Last week on Game of Thrones, we spent a whole lot of time out at The Wall. This week, Bran reached his destination, Arya changed course, and Tyrion moved forward. GOT is all about how people jockey for power, so click through for our season four Game of Thrones Power Rankings.
Game Of Thrones Power Rankings, Week 10:
1. A Toast To The Continuing Confluences Of Characters & The Promise Of New Character Pairings Next Season: We leave season four with the status quo permanently altered. Tyrion Lannister, Arya Stark and Bran Stark are in radically different places from where their stories started; Jojen Reed, Tywin Lannister and Shae are all dead; The Hound is possibly mortally wounded; The Boltons are making their moves up north; and the White Walkers are busy shaking off the cobwebs and channeling Ray Harryhausen.
One of the primal joys of this sprawling show is watching characters who've never met cross paths with each other. These confluences make up for all those times we have to watch Stannis brood by candlelight in Dragonstone, or Bran endlessly wander in the wilderness with few explanations. This episode had plenty of that, with Brienne and Pod butting up against The Hound and Arya and Stannis saving the day at The Wall.
Even better, it sets up the potential for lots of exciting new pairings for next season: will we see Sam Tarly helping continue Ser Davos' education? Will Tyrion and Varys run into Arya? Does Melisandre have plans for Jon Snow? Will Mance Rayder and Stannis become drinking buddies?
2. R.I.P. Arya + The Hound: But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, we have to take a moment to mourn for the termination of our favorite superhero team-up in Westeros, and their excruciatingly well-acted final scenes together. The Hound expects Arya to put him out of his misery; when she doesn't, he taunts her by bringing up Mycah the butcher's boy (and Sansa). Then his voice cracks, his face drops, and he starts ...pleading. The scene is eerily quiet, with lots of far-away shots to remind us of the vast and empty world around them. We've seen flashes of vulnerability from The Hound before (particularly when he discussed his brother in episode seven), we've even seen him scared (when he was almost burned by Beric Dondarrion), but never desperation.
These were truly some of the finest scenes for this pairing, who have been on the road together since the middle of season three. We don't see him die, so we shouldn't automatically assume he's out of our lives forever just yet (see: our misguided assumption about The Mountain dying in episode eight). But The Hound was definitely wrong about one thing: Arya will last far longer than a day out there in the world without him. He may not have intended on becoming her pseudo-guardian, but Arya no longer needs him "watching over" her.
3. Stannis Baratheon's Unwavering Grim Demeanor Finally Shows Some Swagger: At the end of season three, it appeared as if Stannis would finally shed his post-Blackwater blues and turn his attention toward the mounting threats at The Wall...and then nothing happened. Being holed up in Dragonstone did his drippiness no favors this year. We haven't even seen him since episode six, when he went to Braavos to procure the finances to back his claim to the throne.
Then again, his deepening depression may be the thing that ended up saving him—he's been so busy sacrificing distant relatives and talking about honor with Ser Davos, he's escaped the fate of so many other powerful men in Westeros. After all, you can't get poisoned at a wedding if you never leave your tower.
And so, this episode was by far the best use of Stannis all season, making him appear truly kingly for the first time since his defeat at Blackwater. And the change of scenery up North has got us excited, finally, for what he might do next.
4. A Toast To The Continuing Adventures Of The Dwarf & The Spider: Whether they were discussing The God Of Tits And Wine or comparing notes on the nature of power, Tyrion and Varys have always been two of our favorite verbal sparring partners. While his ultimate goals are still somewhat hazy, Varys has always come across as someone who cares about keeping the realm together (hence his respect for and continued friendship with Tyrion, and his deep mistrust for Littlefinger). Barring the return of Ser Bronn, there's no one else we'd want Tyrion to go on a holiday with.
5. Brienne Of Fucking Tarth: Anyone who doubted Brienne was a true warrior can kindly step to the left. In the first half of the battle, she gets the upper hand on The Hound, fair and square, and offers him peace. In the second half, she is reduced to his levels, biting off his ear, bashing his head with a rock, practicing her primal scream and throwing him off a cliff. And then yells at Pod. Seven blessings to you too.
