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Game of Thrones Has Lost Its Way

Note: I followed the 48-hour rule in posting this, but know that there are some significant plot points from Monday’s episode discussed below. If you haven’t seen the latest episode of Game of Thrones (which is not necessarily something that I recommend you do), then SPOILER ALERT ahead.

So, I guess we need to have a talk about this, y’all. I’m going to go ahead and dive right in. I want to focus on two things from last night’s episode, and we’ll start with the least obvious:

The first is Ser Loras Tyrell, the Knight of Flowers. In the books, he is famed all across Westeros as one of the most skilled, ferocious and fearless knights and battlefield leaders in the Seven Kingdoms. He’s also universally adored by the women of Westeros – he’s basically the George Clooney of King’s Landing. Like, if everyone would stop murdering each other long enough to let someone with half a brain invent the printing press, Ser Loras would be on the cover of Westerosi People magazine as The Seven Kingdoms’ Sexiest Man Alive. Women throw themselves at him. He is a god: not only is he brave, strong and skilled, but he’s the most handsome man most of them have ever seen. We know this becasue the women of King’s Landing line the streets as Ser Loras rides out to assault and capture Dragonstone, a task bestowed upon him by the crown because A) he can fucking do it and B) Cersei is scared to death of him because he’s a dang superhero, and she hopes that he’ll be injured while he’s off slaughtering fools in The Reach.

If you haven’t read the books, this probably doesn’t sound like Ser Loras to you at all. We don’t really ever see Ser Loras in combat, since 90% of his scenes are in the dang bedroom, and he’s certainly not accompanied by a bunch of ladies in there. That’s because very contrary to Goerge R.R. Martin’s subtlety with Loras and Renly’s sexual preferences, Game of Thrones trotted him out there wearing a Lady Gaga T-Shirt and an iPhone loaded with every episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I mean for pete’s sake they basically stamped “I’M GAY” across his forehead and had him bash all of our heads in with a rainbow colored, cock-shaped foam hammer. Do you know there were people who read all the books and didn’t even know Loras was gay until the watched the TV Show? Seriously.

HBO has turned Ser Loras, a bad ass new god who might just happen to like a nice cock every now and again, into a mewling gay cartoon character who needs his effing grandmother to save him from the lunatic mother of his 13-year-old king. Martin’s Ser Loras wouldn’t have been meekly arrested for fornication by the Sparrows and the High Septon, mostly because Benioff and Weiss have made that entire damn storyline up: there is no homosexual witch hunt in George R.R. Martin’s books since Loras is busy, you know, being a knight. HBO made it all up, ostensibly because they can’t have a gay person running around being dope and kicking ass. Even if the Loras HAD been there, there’s no way he’s going to let a bunch of bald, self-mutilating weirdos take him without a damn fight, and if he were to be taken by the Sparrows (not bloody likely), he certainly wouldn’t have sat there crying and screaming “YOU’RE A LIAR!” at some whore during his farcical trial. Get the eff real.

And now we come about the 1000 lbs. direwolf in the room. What in the ENTIRE HELL was that ending? Let’s just get one damn thing straight: this wasn’t some terribly horrific scene that the show had to get through because it’s a major plot point in the novels and you just couldn’t tell the story without it. Ramsay and Sansa never get within 500 leagues of each other in any of GRRM’s fiction. This entire storyline, like 75% of what’s going on in the show now, is, if not a complete departure from the source material, certainly a major change in direction. So if you’re thinking that maybe Benioff and Weiss did the best they could with a difficult subject … nah. They chose to go there because they effing wanted to.

