You can finally stop chugging the dreamwine — HBO’s Game of Thrones is officially back for its second season, and you’ll want to be as clearheaded as possible for what’s going down in the Seven Kingdoms. In last week’s premiere, Joffrey was getting slapped and killing babies; Robb was settling in nicely as King in the North; and Stannis was claiming the Iron Throne was his by right of blood and birth. Meanwhile, things weren’t going so well for Cersei, who suddenly had to deal with Tyrion as the King’s Hand; Daenerys, who was wandering through a hellish region called the Red Waste; and Jon Snow, who while rightfully creeped out by Craster’s Keep, managed to seriously piss off the Lord Commander.
As Cersei Lannister once said, “When you play the game of thrones you win, or you die. There is no middle ground.” In that spirit, each week we’ll be ranking the show’s major characters’ performance in these high stakes power games, and declaring winners and losers. Let us know if you agree with our assessment of tonight’s episode in the comments.
Tyrion Lannister: As Tyrion warns The Spider when he catches him poking about his chambers: “I don’t like threats… I’m not Ned Stark, I understand how this game is played.” He later proves it by getting rid of Lord Janos, telling him, “I intend to serve as Hand of the King until my father returns from the war. And seeing as how you betrayed the last Hand of the King, well I just wouldn’t feel safe with you lurking about.”
Bronn: From sellsword to newly-minted commander of the City Watch. Not bad at all.
Arya Stark: It turns out that the Gold Cloaks weren’t chasing her after all. Gendry might know her true identity now, but he seems like a trustworthy ally.
Stannis Baratheon: With the help of former smuggler Lord Davos (and promises of gold), he’s slowly building a fleet to take down King’s Landing. Now that he has given “all of himself” to Melisandre the Lord of Light, he will supposedly finally have a son.
Melisandre: Having sex on that map looked potentially painful, but she’s obviously becoming more and influential at Dragonstone.
Daenerys Targaryen: Only one of the riders she sent out on a scouting mission has returned — and he’s missing his body.
Janos Slynt: From commander of the City Watch to life in the Night’s Watch. Have fun on the Wall. We’ve heard that it’s surprisingly beautiful — albeit in a “brutal, horribly uncomfortable sort of way.”
Theon Greyjoy: Not only did he not get that warm homecoming he was expecting, he also unknowingly puts the moves on his sister. Plus, it seems like Theon’s dad hates him just as much as the rest of the Starks.
Cersei Lannister: It can’t be much fun to find out secondhand that your baby is a baby slaughterer — even if they were your dead husband’s bastards.
Jon Snow: Was finding out the truth about what Craster does with his sons really worth getting clocked in the head?