Last week on Game Of Thrones, Littlefinger stirred the pot, Davos sold fermented crab, and Jon bid farewell to Dany. This week, the Westerosi Seven went on a wight hunt. GoT is all about how people jockey for power, so step inside for our SPOILER-FILLED season seven Game of Thrones Power Rankings.
Game Of Thrones Season Seven Power Rankings, Week 6
1. Three-Dimensional White Walker Chess: This episode—a brilliantly-filmed, exciting one—was filled with so many egregiously stupid decisions on the parts of the various leaders, I wanted to throw an ice spear through my TV (at least whenever I wasn't screaming in terror at a zombie polar bear). Jon's plan to bring a wight back to Westeros (h/t Tyrion), Dany's decision to bring her three dragons into undead territory, Sansa's decision to snoop on her sister and continue to listen to Littlefinger—dumb dumb dumb! When did everybody get so dumb?! But there was one "person" who still had his "head" in the game: The Night King.
i prefer the night king's earlier work pic.twitter.com/SUkh5ki4ew
— ✨dodai✨ (@dodaistewart) August 21, 2017
If the show is asking us to suspend our disbelief long enough to think that Jon and his merry band of religious fanatics, Brienne-lovers, and Olympic athletes would willingly venture up north and be able to snag a wight without (anyone major) getting killed by the MASSIVE ARMY OF THE UNDEAD and somehow transport it back to Westeros and everything would work out fine—just shut up, stop asking questions and enjoy the dragon show—then I can choose to believe that the Night King planned all this out ahead of time.
Best all-time deadline acquisitions
3. Andrew Miller, Indians
2. Randy Johnson, Astros
1. Zombie Dragon, White Walkers#GameOfThrones
— Dave Lozo (@davelozo) August 21, 2017
Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss say in the Inside The Episode video up above that the Night King was just seizing an opportunity, but only a foolish Greyjoy would believe that. It seems just as credible (lol) that the Night King—thanks to his connection with Bran, the Worst Teenager South Of The Wall—has been reverse-warging (...can anyone prove that ISN'T a thing?!) and planting ideas in the heads of our favorite Westerosi dum-dums. Or maybe he has his own "little birds" eavesdropping on the Dragonstone war room. Or maybe he has a Google Alert set for Jon Snow. Do you really think the Night King didn't have an inkling that his best frenemy was in the neighborhood?
This also explains why he had his undead army just stands there for awhile and surrounds the heroes without killing them—because otherwise, why didn't the undead soldiers just fall in the water and climb back up, or even form a bridge of undead skeletons to climb over...flexibility like that is one of the perks of being undead! It also explains why he let just about everyone get away unscathed: this was all a setup for him to snag himself his own dragon, aka the WMDs of the entire Planetos. This is the key to him bringing down The Wall and Making Westeros Undead Again.
Of course, none of this explains why the Night King threw his pointy stick at the dragon that was flying in the air rather than the dragon that was just standing over there with a handful of the top-billed actors on his back, but we humble Game Of Thrones Power Ranking recappers are not privy to such higher-up conversations. And my theory certainly makes as much sense (none!) as Jon's plan.
There are some very fine people among the White Walkers. There are many sides to this conflict. #GameofThrones
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) August 21, 2017
2. Ice Dragons & Fire Swords: But look, the stupidity of some of the plotting choices like the wight hunt were balanced out by the undeniable visceral thrills of the episode. As the endgame draws closer, we've seen a lot of things change about GoT: timelines are near impossible to keep track of, gradual storytelling and nuance has been sacrificed for extreme plot-moving, people are able to travel across the globe in a few scenes, plot armor is more noticeable (hi Jaime, hi Jon), and there's nary been a sexposition scene in years (that might be for the good).
But look what we DO get here: zombie polar bear attacks! Flaming swords! Gorgeous shots of some of the best GoT characters trudging through snow and bonding over their love of Brienne! Dragons burning a skeleton army! Dragons being drafted into a skeleton army! Viserion's blue eye!!
when you look at the eclipse without glasses pic.twitter.com/YhgGviA9zU
— Kevin Nguyen (@knguyen) August 21, 2017
I don't mean to excuse plot holes, but the show is delivering on the fantasy elements that have been its core DNA since the very first scene (which, you may recall, revolved around the White Walkers, not any Starks or Lannisters). The show may no longer be subverting the fantasy genre like it once did, but it can settle for being the best-made, best-acted, most-engrossing fantasy show ever instead.
