As the title states, politics in Game of Thrones is treated like a game. And whether you’re talking about sports or the struggle to control shipping routes in the Riverlands, there are always winners and losers. As each episode plays out, we’ll be ranking the players from best to worst. So who takes the crown, and who gets fed to the wolves in Game of Thrones season 7, episode 5? Follow below to find out.
It had been a struggle watching Jon languish on Dragonstone while others made their moves, like seeing your favorite player ride the bench due to an injury, but Eastwatch finally sees the King in the North heading back into the fray, and in style. Not only does he tame a dragon with the scent of his hand — this is yet another piece of foreshadowing for those who still weren’t quite sure that Jon has Targaryen blood — but if Daenerys’ gaze after is any indication, he may have tamed the Dragon Queen’s heart as well. Opinions may differ about whether an incestuous Jon/Dany pairing would be disgusting or not, but it would make him the most powerful man in Westeros — provided he doesn’t do anything that might make her burn him alive.
Now he is off to capture a wight with the help of a band of misfits, some of whom will surely die, in hopes of uniting the warring factions against the undead. Is the plan reckless — suicidal even? Undoubtedly. Does it seems extraordinarily time-consuming, given they plan to go all the way beyond the Wall and then back to King’s Landing while the Night King marches? Sure. But it’s better than showing Daenerys some new cave paintings.
It’s funny how quickly a dragon roasting your enemies can get people to the negotiating table. After routing the Lannister army in The Spoils of War, Daenerys can sit back and wait for their surrender … after incinerating the only soldiers who refuse to kneel. It remains to be seen if Daenerys’ decision to horrifyingly execute the Tarlys will have any political consequences; Tyrion pleads for her not to do it and in past seasons it might be the type of action that leads to a comeuppance later, but the show seems to be moving its pieces so rapidly that it may forget about the Tarlys entirely. For now, Daenerys has put the fear of Drogon in Jaime, and even Cersei realizes she will need trickery to conquer a superior opponent.
After Daenerys’ annihilation of the Lannister army, Cersei may seem down and out, but she has been playing from positions of weakness her whole life. She still holds King’s Landing for now, and she still has Qyburn working on some scheme. Although his scorpion apparently didn’t put much of a dent in Drogon — who was moving about just fine five minutes after the battle — Qyburn could always make a hundred more of the things, or engineer a dragon-killing virus, or some other convenient device. No matter how beaten she seems, never bet against Cersei.
Westeros’ most notorious schemer finally does some proper scheming at Winterfell, pretending not to notice Arya shadowing him everywhere, then baiting her into stealing a letter from his room. The letter in question is the one Sansa wrote asking Robb to surrender to the Lannisters, and presumably Littlefinger hopes to drive a wedge between the Stark sisters. He’s still likely to find himself on the sharp end of Arya’s blade, but for now, Littlefinger is poised to cause a ruckus.
5. Gendry, people who enjoy making jokes about Gendry
If you are one of the 30 people desperately praying, night after night, for the return of Gendry, congratulations! Not only did the show bring the blacksmith/royal bastard back, but it even offered a bit of humor as recompense for the long wait. Davos finds Gendry with the smithies of Flea Bottom, joking that he imagined the boy might still be rowing, all but turning to wink at the audience. Even his introduction to Jon Snow played with conventional narratives, as Gendry refused Davos’ cover story in favor of blunt, cheerful honesty. The sons of Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark are as friendly as their father’s were. Now people can stop making jokes about Gendry returning to the show and start betting on whether he will be the first to die in Jon’s expedition beyond The Wall.
6. The Hound and the Brotherhood Without Banners
When you need to embark on an impossibly dangerous mission to snatch one zombie from an army of the dead, who can you turn to for help? Thankfully for Jon and company, the Brotherhood was already on its way there. Jon finds them in the dungeons of Eastwatch, where Tormund was keeping guard on the king’s orders. After some hasty pleasantries and exposition, the sides agree to face certain doom together. For a group of men chasing destiny and redemption, however, there is no better plan.
Arya may know a lot about sneaking and stabbing, but the Faceless Men apparently didn’t hold classes on basic espionage. She takes Littlefinger’s bait without hesitation, finding a letter that will only further poison her opinion of Sansa. Her feud with Sansa will likely boil over in the next episode, but hopefully she figures out Littlefinger’s deception before she continues to play herself.
Listen, Sam. When your girlfriend stumbles upon records indicating that Prince Rhaegar annulled his marriage and took a new wife, you may want to listen, if only because it is a juicy piece of hidden history. As the audiences gnashes its teeth in frustration, Sam shuts down Gilly’s history lesson, thus delaying the reveal that Rhaegar married Lyanna Stark and sired Jon. For this, Sam is the worst person on the show (at least until that information comes out at a narratively convenient moment).