Last week on Game Of Thrones, Arya was given an assignment, Dany had a conversation, and Jon arrived at Hardhome. This week, Stannis made a decision, Arya saw a familiar face, and Dany took flight. GOT is all about how people jockey for power, so click through for our season five Game Of Thrones Power Rankings.
Game Of Thrones Power Rankings, Week 9
1. Graceful Exits: For the second week in a row, GOT went out on a high note with an unforgettable set piece. Last week we had Jon Snow recreating the "Thriller" music video with the White Walkers, and this week we get Dany, Tyrion, Jorah and the rest of the Meereenese gang bailed out in highly dramatic fashion by Drogon in The Great Pit of Daznak. Both scenes stand among the best from the show.
But while last week's ice battle ended on a depressing note with Jon completely overwhelmed by the undead army, Dany ends this episode riding off into the horizon on the back of her dragon. Jon barely escapes, but Dany soars on the wings of a pissed-off, fire-breathing, Harpy-munching dragon. It was an instantly iconic image, something fans have been eagerly awaiting for seasons now. It's the first clear sign that Dany might finally be ready to make her move for the Iron Throne.
Or maybe it's that she has no choice anymore—Meereen has rejected her. She in turn has rejected Meereen's traditions. She needs to move forward, and she needs to be in place when the real battle begins: the battle with endless winter. The battle we got a terrible glimpse of last week. The battle that will soon arrive at the gates of Westeros.
Never loved or hated a show as much as @GameOfThrones. Go Cavs
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) June 8, 2015
Surprised more Game of Thrones episodes haven't started with horses on fire, and ended with people on fire.
— Josh Kurp (@JoshKurp) June 8, 2015
— Brittany Tyler (@btypes) June 8, 2015
Also, shame on everyone who was worried that Game of Thrones was dragon its feet this season.
— Aaron Fullerton (@AaronFullerton) June 8, 2015
2. DRAGON!!!! Dany! Dreading! Dueling! Despairing! Drogon! Death! Dancing! Departing!
— Aaron Couch (@AaronCouch) June 8, 2015
3. "The Return Of Stannis Baratheon's Unwavering Grim Demeanor (As He Watches His Only Daughter Burn To Death)" This would be, without a doubt, the second worst country song ever written.
"If a man knows what he is and remains true to himself, the choice is no choice at all. He must fulfill his destiny and become who he is meant to be, however much he may hate it."
Look, the Power Rankings aren't about who we like the most (okay, sometimes it is a little about that)—it's about using a scientifically-derived formula to accurately determine who is the most powerful player of the week. This isn't emotional, this is about pure hard facts (and of course pure ownage). We don't necessarily approve of the White Walkers massacring the Free Folk, but that has no bearing on their very-deserved top seeded position last week.
And so, while we were devastated by Stannis' decision to burn his daughter Shireen at the stake as an offering to the Red God, there's no doubt that he proved his dedication to taking the North. If he would burn his only daughter, someone we know he really cared about, he's proven he will do literally anything at this point. His ambition far outweighs his love for his kin.
tomorrow on the internet: Why Game of Thrones’ Depiction of Burning Innocent Children Alive is Problematic
— david ehrlich (@davidehrlich) June 8, 2015
We should have seen this coming: the first time we met Stannis (and Melisandre) in season two, they were burning true believers at the stake. This is what all those sacrifices have been leading to. We've come full circle, in the cruelest sense imaginable.
Of course, Stannis is done. You could argue that he didn't just make the only decision he could (given his stubbornness and need to push forward), he made the hard-but-correct one as a leader—every good turn in this war has been brought about by magic, by Stannis making an offering to the Red God. It's been proven that the Red God is paying attention to these things. And Stannis will probably take Winterfell next week.
But Stannis will never be king. Being a ruler doesn't just take compromise; it takes having the strength to know when to stand your ground. It takes having even a modicum of empathy for your people.