6. Dreaming Up Somewhat Depressing New Titles For Daenerys Stormborn Of The House Targaryen, The First Of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals And The First Men, Khaleesi Of The Great Grass Sea, Breaker Of Chains, And Mother Of Dragons: Re-Attacher Of Chains, Inadvertent Incinerator Of Little Children, Into The Distance Starer, Princess Of Pronunciations, High Lord Of Title-Heavy Introductions.
7. Bran Wargs Out All Over Some Evil Skeletons And Meets A Wizard Who Lives In A Tree, And Suddenly, His Storyline Has Become A Whole Lot More Interesting: "You'll never walk again...but you will fly." Isn't it nice interacting with more than the three same characters, one of whom has the intelligence and maturity level of a Hodor?
8. Cersei Takes Charge Of Her Life: She wants The Mountain to live, she doesn't want to marry Loras Tyrell, she wants her father to know all about her and Jaime, and she wants Jaime back in her life (and bed). Whether or not you think she loves Jaime or is just making sure she has some family member under her sway (or whether the whole thing still grosses you out considering what happened back in the throne room), Cersei made some bold moves this episode.
9. The Anticipation Of Seeing Jon Snow's Blossoming Sense Of Leadership Crisscross With Melisandre's Persuasive Libido: Note the ominous music as Melisandre came into focus across the fire from Jon. Also note she has red hair, just like a certain dearly-departed Wilding.
10. Tyrion Lannister's Topsy-Turvy Rollercoaster Of Emotions (Finally Takes Its Last Loop): Maybe Tyrion thought he was in love, but he certainly wasn't in a love story. For the five thousandth time this season, Peter Dinklage twisted his face into knots and burned the screen with his intensity. Just look at the way the camera slowly pans on his face after killing Shae; he mumbles that he's sorry as he tries to process what happened, and she looks like she's smiling in an ecstatic pose. The camera had to soak it in, as he hardens his resolve and decides to kill his father and permanently sever all ties to his family after four seasons (and a lifetime before that) of mistreatment. If Dinklage doesn't win an Emmy this year, then you should go ahead and shoot us with a crossbow.
11. After Being Absent For Over A Season And A Half, Mance Rayder Returns Only To Immediately Surrender: The King Beyond The Wall was pretty compelling in his corporeal return (not counting the ginormous fire he set from behind-the-scenes last episode), but for a guy who gets talked about a whole lot, he didn't really do much, did he? However, we hope he's sticking around for the immediate future, and we get lots more conversations about honor and duty between him, Jon Snow and Stannis. Bonus points if we get a Mance and Ser Davos monologue-off at some point.
12. Evil Skeleton Bad Guys, Forrest Children, Gandalf The Three-Eyed Raven: If you tend to enjoy the gritty, realistic side of GOT, then maybe you weren't so pleased with the magical bent to Bran's journey past The Wall. It's slowly starting to feel like some of our main characters might turn out to be pawns in a centuries-long battle between god-like creatures (White Walkers/The First Men/Children of the Forrest), which kind of reminds us of Lost, but maybe not in a good way. Nevertheless, we're excited to see where this is all headed, because it clearly is part of the endgame of GOT. Although, perhaps Gandalf could ease up on the scolding ("The hour is late...") and start getting a little more specific about all those visions of the Iron Throne in snow and ash.
13. Ser Barristan Selmy Reaction Shots: The man got nothing to do this episode but stand stiffly behind the Queen, and let the camera soak in his face as he cocked his head ever so slightly while looking mildly horrified at the bones of the Meereenese child.
14. Parent-Child Relationships: The fact that an episode called "The Children" was airing on Father's Day could not have been lost on the showrunners. This week's themes all revolved around parents considering their responsibility to their children, and children contemplating the sins of their parents. The Lannister children all defied their father, who refused to acknowledge his own poor parenting skills. Arya demanded to know why Brienne wasn't there to save her mother. Jon Snow invoked Ned Stark to Stannis in asking for mercy for Mance. Dany chained her dragons after one murdered some local kid. And then there's the titular Children of the title, which unleashed a whole new magical side to the story.