And if it keeps throwing in dialogue like this, we are all truly blessed:
representation is so important we did it im crying pic.twitter.com/4RfuYt8I6S
— Anthony Oliveira (@meakoopa) August 21, 2017
3. The Magnificent Westerosi Seven: GoT has always excelled when it gets a couple of people we care about in a room, and lets them bounce off each other, with all their entwined histories, grudges and insecurities laid out. It's just as impressive that they pulled that off with seven of the coolest shit bags in the Known World. Before all hell breaks loose on their ill-fated and ill-planned hunting excursion, Jon, Gendry, Tormund, The Hound, Beric, Thoros and Jorah have plenty to talk to each other about. And as NY Times writer David Itzkoff pointed out, they banter like characters in a Quentin Tarantino movie.
Gendry: the guy that definitely doesn't believe in tipping
Jorah Mormont: the guy flipping through an old datebook trying to remember names
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) August 21, 2017
Jon and Beric get to bond over dying and being brought back to life despite not knowing why ("Death is the enemy. The first enemy, and the last"). Gendry confronts Thoros and Beric about selling him to Melisandre back in season three. Jon and Jorah discuss Jeor Mormont's death and form the Unofficial Respectful Sons Club. And all I want now is a spinoff series about Tormund, The Hound and Brienne moving into a duplex and falling into a love triangle.
4. Tormund The Romantic: He preaches ginger positivity, he thinks The Hound's name is "The Dog," he likes to mess with Gendry (who fit into the little brother role in the gang very comfortably), and he always has Jon's back in battle. But there was no better moment in this entire episode—not the zombie polar bear, not the frantic fight with the undead, not the epic Jon/Dany hand-holding—than Tormund talking about his love for Brienne. "I have a beauty waiting for me at Winterfell. Yellow hair. Blue eyes. Tallest woman you've ever seen," he tells The Hound. "I want to make babies with her. Great big monsters." You had me at "great big monster."
— SASI (@junixersasi) August 21, 2017
Actor Kristofer Hivju is also the biggest shipper:
5a. That One Scene Where The Hound Throws Rocks At The Wights: The Hound was without a doubt the runner-up MVP of the episode, even if his fear of fire may have inadvertently led to Thoros's death (that was my interpretation at least). Whether he was calling wights "dumb cunts" or explaining the word "dick" to Tormund, he was cantankerously charming as hell. He called Brienne by her proper name ("Brienne of fucking Tarth?!"). And the scene where he threw rocks at the wights was, upon reflection, pretty dumb (they were able to figure out the lake had frozen over by that), but it was funny enough I had to pause the episode until I finished laughing.
— Night's King (@WightsKing) August 21, 2017
5b. Brotherhood Without Banjos: Here is a very fun glimpse behind-the-scenes, via Vanity Fair: actor Rory McCann talked about bonding with coworkers during the filming of this episode by taking part in nightly musical jams led by Richard Dormer (Beric) on the ukulele and Paul Kaye (Thoros) on the guitar. "The jams we had I'll never forget," he said wistfully. McCann does indeed play banjo too.
6. Sexy Incestuous Hand Holding: We tried to warn you this was coming! It's a classic Hollywood romance: first the meet-cute, with all the arguments over bending the knee; then the sexy spelunking trip together; then Jon starts hanging out with the kids. And now Dany is admiring Jon's battle scars, and Jon is pledging himself to "my queen," and is it getting steamy on this boat or is your dragon just happy to see me?
I've never wanted a dude to kiss his aunt more
— Richard Lawson (@rilaws) August 21, 2017
You know who is not so into the Jon/Dany pairing? Fellow incest participant Jaime Lannister, aka actor Nikolj Coster-Waldau, who told Daily Beast he doesn't get how audiences hate Jaime/Cersei's incestuous relationship but are rooting for the new incest on the block. “It’s ironic!” he said. “People are going to love that, though. Everybody wants them to hook up! And they know they’re related! And they’re still going, ‘Come on, do it! We’ll forgive you!'...Someone came up to me and told me, ‘Well, they’re not as bad as yours!’ and I said, ‘It’s not real, this thing! It’s just a TV show!’”
