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 4, “The Last Starks.” 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. Cersei Lannister
Forget the Night King; our final Big Bad announced herself as Game of Thrones’ true heavy when she blew up the Sept of Baelor, driving her soft-boy son to high dive into the streets of King’s Landing. Safe and sound hundreds of miles away while the Army of the Dead ravaged Winterfell, Cersei’s been chillin’ out max, relaxin’ all cool, dropping some of hottest, most stylish looks the Seven Kingdoms has ever seen, waiting for her enemies to bring the fight to her backyard. Unlike Jon Snow and his “advisors,” Cersei seems like she has a real strategy; she’s commissioned hundreds of giant crossbows, which are apparently dragon kryptonite and something Dany and her peeps never even considered. She’s also commenced operation Human Shield, moving all of King’s Landing’s commoners into the Red Keep as sacrificial set dressing, basically telling Dany that if she wants a piece of her, she’ll have to go through them first. Finally, she’s tricking mall goth Captain Geech into thinking that she’s carrying his baby, despite the fact that Tyrion mentions the pregnancy, which he would have no way of knowing about if the baby were really Euron’s, but whatever. She mercilessly has Daenerys’ best friend beheaded, has the Golden Company waiting in the wings, and is all but daring Dany to make a move. It’s Cersei Season; come for the Lioness, you best not miss.
2. Euron Greyjoy
No one wants to give Seafaring Davey Havok less credit than me, but this man achieved what only the Night King and legends in the Citadel’s books could and slayed a dragon. He also bedded a queen, but that’s neither here nor there. Using his guy-liner like an athlete would use eye black, Euron stared up into the blue sky, shot his shot and connected. The accuracy was truly impressive, and so was the way that my guy stared down a furious Dany and Drogon and didn’t even flinch. In the after episode interview, co-creator Dan Benioff said that Dany and her forces “forgot” about the Iron Fleet, which is the kind of bullshit nonsense that we’re just going to have to roll with while trying to wrap up this sprawling epic. Capitalizing on this forgetfulness, Euron brings Dany down to just one living dragon, proving to the people of Westeros that these fire breathing death machines can easily be shot right out of the sky.
While White Walkers and wights were causing existential dread and very real carnage, thinkers like Sam, Tyrion, and the Master of Whisperers Varys were pretty much sidelined while the show’s warriors duked it out with the dead. But now with the Night King and his frozen commandos all thawed out, Varys is back wheelin’ and dealin’, looking out for the good of the realm and ready to flip on Dany before she becomes the Mad Queen. Talking treason with Tyrion, Varys makes the case as to why Daenerys may not be the great hope for the Seven Kingdoms like they believed, citing her belief in her “destiny” to rule as a potential red flag. Varys is Team Jon Snow, which I mean, really? For someone who sat on the sidelines while Ned Stark’s moralistic simplemindedness got him beheaded, and witnessed Jon’s lack of logical planning at the Battle of Winterfell, you’d think Varys would notice that Jon is cut from the same dim cloth. Regardless, Varys has begun in earnest to remove Dany from the chessboard. The Spider is back in action.
4. Sansa Stark
Varys doesn’t make the jump to Jon Snow 2020 without Sansa strategically spilling the Aegon Targaryen beans, so the Lady of Winterfell is a winner this week as well. Using the sort of strategic thinking that Littlefinger taught her, Sansa is also sowing the seeds of Dany’s demise. She immediately goes back on her word with Jon and reveals to Tyrion Jon’s true parentage, and once the secret is out, it spreads like wildfire. Sansa has distrusted Daenerys from the moment she arrived, and maybe for good reason! On a purely strategic basis, Sansa is the only one with the good sense to say, “Hey y’all, we just lost half of our forces to literal zombies, maybe we should take a breather,” and then Dany’s forces get absolutely rocked out at sea by the Iron Fleet. Now, there is that problematic scene with The Hound where some dude actually had the gall to make Sansa more or less say “Actually, suffering masochists and rapists was good because now I’m a Strong Female Character,” but the takeaway of that conversation is “Don’t save her; she don’t wanna be saved” and truly folks, she doesn’t need rescuing. There’s a good chance that this Stark could be sitting on the Iron Throne when the final credits roll.
Maybe the only character that I still give a damn about in this series, Bronn shows up in Winterfell with a crossbow (which apparently is the realm’s most fearsome, unbeatable weapon), plops himself down like Han Solo at the Cantina, and renegotiates his way into Highgarden. Bronn has been a charming, funny rouge for the entirety of this show’s run and it’s a small miracle that he’s still kicking around. Mans has been after a castle and lady since he first helped Tyrion in the Eyrie, and now he if Tyrion’s side is victorious, he’ll have arguably the finest castle that Westeros has to offer. He doesn’t even need to help in the fight; he’s just planning to watch from the sidelines and hope that the side with the dragons (whoops, dragon singular) wins.