Part of the lure of Game of Thrones has always been the brutal, unfeeling way it’s main characters are treated in the show. This isn’t a place for tidy happy endings or on-time UPS deliveries of justice, and it’s part of what we love about this show. But there is a limit to the patience of your audience as far as what they’re willing to put up with. For me and lot of other people, Benioff and Weiss blew past that limit with “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”. Nothing about about that scene was necessary, and the argument that “it’s how the show is, it’s how it’s always been, if you don’t like it don’t watch” doesn’t hold any water. If the show’s direction requires that Sansa endures that, there’s a way you can do it without making it feel gratuitous. I felt sick to my stomach watching and hearing that last scene, and I’ve never been a victim of any sort of sexual violence. I can’t imagine the horror those who have might have gone through as we watched Sansa face pushed down into the bed, saw Ramsay tear her clothes, and listened to her screams as the camera zoomed in on Reek’s horrified face.

Andy Greenwald over at Grantland sums up my feelings better than I ever could when he says, “Five seasons in, Game of Thrones is long past the point of earning gold stars simply by showing us the worst possible thing. There’s a fine line between exposing the dirty truth of the world and wallowing in it.” Again, Benioff and Weiss blew past that proverbial line on Monday night. It was horrific, totally unnecessary, and it has me seriously considering walking away from a show that I’ve spent the last five years falling in love with.

One would have hoped that after the backlash the show received in response to the overly rapey scene between Jaime and Cersei a year ago, HBO had learned it’s lesson. Obviously that wasn’t the case. As Jason Concepcion, also of Grantland, points out in his mailbag posted today, it doesn’t seem like they’ve learned anything this time, either: they were dismissive of the outcry, painting Sansa as “a hardened woman” doing what she felt she had to, and suggesting that Littlefinger didn’t know what sort of monster he had promised her to. Uh, is that the same Littlefinger that orchestrated the deaths of Jon Arryn, Ned Stark and Joffrey Baratheon without lifting a damn finger? Nope. Tear that one out of the playbook, son, it’s a loser.

Where do we go from here? Can we trust them not to put us in that position again? No. Does that mean it’s time to walk away? I don’t know. There is so much awfulness in this fictional world to focus on: dragons, slavers, murderers, zombies, the fact that no one, NO ONE has punched Cersei in her awful, awful face, etc. Let’s try looking in on some of that bad assery for a while, and maybe the showrunners can work through their rape fantasy issues on their own time.

Pre-Season 5 Game of Thrones Power Rankings

If you’ve followed me here from my old site on blogger.com, you may remember my Game of Thrones Power Rankings posts of which I did maybe two or three. Folks seemed to like them okay. They featured mostly randomly assigned ranks to characters appearing in that week’s episode. I implied that a full ranking of all Game of Thrones characters existed and was definitely real. But guess what, it wasn’t. It didn’t exist.

Wasn’t. Didn’t. PAST TENSE.

To get you ready for the new season starting Sunday, I present, not humbly, the definitive ranking of every Game of Thrones character. As always, we start with the In Memoriam, as with a notable exception, the dead hold no power. Obviously, if you haven’t gotten yourself completely caught up with the first four seasons, then spoiler alert. I shouldn’t have to say that, because 100% obviously, but someone will get mad if I don’t. Use your judgment, folks.

The Dead

147. Old Nan
146. Septa Mordane
145. Biter
144. Polliver
143. Lommy Greenhands
142. Craster

141. Alton Lannister
Affiliation: House Lannister
Manner of death: Beaten to death by his own cousin, Jaime, to aid in the latter’s escape from Riverrun’s dungeons. The dang idiot though he and Jaime were gonna be besties.

Game of Thrones - A Golden Crown

Viserys Targaryen’s manner of death is pictured.

140. Viserys Targaryen
139. Rast

138. Karl Tanner
Affiliation: The Betrayers
Manner of death: Jon Snow gives him a nice long iron tongue while he’s distracted by one of Craster’s daughter-wives.

137. Qotho
136. The Spice King
135. Ros
134. Black Loren
133. Dagmer

132. Kraznys mo Nakloz
Afilliation: The Good Masters of Astapor
Manner of death: Roasted by one of the dragons he had just received as payment for his Unsullied slave warriors. It was pretty funny.

