As the title suggests, politics in Game of Thrones is treated like a game. And whether you’re talking about basketball 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 2? Follow below to find out.
Although the show’s incarnation of Euron Greyjoy still doesn’t live up to his blue-lipped, quasi-magical portrayal in the books, he steals Stormborn’s biggest scene, ambushing the ships Tyrion sent to Dorne and capturing both Ellaria Sand and his rebel niece Yara. Euron’s entrance, crashing down onto Yara’s ship and slaughtering her men, is one of the more exciting feats of villainy so far this season. Not even multiple stab wounds are enough to take him down. Best of all, he kills two of the Sand Snakes, arguably the show’s most annoying characters, and he even slays them using their own weapons — a nice bit of visual poetry from a man who otherwise seems to prefer cracking skulls.
Daenerys slides a little bit in Stormborn, ironically an episode named after her. She stands her ground at a meeting where Olenna Tyrell and Ellaria Sand push to invade King’s Landing, and gives Varys a thorough dressing-down. Unfortunately, she goes with Tyrion’s plan to send the Greyjoys and Sands to Dorne, a plan that sinks quickly when Euron Greyjoy shows up. Daenerys still has her dragons, but the first part of her invasions has already gone awry, and now she hopes to make Jon Snow bend the knee (good luck wit that).
Not much has changed for Jon since the premiere. He receives Sam’s message that there is dragonglass beneath Dragonstone, and Tyrion summons him there to meet with Daenerys. He accepts the offer over the protests of the Northern lords, leaving Sansa in charge. Abandoning the safety of Winterfell to ride right into Targaryen clutches did not work out for Jon’s grandfather, but his role as de facto protagonist — and possible messiah — will probably protect him. Jon may regret leaving Sansa up north with the ever lascivious Petyr Baelish, and he loses some points for delivering a generic threat — “If you touch my sister, I’ll kill you!” isn’t exactly the witty dialogue that made the show popular — but he’s still sitting pretty for now.
On the one hand, Sansa fails to convince Jon not to go to Dragonstone. On the other, he leaves her in charge of Winterfell. Assuming the White Walkers don’t show up while Jon is away — presumably, the show will try to milk a few more scenes of them marching toward the wall — Sansa has a sweet gig as steward of Winterfell, although she will have to fend off Littlefinger’s advances.
By the end of Dragonstone, Cersei seemed to be in a bind, surrounded on all sides by enemies (one of whom has dragons). Now, she has a weapon capable of shooting down a dragon — a ballista, which any Fire Emblem player could have told her to build — and a potential ally in Lord Tarly. She also gets an indirect win courtesy of Euron, who captures Ellaria Sand and Yara Greyjoy as a gift for Cersei.
It’s tough to remember that there was a time when Littlefinger seemed like Varys’ perfect rival. Now Varys is helping Daenarys stage an invasion of Westeros, while Littlefinger gets choked out by Jon and dissed by his teenage crush. Not a good look for one of the story’s great schemers, especially given how long it’s been since he seemed like a true player, but he may yet have something up his sleeve.
Arya doesn’t kill anyone in Stormborn — a massive drop from her murder spree in Dragonstone — and she gets the cold shoulder from an old friend, but she makes an important choice on the path to self-actualization, abandoning her plan to kill Cersei to head north and join up with Jon. Even rejection by her old direwolf, Nymeria, is a beautiful moment. Like Nymeria, Arya follows her own path; now all she needs is a pack.
Pour one out for one of the show’s greatest missteps. The Sand Snakes have never really fit the tone of Game of Thrones — with their exotic weapons, cheap costumes, and laughable dialogue, they seemed like characters from a lesser fantasy series, and were emblematic of the entire misbegotten Dorne subplot. Dorne haters surely loved seeing Euron dispatch Obara and Nymeria (no relation to the aforementioned direwolf) once and for all, although Tyene lives to ruin whatever remaining scenes she appears in.
Check out last week’s winners and losers.
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