Game of Thrones Power Rankings, Season Six, Episode Seven, “The Broken Man”

 

Moving right along with week seven, in which we had a rare Game of Thrones cold open.  I’m not sure how important The Hound is to the narrative, but with the special treatment his return got this week, I would bet that he’ll be very integral to the show going forward.  Anyway, Power Rankings:

Sparrows-1

1. The Faith of the Seven/Faith Militant/Sparrows (Last Week, #1)

No changes here this week.  I don’t know what Margaery has up her sleeve, but so far it hasn’t been anything other than manipulate and survive.  Something has to give, and soon.  With only three episodes left this season I can’t imagine this plotline stretching out another year.

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2. House Targaryen (Last Week, #2)

Second place holds steady for another week too.  Yes, I know Daenerys and her crew were absent this week, but that’s what happens when you have three dragons and a ton of barbarians at your command.

Tully

3. House Tully (Last Week, #3)

As foretold last week, the Blackfish could care less about his nephew.  When asked to choose between his house and his dumb nephew, his house wins.  What do you think he is, a Stark?

Greyjoy

4. House Greyjoy (Last Week, NR)

Anyone who throws in their lot with the Mother of Dragons moves up the Power Rankings.  Especially when you have exactly what she needs at the right moment.  Things never work out so neatly on Planetos, but despite the inevitable, horrifying plot twist, a good idea is a good idea.

The Hound

5. The Hound (Last Week, NR)

Free agents, especially those with Sandor Clegane’s skill set, are a fine asset in Westeros.  It’ll be fun to see where his path leads now that he’s back in the game.

Bolton

6. House Bolton (Last Week, #7)

The show has finally given us a break from endless displays of Bolton cruelty, which stretch back to Season 3.  Unfortunately, Ramsay and his allies are in a better position than the “good guys.”

 

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7. House Stark (Last Week, #4)

Ice cold ten-year olds aside, the coalition building project is not going as planned.  Bringing Littlefinger in may be necessary, but it won’t be without consequence.  Meanwhile, in Braavos, how is Arya going to get out of this one?

Lannister

8. House Lannister (Last Week, #8)

Cersei can’t win anymore.  She can take everything down with her though.  There is a mad-king type of fire in her eyes that screams “Burn them all!”

Also receiving votes: House Lannister in Exile, House Tyrell, The Night’s Watch, The Free Folk, House Martell, the Meereenese, The White Walkers, Ser Pounce, Nymeria the Direwolf, Sieges Planned by the Three Stooges, Hippies, Lord Glover Being Absolutely Right about Robb Stark, and a Lannister Always Pays His…ah Shut up Already.

(c) 2016 D.G. McCabe 

 

(c) 2016 D.G. McCabe

Game of Thrones Power Rankings, Season Six, Episode Six, “Blood of My Blood”

 

We’re a day late due to the holiday weekend.  In any event this week was what they call a “table-setting episode.”  And by “they” I mean TV critics with a soft spot for annoying cliches.  Anyway, power rankings:

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1. The Faith of the Seven/Faith Militant/Sparrows (Last Week, #3)

The High Sparrow’s journey from barefoot commoner to power behind the Iron Throne would be more inspiring if he weren’t a sanctimonious tosser.  He’s been one step ahead of everyone in King’s Landing this season.  We’ll see if this continues once everyone has finally stopped underestimating him.

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2. House Targaryen (Last Week, #1)

Does anyone besides Daenerys even want the Iron Throne anymore?  And if she does get there, who’s going to help temper her more bloodthirsty urges?  It certainly won’t be the thousands of Dothraki that have sworn to kill her enemies and tear down their castles.

Tully

3. House Tully (Last Week, #8)

Who here really thinks that the Blackfish is going to be cowed because Walder Frey has his nephew?  The Blackfish doesn’t even like his nephew.  Anyway, the Tullys move up a few spots this week by virtue of just making some moves already.

Stark-2

4. House Stark (Last Week, #6)

Thanks to deus ex Benjen, Bran and Meera live to fight another day.  Arya may be in a bit of trouble, but The Faceless Men are such hypocrites that who knows what they really have in mind.  For all their talk of serving the many-faced-god, they are essentially paid mercenaries and hitmen.

The Others

5. The Others/White Walkers (Last Week, #1)

C’mon horde of the dead.  You had ONE job.  The Night’s King has got to be wondering how many more allies are going to come out of the woodwork to protect Bran.