131. Ser Amory Lorch
130. Ser Wendel Manderly

129. Ser Rickard Karstark

128. Will
Affiliation: Night’s Watch
Manner of death: Beheaded by Eddard Stark for desertion after fleeing The Wall when his fellow rangers were murdered by a White Walker. Ned didn’t believe him, literally the only time throughout the entire show that Ned didn’t take someone’s word at face value, and of course it was the only time anyone said something to him that was 100% honest.

127. Irri
126. Rakharo
125. Maester Luwin
124. Maester Cressin
123. Ser Dontos Hollard

122. Locke
Affiliation: House Bolton
Manner of death: Neck snapped nearly clean off by Bran Stark, warging through Hodor’s body, during the second battle at Craster’s Keep. Any time someone affiliated with the Boltons dies horribly, you have to love that.

121. Mirri Maz Duur
120. Ser Jory Cassel
119. Ser Rodrik Cassel
118. Hoster Tully

117. Shae
Affiliation: House Lannister
Manner of death: Strangled to death with her own necklace by Tyrion after he found her in his father’s bed.

116. Talisa Stark
115. Matthos Seaworth
114. Lysa Arryn

113. Pyat Pree
Affiliation: The Thirteen
Manner of death: Like so many others in Essos that have crossed her, set aflame by Daenerys’ dragons.

lol

lol

112. Joffrey ‘Baratheon’

111. Pyp
110. Grenn
Afilliation: Night’s Watch
Manner of Death: A shaft through the throat from Ygritte’s bow and bludgeoned to death by Mag the Mighty, respectively, during the Battle of Castle Black.

109. Magnar of Thenn
108. Mag the Mighty
107. Qhorin Halfhand

106. Yoren

105. Jojen Reed
Affiliation: House Stark
Manner of Death: Stabbed by a White Walker, mercy killed by his sister, Meera, with a cut across the throat, and then blasted by a fireball from Leaf, the child of the forest, just to be damn sure.

104. Ygritte
103. Joer Mormont
102. Renly Baratheon
101. Khal Drogo

100. Catelyn Stark
99. Robb Stark
Affiliation: House Stark
Manner of death: I don’t wanna talk about it.

98. Robert Baratheon
97. Oberyn Martell
96. Eddard Stark

95. Tywin Lannister
Affiliation: House Lannister
Manner of death: Crowbow’d by his son while enjoying a nice post-coital two-sie because he wouldn’t stop calling folks whores.

The Ambiguously Extant

94. Doreah
93. Xaro Xhoan Daxos

Affiliation: The Thirteen of Qarth
When last we left them: Locked inside Xaro’s vault by Daenerys and presumably left there to rot after the former betrayed the Mother of Dragons to the latter. Both begged uselessly for their pitiful lives. Both should have been summarily ignited by dragon fire, but instead we don’t have a body and can therefore not be sure of their demise.

92. Benjen Stark
Afillition: Night’s Watch
When last we left him: Benjen has been missing since the outset of the series, having gone on a ranging beyond the wall and never returned. He almost certainly dead except then why the heck do they keep talking about him then?

91. Orell
Affiliation: Wildlings
When last we left him: His human body has been dispatched with, but he warged into an eagle and lives (well, kinda) to fight on.

90. Syrio Forrel

89. The Mountain That Rides
Affiliation: House Lannister
When last we left him: Mortally wounded by the Red Viper during Tyrion’s trial by combat, Cersei tasked the dubiously moral former Maester Qyburn with maintaining the body of Ser Gregor, no matter the cost.

88. The Hound

The Not Dead Just Yet

87. Janos Slynt
Affiliation: Night’s Watch
While Sam Tarly, some ladies and a couple of pre-teens were out fighting for their lives against the Wildlings, Janos spent the Battle of Caslte Black locked in the pantry with Gilly. He’s only ranked this high because those are the rules so I have to.