"I am your son. I have always been your son," Tyrion tells Tywin moments before killing him. Lots of people got a kick out of all this, but it was an intense week for families on GOT, to put it mildly. Thank the seven gods there are still some good parents out there in the real world:
15. What The Hell Are We Supposed To Do On Sunday Nights Now? This was a fantastic season, one which kept us on our toes with various major moments popping up in unexpected episodes (Joffrey's death in 4.2, the White Walkers reveal in 4.4, Tyrion's trial in 4.6, Lysa's death in 4.7, The Mountain vs. The Red Viper in 4.8, the fact that all the major climaxes to this season happened in the finale and not episode nine as in previous years). For the first time since the show began, there was more contracting than expanding this season (although we don't expect that trend to necessarily continue into season five); at times, the jumping around could make episodes feel a bit too disjointed (see: 4.4/4.5), but the ridiculously strong material (especially everything in King's Landing) far outweighed the rest.
But now it's over. There's no Breaking Bad or Mad Men coming this summer. Halt And Catch Fire has been a mess so far. It's pretty hard to care about the cartoonish vampires on True Blood. We can maybe give The Leftovers a try (although as we learned with Low Rising Sun and The Killing, misery porn sure does wear out its welcome quick). The point is, there'll be a big hole every week for the Powers That Be here at Power Rankings HQ. It's been a really fun season—filled with Rickon remembrances and head-bursting climaxes—and we thank you for watching and reading along with us.
The Viserys Targaryen Memorial Least Powerful Person Of The Week Award: Notice anyone missing from the Rankings above? How about the man who has raked up more number one positions on the list than anyone else in the history of Power Rankings? In a sense, the mighty Tywin Lannister deserved a better death than to be fatally cross-bowed by his son while on the toilet. The Hand Of The King who was really The Brain Of The King, the richest man in Westeros, The Lord Of Casterly Rock, The Old Lion...all the titles and accomplishments didn't matter, because he was as vulnerable and human as any man. Tywin Lannister died on the shitter.
An Honorable Mention must go to the grandest of all the grand maesters: Grand Maester Pycelle, who was upstaged by the Westerosi Doc Cochran (this one goes out to all my fellow Deadwood fans). Pycelle has been repeatedly insulted by Cersei and other royals in King's Landing, but don't feel too bad for him: he's also a cockroach who'll probably outlive everyone but Varys and Littlefinger.
The Ser Pounce Memorial Most Powerful Pet Of The Week Award: At a very crucial moment beyond The Wall, with an evil skeleton crawling up Bran's limp body, Summer sprung into action and reminded us that we really need to look into whether direwolves really exist, and whether they do well in urban environments.
The Hodoriffic Honorary Minor Character Of The Week Award: It was a tough week for Podrick Payne, the greatest squire who has ever lived, who failed to make proper figure eights, lost the horses, and lost Arya Stark. He will be carrying the saddlebags—and enduring death stares from Brienne—for a very long time indeed, but all will be forgiven, because Pod's smile can melt even the iciest White Walker's heart (and also because he might be more than a little dim).
But Pod doesn't get this award because even a noble goof can't compare to the one Hodor who Hodor'd so Hodor, he actually Hodor'd himself.
Bloodiest Season Of 'Game Of Thrones' Award: Before the season even started, Kit Harrington claimed that season four would feature more character deaths than any previous season. Despite coming on the heels of the culling that was the Red Wedding, he seemingly was right.
We lost a lot of major characters this episode, most prominently Jojen Reed, Shae, and Tywin Lannister. The Hound and The Mountain might both be mortally wounded. Previously this season, we lost The Red Viper/Oberyn Martell, Joffrey, Ygritte, Lysa Arryn, Grenn (and a whole lot of Night's Watchmen), Locke (the guy who cut off Jaime's hand), Karl (and the other mutineers at Craster's Keep), a lot of masters in Meereen, red shirts in Mole's Town, and cannon fodder all over the Known World.
