis is that we can separate what plot developments from the last two seasons are probably from George R.R. Martin and what are probably the show’s writers/showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

Generally, the different writers have different flaws.  Martin is great at character development and world-building, but not so great at crafting concise plots.  The show’s writers are good at big, flashy set pieces and great images, but not as strong on characterization and world-building.  Their plotting is flawed for a different reason than Martin’s – whereas Martin meanders too much, the show’s writers have a tendency to take shortcuts and rush things along.

Now, let’s take some of the main groups and try to predict what’s going to be in the books from seasons 6 and 7 and what is probably a show-only development.  If I try to do everything in one post, it’s going to be take forever, so I’ll go one group at a time, starting with House Targaryen.

Here are the major developments in seasons 6 and 7 for Daenerys and Company:

  • The Dothraki

Daenerys needs the Dorthraki to wrap up her story in Meereen and expand her army for Westeros.  However, I don’t think Daenerys will do so by burning the khals.  When she meets the Dothraki in the book she has a healthy, menacing Drogon right by her side.  There will probably be no need for any further demonstration of power.

  • Tyrion

Most of Tyrion’s season 6 plot is given to Barristan Selmy in the books (more on him in a moment).  Tyrion still hasn’t met up with Daenerys at the end of A Dance with Dragons, although he’s getting closer.  Besides it doesn’t make sense for Tyrion to get into Daenerys’ good graces so quickly when she still has Ser Barristan by her side.  However she returns to Meereen, we can expect a long series of interactions between Tyrion and Daenerys before she places her trust in him.

  • Ser Barristan

Ser Barristan may not be long for this world in the books, but I doubt he goes out so easily as he did in Season 5.  The way the show’s writers dispatched him didn’t make a lot of sense for his character and felt like one of their shortcuts to 1) trim the cast and 2) make way for Peter Dinklage to take a more central role.  He may even make it back to Westeros.

  • Grey Worm and Missandei

As all book readers know, this entire subplot is new on the show and impossible in the books.  Grey Worm isn’t much of a character in the books and Missandei is like 12.  This just isn’t going to happen, and was probably developed whole-cloth to give the actors something to do.

  • Daario

Daario may not even be alive right now in the books.  If he is, however, it  does kind of make sense for Daenerys to leave him in Meereen.  She has other allies in the books to take up the administrative slack, so she won’t give him as much power, but it doesn’t make sense to take the sellsword to Westeros for the same reasons she articulates  on the show.

  • The Battle of Meereen

Pre-released chapters of The Winds of Winter indicate a much longer, more complex battle than portrayed on the show.  Daenerys might join the fray at some point, but it won’t be as simple as the three dragons roasting some ships.

  • Hizdaar

Hizdaar is dispatched quickly and easily on the show.  It won’t be so easy in the books.  He’s still alive and might have tried to murder Daenerys.  He’s also already married her, so there would be that thread to untangle.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the Meereenese nobleman that Daenerys fries with Drogon like the she did to the nameless, redshirt one on the show in season 5.

  • Allies

The alliance situation is far more complicated in the books.  Doran Martell, who in the books is a brilliant puppet master rather than a lame sad-sack, wants Fire and Blood, but he won’t soon forget that his son got fried.  The released Arianne chapters show that Doran is going to be in the Aegon camp, at least for the time being.  As for the Tyrells, there has been no indication that they will ally themselves with Daenerys.  The Iron Born on the other hand, might end up following a similar story-line, with Victarion replacing the Theon/Yara one on the show.

  • Invasion of Westeros

This will be longer and more complicated in the books.  The entire Aegon story-line was cut from the show, so  it’s unclear how that will play out.  What I can predict is that the fight to bring Cersei to heel will be longer and bloodier than the shortcuts taken on the show.

  • Daenerys and Jon

It’s inevitable that we’ll see some version of this coupling in the books.  They’re both the Blood of the Dragon after all.

  • Ice Dragon

The entire “let’s get a wight and bring to Cersei” feels like a contrivance to rush along the plot, a hallmark of the show’s writers.  I seriously doubt it happens at all in the books.  Additionally, the book has the Horn of Joramun, which the White Walkers are searching for.  They won’t need a dead dragon to bring down the Wall.  Additionally, the books have the “dragon has three heads” prophecy and have mentioned legitimate ice dragons.  It is unclear to me that Viseron will die and be resurrected by the White Walkers, or if he’ll even need to be.  If it does happen, I expect it to be under completely different circumstances.

Next time we’ll talk about the Starks.

(c) 2017 D.G. McCabe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Game of Thrones Power Rankings, Season 7, Episode 7

Well that’s a wrap on Season Seven! It’s had its share of criticism, much of it perfectly warranted. I still enjoyed watching it, so I’ve taken to ignoring the critics. The fact of the matter is that the show’s writers have never been as good as George R. R. Martin, so when they deviate from his books there’s a noticeable drop in quality. I’m okay with that because I still enjoy the show. It’s the only show on TV that produces such an adrenaline rush that I have trouble sleeping afterwards. Anyway, final Power Rankings:

1. The White Walkers (Last Week, #1)

Here we are. Since the very first scene of the show, it’s been inevitable that the Walkers would breach the Wall. We knew it, Jon Snow knew it. What happens next is anyone’s guess.

2. House Lannister (Last Week, #6)

This will surprise some people, but hear me out. Cersei wants to rule. Waiting back to see what emerges from the battle against the Walkers is her smartest play to achieve that end. She’s right in that either the Walkers win, and there’s no hope anyway, or they lose and she fights a weakened Stark/Targaryen alliance. It’s cynical at best, but it’s also her only shot.

3. House Targaryen (Last Week #2)

Can Daenerys and Jon make it to Winterfell before being set upon by the Army of the Dead? That’s the big question, the implications of their romance are entirely secondary.

4. House Stark (Last Week, #3)

In an alternate universe, Jon comes home to a giggling Bran, high on weirwood juice, telling him, “dude, you just hooked up with your aunt.” That being said, the Starks are sitting ducks right now unless their allies can get to Winterfell like yesterday.

5. House Greyjoy (Last Week, #7)

Wouldn’t it be hilarious if Cersei was totally wrong and Euron really did peace out back to the Iron Islands? Sure it would make the Theon subplot even more pointless, but it would be funny.

6. The Hound (Last Week, #5)

No Clegane-Bowl yet. Aw man. But the Hound did let his brother know it was coming, I think.

7. House Arryn (Last Week, NR)

The true Lords of the Vale get back on the rankings this week for one reason. Littlefinger’s time had come, he was more of an annoyance at this point than a genuine threat. The Lords of the Vale should even have no problem convincing sickly Lord Robin of this fact, with the murdering of both his parents and all.

8. The Night’s Watch (Last Week, #8)

YOU HAD ONE JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!

Also receiving votes: the Dothraki, House Baratheon, House Reed, House Mormont, Ser Pounce, illicit love, Tyrion thinking, “Ugh, more incest,” Bron and Pod having a beer, and hoping GRRM finishes at least one book before next season.

(C) 2017 D.G. McCabe