86. Roslin Tully-Frey
85. Edmure Tully

84. Hot Pie
Affiliation: No one cares
Makes a mean wolf-shaped loaf of bread, though.

It's been a rough couple of months for Theon

It’s been a rough couple of months for Theon

83. Reek
82. Fat Walda Bolton
81. Rickon Stark
80. Lancel Lannister
79. The High Septon
78. Selyse Baratheon
77. Shireeen Baratheon

76. Ser Jorah Mormont
Affiliation: House Targaryen (disowned)
Well, how the heck do you like that? He was promised a pardon for his crimes if he spied on Daenerys a little bit, but then decided he liked her more and became her staunchest friend and ally (and was friendzoned hard and repeatedly). Then when she finds out about all this, instead of rewarding him for changing sides and risking everything for her, she banishes him. Women, I tell you. Who needs ’em, amirite?

75. Illyrio Mopatis
74. Ser Illyn Payne

73. Myrcella ‘Baratheon’
Affiliation: House Lannister
We should expect to see a lot more of Cersei and Jaime’s only daughter this season as we finally see Dorne, where the young princess was sent by Tyrion to save her from her mother.

72. Gilly
71. Lame Lothar
70. Black Walder Rivers

69. Lord o’ Bones
Nice.

68. Hallyne
67. Hizdahr zo Loraq
66. Ser Meryn Trant

65. Tormund Giantsbane
Affiliation: WIldlings
His side lost at the Conflict at The Wall, but did anyone deal out more raw damage during the Battle of Castle Black? Picked up an entire bucket of EXP, probably leveled up twice.

64. Kovarro
63. Gendry
62. Anguy the Archer
61. Grand Maester Pycelle
60. Olyvar

59. Sweet Robin Arryn
Affiliation: House Arryn
A slightly less intelligent and slightly more pliable Joffrey clone, he may have a chance to be a productive member of Westerosi society with his mother out of the picture.

The GOAT of horrified screams.

The GOAT of horrified screams.

58. Ellaria Sand
57. Salladhor Sahn
56. Mance Rayder

55. Olly
Affiliation: Night’s Watch
This would be the amateur archer that killed Ygritte. He sucks and we hate him for it.

54. Othell Yarwick

53. Vance Corbray
52. Anya Waynwood
51. Yohn Royce
Affiliation: House Arryn
The three members of the tribunal who ruled on the matter of Lysa’s murder fell for Sansa’s nonsense hook, line and sinker.

Screw you, Walder Frey

Screw you, Walder Frey

50. Walder Frey
49. Myranda
48. Bronn

47. Hodor
Affiliation: Hodor
Hodor. Hodor hodor hodor, hodor. Hodor! HODOR! Hodor hodor hodor hodor.

46. Kevan Lannister
45. Ser Loras Tyrell
44. Maester Aemon
43. Quaithe
42. Meera Reed

41. Thoros of Myr
40. Beric Doncarrion
Affiliation: Brotherhood Without Banners
Though neither the Old Gods nor the New seem to wield any real influence over the events of the world, the Lord of Light works real magic through his followers. Quaithe, the Asshai’i shadowbinder, Melisandre and Thoros of Myr are all able to do fantastic works in his name, the latter having brought Beric, the Lightning Lord, back from the dead several times.

39. Osha
38. Greatjon Umber

37. Leaf, Child of the Forest
36. The Three-Eyed Raven
Affiliation: The Old Gods
Bran has finally reached his destination, although the triumph is lessened by the death of Jojen. We don’t really know what sort of power these two possess, but one of them can shoot fireballs out of her dang hands.

35. Dolorous Edd
34. Podrick Payne
33. Davos Seaworth

32. The Blackfish
Affiliation: House Tully
Having left the reception to relieve himself at an extremely opportune time, it would seen that Ser Brynden Tully escaped the massacre at the Red Wedding. His whereabouts are unknown to us, but he likely holds Riverrun against the Bolton’s in the name of the slain King in the North.