Night's Watch-2

6. The Night’s Watch (Last Week, NR)

Oh a Valyrian Steel sword, how nice of you.  And lying around for me to take and use on White Walkers!  Thanks!  Now that’s settled, please inform my brother that he is a sweet summer child for thinking that the White Walkers aren’t coming to kill him and turn him into a zombie.

Bolton

7. House Bolton (Last Week, #5)

Thankfully we’ve been spared a couple of weeks of the show pointlessly reminding us that Ramsay is a crazy person with a lot of power.  I’m confident Jon and Sansa will deal with him eventually, but will it be fast enough?  Winter is coming, after all.

Lannister

8. House Lannister (Last Week, #4)

It’s safe to say that the Lannister/Tyrell alliance’s reunion will prove to be short lived after that debacle this week.  Jaime may be complaining now, but getting away from his nihilist sister is probably the best thing for him right now.

Also receiving votes: The Meereenese, House Lannister in Exile, House Tyrell, House Arryn, House Martell, House Tarly, House Greyjoy, Ser Pounce, Nymeria the Direwolf, the Faceless Men, Slapping, Belching, and Farting.

(c) 2016 D.G. McCabe

Game of Thrones Power Rankings, Season Six, Episode Five, “The Door”

Nooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now that’s out of the way, Power Rankings:

The Others

1. The Others/White Walkers (Last Week, NR)

Like the orcs in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), the White Walkers are an army bred for a single purpose – to destroy the world of men.  The Children of the Forest created them with this intention, and clearly lost control at some point.  Now, the fate of the world rests on how fast Meera Reed can pull a sled.

Targaryen-2

2. House Targaryen (Last Week, #1)

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Daenerys has seen her position improve dramatically.  It’s too bad about Ser Jorah though. We may, or may not, see his like again.

Sparrows-1

3. The Sparrows/Faith Militant (Last Week, #3)

From the previews, it looks like all hell is going to break loose next week between the Faith Militant and the Lannister/Tyrell Alliance.  For the time being, the Sparrows have the upper hand.

4. The Lannister/Tyrell Alliance (Last Week, #4)

One way or another, there’s about to be a bloodbath in King’s Landing. I predict we’ll be seeing this renewed alliance rise in the rankings before it starts breaking apart.

Bolton

5. House Bolton (Last Week, #6)

The alliance that Jon and Sansa are building has potential, but through threats, fear, and treasons Ramsay has a pretty formidable alliance already in place.  For the moment, he’s in a better spot.

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6. House Stark (Last Week, #2)

Potential is all well and good, but there are some problems here.  First, Littlefinger may have planted seeds of doubt in Sansa’s mind.  Second, Arya is on the brink of flunking out of assassin school.  Finally, how in the seven hells is Bran going to get out of this one?

Lannister in Exile-2

7. House Lannister in Exile (Last Week, #7)

Peace is tough, but so far Tyrion seems to be succeeding.  It feels like he’s in the eye of a hurricane though.

Tully

8. House Tully (Last Week, NR)

When you start winning battles and start re-taking castles, you get on the Power Rankings for the first time since Season 3.  Sorry Ironborn fans.

Also receiving votes: House Greyjoy, The Meereenese, House Martell, House Tarly, House Arryn, Ser Pounce, Acting Troupes, The Many-Faced God, Equal Opportunity Unnecessary Nudity, and Forgetting for a Moment that You’re the Lord Commander Now.

(c) 2016 D.G. McCabe

 

 

 

 

(c) 2016 D.G. McCabe

Game of Thrones Power Rankings, Season Six, Episode Four, “The Book of the Stranger”

 

This was a week for consolidation and reunion, among other things.    Considering the amount of consolidation and the potential for more, we’re moving the number of ranked entities from 10 back to 8 this week.  Let’s get right to it:

 

1. House Targaryen & Allies  (Last Week, #10 & #2)

The words of House Targaryen are “Fire and Blood.”  Daenerys has too much respect for Dothraki culture to shed blood in Vaes Dothrak.  Fire had to do.

2. House Stark & Allies (Last Week, #9)

Interestingly enough, the original working title for the upcoming ” The Winds of Winter” was “A Time for Wolves.”  Jon and Sansa are building a grand coalition up north, including what’s left of the Night’s Watch, a Wildling army, and soon, the Knights of the Vale.

Sparrows-1

3. The Sparrows/Faith Militant/Faith of the Seven (Last Week, #1)

The Lannisters and Tyrells may have a plan, but the High Sparrow has two Tyrells in jail, a ton of maniacal soldiers, and the ear of the King.  The odds are still in his favor for the time being.

4. House Lannister and House Tyrell (Last Week, #6 and #8)

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.  This is the driving force behind the alliance between the Tyrells and Lannisters.  At first it was Stannis, now it’s the High Sparrow.  For the time being, the alliance is back in full swing.

