The Game of Thrones is a deadly one, and like all good games, it has winners and losers. Welcome to Game of Thrones: Winners & Losers, where we take in the latest episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones and determine the top MVP’s as well as those who were handed a healthy dose of defeat.
Below you’ll find the winners and losers for Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 2, “Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.” If you find your favorite character listed as a loser, just remember that the tides on Game of Thrones are always shifting; I swear it by the Old Gods and the New.
*Spoilers for the latest episode of Game of Thrones below*
1. Jaime Lannister
The Kingslayer kept his head after meeting an increasingly frustrated Daenerys, and seeing how she likes to solve her problems with dragon fire even when she’s in a good mood, that’s a huge win. But Jaime did more than just survive “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”; in an episode best described by The Hound as like “a bloody wedding,” Jaime successfully mingled with Winterfell’s finest, getting absolved of his sins by Bran, having his honor defended by Brienne, and reconnecting with his brother.
Honestly, after getting stuck in the Dorne plot and wasting time stuck by the side of his nightmare of a sister, it was nice to see Jaime involved in meaningful dialogue. The best moment, of course, was when he gave a finger to Westeros’ gender politics and knighted Brienne of Tarth. It wasn’t the romantic moment that some fans may have hoped for, but it was a perfect way to end the arc of their unlikely friendship. In a single episode, Jaime dropped the “anti” part of his “anti-hero” label and tied up pretty much all of his non-Cersei related loose ends. That doesn’t bode well for his fate in next week’s battle, but for one long night at Winterfell, the Golden Lion shined again.
2. Ser Brienne of Tarth
It’s 2019 and women can be knights now, deal with it, MRA turds. Did you see the smile that this big, beautiful warrior gave when Jaime officially made her a Knight of the Seven Kingdoms? It could have melted the Wall just as easily as zombie ice dragon fire. Similar to Jaime, it felt like Brienne’s character arc was completed last night, which probably doesn’t spell good things for her in Episode 3, but we’ll worry about that later.
Brienne is able to come to Jaime’s aide and defend his honor in front of Dany, Sansa, and Jon, basically making her and Jaime even for the time he saved her from that bear (ah, the good ol’ days). She also gets the satisfaction of having Jaime ask if he can fight under her command, which probably felt as validating as when I get more than three people to like one of my tweets.
Side note: It’s pretty weird that Brienne is pretty much the only person actually talking military strategy in an episode that is all about prepping for war, but whatever. Brienne is one of the purest people on this show and is also the reason why we get those amazing Horny Tormund moments, so god bless her.
3. Sansa Stark
I saw a lot of people last week pushing back on Arya’s proclamation that Sansa is the smartest person that she knows, and honestly, how dare they question Sansa’s smarts. This girl survived the Cersei Lannister School of Passive Aggression and is the only reason Jon Snow wasn’t buried in a pile of bodies outside of Winterfell’s walls. Oh, and this week she apparently hired Cersei’s stylist? Anyway, she can politic with the best of them, is keenly aware that Men are Trash, and as a leader, she has a singular focus on doing what’s best for the North.
Case and point: in her “hey, let’s try this again” scene with Daenerys, she’s smart enough to dial down the sass and play nice. Have you ever seen two girls that you know actually hate each other pretend that they’re new besties? Yeah, Sansa was great at pretending up until the moment that it was time to talk about the future of the North. Sansa doesn’t give a single dragon shit about Dany’s one goal, she promised that the North would never bend the knee again, and she intends to keep that promise. “WHAT ABOUT THE NORTH” she bellows and she does not back down. This girl is doing everything right, as long as that long embrace with Theon doesn’t spell any sort of romantic future. No one wants that.
4. Arya Stark
A girl knows what she wants, and a girl gets it. Is there anyone with more Big Dick Energy on this show right now than Arya? She’s walking around looking at everyone with this bemused superiority and I’m here for it. Clowning the Hound and Beric, showing off her dagger throwing skills, and then just cutting right to the chase with Gendry, asking for Robert Baratheon’s bastard’s hammer (sorry). Gendry may have more experience, but Arya was totally driving this hookup.