Grey Worm has absolutely zero chill

Grey Worm has absolutely zero chill

31. Barristan Selmy
30. Samwell Tarly
29. Grey Worm
28. Alliser Thorne

27. ‘Jaqen H’ghar’
Affiliation: Faceless Men of Braavos
Since he’s a face-changer, we could have been seeing him all along and would have no idea, and of course Jaqen isn’t his name, but it’s the only real way to identify him at this point. A popular fan theory that Jaqen and Syrio Forrel are the same man means we may have listed him twice, though I doubt the likelihood of that. Braavos is where Arya is headed now.

26. Asha Greyjoy
25. Balon Greyjoy
24. Daario Naharis

23. Missandei
Affiliation: House Targaryen
Daenerys’ handmaiden managed to sexually arouse Grey Worm, who does not have any sexual organs. It’s a crime that she’s not number one on this list.

22. Mace Tyrell

It's gettin' real weird at the Eyrie

It’s gettin’ real weird at the Eyrie

21. Sansa Stark
Affiliation: House Baelish
Just what in the blue hell is running through this misguided girl’s head? Did she just give me the “do me” eyes to Littlefinger? What in the WORLD are you doing, child? You need R’ihlor, girl. Get your dang head on straight.

20. Brienne of Tarth
19. Bran Stark
18. Qyburn
17. Arya Stark
16. Jon Snow
15. Ramsay Bolton

14. Cersei Lannister
13. Jaime Lannister
Affiliation: House Lannister
Really hard to say where Jaime will go from here when he finds out that the brother he just set free, as his first act, murdered his father. Cersei would be in the top ten, but she thinks she is number one, and her hubris drops her here.

#TommenFace

#TommenFace

12. Tommen ‘Baratheon’
11. Roose Bolton
10. Margaery Tyrell
9. Stannis Baratheon
8. Olenna Redwyne

7. Tycho Nestoris
Affiliation: The Iron Bank
Most would agree that prior to his untimely death, Tywin Lannister occupied the number one spot on these rankings; mostly because I am the only person who has any say over such things. There was only one entity that Tywin feared: Tycho and the Iron Bank. He refused to lend money to Stannis when he came asking; had he done so, season four would have ended with Stannis using the stuffed corpse of Cersei Lannister as the Iron Throne’s footrest.

6. Petyr Baelish

5. The White Walkers
Affiliation: The Great Other
They can only really be killed by obsidian, or “dragon glass,” and as far as anyone knows the only piece of it is a dagger that belongs to Sam Tarly. That, or you can learn to shoot fireballs out of your hands like Leaf, but that’s it. So that’s not great.

4. Melisandre
3. Varys

2. Tyrion Lannister
Affiliation: His own dang self
Yeah, he’s a fugitive who is basically on the run from everyone in the entire world. But he just killed the most powerful man in the world. For one week, he deserves this spot at the top.

As if there was any doubt.

As if there was any doubt.

1. Daenerys Targaryen
Affiliation: House Targaryen
She has lost track of one of her dragons after he set a child on fire for no dang reason, and was forced to chain up the other two as a result. This leaves her in control of two incapacitated dragons, which remains infinitely more dragons than everyone else combined. She’s undefeated, but she’ll regret dismissing her biggest and oldest supporter in Ser Jorah — he’d abandoned a chance to return to his old life with a full pardon without about three weeks of meeting her.

Game Of Thrones Power Rankings: Season 4, Episode 9

Here’s the Power Ranking highlights following last night’s wall-centric penultimate episode for season four. As always, SPOILER ALERT, and the full rankings in their entirety can be found here.