A Fond Farewell To A Redheaded Candle In The Wind: Despite spawning the GOT catchphrase equivalent to "Did I do that?" last year, Ygritte was underserved by season four, glimpsed here and there murdering her way across the North for the first eight episodes this year. The camera did slow down for a moment to allow Jon Snow to hold her in his arms as she died, but her dispatch in episode nine was rather quickly dispensed with; there were more battles, and a whole epilogue featuring Mance Rayder and Stannis Baratheon, to get to.
But this week, we got three scenes in which Jon (and the audience) was able to truly say goodbye: first toasting to her with Mance Rayder, then talking about her with Tormund Giantsbane, and finally, giving her a teary-eyed funeral pyre north of The Wall. Shot through the heart, Jon was too late, but she and Jon offered us one of the only love stories in the whole show (see also: Grey Worm + Missandei).
What's George R.R. Martin Been Doing This Week Instead Of Finishing The Next Book In The Series? Why, he's throwing out the first pitch for the Isotopes, the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque! And he's wearing a Mets hat to boot.
Episodic Power Rankings For Season Four:
10. Breaker Of Chains, 4.3: Wherein Dany frees some slaves and Jaime forces himself on Cersei.
9. Oathkeeper, 4.4: Wherein we meet Ser Pounce and learn something new about the White Walkers.
8. First Of His Name, 4.5: Wherein Jon Snow cleans up the mess at Craster's Keep.
7. Two Swords, 4.1: Wherein we meet the Red Viper and soak in the new status quo of the Seven Kingdoms post-Red Wedding.
6. The Watchers On The Wall, 4.9: Wherein we get an action movie at The Wall.
5. Mockingbird, 4.7: Wherein Littlefinger makes his big push for power and everybody's horny (except Tyrion).
4. The Laws Of Gods And Men, 4.6: Wherein Tyrion takes us to acting school at his kangaroo court.
3. The Mountain And The Viper, 4.8: Wherein Sansa takes control of her future and Oberyn Martell does his best one man impression of the climactic scene from Scanners.
2. The Lion And The Rose, 4.2: Wherein Joffrey Baratheon is killed at his own wedding.
1. The Children, 4.10: Wherein Stannis saves the The Wall, The Hound battles Brienne and loses, Arya sets sail for Braavos, Bran meets a tree wizard, and Tyrion kills his lover and his father.
Rickon Watch 2014: Is Rickon Still On This Show? For ten episodes we have
waited patiently practically foamed at the mouth anticipating the eventual return of Our Hero. We've prayed to the corn moon, we've conjured up the gif's of past glories, we've even sung hymns to his bravery. But it is finally time for us to face facts and render a verdict to this ongoing query: Rickon is not currently on the show.
But he once was (and he may yet be again), as this terribly painful season one clip reminds us. Warning: happy, trouble-free Starks ahead.
The Remember Roz Sexposition Quotient: We're gonna go out on a limb and say that season four had the least amount of sexposition of any season of the show. Sure, there were Melisandre's World Conquering Nipples, The Red Vipers polyamorous orgies, Missandei going frontal, and the occasional gratuitous rape scene. But there were also four whole episodes with little to no nudity whatsoever! Clearly 13-year-old consultant Adam Friedberg is slacking on the job.
Way Beyond The Wall: We say goodbye to another season of Game Of Thrones without seeing Littlefinger, Darth Sansa, Breastfeeding Recipient Robin Arryn, Ser Friendzone, Daario Naharis 2.0, Ser Bronn, Queen of Thorns/Olenna Tyrell, Margaery Tyrell's Conscience, Ser Loras or Pirate Of Stannis Salladhor Saan. There were (mercifully) no Bolton/Frey sickos (Roose, Ramsay, Reek), no Red Viper (R.I.P.), and obviously no Brotherhood Without Banners. The Previously On GOT Ghost Of Ned Stark's Manbun didn't show up this week, nor did our favorite oafish minor character, the Lord Oaf Of Highgarden.
Until next season, here's a bass-quaking rendition of the theme song.