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.
AMAZON’S “CARNIVAL ROW”
Just three episodes in and Carnival Row has me hooked and mesmerized by the sheer amount of work Amazon Studios has put into making and building a world set in a Victorian fantasy wonderland. It may feel familiar and even remind you of majestic scales seen in Harry Potter or even The Lord of the Rings but make no mistake this series stands on its own and will be the model other similar fantasy tales are told.
Amazon studios really delivered an amazingly realistic looking world!
Amazon studios really delivered an amazingly realistic looking world!
You also get hints of Sherlock Holmes from the many British actors the show puts on display. This world not only houses humans but it also features Fauns aka Critch or Puck. Which are humans with horns attached to their heads and goat legs for…. well legs of course. The second tier of creatures are the Fae who resemble humans at first glance but instead have wings on their backs. They are a non-violent group who fled their homeland from outside invaders. They’re also called Pix. The last group of other worldly beings are called the Pact, who are no friends to the Fae. I hesitate to enter spoiler territory as the reveal of what these creatures are can be seen early in the series.
The story is essentially a civil war among three groups of people and conflicts with the overpowering government in place. Mix that with the ongoing tensions of humans and creatures attempting to live in “harmony” in one land and you have yourself an amazing story relevant to our current state of disarray in this country.
Leading the cast are actors Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne who wonderfully steer this complex interweaving beautiful fantasy world in the right direction, each playing characters opposite of each other but also having their own past backstory of fighting together in a war as well as a blossoming romance between them. Enough so to make their current situation even that more appealing and engaging.
If that’s not enough there is a serial killer prowling about the city disfiguring their prey in a grotesque inhumane fashion. Another character worth mentioning is the actual city where most of the story takes place which is called the Burge. The city is brimming with life and cracks of danger lurking in each corner. Just the lighting alone from street lamps illuminating light in the dark noir city alley ways instantly puts you in that time period, not to mention the costume details of key characters. Amazon studios really delivered an amazingly realistic looking world. All worth investing your time and attention in to.
THE BEST PLAYER IN BASEBALL
It’s a Friday night and i’m finishing up some work waiting for a friend. So I click over to the Angels Seattle game and the first thing I see is the entire Angels team adorning the number 45, the number worn by their fallen teammate Tyler Skaggs who died of unknown circumstances. However there was something else that I came to realize while watching. Mike Trout really is one of the best baseball players i’ve ever seen!
The man delivers something productive practically every time I see him play. Whether i’m watching at the stadium, in an airport or at home. He’ll surely be diving in centerfield to rob a hit, stealing a base to get in scoring position or driving himself in with a 400 foot home run. His impact is beyond REAL!
If you haven’t seen him play, I suggest you catch it while you can. This level of excellence doesn’t come too often and you wouldn’t want to regret missing it. Let’s put it this way, Mike Trout signed a 12 year contract for…wait for it….$426.5 Million dollars plus a 20 million dollar bonus. And guess what? He’s not overpaid! The dude is really that good.
Mike Trout really is one of the best baseball players i’ve ever seen!
Mike Trout really is one of the best baseball players i’ve ever seen!
If you don’t believe me, just peep the stats. Coming into his 9th year in the league, the former rookie of the year, 2 time MVP (finished second 4 times) and 8 time all-star has been averaging 38 home runs, 101 rbi’s and a batting average of .306 per season. This is a Lebron in a lifetime type of talent with a lot more in the tank to go.
It may come as a surprise to the casual sports fan since Mike isn’t in every other commercial like most superstar athletes. But to baseball aficionados out there, this isn’t really a revelation at all. They’re just praying the Angels get some more talent around him to showcase those skills to the world or just trade him to the Yankees. I’m pretty sure New York can find a way to make some room for him.
WHEN THEY SEE US
When They See Us could have easily been called When They Hate Us. The reenactment of the level of vitriol and disdain towards the lives of these children of color served as a harsh reminder of the reality we still reside in. This series is grueling, alarming and absolutely necessary for every truth seeker to watch. The ability to share our stories and provide our perspectives is a powerful tool that hasn’t always been readily available to us. But times have changed and Ava DuVernay masterfully utilizes her platform to highlight the humanity behind these victims turned heroes.
The performance of the entire cast will garner a considerable amount of attention during award season. From the dynamics of Antron McCray’s (Caleel Harris/Jovan Adepo) relationship with his father (Michael Kenneth Willams) to the strength of faith illustrated by Yusuf Salaam (Ethan Herisse/Chris Chalk) and his mother (Aunjanue Ellis), the brilliance of acting is in heavy abundance. In particular Jharrel Jerome’s heart wrenching transformation into Korey Wise has audiences around the globe streaming much more than video.
Growing up as a 14 year old child in New York City during 1989, it was nearly impossible not to be affected by the pageantry of this case. Meeting up with groups of friends, parental concerns and police interactions were brought to the forefront in daily life. This could have happened to anyone including myself. The thought of being presumed innocent before proven guilty was never a concept my peers and I ever thought applied to us. The only goal was survival and to accomplish it as best as you can.
Unfortunately these kids were caught in the malicious plan of destroying black lives before they had the chance to begin. The true animals at large dealt them a fixed hand and discarded them with the expectation of never to be heard from again.
However they stayed true to themselves with the ideology of survival and persevered to expose the evil that men do. Thank you exonerated 5!