I was going to open this hopefully ambitious little site with a review. And not only a review, but a review of something big; Game of Thrones’ new season.
But reviews of a show like this are tricky.
So instead, I’m combining two of my passions into one: sports and reviews. Those familiar with American sports, especially the NBA and NFL, are no doubt familiar with Power Rankings, the ordering of teams not into a standings table, but a subjective order of how good they are right now.
So I’m doing that to Game of Thrones. Because fun.
Every week, I will rank the top ten characters of Game of Thrones as I see them after each episode. It may be stupid, but it may also be the only way to properly evaluate a television show where the narrative jumps between literally dozens of main characters, often countries and continents apart, all who are vying for the audience’s empathy and support.
The criteria used is a simple one. Which character do I most want to see the show cut to next? And which character do I want the show to cut away from the least? It’s not just a question of who I want to win, but who I want to watch. Because watching bastards can be so fun.
So, let’s start the countdown.
10: Brienne of Tarr
Gwendoline Christie’s hulking knight gets only a short appearance in the season opener, as she tries to take Jaime up on a promise he made on their eventful journey to King’s Landing. There is an unease about Brienne, which makes her a slightly unpredictable character. How will a person of such integrity fare in the lions’ den of King’s Landing?
Another female badass, Ygritte is also under fire, metaphorical this time around (unlike last season), from a strong newcomer, Tormund Giantsbane, who’d top this list if it was based on beard magnificence. Somehow you don’t worry too much about Ygritte’s life, despite her having almost left her tribe to be with Jon Snow. And knowing the ways of George R.R. Martin and the TV show’s creators, not being worried should maybe make me very worried.
8: Ser Jorah
I just want more of Jorah swooning over Daenerys.
7: Jaime Lannister
It’s incredible how an incestuous traitor, liar and overall douchebag can become so empathetic. He is serially put down by Tywin, Cersei and Joffrey in this opening episode, feeling left out of place, stripped of status and authority, and it made me feel awful for him. The one-handed bastard he is.
6: Joffrey Baratheon
Still a complete dick.
5: Jon Snow
Jon Snow is one of precious few characters left somewhat empowered after the first episode, which seems to revolve around unsettling and distressing as many characters as possible. Having returned to the Night’s Watch, he deftly manoeuvres through a tough hearing from his supervisors, scoring perhaps the most badass points of anyone in this opener.
4: Sandor Clegane
The Hound. Oh, you. Child killer. Kidnapper. Ugly thug. And absolutely electrifying. His pairing with Arya Stark seems to bring out the snarkiest and weirdly the most honourable in him, which makes for a magical couple of scenes where we get to watch a monster slowly unveiling its soft side – through killing a tavern-ful of thugs, of course.
3: Arya Stark
Maisie Williams is a talented young actress. She has been given an extremely difficult character to portray in Arya, but does it with such ease that it’s fascinating to watch. She grows up in this episode in a most bloody manner, and it makes you want to see more. Her and the Hound’s pairing might just be the Double Act of the Year, coming up.
2: Daenerys Targaryen
Daenerys has been walking a lot. Like, a lot a lot. How big is that country, anyway, before she gets to the Narrow Sea? Her attraction is three-fold. Firstly, there’s the physical one, the obvious one. Then there’s Emilia Clarke’s emerging strength as an actress. She’s playing a hardened, ambitious leader who is still just a teenager (as she is reminded of in this opener), yet manages to show genuine pathos and kindness. And then there are her dragons, over whose control she still wields is rapidly reducing. The opening episode is all about making the leads feel as out of place, uncomfortable and insecure as possible, which of course makes for fascinating viewing.
1: Tyrion Lannister
Daenerys’ personal insecurity might be topped only by Tyrion, Peter Dinklage’s greatest-ever performance. Usually full of wit, gusto, self-assertion and personal strength, the Tyrion we see now is emasculated to the point of depression. His position is worse than being fought by his enemies; he seems to have been neutralised, neutered, even. He has been the single-most fascinating character on Game of Thrones almost from the pilot, but it’ll certainly be interesting to see how this new, beaten-down Tyrion will develop, and whether he’ll hold the top spot next week.