Tag Archives: A Song of Ice and Fire

Game of Thrones Power Rankings, Season 7, Episode 3

For better or worse, much of the plot of the first three episodes could have lasted seven. That's what happens when you have a show with such rich source material. For television purposes, however, things need to be moved forward, and rich backstory sometimes needs to be replaced with moving the plot along faster.  Anyway, here are this week's Power Rankings:

1. House Lannister (Last Week #3)

It's surprising that the queen racking up early victories is Cersei and not Daenerys. Raiding the Tyrell treasury may have been her most important victory, since it gets the Iron Bank off of her back. Going forward, it may not be so easy. Ambitious Tyrell bannermen won't like the Tarleys being put in charge, and Dorne still wants revenge. Their army is spread thin too, between years of war and no reliable allies in the Riverlands.

2. House Stark (Last Week, #1)

Jon is lucky that Davos is a great hype-man. He's not doing a bad job right now, but he really needs to stop being so modest. This woman was impressed by Daario after all, not the meek Ser Jorah. Meanwhile, at Winterfell, it was great to see a reunion, but Bran's been out in the woods too long. How about picking something a bit more mundane to demonstrate your power rather than the worst day of your sister's life?

3. The White Walkers (Last Week, #2)

Yep, keep demanding fealty, Daenerys. Never mind the hideous monsters lurking offstage, let's keep on keeping on about that Iron Throne quest.

4. House Greyjoy/Crow's Eye (Last Week, #4)

Naval superiority is important. Tyrion thought he had it, but so much for that. As for Euron himself, I'm actually enjoying his over the top mustache-twirling villain schtick. Euron is a monster in the books, but, like a bunch of other Ironborn characters, he's introduced too late to have much of an emotional impact.  The show is making him a just fun bad guy rather than getting too deep into his character, which is working pretty well so far.

5. The Knight's Watch (Last Week, #7)

Well, Sam, you could have killed us all, but we're super impressed with your doctoring skills. Here is a "punishment," where you have read and copy dozens of old scrolls. As if that's not one of your favorite activities.

6. House Arryn (Last Week, #8)

Everyone seems to be ignoring the only house with a huge army untouched by battle. Plus, Sansa hasn't had Littlefinger impaled yet.

7. House Targaryen (Last Week, #5)

Holy crap. In Tyrion's defense, his initial plan was sound because he thought he had naval superiority. It's the British model of conquest, after all. Base your operation out of a secure island and with a powerful navy you can strike where you want, when you want. If they went after a land foothold first they could have gotten boxed in really fast. Now they're boxed in anyway.

8. House Tyrell/House Martell (Last Week, Not Ranked)

The Tyrells and Dornish had run their course and neither was that strong of a ally for Daenerys when you come right down to it.

Leave it to Olenna to twist the knife on her way out.  Still, Westeros being Westeros it was always going to be hard for the Queen of Thorns to maintain control with dozens of ambitious lords like Randyll Tarley waiting in the wings.

As for the Dornish, the characters were introduced far too late in the series and far too clumsily for them to have the same impact they had in the books (which, by the way, was also harmed by their late introduction). The show cut the best Martell character completely, and severely watered down the second best one.  I'd be surprised if we hear from them again on the show.

Also receiving votes: The Brotherhood without Banners, Ser Pounce, epic voiceovers, gazing longingly across the hills of budget Ireland (filmed in Spain), and putting some aloe on it.

(c) 2017 D.G. McCabe

Game of Thrones Power Rankings, Season 7, Episode 2

The fast paced action that was promised has begun! Euron the crazy pirate appears to be a worthy adversary for the time being. Now, Power Rankings:

1. House Stark (Last Week, #3)

Who makes it to Winterfell first, Arya or Bran? Meanwhile, Sansa gets what she wants, and Jon pays a visit to his Aunt. Throw in a couple of impromptu reunions, and it was a strong week for the North.

2. The White Walkers (Last Week, #2)

The Night King hasn't made his move yet, so I can't move him up. He still has dead giants, so I can't move him down either.

3. House Lannister (Last Week, #4)

It didn't take long, and Cersei has righted the ship. Euron is a powerful ally, Tarley is at least thinking about Jaime's offer, and they have a rudimentary air defense. A few valuable hostages helps too.

