Game of Thrones Power Rankings
Episode 3:05 – Kissed By Fire
As Cersei famously said back in the first season, “In the game of thrones, you win or you die.” With that spirit in mind, here’s your weekly look at who’s winning and who got served.
1. The Hot Tubs of Westeros
In a show that loves gratuitous nudity more than, oh, just about any show ever, how did it take 25 episodes to get our first hot tub? Apparently Westeros is littered with them! Dank caves, dank castles, they’re everywhere!
And thankfully, they arrived just in time. When Ygritte asked Jon Snow how long it’s been since he had a bath, I immediately started wondering how many characters ought to be asked that same question, and how terrifying their responses might be.
Anyway, now that the cat’s out of the bag and audiences know every location on the show is equipped with it’s own hidden Turkish Bath, it’ll be interesting to see how often the show, ummm, dips back into the well in this regard. If you’re gonna have sexposition, why not have it in style?
2. Jaime Lannister: Sympathetic Character
Considering the first episode of the show concluded with Jaime tossing a little kid out of a window just so he could continue incestuous relations with his twin sister, it’s perfectly reasonable to admit that you never expected to be rooting for him. But after delivering what has to be the show’s second best monologue ever (after, of course, Tyrion’s rallying-the-troops speech at the Battle of Blackwater), Jaime has firmly revealed himself to be among the show’s most fascinating characters. I predicted just last week that we were about to see new sides to Jaime, but I have to confess, I merely meant that he was about to become someone who effectively used his cunning as his chief weapon, much like his younger brother. But for Jaime to stand revealed as one of the most tortured characters on the show, someone who might actually be a (relatively) good person underneath the veneer of contempt? I definitely did not see that coming.
In a sense, Jaime is a bit like the Don Draper of Westeros: Good looking, tortured by the past and by the name people call him, a mostly good person whose sexual appetites lead him to trouble, and someone who shows his greatest depths just when we’ve stopped rooting for him.
3. Slave Vermin Names
Clearly Malcolm X never consulted Grey Worm for his thoughts on the value and luckiness associated with slave names.
4. Walls of Dead Things in Glass Tanks
Seriously, what were the odds of this being a major prop of two different shows in a six-month span? Luckily for us, Game of Thrones didn’t try to one-up The Walking Dead, because the Governor was so crazy that he just ended up being a terrible character. Although I guess that remains to be seen about the estranged Mrs. Stannis Baratheon. She’s definitely crazy, we just don’t know how crazy. Yet.
5. Tywin Lannister, Father of the Year
Hey, it’s not every day you can find spouses for two of your children in the same sitting! So what if one of the proposed spouses is the gay lover of your former son-in-law’s dead brother and the other is the underage prisoner daughter of the man your grandson had beheaded for treason. You know what they say, Cersei & Tyrion: Don’t hate the player, hate the game (of thrones).
Honorable Mentions: Beric Dondarrion- Sure, he came back from the dead, but first he got damn near sliced in half. The Hound- He won the fight, but what this guy really needs is his turn in the hot tub. Lady Olenna- Still getting all the best lines in the show, and the best figs in Kings Landing. Daenerys Stormborn- Still riding her slave-freeing high. Every country needs a Great Emancipator.
Dying (Literally or Figuratively)
1. Rickard Karstark’s Vengeance
While getting decapitated sure sucks and all, it’s a bit difficult to follow Rick’s logic here. Did he really think Robb Stark would just slap him on the wrist for killing two child hostages when Robb’s father, the honorable Ned Stark, beheaded someone in the name of justice in the third scene of the pilot episode?? For all we know, Robb’s been itching to do some beheading since the first season! I mean, does Rickard serve the Lord of the Light? Has anyone checked on this? Does he plan on coming back to life so he can literally haunt Robb instead of just figuratively doing it (as he threatened)? Was it really worth getting yourself killed just to take vengeance against two no-name kids that had a combined three minutes of screen time? It was one of the first times in the show that it felt like a character’s actions occurred simply for the sake of advancing the plot.
2. Robb Stark’s karma
One of the biggest themes of the show to date has been characters getting punished for doing the right thing. Given that, I’d say it’s an even bet that Robb doesn’t walk away unscathed from beheading his most prominent Bannerman. Though the whole “I’m not fighting for justice if I don’t serve justice” bit is both noble and poignant, The Seven Kingdoms haven’t exactly been welcoming places for those sentiments. At this point, it’s not even a question of whether the events of this episode will come back to haunt Robb, it’s only a question of how severely the haunting will manifest.
3. Sansa Stark’s Marriage Prospects
Here’s the rough plot outline for Disney’s next big screen animated musical: Should the beautiful princess marry A) the homosexual knight, B) the disfigured imp, or C) the owner of the kingdom’s finest whorehouse, who, by the way, once tried to bang her mom? Even the Real Housewives of Disney never had to deal with THAT much drama.
4. Shae & Tyrion’s Secret Union
Somehow, I bet Shae’s already suspect handmaidening abilities are about to take a significant drop in quality. And it’s too bad, because even though we never saw them bide time in a hot tub, Shae & Tyrion have been the show’s best couple thus far, not just because they have a great repartee but also because they truly love each other. Shae reminding Tyrion of this in the Season Two finale ("You have a shit memory. I am yours, and you are mine.”) was one of the show’s most touching scenes.
5. Cersei Lannister’s Daddy Issues
In an episode that had a lot of great moments, one of the best snuck up by surprise. When Tywin unveiled his plan for Cersei to marry Loras Tyrell (master of more than one kind of lance), Cersei had an unveiling of her own: her first true moment of vulnerability. For a woman who’s at least acted like she has total control over every room she’s ever been in, it was refreshing (and genuinely affecting) to hear her whimper out “no father, please don’t make me do it.” Even though Cersei came nowhere near the depth that Jaime exhibited this week, she did reveal, even fleetingly, that there might be a real person lurking under the perpetually disdainful smirk she wears just as opulently as her gowns.
Honorable Mention: Beric Dondarrion- True, he did technically die, but when you come back to life a few minutes later, the Power Rankings are not sympathetic to your plight. Take notice Beric, you’ll have to get yourself beheaded if Power Rankings glory is your true goal. Lannister cousins- Another rules footnote—even though dying normally gets you ranked, exceptions are made for characters whose names I can’t even remember. Cat Stark- If you’re one of the interwebs cognoscenti who believe every bad thing that happens to a member of the Stark family can be traced back to Catelyn’s questionable decision-making, this episode must have felt like Christmas morning.
Littlefingering of the Week:
“You know nothing Jon Snow. Except for that thing you did with your mouth. You know that quite well. More please.”
Daniel Joyaux is a film and entertainment critic living in Ann Arbor. You can see more of his writing at http://thirdmanmovies.blogspot.com and follow him on Twitter @thirdmanmovies