1. Daenerys Targaryen
Dany’s stock has fallen drastically. Out of her original Conquest team, just Drogon and Grey Worm remain, with Varys and possibly Tyrion looking to abandon ship before she makes her transformation into the Mad Queen. Jorah’s death and Jon’s parentage reveal have left Dany stuck in a foreign place without anyone she can truly trust, a matter exasperated by the death of Missandei. She makes a great effort to stop the Aegon Targaryen train before it leaves the station, urging Jon to keep his secret to himself so that the reveal doesn’t take on a life of its own, but she does so begging from a place of desperation. Not a great look for a queen. Though incest is no biggie to a lifelong Targaryen, it’s a pretty big hang up for a newly minted dragonlord, so it looks like she’s lost her relationship with Jon. Then against the urging of Sansa, Dany rushes into a trip to Dragonstone, is ambushed by the Iron Fleet, and loses a dragon and her best friend in the process. No one wants Daenerys to go scorched-earth on King’s Landing, but Cersei is baiting her into it and the Mother of Dragons is too impulsive to back down. Personally, I think Dany being positioned as a weak-willed villain is interesting, but it’s happened so suddenly to a character that was previously built up to be benevolent and powerful that it’s causing me whiplash. Maybe there’ll be a last minute redemption for ol’Stormborn, but no one who takes this many L’s just starts behaving rationally.
2. Jon Snow
This dummy may be a Targaryen, but he’s truly Ned Stark’s son. Say what you want about Dany right now, but she was absolutely right when she urged Jon to just sit on his parentage information, especially if Jon means it when he says that he doesn’t want to rule. Sure, you don’t have to date your aunt if you don’t want to, but just keep your mouth shut about being a Targaryen and keep the pledge you made. But being an unwavering moralist like his Uncle Ned, he just has to have Bran reveal (keeping plausible deniability if it gets him in trouble with Dany donw the line) to Sansa and Arya the truth about his identity. Sure enough, Sansa takes all of five minutes to spill the tea to Tyrion and now Team Targaryen is splintering just as they head into a war with Cersei. God Jon, you’re such a goober. Good speech though, I guess.
Also, excuse me, but HOW DARE YOU DO GHOST DIRTY LIKE THAT! You don’t even pet him goodbye? THAT GOOD BOY SAVED YOUR LIFE HOW MANY TIMES, JON? JUST BECAUSE YOU’VE RODE A DRAGON (badly at that), YOU THINK YOU CAN TURN YOUR BACK ON YOUR DIRE WOLF?! YOU DESRVE EVERY BAD THING THAT MIGHT HAPPEN TO YOU FROM HERE ON OUT. Honestly, sir, how dare you.
3. Tyrion Lannister
The imp is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Tyrion knows that Varys is making sense, that every day Dany strays farther from being the wheel breaker that they had hoped for, but he’s not ready to abandon ship just yet (though he did have to literally abandon a ship in this episode). While Tyrion is back trading barbs with Varys and making backroom deals with Bronn, he’s being forced to ask himself difficult questions about what a ruler should be and who people will be willing to follow. What really makes him a loser this week is that he has another high-profile failure right in front of his queen. Still harboring a soft spot for Cersei, he tries to appeal to the mother in her and gets Missandei executed in the process. Fighting hard to keep Daenerys from lighting up King’s Landing like the Fourth of July, Tyrion probably pushes her further toward plan “Burn them all.” From being hopelessly devoted to considering treason in just a few short episodes’ time, Tyrion is having to consider that he may have backed the wrong claim.
Look, you can’t lose your head and not get singled out as a loser. Dems da rules. Missandei will never make it back to the beaches of Naath, as she’s executed after being captured by Euron Greyjoy’s fleet. It’s a sad ending for one of Game of Thrones’ only characters of color, being essentially killed as fodder for Dany’s heel turn. Missandei uses her last words to bellow out a final “Dracarys,” urging her friend to pull a Seth Rollins and burn it all down. However, that final proclamation could lead to Dany’s own advisors turning on her to protect innocent lives. Now, I want fire and blood just as much as Missandei did in her last moments, but it’s not a great long-term strategy. Sadly, I’m not too sure Missandei was thinking about the long-term in that moment.
5. Brienne of Tarth
Brienne of Tarth finally consummates her relationship with Jaime Lannister. He decides to stay in the North with her as she protects Sansa Stark. They live happily ever after. PSYCH! Despite finally getting to ride the golden lion, Jaime decides to leave Brienne for King’s Landing, and more specifically Cersei, when he learns that she’s moving the people of King’s Landing into the Red Keep. Just as she allows herself to be truly vulnerable with Jaime, just as they consummate their long brewing relationship, just as it looks like they’re finally going to settle down together, Jaime declares himself evil and takes off for Cersei. Then Brienne, a noble, strong, powerful knight of the Seven Kingdoms, cries. It’s at once understandable and out of character for Brienne.
Tormund Giantsbane – Also heartbroken, but he’s alive and now has a dire wolf. DILLY DILLY! – WINNER
Samwell Tarly – CONGRATS ON THE SEX, SAM! – WINNER
Gendry Baratheon – Lord of Storm’s End. Legitimized. Turned down. – LOSER
Arya Stark – On the road again, I can’t wait to be on the road again. – WINNER
The Hound – As he tells Gendry, get busy livin’ or get busy dying. – WINNER
Grey Worm – You jinxed it, bud. – LOSER
Jaime Lannister – The heart wants what the heart wants, but sometimes the heart is an idiot. – LOSER
Jorah Mormont – Only got a kiss from Dany in death. – LOSER
Ghost – Screw Jon Snow. Still an Extremely Good Boy. – 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.