So there'll no longer be any talk of the 'Season Of Stannis.' Things were going too well. We were so much younger then. And no amount of humorously-timed grammatical corrections can turn back time.
Welp, that's one less person you can root for on Game of Thrones. WRONG AGAIN, DUDE. pic.twitter.com/r5v8DllWDh
— Immortan Jo (@jowrotethis) June 8, 2015
For what it's worth, co-showrunner Dan Weiss told EW that they wanted the audience to feel the horror and to be faced with tough questions about audience identification:
“Horrible things happening to people in this show, and this is one that we thought was entirely [narratively] justified,” Weiss said. “It was set-up by the predicament that Stannis was in. It will be awful to see, but it’s supposed to be awful.”
When I asked Weiss the question that fans surely have tonight: “How could you do that to Shireen?” Weiss philosophically noted you could “flip that question” into a larger debate about how we’re all highly selective about which characters deserve our empathy. Stannis has been burning people alive for seemingly trivial reasons since season 2, yet we’ve still tended to regard him as a great leader—at least, by Westeros standards.
“It’s like a two-tiered system,” he noted. “If a superhero knocks over a building and there are 5,000 people in the building that we can presume are now dead, does it matter? Because they’re not people we know. But if one dog we like gets run over by a car, it’s the worst thing we’ve we’ve ever seen. I totally understand where that visceral reaction comes from. I have that same reaction. There’s also something shitty about that. So instead of saying, ‘How could you do this to somebody you know and care about?’ maybe when it’s happening to somebody we don’t know so well, maybe then it should hit us all a bit harder.”
If you're really mad at Game of Thrones, remember you could have seen this on the Tonys. pic.twitter.com/sgUPKkUVet
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) June 8, 2015
4. Re-Watching The Entire Massacre At Hardhome: Not a huge amount of action at The Wall this week—the survivors of the battle are allowed in by Alliser Thorne, the Night's Watchmen don't trust the Wildings, Jon is sorrowful—but that's fine, because we've still got a Valyrian-tinged buzz from last week's epic ending. The only thing better than that scene is that scene set to "Thriller."
5. Dany & Tyrion's Topsy Turvey Rollercoaster Of Friendship: Between Tyrion's quips to Hizdahr zo Loraq, his knowing glances with Dany, and his awe at seeing her ride Drogon, this was definitely another strong week for our favorite new team-up.
6. Prince Doran: On the plus side, Doran turns out to be one of the most reasonable people in the Seven Kingdoms, and he single-handedly ties up the Dorne plotline with one hearty toast (although maybe we're jumping ahead, perhaps it was all a little too tidy...). He's kept the peace with the Lannisters and he's kept his house in order.
On the other hand, fuck the entire Dorne plotline, which has been the most scattered, least compelling story in GOT this season. We had deeper attachments to Karsi the Wildling warrior during her 28 minutes on screen last week than for any of the Sand Snakes over the course of multiple face-slapping episodes.
Jaime went on a secret mission (lol) to Dorne just for Tommen to ask nicely for Myrcella to come back and Doran to say yes. What a plot!
— Matt Saccaro (@MattSaccaro) June 8, 2015
7. Remember When Jaime Lannister Was An Interesting Character? He remains, as he has all season, the equivalent of a C+.
8. Ser Bronn Of The Blackwater: "I went on a secret mission with my old boss's brother and all I got was a sucker punch and a piece of pie."
— Ben Yakas (@yenbakas) June 8, 2015
9. A Brief History Of Jorah Mormont Nicknames: Ser Friendzone > Ser Friendstone > Ser Desperatestone > Damnit Jorah! > Ser Desperategesturestone > Ser Sayanything > Ser :)
— Steven S. Chang (@StevenSiboChang) June 8, 2015
10. Arya & The Face-Shifting Assassin Monks Who Speak In The Third Person: She has yet to complete her first mission for the sacred guild of assassin monks and she's already going off-target! Arya is about to face the biggest decision of her young life: does she destroy Arya Stark and kill the Thin Man, or does she embrace vengeance for her family? Or, uh, can she just do both?