4. House Greyjoy (Last Week, #6)

It's good to be the king, even if you're the king of bird poop covered rocks. Props to finally getting rid of some of the show's poorer adaptations too.

5. House Targaryen (Last Week, #1)

Daenerys has lost the element of surprise, a good number of ships, and possibly Dorne. Plus I'm convinced she won't believe Jon when he tells her about the Night King. This invasion will be harder than she thinks.

6. The Brotherhood (Last Week, #5)

In the Game of Thrones Power Rankings, you appear in the episode or you drop.

7. The Night's Watch (Last Week, #8)

I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the wall. I am the scalpel that cuts the gross infection off your body.

8. House Arryn (Last Week, #7)

This was a bad week for the assorted allies. Not awful for the Vale though, since Sansa appears to be more popular with them than Jon. They stay on the rankings for now.

Also receiving votes: House Martell, House Tyrell, Hot Pie, Nymeria, Ser Pounce, icky scene transitions, and the unintentional humor of Theon peacing out.

(c) 2017 D.G. McCabe

Game of Thrones Power Rankings, Season 7, Episode 1

And we’re back!  After over a year we finally have some new Game of Thrones to discuss. Let’s jump right into the power rankings:

1. House Targaryen

The Mother of Dragons has made it all the way to Dragonstone. For now she has a massive coalition ready to burn cities to the ground. This would be great if only there weren’t a zombie horde waiting to pounce up north.

2. The White Walkers

They’re still coming. With zombie giants. At least Jon has the North convinced that they’re real. 

3. House Stark

I think Sansa underestimated the effectiveness of good cop/bad cop. Does she really think those kids will cross Jon when his sister/cousin has made it clear she’d rather sell of their homes and exile/hang them?  It’s clear people get second chances with Jon. No one gets a third with Sansa around. Meanwhile, Bran and Arya are still out there. Arya has a mission and skills granted, but she’s heading in the wrong direction.

4. House Lannister

Jaime is right, they don’t look like the winning side. Where does he go when his sister ultimately fails?

5. Brotherhood Without Banners

How long has the Hound had the ability to see into the flames? He’s been scared of fire all his life so we may never know.

6. House Greyjoy

You may have as many ships as Daenerys, Crow’s Eye, but she has three dragons and last I checked your ships are made of wood.

7. Houses Arryn, Tyrell, & Martell

Hitching your wagon to a bigger horse is a good strategy, but for these houses it’s an imperfect solution. What happens when Littlefinger turns on Jon or the Sand flakes turn on Tyrion?  House Tyrell is a better bet to stay in its coalition, but they’re vulnerable to Crow’s Eye hitting them from the west.

8. The Night’s Watch

Bowls for poop, bowls for soup, either way we don’t have time for Sam’s training montage and neither does he. The faster he gets out of the Citadel the better.

Also receiving votes: Essos, Ser Jorah, Ser Pounce, big maps on floors and tables, snappier banter, poisoned wine, the obsidian throne, and maybe our last “table setting” episode.

(C) 2017 D.G. McCabe 

Game of Thrones Power Rankings, Season Six, Episode Two, “Home”

I’m very happy with this week’s episode.  It continues the themes of changing power dynamics in Game of Thrones, and pushes the story forward in a way that early  episodes of previous seasons did not.  Anyway, let’s get to the power rankings:

Night's Watch-2

1. The Night’s Watch (Last Week, #9)

Most of the time, you stab someone multiple times and they stay dead.  Sometimes they’re revived by a fire priestess.  Either way, Jon Snow is back.  Until it becomes otherwise clear, we’ll set forth for power rankings purposes that, for the moment, his “Night’s Watch” designation still remains.  However, since he was indeed dead, a strong argument can be made that he’s released from his vows and free to change allegiances.

The Free Folk

2. The Wildlings/Free Folk (Last Week #8)

Of course, Jon’s return wouldn’t be possible without an assist from Tormund and Wun Wun the Giant.  We had a bit of a week concerning big men smashing little men by the way.


3. House Lannister (Last Week, #1)

Speaking of big men smashing little men, it’s hard to demote House Lannister too much while Cersei has Zombie Mountain at her command.  Also, maybe, just maybe, Tommen is going to actually do something except pet his cat.  However, Jaime still needs to learn that he can’t just stab his problems and make them go away.

