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 6? Follow below to find out.
1. The Night King
The Night King’s abilities to raise the dead and detect when Bran is greenseeing have been well established, and as the show draws toward a climax, it needed to give him some new tricks. Beyond the Wall reveals that he is not just a necromancer, but an Olympic-level javelin thrower as well — which maybe even better. Let’s see current Olympic champion Thomas Röhler hit a dragon in midair! Although The King in the Far, Far North failed to finish off Jon or Daenerys (or any main characters, really), he did kill one of Daenerys’ dragons, Viserion, raising him from the dead in the episode’s final scene. Although his army of wights is unable to defeat seven men standing on a rock, he at least has an undead dragon, which should add some spice to the upcoming battles.
Jon gets points simply for surviving his ludicrous plan to ride beyond the Wall and pluck a wight from the Night King’s army. Granted, it took the cavalry arriving not once but twice — first Daenerys arrives with dragons, then Benjen shows up for all of 30 seconds to pull Jon from the frozen lake — and his plan led to the Night King acquiring a dragon, but at least Jon convinced Daenerys that the army of the dead is real. Hopefully, the fact that his latest attempt at self-sacrifice got Viserion killed will lead Jon to abandon his death wish. If Jon wants to maintain his high place in the rankings, however, he needs to start making better strategic decisions; you can’t always rely on fire gods, dragon queens, or undead uncles to pull you out of scrapes.
In retrospect, given Daenerys’ willingness to fly north and rescue Jon’s party from certain doom, one wonders why she didn’t just go with him in the first place and spy the army from a distance, but then again nothing about this whole plan stands up to scrutiny. Daenerys’ did lose one of her dragons as a result, and that hurts her campaign to conquer the kingdoms and not die in the impending undead invasion, but her heroics did convince Jon to bend the knee — and maybe marry her? The show is pushing the romance angle hard, despite the lack of sparks between them on screen, which can only mean one of them is set to die soon.
4. Jon Snow’s Merry Band
Going into Beyond the Wall, it seemed inevitable that most of Jon’s party would die. Being absurdly dangerous, and occurring in a penultimate episode, the raid provided a perfect venue for heroic deaths from characters like Tormund, who could be tragically cut down without ever capturing the heart of Brienne, or Jorah, who could atone for his past misdeeds by sacrificing himself to save the others. Shockingly, the only casualties were some nameless redshirts and Thoros. Despite the odds, pretty much everyone even semi-important lived, perhaps to die in a later set piece.
Unless the show is pulling some sort of ruse with Sansa and Arya, having them pretend to be at each other’s throats, even when only the audience is watching, Littlefinger’s plan to sow discord is working. While his grand design remains a mystery, it’s nice to see one of the show’s original schemers back in his element.
Years of training have left Arya with the skills necessary to kill and impersonate anyone she chooses. Alas, years of dwelling on nothing but revenge have also left her a bit unhinged, as evidenced by the scene of her walking in on Sansa rummaging through her bag of faces and threatening to take hers. It seems less and less likely that both Stark sisters will make it through the season, and Arya may have overplayed her hand already.
Is Sansa a brilliant schemer, a student of realpolitik who has surpassed even Littlefinger? Or is she just an irrational usurper, hanging out in a storyline that seems meant to pad out an already short season? Only the finale will tell. For now, Sansa is teetering on the edge of conflict with her sister. Given Arya’s ability to look like anyone and stab people effectively, the odds are against Sansa.
Once again, Tyrion tries to steer Daenerys in a less impulsive direction, and she responds by calling out his failures and then flying off on a rescue mission beyond the wall. Not a good look for the Hand of the Queen, who might be pining for the days when he just sat in Meereen, drinking wine and cracking jokes with Missandei and Grey Worm.