— samantha irby (@wordscience) August 21, 2017
But you know who (unsurprisingly) is apparently into it? George R.R. Martin, the man who originally dreamed up all these incest storylines. Director Alan Taylor let slip an interesting little tidbit in an interview with Hollywood Reporter:
TAYLOR: I remember when I was doing Season 1 and we were on location in Malta, and George R. R. Martin came to visit. He was sitting in a chair, and he was being really quite open about things that were to come…
DEADLINE: About Jon and Dany or Game of Thrones in general?
TAYLOR: Bit of both, but it was early days and nobody was paying attention to the show. We didn’t really know what a phenomenon it was going to be, and I think he was being less guarded than we’ve become since then. Anyways, he alluded to the fact that Jon and Dany were the point, kind of. That, at the time, there was a huge, vast array of characters, and Jon was a lowly, you know, bastard son. So it wasn’t clear to us at the time, but he did sort of say things that made it clear that the meeting and the convergence of Jon and Dany were sort of the point of the series.
Lastly: how can people say they have no chemistry?! Just watch this:
7. Long Sweeping Shots Of Lovable Dirtbags Walking In The Snow: Taylor really deserves a lot of credit for wringing all the tension he could out of those gorgeous snowy vistas. Taylor was a key GoT player during the first two seasons of the show, directing the final two episodes of season one, plus four episodes in season two (including the season finale, "Valar Morghulis"). He then went to Hollywood to direct Thor: The Dark World and Terminator Genisys, but he returned just in time for this cinematic, action-packed outing.
In that same Hollywood Reporter interview, he talked about returning to the show after five years, the hardest part of filming the episode (dragons), and what it's like nearing the end of the show:
What I enjoyed when I read all the scripts for this season and when I started to see what my fellow directors were doing, was that there was a thrill in realizing that this ball, this machine is revving up bigger and rolling faster and with more inevitability. But it also has just as many surprises, and that just continues to happen. So, from my episode to the finale next week, the plot points of my episode are topped by the plot points in the episode coming, and Season 8 progresses in the same way... the storylines are interweaving more tightly. The plot points are going to continue to sort of be like gut punches, and each of these characters that’ve been so fully fleshed out and so well-rounded are going to be moving towards their resolution, is what I’d say. I think people will be really surprised, but also fulfilled by where it goes. It’s going to keep building the way it’s been building, and I hope people stick around for it.
8. Gendry's Cardio Trainer: How did Jon know Gendry was such a good runner? How did Gendry get so good at running? If we row a boat for three seasons will we be able to do this? Did anyone else think he was going to (defy the laws of nature and) run back to Dragonstone?
Takes White Walkers 7 seasons to walk to Wall but Gendry can run to Eastwatch to send raven to fly to Dany to have her fly up north in 1 ep
— Lincoln Michel (@TheLincoln) August 21, 2017
— The Ringer (@ringer) August 21, 2017
9. Zombie Uncle Benjen Ex Machina: Uncle Benjen sure has a knack for showing up and saving Starks whenever they're about to be killed north of The Wall! After rescuing Bran and Meera last season, Benjen showed up out of the blue here to toss Jon on his horse and sacrifice himself to his zombie brethren. He died as he lived: a soap opera plotline come to life and the best male eyeliner advocate on TV since Richard Alpert.
— Lissete Lanuza Sáenz (@lizziethat) August 21, 2017
10. 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, Mother Of Dragons, Sleeper Of Daario, Inadvertent Incinerator Of Little Children, The Meereen Machine, Into The Distance Starer, High Lord Of Title-Heavy Introductions, Queen Of Nothing, Arriver At Opportune Times, Master Of Smooth Breakups, Definer Of Perpetuity, Asker Of People To Bend The Knee: Just don't call her DANY. This was another pretty rough week in a season full of them for the Meereen Machine: her closest advisor second-guessed her decision-making yet again, her dragon-baby was killed by a zombie ice dude, and her future-boyfriend/probable-nephew almost died. At least she got a pretty sweet new coat.
So far this season Dany has lost her navy, a good deal of infantry, and a third of her air force. Unfit to lead.
— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) August 21, 2017
11. Tyrion's Tortured Sense Of Empathy: The Dany/Tyrion conversation is the one real throwback GoT scene that feels like it could have been plucked from a previous season. It's a balanced scene, where you can understand both of their arguments (unlike the next two entries...) and there is a mutual respect underlying their disagreements. After some light banter about Jon/Dany ("He's too little for me") and the nature of heroism, Tyrion follows up with his conversation with Varys last episode and presses Dany to be more empathetic toward her enemies. He also wants to start planning for her death/succession—between that and Dany mentioning the dragons are her only children for the second week in a row, we're starting to wondering if some serious foreshadowing is in play...
12. WTF Arya: The Winterfell Soap Opera Hour was in full flourish this week. All the Stark kids have gotten dark and weird in the years since they were last together (understandably so!), but things reached a frustrating, bizarro peak this week as Arya and Sansa butted heads like real sisters—albeit, in Arya's case, a sister who happens to have a briefcase full of people's faces. The drama with Littlefinger's letter leads to the two arguing over who did and didn't betray the family, like a scene out of The Godfather but with more winter jackets. Arya doesn't seem to get that Littlefinger is playing them, and is really harsh toward her sister ("my beloved Joffrey"?!), but hey, Arya always was good at holding a grudge (see; the list). If only there was someone with the ability to see the past and future living at Winterfell who could tell the sisters what's really going on...
Seriously, this idiot served wine to Tywin Lannister for a whole season but she can't give her sister a break for lying low with Cersei?
— Joe Reid (@joereid) August 21, 2017
13. WTF Sansa: You'd think that Arya making empty threats at her sister would make her the most dunderheaded Stark, but between Jon's heroic idiocy and Bran's off-screen withholding of vital information, she was maybe the smartest Stark this week (her only crimes are not trusting anyone, which is actually pretty smart, and finding her sister annoying). But the worst Stark this week is none other than Sansa, who seems to have momentarily forgotten her own personal motto, NEVER TRUST LITTLEFINGER. How is he playing them so easily against each other? Sansa knows better! At least she had the good sense not to take his advice and unleash Brienne on Arya. On the other hand, her temper tantrum with Brienne over NOT BEING A CHILD really is not a great look.
14. Zombie Polar Bear Run-Ins: While the scene itself was thrilling, it was a very bad week for the Red Shirts who rode along with the Westerosi Seven and were picked off one by one by the polar bears (and later, the army of the undead). And of course, we had two name characters go down this week: Viserion the dragon and Thoros of Myr. He was a drunk priest with a talent for bringing BFF Beric Dondarrion back to life, but he was also the most expendable member of the GoT Expendables crew. We'll mostly miss calling him Bald-os of Myr after The Hound bald shamed him in the season premiere. It's too bad he and season one-era Tyrion could never have a drinking contest (seriously, it sounded like he had a very serious drinking problem).
Actor Paul Kay talked to EW about leaving the show and his onscreen death: "It’s glorious, really. And I like the fact I get [cremated] with my own booze as well —there’s a message there somewhere," Kaye said.
15. Wearing Hats In Cold Weather: Watching the gang trudge through the whiteout near Eastwatch, I kept yelling at the screen, "WHY AREN'T ANY OF YOU WEARING HATS?!" Jon Snow himself has pondered that question recently as well, and it turns out it's a real hot button issue for the cast: "I was asking for one!" he told the Times. "I wanted a hat when we were shooting in Iceland. We’ve had endless conversations about it. It’s been a big, big question in “Thrones,” about when they’re up North, whether they wear headgear or not. It seems ridiculous in cold climates not to have your head protected. But it’s a decision they made a long time ago, the decision that we need to see faces more than heads being warm. It’s very difficult when you’re filming people in that environment, to differentiate between people’s faces. I think they decided that was the most important thing. But trust me, no one wants a hat more than me."
The Viserys Targaryen Memorial Least Powerful Person Of The Week Award: The standout loser this week was The Undead Dude Who Spent Most Of The Episode Tied Up And Being Tossed Around Like An Undead Potato By The Westerosi Seven. Between getting kicked by The Hound, he couldn't even muster up the energy to wriggle around in his ropes and annoy his captors. I assume he was a sacrifice on the part of the Night's King in order to complete his dastardly plan.