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Just the tip

3) Jon Snow – For someone who just recently returned to the Night’s Watch after spending a good deal of time raiding with a particularly savage pack of wildlings, Jon seems to have an enormous amount of respect and trust from the black brothers who aren’t named Thorne. In the wake of Ser Alliser’s wounding and “Ser” Janos’ self-gelding, Lord Snow took over as the de facto leader of the Lord Commander-less Castle Black, and led his brothers to what is ultimately a pointless, delaying-of-the-inevitable “victory” over 1/1000th of Mance Rayder’s army. Congratulations on that. Given the show’s penchant for killing our favorite characters only when we least expect it, hopefully Jon, who is off for a spot of tea with the King Beyond the Wall and Tyrion, who has a hot date with Ser Illyn Payne, will survive through to season five.

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In this picture, a person is lying.

30) Samwell Tarly – Where the hell did all that come from? Sam the Slayer, who’s greatest talents to date seemed to include stammering, wetting himself and crying in the face of literally the slightest hint of danger, suddenly turned into fat Sparticus, shouting down Pyp to force him to let Gilly in, inspiring him during the battle and not losing his shit after Pyp sprouted an arrow from his neck (courtesy Ygrette), and just in general surviving a battle many did not without needing to hide in the thrice-damned pantry (I see you, Janos). Sam rockets up the power rankings this week.

37) Alliser Thorne – Let’s be real here: screw Thorne. I hate him, and for good reason. He’s a dick, he plotted to have Jon killed on more than one occasion, he’s thick-headed and won’t listen to reason and he probably kicks puppies. That being said, he showed last night that the black brothers could certainly do worse for a Lord Commander. He admitted to Jon he’d been wrong about the tunnel, albeit far too late and with no hint of apology, and delivered a riveting speech to the men facing almost certain death at the hands of Tormund’s raiders, giving his tired and beaten brothers a second wind, and led the charge himself. So, naturally, he had to take a stomach wound that will likely end up killing him. Easy come, easy go.

52) Tormund – He was ultimately defeated, though he remained standing at the battle’s end with several arrows sticking out of him. But Tormund got the job done, forcing the Night’s Watch to fight a two-front battle, splitting the defenses so Mance could test the wall. The wildlings now know they have the overwhelming numbers, and will soon overwhelm Castle Black, then the North, and then the whole of Westeros. Game over, good run guys.

70) That punk kid that shot Ygrette – You’ve robbed up of this for the rest of the show’s duration:

Thanks a lot. I hope you put your eye out with that toy bow you used to kill our favorite wildling. You know nothing.

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BRB *sobs uncontrollably*

79)Ygrette – Oh, George. You heartless, evil bastard. Ygrette, who was all kinds of fired up to put an arrow through the bastard of Winterfell’s eye socket while sitting around the wildling campfire, found herself unable to loose when brought face to face with a defenseless Jon Snow, who was fresh off your classic hammer-embedded-in-skull kill. Just as it seemed like they might be able to reunite just as Gilly and Sam had earlier in the episode, elevator kid sent a shaft through her belly. Sigh.

82(tie) Pyp and Grenn – Pyp had to be reminded several times to keep firing his crossbow, with which he had an accuracy rating somewhere around Stormtrooper range, by Samwell freaking Tarly before taking an arrow to the throat. Grenn led a group of five bad-ass new gods down to the gate on a suicide mission to take on a god damned giant. So, in truth, Grenn had a much stronger day. But Jon Snow’s two besties deserve to ride into that good night together. And now their watch is ended.

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“A story for children”

100) Janos Slynt – I’m breaking my rule that dead man can’t be more powerful than the living with this one. The erstwhile commander of the gold cloaks turned in what was easily the most cowardly performance in the show’s four year run, denying the existence of the giants he was literally staring at before being given an out by Grenn, who told him he was needed below. Back at sea level, he scampered forth, unsheathed his mighty weapon (read: key) from its scabbard (read: pocket), and thrust it deep into the belly of his foe (read: door). There he was confronted by the terrifying Gilly and her suckling babe, from whom he cowered in fear in the pantry corner until he was rescued by Sam the Slayer.