Seriously, this might be the healthiest sex scene that this show has ever had, even though I had to frantically search Google for Maisie Williams’ age before I could stop making the same face as the clenched teeth emoji. After watching her grow up on screen, it was sort of like watching my scary, murderous daughter seduce someone, but she’s a grown-ass woman now so I should stop being patronizing like Gendry was when he questioned her weapon skills. It’s the end of the world as we know it, and Arya wasn’t going out with her V-card. Now, that brooding post-coital look didn’t exactly say that Gendry delivered, which is strange because you’d think that all of that rowing and running we’ve seen the kid do would signal good things about his stamina, but who knows. Whatever, Arya and Gendry shippers rejoice!
5. Bran Stark
The man that launched a thousand memes. Bran’s detached Doctor Manhattan routine is just great deadpan comedy. “The things we do for love” was an absolute zinger! Bran’s a winner this week for essentially telling Jaime that he’s above all of this petty human shit, which is pretty goddamn Zen and admirable of him if you forget that he’s basically more encyclopedia than human at this point. Bran also gets a W for clearing up the Night King’s motives. All last week the internet was flooded with thinkpieces about what the Night King’s true intention is, and thanks to Bran, now we know: The Night King wants to kill the Three-Eyed Raven, to help erase the history of man.
Like Brienne above, Bran is one of the only people talking actual battle strategy, saying that he’ll use himself as bait in the Godswood to draw the Night King in (I wish someone would look at me the way that Bran looks at that weirwood tree). Theon will be serving as his protector though, which isn’t great (“Seriously, no other volunteers?” Bran should have said). Still, Bran seems like the only person with an actual plan before this bloodbath happens.
1. Daenerys Targaryen
I feel a heel turn coming, folks. Daenerys is a sore loser and she’s done nothing but take L’s since landing in Winterfell. This week continues the losing streak, starting with her losing the right to roast Jaime alive in the court of public opinion. After giving one of her great speeches about the fall of the Targaryens and her humble origins, Brienne, Sansa, and Jon swiftly extinguish her revenge campaign with little care for her bloodlust. For a queen, it has to be pretty humiliating to be publicly denied like that.
Then Dany’s girl-power schtick totally fails to charm Sansa yet again. The North wanting independence is a huge problem without a solution that works out in Dany’s favor. That scrunched-up, fake-ass smile is becoming the look of failure. Then to cap it all off, her new boo thing reveals himself to be her nephew, and even worse, the true heir to the Iron Throne. You could hear the rage in her voice bubbling up as she started to process the information, and before she can get any reassurance from Young Aeg, the battle horns are blown, leaving the succession discussion frustratingly unfinished. Dany reminds us in the episode that sitting on the Iron Throne has been her only goal and the one thing keeping her going throughout all of the adversity that she’s faced. I’m certain she’d turn on Jon if it meant securing her kingdom. If the dead are defeated, Dany still has a ton of obstacles ahead, and as they start to pile up, she’s started looking more and more like the Mad King’s daughter.
2. Tyrion Lannister
Somehow even more washed than his brother who lost a hand and apparently used boxed dye to color his hair. Does Tyrion have any use anymore? Even his bits, like the old “dying in my bed at 80” line, are getting stale. Jaime confirms what everyone with a brain implicitly knew, that Cersei is not lending a hand to assist in their battle against the dead, making Tyrion look at best like a traitor and at worst like a fool, according to Dany. My guy is dangerously close to losing his position as Hand of the Queen and instead of using that brain of his for military strategy, he spends his time pondering what life will be like as a wight. At least he gets a rundown from Bran about all of this Three-Eyed Raven business.
Maybe the biggest disappointment was that Tyrion was completely overshadowed by other characters in the big “drinking by the fire” scene. This used to be Tyrion’s arena, a setting where he could dazzle with his wit and charm, but here he’s lost in the mix between Tormund’s bat-shit giant milk story, Pod’s pipes, and Brienne’s knighting ceremony. Maybe there will be less competition for “life of the party” down in the Winterfell crypts.