11. The Smug Smile Which Spread Across Melisandre's Face As She Led Shireen To Her Death: I don't want Melisandre to die (just yet). I want her entire belief system to be exposed as a sham. I want her to regret her devotion to a fire god who expects human sacrifices. I want her to keep her persuasive libido the hell away from Jon Snow. I want to know why she couldn't have just created a goddamn shadowbaby??
Updating my people who need to die on Game of Thrones: 1) Ramsey Snow 2) Walder Frey 3) Melisandre
— Joe (@BuffaloWins) June 8, 2015
12. Ser Davos: Re-watching the early scenes with Davos in the episode, it's clear he knows something. He knows Stannis is committed to storming Winterfell despite the conditions. He knows Stannis is desperate and backed in a corner. He knows Stannis could send anyone to Castle Black, but is making his Hand go. He knows Stannis wants to get rid of him. He specifically asks to take Shireen—just Shireen—with him. He knows when he says his goodbye to her. He knows and there's nothing he can do short of betraying his king. He knows.
13. Sand Snakes: What is better than 10 Super Bowls?
"Note: the Sand Snakes died on their way back to their home planet."
14. Fatherhood: Stannis joins a long line of terrible fathers in Westeros, from Tywin Lannister to Walder Frey, from Roose Bolton to Aerys II Targaryen, from Balon Greyjoy to nasty old Craster.
But hey, at least no one was shot to death on the crapper!
I guess they mistakenly aired the special Father’s Day episode of Game of Thrones a week early
— Jacob Harris (@harrisj) June 8, 2015
— Scott Fishman (@smFISHMAN) June 8, 2015
15. Ed Sheeran: The real-life Ser Friendzone can't afford his own HBO account apparently.
can i borrow anyones HBO go login to watch this new thrones episode please?
— Ed Sheeran (@edsheeran) June 8, 2015
The Viserys Targaryen Memorial Least Powerful Person Of The Week Award: While both Ser Davos (helpless to stop Stannis from killing Shireen) or Ellaria Sand (forced to grovel for Prince Doran's forgiveness in the wake of her failed plot) are tempting candidates, we have to give it to Hizdahr zo Loraq, Dany's now-dead fiancé.
Initially, we got the impression he might be up to something nefarious when he was late for the Great Games ("Just making sure everything was in order")—it would be most fitting if it turned out he was helping the Sons Of The Harpy the entire time (and they killed him anyway). Suffice to say, the days of being The Luckiest Man In Meereen are long gone.
The Ser Pounce Memorial Most Powerful Pet Of The Week Award: Is there really any question this week? Do you even have to ask?
— Styx // Bryn (@PyxelStyx) June 8, 2015
Twitter Theater With Stannis Baratheon-Lookalike At Large Ted Leo
— Chris Winckler (@KouPilot) June 8, 2015
— Yung Lacan (@YOMTV) June 8, 2015
— J.O. (@ImGonnaDJ24) June 8, 2015
— Paul and Storm (@paulandstorm) June 8, 2015
Ppl yelling at @tedleo for looking like Stannis Boratheon is peak twitter IMO
— Ally Millar (@allyzay) June 8, 2015
— patrick (@pattymo) June 8, 2015
An Important Rebuttal From Stannis Baratheon-Lookalike At Large Ted Leo:
I am not Stannis. #NotStannis
— Theodore F. Leo (@tedleo) June 8, 2015
The Honorary Olly Award For Person That Is Making Me Nervous This Week: It should be no surprise that for the second week in a row, the person who is making me most nervous is that god damn pipsqueak Olly, who continues to throw uncomfortable death glances all around The Wall (but mostly in Jon Snow's direction). The continued existence of Olly only confirms my deep belief that anyone who starts to act even modestly weird by The Wall should immediately be killed.