The Ser Pounce Memorial Most Powerful Pet Of The Week Award: You all want me to put the dragons down here, I can feel it. But when life expects you to zig, the Power Rankings zag—because the best animal this week was Benjen's Horse Who Got Jon Back To Eastwatch. It is very cold out there beyond The Wall and he is a very good horse!!!
Best Cast Photo Of The Week In Which Tormund And Brienne Aren't Sitting Next To Each Other:
— Carice van Houten (@caricevhouten) August 20, 2017
Most Reasonable Request Of Fans Of 'Game Of Thrones' Of The Century: Peter Dinklage is working with PETA to urge people not to adopt and subsequently abandon huskies because they resemble direwolves. This is unfortunately more of a problem than not: "Not only does this hurt all the deserving homeless dogs waiting for a chance at a good home in shelters, but shelters are also reporting that many of these Huskies are being abandoned — as often happens when dogs are bought on impulse, without understanding their needs."
The Hodoriffic Honorary Minor Character Of The Week Award: They may only appear as green broomsticks in real life, but Drogon, Rhaegal and poor Viserion were able to wring a lot of emotion out of their CGI this episode. They will meet again—don't know where (probably on the battlefield), don't know when (season eight)—and we'll get the most important question answered: do zombie dragons breath ice or fire?
— bridget (@bridgetholguin) August 21, 2017
The Memorial Lord Oaf Of Highgarden Oafiest Glimpse Of The Night: Everybody loves a lightsaber battle, especially when it involves Arya & Brienne.
The Honorary Olly Award For Person I'm Excited To See Die, Even If It Means I Am Passively Complacent With The Cycle Of Violence & Vengeance: There's no way Littlefinger's plan is going to last much longer. Ever since Bran repeated his catchphrase, "chaos is a ladder," his days have been numbered. And as much as I've enjoyed watching him scheme his way up the ladder of power, I'd rather not have Starks fighting each other over nothing.
This Week In Bending The Knee:
Bend the knee. 👑 pic.twitter.com/LjqudpzD9N
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) August 18, 2017
A Few Good Tweets (That Don't Really Fit In Anywhere Else In This Post):
"Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me." pic.twitter.com/7XxFfMMh78
— 🌈Danuel Fetizanan🌈 (@DanuelFetizanan) August 15, 2017
— James Faulkner (@jamessfaulkner) August 17, 2017
— ClickHole (@ClickHole) August 21, 2017
im literally yelling pic.twitter.com/hdWI5nYOAZ
— edgelord allan poe (@haarleyquin) August 15, 2017
— HBO (@HBO) August 14, 2017
Piratewatch 2017: Will Salladhor Saan Save The Day? It just occurred to me that some of you might not remember all the exploits of our favorite capitalist pirate. Thankfully, there's an eight minute compilation video of all his greatest deeds below.
Way Beyond The Wall: Seeing as how we spent almost all our time north of the Wall, at Dragonstone or at Winterfell this week, there were tons of absentees this week. No Cersei, Jaime, Bronn, Qyburn, Zombie Mountain or any other King's Landing folks. No Bran, the Worst Teenager South Of The Wall. No Sam, Gilly or Little Sam.
Psychotic Pirate Joshua Jackson and his prisoner Yara took the third straight week off. Theon Greyjoy and Varys were nowhere to be seen. Grey Worm is still (presumably) trapped at Casterly Rock, while his sweetheart Missandei was also M.I.A. No sign of Lyanna Mormont. Melisandre is somewhere far from Westeros right now. Meera Reed has ridden off into the sunset. Tycho Nestoris must have sailed back to Braavos by now.
Hot Pie is still on the bench, along with Ellaria Sands and what's left of that one Sand Snake. The Maesters are probably still having that meeting at the Citadel. And our usual lot of expected characters took a backseat: Septa Unella (assuming she's still being tortured somewhere in King's Landing), Robyn Arryn (aka Prepubescent Julian Casablancas), the mighty Ser Pounce, Daario Naharis 2.0, Edmure Tully (assuming he's still alive), The Children Of The Forest (they aren't all dead, right?), and The Faceless Men (at least they got a shoutout).
On next week's freakin' season finale of GoT (title TBA), we're sure everything will be resolved in an orderly fashion. Until then, Jon Snow and Melancholic Drums will pound the theme into your brain: