In a few short weeks Game of Thrones returns for its 8th and final season. I cannot wait. This show has grown into an obsession for me and millions of others. The twisting storylines, the magic, the politics, the history of the characters and the world that they live in has all come together to create an amazing series. After several re-watches, this is my list of the ten best characters on the show.
When I say “best” I don’t mean most heroic. I am just talking about most compelling. These characters drive (or in some cases drove) the story and are super interesting, even if some of them are despicable. In a show with dozens of meaningful characters these are the ten you can’t take your eyes off of when they are on screen. In no particular order:
Eddard (Ned) Stark
This is how the show hooked you. Ned is the star of season one. He’s a man of honor. He’s the brave and honorable Warden of the North and the Lord of Winterfell. He’s the man who says “he who passes the sentence should swing the sword.” He’s the moral center of the Game of Thrones universe as it’s introduced. This is the character through whom connects to Robb Stark, Jon Snow, Brandon the Three Eyed Emo and A Girl Named Arya. He’s the man on this show! At least that’s how it felt for 9 episodes. Then the show (be)headed in a different direction… ahem. What? Okay. I’ll show myself out.
Ser Bronn of the Blackwater is our dude from season 2 onward. He’s a sellsword turned knight. Who doesn’t love a hustler who works his way up in life? He saves Tyrion’s ass from taking flight out the moon door in the Vale by winning the show’s first trial by combat. He fights bravely during an ambush by the hill tribes of the Erie. He set off the first epic battle sequence of the series with his perfect aim in the Battle of Blackwater Bay. He’s shown that he has a beautiful singing voice as well as legit beef with Queen Cersei behind the scenes. He just seems like a real wiseass. They don’t teach you that men shit themselves when they die in fancy-lad school but Bronn learned that when he was five.
Lena Headey is perhaps the best actress on the show. As Queen Cersei she’s detestable… so much so that you’d be forgiven if you forget how likable she was as the female lead in the movie 300. Cersei is obnoxious, incestuous, manipulative, power hungry, violent, vengeful and an alcoholic. And you can’t take your eyes off of her whenever she’s in a scene. She’s smart but not as cunning as her father and evil but not as blood-thirsty as some of the worst men on the show. What she has over all of them is pure naked ambition. She will do anything to rule, including bombing her own city.
The King in the North is heroic, selfless, handsome, deferential, and apparently a skilled lover. He’s everyone’s favorite character, so of course he makes the list. We only hope that he makes it out of the series alive but he’s so heroic you can easily see him dying trying to protect the ones he loves as the series winds down. Although many of us want to see him on the iron throne he’s never shown that political calculus that will keep him out of the line of fire while he’s climbing the ladder and it may come back to bite him. Again.
If I was betting on characters making it out of the show alive, I’d bet on Arya. She’s become a skilled killer and a master of disguise and she’s got international connections. A girl’s got 5 passports, she ain’t never going to jail. We love her from the very beginning when she shows she’s a better archer than her brother Brandon, even though nobody taught her how to shoot – then she battled Brienne of fucking Tarth to a draw after nobody taught her how to fight. She’s magnetic on the screen because she’s so small yet she has this indomitable will to fight and survive and avenge all that she has lost.
The real leader of Westeros for most of the show’s run. He’s the Dick Cheney of King’s Landing. The former Hand of the King to the Mad King he is given the title again when King Joffrey inherits the crown. In between his two stints as the Westerosy White House Chief of Staff he’s the king’s father in law and the richest man in the seven kingdoms. And he’s an intimidating presence on screen. He’s manipulative and cunning and brutal and always seems to be a step ahead of his rivals. When he seems to be losing the War of the Five Kings he sets up the Red Wedding with his letter writing campaign at the beginning of season 3. He’s a master politician and his scenes with Arya during season 3 are all amazing.
Joffrey uh, Baratheon*
King Joffrey is a contemptible little twat. The character is so well played by Jack Gleeson it’s amazing. Everything Joffrey does makes you want to hit him. His affectations when he’s speaking to anyone are annoying. He comes across as entitled, spoiled, cowardly and scary all at the same time. He’s a narcissist. He’s a psychopath. His blood type is bile. You cannot wait to see this character die and the desire only gets stronger as the show progresses. In short, he’s a brilliant villain. He’s one of the best villains in TV history, along with Marlo from The Wire, and that guy who kidnapped and tried to rape Olivia on that multi-part episode of SVU.
Another awful human being. When Joffrey dies we are left with a detestable piece of shit vacuum. Thankfully, the former Ramsay Snow is completely up to the challenge. He’s a complete monster. Let’s count his greatest hits: the inhuman level of abuse that he heaps on Theon Greyjoy, raping and abusing Sansa Stark, killing his own father and the vicious murder of his father’s wife and newborn son. Thrones set the bar incredibly high on vicious, evil cunts with Joffrey’s character and then Ramsay comes along and says “hold my ale.” Well done, Game of Thrones.
Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen Drogo Colby Carrington
The Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons is right at the top of everyone’s favorite character list with her neph-boo Jon Snow. She’s smart and driven and compassionate and also vicious and decisive. We’ve seen her character grow from a meek girl to a boss woman in the years that the show has been on. Also beautiful and brave, she’s a perfect leader while balancing the words of her advisers with the will of her inner dragon. If Game of Thrones were a regular show she’d probably be the one who winds up on the iron throne when the smoke clears, but Thrones has shown that when things seem to lean in one direction it’s likely that they’ll go a different way.
The dwarf. The youngest of Tywin Lannister’s children has conveyed the idea that this is a show about cripples, bastards, and broken things from the start. One of the most tantalizing storylines that has yet to play out is the idea that Tyrion is also a Targaryen. They tease it in the show “you’re no son of mine!” Tywin says to the imp right before Tyrion kills him. Was that just indignance from a man who saw death coming down the Kings Road, or was it a real confession? Targaryen pregnancies are notoriously dangerous and Tyrion’s mother died during childbirth as did Dany and Jon’s. Not to get all book nerd on you, but in the books Tyrion’s mom was known to have been harassed by the Mad King, and the Mad King also had a spiteful relationship with Tywin. Tyrion was also able to successfully approach Daenerys’ dragons as only two other characters (both Targaryens, by the way) have been able to do. Is he a Targaryen? Will Bran be able to see that in his visions as Thrones winds down? Tyrion is smart enough to rule. He’s shown courage and compassion as well as some weaknesses like all of the other characters. If he winds up being the son of the mad king he could even claim he’s the rightful next in line to the throne. It’s not what you’d expect but it’s not unbelievable.
Bonus: The Night King
What’s up with duke? He’s able to raise the dead. He’s super strong. (See that world record javelin throw from season 7 that changed the game.) He’s able to Warg inside the minds of animals (even dead ones!) He dresses like a Stark. Why is he trying to kill everyone and then raise the dead? Why hasn’t he killed Jon Snow already— he certainly could have on at least two occasions? Why does his crew always leave dead bodies in weird shapes and symbols. In short what is his endgame? Is it just a desire to rule a cold, dead world or is there something deeper to the character? One thing is for sure is that there is no other character who commands your attention like the Night King when he appears on screen.
Game of Thrones Recap S8-E1
Bruh. Bruh. Bruh! The wait is finally over.
We’ve been waiting almost two years for season 8 of Game of Thrones and it’s finally here replete with all the intrigue, violence, politics and fantasy that we love. I’m looking to recap every episode this season and give you some theories on what each episode tells us about what is to come.
Season 8 starts off hot with an updated credits sequence. We’re still going around Westeros and seeing every location that will be in this week’s episode but now with the updated credits we don’t just fly past the locations but actually peek inside the different castles. At Winterfell we see the interior layout from the towers to the grand dining hall all the way down to the crypts and the thing that made the hair stand up on the back of my neck was them showing the stone tiles churning under the crypts as if to say we will see beneath the crypts this season. We also see the wall has come down and the ground between the wall and Last Hearth, the home of the Umbers has turned icy blue to show that the army of the dead has made it to Last Hearth. As the credits roll on we see that the icy blue is on the other side of Last Hearth as well as if to say the dead haven’t just rolled up to Last Hearth but also taken over and started to move on. More on that later…
The episode formally starts with a young boy running through the woods and along the road of Wintertown just outside of Winterfell trying to catch a glimpse of the royal procession. We see Queen Daenerys and Jon Snow on horseback riding side by side along with the Unsullied and all of team Dany marching towards Winterfell. The Hound, Jorah Mormont, Missandei and Grey Worm, Tyrion and Varys. Gang gang! It’s a callback to Bran climbing the battlements to see King Robert’s approaching in the first episode of the series.
We see many other northerners on the side of the road and they don’t look happy to see a Targaryen queen and her army in the north. Dany looks a little shaken by the lack of love for a moment until her two dragons do a flyover and scare the shit out of half the crowd. She’s reminded of who she is and quickly regains her composure. Arya is in the crowd along the road instead of waiting with the other lords and ladies at Winterfell and we see her expression as she sees Jon, (joy) The Hound, (trepidation) and Gendry (lust????)
We get inside the walls of Winterfell for the introduction of Sansa and Daenerys. Dany is very warm and gracious and is all smiles but Sansa is obviously not pleased that Jon has bent the knee. Nonetheless she does tell Daenerys “Winterfell is yours, your grace.” Sansa’s greeting is as cold as Old Nan’s tits and the new Queen is not here for it. This frosty relationship will need to warm up quickly because we have bigger fish to fry. Bran says as much during the introductions telling everyone “we don’t have time for this!” Hopefully, they heed his words.
Jon Snow rode a fucking dragon!… And right before that Jon got on Rhaegal while Dany mounted Drogon and they all flew to a secluded spot in the north so that the dragons could find some food.
Gendry was hard at work making weapons out of dragonglass at the Winterfell forge when the Hound shows up and picks up an order. He likes to give Gendry a hard time whenever they speak. Arya pops up from behind the Hound scolds him about teasing Gendry. We get the long awaited Hound-Arya reunion and it’s very respectful. They wil be fighting alongside each other some time soon. Then the Hound walks off and Arya’s knickers seem to get positively moist while she talks to Gendry about making her a customized weapon. The feeling is obviously mutual as they cautiously feel each other out. Maybe Gendry will need to see Ser Davos about some of that fermented crab before the show is over.
Sansa questions Jon about why he bent the knee. Jon tells her he doesn’t care about anything except protecting the north. Sansa asks if he bent the knee because Dany is a good queen or because he is in love?
Down in King’s Landing Euron Greyjoy and Queen Cersei meet in the throne room to confirm delivery of the Golden Company and their 20,000 men– but sadly no elephants. He starts spitting his Iron Islands game and she gives back her cold Cersei vibe and then rolls her eyes and starts to exit the throne room. Strangely though she pauses and allows Euron to follow her to her chambers. After they finish boning she tells him to kick rocks so she can drink wine alone. It all seems like a plot by Cersei. She’s drinking wine right after she and Euron finish even though she told us last season that she was pregnant. She had relations with Euron moments after telling him that if he wanted some booty he needed to buy a whore. In that moment when she was getting ready to leave Euron standing in the throne room there was a look between Cersei and Qyburn right before Cersei allows Euron to follow her to her chambers… perhaps they are setting Euron up to make him think he’s a father-to-be to ensure his loyalty or perhaps they are just using his lust to make him personally vulnerable. Either way my favorite pirate Euron is going to get played…
…And to underscore that point the very next scene is Theon sneaking on board Euron’s ship with his team of Ironborn to free his sister Yara who Euron kidnapped last season. They kill a few guards and Theon frees Yara who is tied up. As she stands up Yara headbutts the shit out of Theon’s punk ass for letting her get captured in the first place! She forgives him though and helps him up but Yara has had enough of this political nonsense and she’s going home to the Iron Islands. Queen Dany can retreat there if things don’t go well in the North, she theorizes. Theon has other plans. He wants to go to Winterfell and join the fight. The Theon redemption tour continues.
Back at Winterfell Dany goes to thank Samwell Tarly for saving Ser Jorah’s life. This is another greet first meeting of key characters. Sam jokes that he may need a pardon for stealing books from the Citadel and stealing a sword from his father Randall Tarly. The wheels turn and Dany realizes she has flambeed the father of someone who has helped her immensely. Dany quickly tells him that she executed his father which Sam handles pretty well, until he hears that his brother was also executed. Sam breaks down and needs to be excused. This is a tough scene but the way she told him was key: she wasn’t cruel and she didn’t brag. There are a lot of Mad Queen/Dany has become too cruel theories out there but I’m not on board. She took responsibility. She may be callous in the field but she’s not personally cruel. She doesn’t relish in killing anyone but she doesn’t shy away from making tough decisions either. Nobody is going to be right all the time, but I think noting her temperament is key.