3. Samwell Tarly
Look, this episode did not have many clearly defined losers. Everyone was being pretty chummy, setting differences aside as they wait for the fight of their lives. One person who it looks like will not be doing any fighting is Samwell Tarly, despite his impressive resume. Part of the reason why I have Sam as a loser is the way that his Night’s Watch brothers totally take a dump on his track record, pointing out that he only killed a Thenn and not “Thenns” among other subtle digs. I know it was light ribbing, but put some goddamn respect on Sam the Slayer’s name.
I also didn’t love the way that he just handed Heartsbane over to Jorah, admitting that he can’t even lift it properly. Even though Sam has played a huge role in helping Winterfell prepare for the impending battle, not being able to fight means that he’ll be practically helpless as the Army of the Dead invade Winterfell. Essentially having your agency stripped isn’t the makeup of a winner, but we may be surprised by Sam’s resourcefulness once again if and when the Dead encroach on the crypt.
4. Jorah Mormont
Of course the only person in the Seven Kingdoms that is more washed than Tyrion Lannister comes to Tyrion’s defense. Maybe not the best time to throw your support behind Tyrion, even though Jorah was only trying to keep Dany from doing something impulsive. I know many people would mark Jorah as a winner for gaining his very own Valyrian Steel sword, but this could end up backfiring for the Lord of the Friendzone.
Allow me to get a little bit speculative here, but the legend of Azor Ahai, the prince that was promised, still lingers. In the legend, Azor Ahai uses his burning sword, Lightbringer, to defeat the Others and end the Long Night. It’s said that Lightbringer only became a weapon capable of ending the darkness after Azor plunged the sword through the heart of his true love, the sacrifice combining her soul with the steel of the sword. Many people think that Dany or Jon (Valyrian prophecies play loose with gender) must be Azor, and even Jaime has been mentioned as possibly being the prince that was promised. But what if Jorah is actually Azor Ahai? His new sword is literally called “Heartsbane,” which is fitting for the prophecy, and we know that he has true, burning love for Daenerys. What if Jorah is forced to sacrifice his one true love to save the realm? That would be rough for him, I imagine.
Oh and Jorah is a loser for the way that his cousin Layanna totally tells him to fuck off, she’ll be fighting right alongside her men with honor, thank you very much.
5. Grey Worm
If movies, television, and books have taught me anything, it’s that you don’t make a “After all of this is over, you and me should get out of here” speech before a conflict to your love interest and live to follow through on it. That’s like being a cop close to retirement and taking on one more deadly case. You’re doomed, bro.
Grey Worm and Missandei have been having a pretty shit time at Winterfell (there’s a literal army of zombies coming, and Winterfell common folk are still being racist) and I feel like things are only going to get worse from here. There’s no beach vacation happening for Grey Worm, accept it.
Davos Seaworth – Basically a cafeteria worker. – LOSER
Jon Snow – Couldn’t have waited to drop that bombshell? – LOSER
Gilly – Great with children. – WINNER
Tormund Giantsbane – Got milk? – WINNER
Gendry – She didn’t look satisfied, dude. And if we’re playing by American Pie’s rules, whenever a guy says how many people he’s slept with, you should divide that number by 3, because he’s probably trying to look like a player. So that 3 is likely more like a one. – LOSER
Ghost – Sat out since Season 6 only to be brought back to participate in a death mission? This Good Boy deserves better. – LOSER
Podrick Payne – Dropping the hottest mixtape of the Winter. – WINNER
Beric Dondarrion and The Hound – If Arya calls you miserable, that should be a serious wake up call. –LOSERS
Cersei Lannister – Not even on screen and still winning. – WINNER
Nick Harley is a tortured Cleveland sports fan, thinks Douglas Sirk would have made a killer Batman movie, Spider-Man should be a big-budget HBO series, and Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson should direct a script written by one another. For more thoughts like these, read Nick’s work here at Den of Geek or follow him on Twitter.