Lannister in Exile-2

4. House Lannister in Exile (Last Week, #5)

Four steps to releasing dragons.  Step one – be nice to the dragons so they don’t roast you.  Step two – gently unlock their chains.  Step three – get out as fast as possible before they change their minds.  Step four – be sure to leave the door open after you.


5. The Sparrows/Faith Militant (Last Week, #2)

The High Sparrow might have played his hand a bit too aggressively here.  What he doesn’t seem to get is that Jaime and Cersei don’t have much to lose these days except their family and grasp on power.  The Sparrows might meet a bloody end, and soon.


6. House Stark (Last Week, #4)

Let’s face it, most of us were under the impression that Bran was never leaving that cave again.  The fact that he’ll be sent south at some point bodes well for House Stark.


7. House Bolton (Last Week, #6)

House Bolton is under new, psychotic management.  Ramsey’s rule is a ticking timebomb, the only question is, what is he going to take with him when it goes off?


8. House Greyjoy (Last Week, NR)

Speaking of new management, Balon Greyjoy is finally dead.  Now it’s time for pirates and Kingsmoot.  I certainly hope the adaptation improves on the books.

The Dothraki

9. The Dothraki (Last Week, #3)

They still have Daenerys in custody, but now they might have three pissed off dragons to deal with.  News flash guys, horses don’t like fire.


10. House Targaryen (Last Week, #10)

I had considered leaving Daenerys off the countdown for the first time ever.  Then I thought better about it.  She’s gotten out of worse jams after all.

Also receiving votes: House Martell , The Meereenese, House Tyrell, House Tully, House Arryn, The White Walkers, Ser Pounce, really fat, overfed death hounds, eunuch solidarity, big men smashing little men, and making nice with flying flamethrowers.

(c) 2016 D.G. McCabe

Game of Thrones Book vs. Show: Children of the Dorne (The Fall of House Martell)

Book fans and show fans all agree that Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper, is one of the best characters in A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones.  Indeed, there is no quarrel with how his character was portrayed by Pedro Pascal.

The adaptation of the rest of Oberyn’s family hasn’t gone as well.  Drastic changes to the Martells were made during the adaptation, but that alone doesn’t account for the thin character development, tacked-on plot, and the feeling that there are like twenty people who live in Dorne.  There are too many characters introduced in too little time with no connections made to the main plot until the last moments of last season.  The writers of the show simply didn’t spend enough time with the Martells to develop them or their world, and reduced them to caricature.

The events of Sunday, which essentially wipe out the show’s version of House Martell, can be viewed in two ways.  It could simply be more rushed, ham-handed storytelling.  I’m optimistic that it isn’t.

Instead, I see it as an acknowledgement that the Dorne storyline from last season just didn’t work.  If the endgame of the Martells in the books are the deaths of Tommen and Myrcella and the end of House Martell’s rule of Dorne than this is a faster way of getting there.

How the Martells are Different in the Books (Stop Here if you Haven’t Read all the Books Yet)

Doran Martell has two more children in the books.  Arianne Martell is the heir to Dorne, and her younger brother is the bookish Quentin Martell.  Both Arianne and Quentin are viewpoint characters.  Trystane Martell is a boy of about eight.

Doran is one of the most manipulative and dangerous characters in the book storyline.  He is often misunderstood, but it can be argued that almost everything that happens in a Song of Ice and Fire is the result of the machinations of Varys, Littlefinger, or Doran.

Ellaria Sand is the complete opposite in the books.  She wants no part of any war or vengeance.  The three oldest Sand Snakes are just as reckless and dangerous as they are on the show, but Doran has them locked up for inciting rebellion.  When an ill-conceived plot by Arianne to crown Myrcella as queen ends in Myrcella being brutally wounded by a warrior called Darkstar, Doran has Arianne locked up too.

After letting the Sand Snakes and Arianne cool their heels, Doran summons them to his chambers.  He lets them in on his master plan.  He reveals that he has sent Quentin to propose to Daenerys in Meereen.  He also gives a badass speech about how he knows he’s seen as soft like the grass, but that the grass also hides the viper and shields him until he is ready to strike.  He gives this speech to illustrate how closely he and Oberyn worked to plot their vengeance against the Lannisters for the death of their sister.