Meereen-2

5. The Meereenese & Allies (Last Week, #4)

I don’t know if these guys really care about Tyrion’s overtures.  War is on their minds, and the only thing that can stop them is a massive, but slow moving, horde of Dothraki.

Bolton

6. House Bolton (Last Week, #3)

The Boltons still hold Winterfell.  They drop this week because the forces aligning against them are more powerful than a handful of reluctant northern houses whose armies were mostly wiped out at the Red Wedding.

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7. House Lannister in Exile (Last Week, #7)

Tyrion is trying, but the slavers of Essos are oathbreakers and scum.  He’s attempt to make peace while they prepare for war.

Greyjoy

8. House Greyjoy (Last Week, NR)

There’s still one major power in Westeros that has been untouched by internal strife until now.  With a huge navy at their command, the Iron Born are nothing to mess with.  Also, Kingsmoot!

Also receiving votes: House Tully, House Martell, The White Walkers, House Tarly, Ser Pounce, Lecherous Cobblers, Fire and Blood, and Tormund’s wandering eye.

(c) 2016 D.G. McCabe

 

 


Game of Thrones Power Rankings, Season Six, Episode Three, “Oathbreaker”

I have to admit, I have no idea what to make of the power struggle in Westeros and Essos right now.   Let’s try and decipher this mess with some power rankings, shall we?

Sparrows-1

1. The Faith of the Seven/Sparrows/Faith Militant (Last Week, #5)

The High Sparrow is somewhat easily manipulating Tommen.  He still has Margaery and Loras in handcuffs.  The Small Council doesn’t seem to be in any rush to do anything about either situation.  While the Lannister twins have an undead monster at their command, the ex-Ser Gregor can’t overpower ALL the Sparrows.  Sure, like a group of teenagers fighting Mike Tyson, some would go down pretty fast, but there are so, so many and they’re so, so fanatical.

The Dothraki

2. The Dothraki (Last Week, #9)

Maybe I decided to drop these guys down a bit too soon.  They have Daenerys in some temple of mafia widows and Drogon is nowhere to be found.

Bolton

3. House Bolton (Last Week, #7)

Speaking of having valuable hostages, Ramsay now has Rickon in his grasp.  He’s essentially a super-villain at this point, so The Seven knows what the hell he has in mind for the youngest Stark.

Meereen-2

4. The Meereenese (Last Week, NR)

Sometimes all you need are bunch of angry slaving scumbags funding your mini rebellion.  Tyrion’s skills may be considerable, but one city tearing itself apart is not going to fare well against three armies.

The Others

5. The Others/White Walkers (Last Week, NR)

This is your occasional reminder that everything else on this list is potentially meaningless.  Winter is, after all, still coming.  

Lannister

6. House Lannister (Last Week, #3)

You’ll notice this week that none of the usual Power Ranking suspects are in the top five.  No Starks, Lannisters (In Exile or No), Targaryens, or Tyrells.  Of these “great” houses, the Lannisters have at least some claim to power at the moment.  Undead monsters can only go so far, however.

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

Tyrion might be screwed, but at least he’s making progress.  He’s no longer clueless about how screwed he really is.

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8. House Tyrell (Last Week, NR)

Even with their scions in prison, the Tyrells still know how to wield their influence.  I just don’t see them accomplishing very much by doing so at the moment.

Stark-29. House Stark (Last Week, #6)

Who is Jon Snow?  He’s asking himself the same question.  Apparently, he has discovered that the only reality is the one where little kids murder him for doing the right thing.  Before, he was ready to try and save humanity from the White Walkers.  Now, he might be questioning whether or not humanity deserves to be saved at all.  Hopefully, by taking advantage of a loophole in his Night’s Watch vows, he can figure it all out before it’s too late.  As for the other members of House Stark, it was a mixed bag ranging from horror to being teased with important revelations.

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10. House Targaryen (Last Week, #10)

Um, Drogon old buddy, this might be a good time to quit whatever you’re doing and get up to Vaes Dothrak.  Your mother could really use a little fire and blood right now.

Also receiving votes: House Martell, House Greyjoy, House Tully, House Arryn, The Free Folk, The Night’s Watch, Ser Pounce, House Tarly, the real housewives of Vaes Dothrak, sea puking in front of your girlfriend, and you know nothingness, Jon Snow.

(c) 2016 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.

Lannister

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.

Sparrows-1

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.

Stark-2

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.

Bolton

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?

Greyjoy

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.

Targaryen-2

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