Samwell is deeply hurt by the news and is still reeling moments later when he sees Jon for the first time and per Bran’s recommendation tells Jon of his true parentage.
Yes, Jon knows he is Aegon Targaryen, sixth of his name. he knows he is the trueborn son of Rhaegar Targareyan and Lyanna Stark and he is rocked by this information but there was something about the way he accepted the news that made it seems like he wasn’t completely blown away. He questions why Ned lied to him and his next reaction is what this news will do to Dany.
“Daenerys is our queen,” he says. ”This is treason!”
“She shouldn’t be” is Sam’s immediate response.
Sam wants Jon to claim the throne. Sam’s first meeting with the queen has given him reason to believe Dany doesn’t have the requisite vision or compassion to lead the world. Sam has seen Jon first give his life and later give up the northern crown to save the people he cares about. Sam asks a great question: would Dany give up the crown to save the people she loves? Now even a Dany defender like me was put on pause by that question.
We see that our favorite bear-fucking redheaded wildling Tormund is still alive. He managed to make it to Last Hearth, the home of the Umbers in the north after being on the scene when the Night King burned down the wall with his undead dragon. Unfortunately, the army of the dead has beaten them there and taken all of the dead that they wanted and continued on (as per the credits!) Poor little Lord Umber’s body has been pegged to the wall with a spear or sword surrounded by the dismembered arms of a bunch of other corpses.
After Tormund, Beric and Lord Commander Edd run into each other at this ghastly scene we see little Lord Umber’s eyes open blue and the body comes back to life. Beric uses his flaming sword to re-kill the body. The body and the arms are that same spiral symbol that we’ve seen multiple times in the show but this time with an undead body in the center. It’s reminiscent of the vision that Bran has of when the Night King was created. They showed him tied to a tree and he gets stabbed through the heart with dragon glass and when they pan out the trees surrounding him fan out into a spiral. After Beric re-kills little Lord Umber the flame fans out and light up the dismembered arms in the spiral and what we see looks a lot like the sigil for House Targaryen.
Now this may be a spoiler or it may be Dothraki horseshit but I think it’s a warning that the Night King’s true target is the baby that Jon and Dany are going to have. We don’t even know that she’s pregnant yet but that’s definitely happening and maybe the Night King’s true target is that baby.
One of the central questions of this season is the Night King’s motives. Death, for certain, but it’s not that simple. We’ve seen him leave people alive multiple times. He could have killed Jon Snow and his whole team at the frozen lake in season 7 but his real target was the dragon. He had those spears waiting for a reason.
We know he can see Bran the way Bran sees everyone else so he can plan and strategize on a different level. He also left Craster (Gilly’s father) alive and safe in exchange for Craster giving the Night King his sons so we know he is willing to make deals and not just murder wantonly. The Night King has a specific goal that he’s been building towards and killing Jon Snow hasn’t been it so far. It would make sense that it’s a character that he hasn’t met yet and that flaming Targaryen symbol doesn’t feel coincidental. The show that took two years to come back and only has six episodes left doesn’t have time for cute coincidences.
Finally, we see Jaime Lannister show up at Winterfell, unshaven, hooded, traveling very humbly. And we see Jaime’s face turn to shock as an expressionless Bran is sitting there in his wheelchair waiting to greet him.
Jamie pushing Bran out of the tower window is what set the events of the story in motion is season 1. The War of the Five Kings and Ned Stark being killed and later Robb and Catelyn Stark. Bran being paralyzed, Rickon later dying. Arya being forced to flee King’s Landing, everything that happened to Sansa at the hands of Joffrey and (even worse) Ramsay could be traced back to Jamie and that’s not even talking about the fact that Jamie killed Daenerys’ father and forced her and her brother to flee to Essos. Jamie could be in hot water from everyone at Winterfell except for the fact that Bran has no time for personal agendas and he always sees the bigger picture. Expect Jamie to be allowed to join Team Winterfell with Bran and Brienne vouching for him.
Ray Romano’s Dad Comedy Hits Home
For his latest Netflix special, comedian Ray Romano returns to the Comedy Cellar doing two surprise gigs for unsuspecting fans.
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