He also angers the Sand Snakes by revealing that Cersei Lannister intends to have his son Trystane killed as he accompanies Myrcella on the way back to King’s Landing.  He sends Obara Sand to track down Darkstar and bring him to justice for wounding Myrcella, Nym Sand to the Red Keep to spy on the Lannisters, and Tyene Sand to the Sept of Balor to spy on the High Sparrow.

Anyway, once the Sand Snakes are gone on their mission, Doran sends his Daughter on an even more secret errand.  She is to meet up with Jon Connington, an exiled lord who claims to be the protector of Elia Martell and Rhaegar Targaryen’s son Aegon (who, he claims, actually survived the sack of King’s Landing after all).

Hold On, So in the Books Doran is a Manipulative Badass and the Sand Snakes are Offended by the Prospect of Trystane’s Murder, but on the Show He’s Weak and the Sand Snakes Murder Trystane?  WTF?

Doran may be smarter in the books, but his plan won’t succeed.  Quentin failed miserably in his quest.  Instead of wooing Daenerys, he was roasted to death by her dragons.  Arianne is probably screwed too.  The writers of Game of Thrones cut her and the Aegon story completely, an ill omen for her.

Also, remember how I mentioned that the Sand Snakes are just as reckless and dangerous on the show as in the books?  I don’t know if they would kill Doran, but Darkstar certainly would and we can’t discount the idea that Darkstar and Obara are working together.

The other two Sand Snakes could conceivably kill Myrcella too.  Although they probably wouldn’t kill Trystane outright, their reckless actions could result in his death at the hands of the Lannisters.  Either way, they’re going after Tommen at some point.

Sunday’s events are a shortcut to the end of the Martells and the deaths of Cersei’s remaining children (or death of one and attempted death of the other).  However, there are two plot holes for the show to resolve here.  First, the Sand Snakes are now kinslayers.  Maybe that isn’t as big of a deal on the show as it is in the books, or the Sand Snakes don’t care about honor, so there are ways to explain that away.

The bigger issue is that by making Ellaria a combination of Arianne and Darkstar, you’ve given her all of the ruthlessness with none of the legitimacy.  Let’s imagine that Darkstar kills Doran and usurps his power in the books.  Darkstar is heir House Dayne, the second most powerful house in Dorne.  The lords of Dorne could conceivably be tired of what they see as Doran’s dithering and back a coup by House Dayne.  

Ellaria is a bastard with no claim to any title.  She didn’t marry Oberyn and isn’t related to the Martells at all.

So What Now?

The Dorne plot from the books was clearly too complex for the show, especially when they decided to cut the Aegon storyline.  However, they rushed through it last season, and rushed to clean it up this past Sunday.  They have some more cleanup ahead since they’ll have to explain 1) how the Sand Snakes are so callous about kinslaying and 2) why the lords of Dorne would back a bastard woman as their new ruler.  If these two aspects are explained away, and the Dornish storyline ends up having the same ultimate effect on the show (dead Myrcella, maybe dead Tommen, no more Martells), this might be fine.

There’s also a final possibility.  Ellaria could prepare Dorne as a landing-place for Daenerys.  Doran was trying to do this in the books, so we’ll see if this is something Ellaria can do once the legitimacy issue is put to rest.

(c) 2016 D.G. McCabe

Games of Thrones Pre-Season 6 Power Rankings

It’s that time of year again!  Time for your weekly Game of Thrones writeup/power rankings.  As a re-cap from last year, and to set the stage for this coming season, I present to you pre-season Power Rankings:


1. The Faith of the Seven/Faith Militant (End of Last Season – #5)

There’s chaos in King’s Landing.  Right now, the High Sparrow has all the cards, and the two most powerful families in Westeros at his mercy.  This being Game of Thrones, this could change any moment, especially with a wounded Cersei back in the Red Keep.


2. House Lannister (End of Last Season – #6)

Even with an ascendant Faith Militant and a weak king, the Lannisters aren’t in a bad position.  Kevan is squarely in charge at the Red Keep, and Cersei has a new, pet monster.  Even Jaime has some additional, although tragic, motivation right now.