Hey, Who Is That Guy Again? In case you're wondering just why Arya was so hellbent on following the creepy pedophile from King's Landing: that was Meryn Trant, aka a knight of the Kingsguard and one of Cersei's favorite lackeys. He's an all-around asshole who beat up Sansa on Joffrey's orders and treated Tyrion like dirt. The Hound (aw, remember The Hound) once noted that "any boy whore with a sword could beat three Meryn Trants."
Trant is also one of the names on Arya's kill list (which we think we last heard back in the second episode of the season). Arya mostly hates him because she believes he killed her old "Water Dancing" teacher, Syrio Forel. You can watch Forel's last scene here, or you can watch his last scene only with LIGHTSABERS here.
If you are still unconvinced, just consider this: he hates Mace Tyrell. Who could possible hate our beloved Oaf???
(Note: there are a lot of conspiracy theorists out there who think that since we never saw Syrio die, he's still alive—and he might even be a Faceless Man. Perhaps even one of the Faceless Men we've gotten to know...)
Whatever Happened To Benjen Stark, Ned's Brother Who Recruited Jon Snow To The Night's Watch? 5-to-1 he's a White Walker. 4-to-1 he's a Wight. 3-to-1 he's a MacGuffin. 2-to-1 he's out solving murder mysteries in the sleepy English countryside with his trusty sidekick, Ser Bronn.
— Charlie Schneider (@AwesomEmergency) June 5, 2015
The Lord Oaf Of Highgarden Oafiest Glimpse Of The Night: We haven't seen him since he was given his Braavosi mission in week four, but Mace Tyrell more than makes up for it with his oafiest appearance of the season. As we learn from his two minutes onscreen, his journey was nothing too awful ("bit of chop"), his red grape harvest is coming in nicely (best in half a century!), and he's got a beautiful singing voice (and he's not ashamed to unleash it in the middle of town). May we be blessed with oafy songs about kissing girls by the canal every week.
What if Mace Tyrell is secretly a genius and is just playing dumb and will take the throne?
— Tom (@TJFsports) June 8, 2015
Mace Tyrell is the real cinnamon roll who is too good for this world, too pure. #GameofThrones
— Lindsay Ellis (@ShameofScones) June 8, 2015
Rickon Watch 2015: Is Rickon Still On This Show? Rickon. Rick on. Rick con. Rick con man. Rick The Con Man???
No detail is too small. No stone shall be unturned. Like Kenny Loggins, we keep the fire burning tonight, see just what comes into sight, don't take forever Rickon, take it through the night (for it is dark and full of terrors).
— Terri Schwartz (@Terri_Schwartz) June 1, 2015
Way Beyond The Wall: No visit to King's Landing this week, which meant no Cersei, Tommen, Queen of Thorns, High Sparrow, Littlefinger, Maergery and Loras Tyrell. No one from Winterfell, including Sansa, Those Lovable Boltons and Reek. No Brienne of Tarth or Pod. No Grey Worm. It's been too long since we've seen Grand Maester Pycelle or Varys, but we really think (ok, hope) Varys is going to pop back up next week.
Now to our regular absentees: no Previously On GOT Replay Of Joffrey Baratheon's Death, Previously On GOT Ghost Of Ned Stark's Manbun, or Pirate Of Stannis Salladhor Saan. There was obviously no Bran/Hodor/Tree Wizard (duh), no distant Tully relatives (Edmure, Blackfish), no random Iron Islands folks (Yara), and no Brotherhood Without Banners. We do remember who Hot Pie and Gendry are, but we only sorta remember what they look like.
As ever, we don't know what's the status on The Hound or The Mountain (unless he was the thing that groaned in Qyburn's lab a few weeks back), both of whom seemed to be in various states of mortal danger last we saw.
Next week on the season finale (!!) of season five of Game Of Thrones, "Stannis marches. Dany is surrounded by strangers. Cersei seeks forgiveness. Jon is challenged." Until then, let's reach back into the archives for a classic version of the theme.