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‘Game of Thrones’ power rankings: ‘Queen’s Justice’ edition

 

The Game of Thrones power rankings determines which character is most likely to sit on the Iron Throne at the end of the series — not the power behind it, but officially ruling Westeros — based on information available at the end of each episode. You can read last week’s rankings here.  

RIP Lady Olenna Tyrell. After just one week as a new entry in the rankings, the rebellious Queen of Thorns made an unexpected exit in “The Queen’s Justice” — all thanks to Jaime Lannister, who (not coincidentally) has made a significant rise in this week’s list.

Read on for our reasoning.

10. Bran Stark (new entry)

The new Three-eyed Raven is too cool for school. Returning to Winterfell at last, Bran acted like a college kid who dropped too much acid. He also casually denied the leadership that is his by right.

But refusing a role is no impediment to success in Game of Thrones. Quite the opposite, if we judge by the way Jon Snow was thrust into Kingship (not to mention his previous job) without seeking it. And once Bran’s powers are widely known, who wouldn’t want an all-knowing time-traveling demigod Stark to fix these dysfunctional kingdoms?

We’ve got 10 episodes and a boatload of plot twists left, so keep at least three eyes on this guy.

9. Petyr Baelish (-1)

Littlefinger’s decline continues, and it’s hard to see what cards he’s holding in the great game any more. He gave Sansa some great advice — game out every possible outcome in your head in advance — which she’s likely to use to kill him in the end. Still, Baelish controls the Army of the Vale, has risen really far really fast, and really wants the Iron Throne for himself, so don’t count him out yet.

8. Euron Greyjoy (-4)

So much for winning the Queen’s heart with gifts. Cersei is stringing Euron along with vague promises of marriage after the war for the Seven Kingdoms is won. Judging by his look of disappointment, he didn’t see that coming. But the citizens loved his triumphant return to King’s Landing — and with the most powerful navy on the 14 seas, what’s to stop Euron from taking that port city himself if he’s scorned by Cersei?

7. The Night King (-1)

His enemies have united and are about to start and manufacturing weapons to destroy his entire army of the undead. He can probably squeeze past the wall at Eastwatch-by-the-sea; we know that’s coming. But how close can the White Walkers get as far as the Westerosi capital when there are dragons awaiting — and when took them seven seasons to get this far?

6. Jon Snow (-3)

Jon got the Dragonglass he wanted, but he also betrayed incredible naivete in his negotiations with Daenerys. Blundering into a situation where he was effectively held captive, plus his inability to smooth over differences, doesn’t bode well for the Man Who Knows Nothing. The only way he’s getting to the Iron Throne, given their chemistry, is as a co-ruling consort to Daenerys — at least, once his Targaryen parentage is revealed.

5. Sansa Stark (+1)

She’s kicking ass as interim Queen in Winterfell, even if Bran did freak her out. Her eyes are on Cersei, who may actually be more of a threat than the White Walkers at this stage, and Littlefinger is being more of a mentor than a creep. Everything’s coming up Sansa!

4. Daenerys Targaryen (-2)

Now she’s back on Westerosi ground, the mother of Dragons appears to be transforming before our eyes into the last Targaryen ruler — her father, the Mad King. Wildly demanding that Jon Snow bend the knee before she listens to what he has to say about the threat from the North was nutty enough — but insisting on riding her dragons into battle is, as Varys, Missandei and Tyrion all believe, pretty damn insane. Think about it this way: If you were Dany’s life insurance agent at the Iron Bank, you’d be jacking up her premiums after this episode.

3. Cersei Lannister (+2)

The reigning Queen of the Seven Kingdoms is on the best form we’ve seen this season and — well, probably ever. Not only has she broken the rebellions in Dorne and Highgarden in the space of an episode, but she looks set to convince the Iron Bank of Bravos to fund the rest of her war. Euron is under her thumb and Qyburn seems to have hit upon the secret to killing dragons.

What could go wrong? Well, by the rules of making satisfying endings, and to really get us to the “bittersweet ending” George R.R. Martin has promised, Cersei can’t survive on the throne now we’re expecting it. She has to die a spectacular death sooner or later — and it’s going to come from the direction she least expects.

2. Jaime Lannister (+8)

Why are we ranking the elder Lannister brother this high? Isn’t he under Cersei’s thumb, so much so that she’s the one who decides to show the world they’re sleeping together? Yes — but in the wild world of Westeros, story arcs can change in a heartbeat. And there are reasons to believe Jaime is about to jump on what would be a very satisfying arc: becoming the hero king who rids himself of the Kingslayer nickname.

First of all, he just became a major military hero. Secondly he just became the smartest leader in Westeros — not that that’s saying much — because he is currently humble enough to learn from his mistakes. This was a largely overlooked portion of his jaw-dropping scene with Lady Olenna: Jaime specifically name-checks Robb Stark with teaching him the maneuver that wins him Highgarden. We’ve no doubt Jaime will prove this learning process again.

Secondly, as we’ve long pointed out, Jaime is the eldest Lannister male and thus the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. The show has been very cavalier about rules of succession so far, and Jaime has seemed very incurious about how his sister ended up justifying her succession to a boy who was nominally Robert Baratheon’s son.

But the showrunners are monarchical history nerds; we’re pretty sure they’ll get there. Perhaps the shock of learning how his son Joffrey died will make Jaime look into that whole line of succession thing.

1. No One (unchanged)

Buried near the end of a strange Season 2 finale, Dany’s vision of an empty throne in a ruined King’s Landing still seems the most likely outcome. Martin meant the show’s main threats (White Walkers, a decade-long Winter, dragons) to stand in for destructive forces humans fail to control (climate change, nuclear weapons). We still don’t think the ending of this instructive story involves everything going on as before. Westeros may survive; King’s Landing and the old ways of governing, not so much.

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