The Dothraki

3. The Dothraki (End of Last Season, NR)

Daenerys is currently a “guest” of the horselords.  They aren’t exactly known for their hospitality, even towards widows of dead Khals.


4. House Bolton (End of Last Season, #4)

Even though they just lost two major hostages, the Bolton army mopped the floor with Stannis.  There really isn’t any force in the North to oppose them right now.

Lannister in Exile-2

5. House Lannister in Exile (End of Last Season, #1)

How does someone drop from 1 to 4 when nothing has happened?  The Power Rankings are a fickle mistress.  Besides, Tyrion is about to have a host of problems trying to keep the Meereenese in check.


6. The Meereenese (End of Last Season, NR)

Speaking of which, the Meereenese aren’t going to go away without additional fighting.  The TV version of the Sons of Harpy are a lot more dangerous then their literary counterparts.  In addition, how many Unsullied are there left at this point?  The only reason they are ranked behind Tyrion is because Tyrion is in the big pyramid.  For now.

The Others

7. The Others (End of Last Season, #2)

The dead are coming.  They’re obviously the most dangerous threat in the world but 1) there’s still a big wall between the Realm and the White Walkers and 2) they can’t be #1 every week.  Until they make their move, they’re on the back end of the Power Rankings.


8. House Martell (End of Last Season, #8)

I don’t know what to make of the show’s version of the Martells.  The writers don’t seem to really know what to do with them at this point.  They still control Dorne, so I can’t drop them off the rankings just yet.


9. House Stark (End of Last Season, #3)

Sansa has escaped, but things aren’t looking so great for Arya at the moment.  We’ll see what Bran’s status is once we catch up with him.


10. House Targaryen (End of Last Season, #7)

Daenerys still has a dragon out there somewhere.  Otherwise, she’s as good as dormant until she either gets away from the Dothraki.

Also Receiving Votes: House Greyjoy, House Arryn, The Night’s Watch, the Wildlings, The Faceless Men, House Tully, House Tarley, House Tyrell, Ser Pounce, making peace with the fact that no books are coming anytime soon, Three Eyed-Ravens, something to watch on Sunday nights, and of course, Jon Snow.

(c) 2016 D.G. McCabe


Game of Thrones Power Rankings Season 5, Episode 9

There are now quite a few dead characters in Game of Thrones who are still alive in the books.  The accelerated timeline and narrative changes mean that we have a much, much different story now, so it really has become impossible to guess where the show is going.  That said – power rankings.


1. House Targaryen (Last Week – #2)

The Sons of the Harpy thought they had Daenerys cornered.  They were wrong.  She is now plus one tamed dragon and minus one annoying Hizdaar.  Pretty good for one day.


2. House Martell (Last Week – #4)

Of the Great Houses of Westeros, the Martells are in the best shape.  Doran made clear to his brother’s girlfriend and daughters that he’s not going to take their crap, while at the same time has maintained stability in his principality.

The Others

3. The White Walkers (Last Week – #1)

They can’t be number one every week.  For now they’ve faded back into the snow.


4. The Faith of the Seven (Last Week – #3)

They’re inches away from creating a power vacuum in King’s Landing.  Do they have the ambition to make a play for filling that vacuum?


5. House Bolton (Last Week – #6)

The Boltons are in a better position this week, having forced their enemies to commit unspeakable atrocities in order to have any chance against them.


6. House Lannister (Last Week – #5)

Mission accomplished for Jaime.  At least for the time being.


7. House Stark (Last Week – #7)

Arya is conducting her own investigation.  She might still come back for the Thin Man, but she’s definitely about to cross a name off of her list.


8. The Meereenese (Last Week – NR)

The Sons of the Harpy gave it their best shot.  It isn’t clear that they completely lost.  After all, who knows where Daenerys went on her dragon?

Night's Watch-2

9. The Night’s Watch (Last Week – #9)

How many people did Jon actually save last week?  Five hundred?  It certainly doesn’t seem like it was worth it, despite Sam’s assurances.


10. House Lord of Light (Last Week – #8)

There is no more House Baratheon.

Also receiving votes: House Tyrell, House Greyjoy, big guy vs. little guy, Ser Pounce, oysters, clams, and cockles.