Each week we’ll slot each Game of Thrones plotline into tiers from most to least interesting. These scientific, analytics-based rankings are 100 percent objective and cannot be disputed. Dissenters will be warned once and only once. Subsequent infractions will result in a dragonglass spear to the chest. Enjoy.
The “Everyone Shut the Hell Up So I Can Hear This” Tier
Prior to this season, you’d have to visit Slate or Salon to find a post arguing that Brandon Stark owns the series’ best plotline (Why Osha Dragging Bran Through The Woods on a Sled is a Landmark Moment for Neo-Feminism). Today, right now, I get more excited when Bran shows up than any other character.
Bran is our window into Westeros’ deeeeeeep mythology, a mythology that’s playing an increasingly critical role in our protagonists’ lives. Think about what readers and non-readers alike have learned this season as a direct result of Bran’s story:
• Who made the White Walkers, and why
• What went down at the Tower of Joy (to be continued)
• How Hodor got his name, and why
• The Night’s King can see and interact with wargs (or at least Bran)
Brandicap will also likely unlock Jon’s true parentage and bring Coldhands into the fold before the season is through. Bran’s story is on one right now. Just sit back and enjoy it.
So much dopeness going down in Starkworld. Jon coming back to life and losing his man bun. Sansa shedding her naivety to become a confident, pragmatic Stark capable of rallying Northern families to her cause. Tormund turning into a smitten schoolgirl whenever he’s around Brienne. Olly getting his just comeuppance. Ramsay making his move to rule the North. Melisandre getting on that AARP flow. Wun Wun ending a dude’s watch by smashing him against a wall. Edd running shit. Davos smuggling in some much-needed guidance. The Raptors evening up their series with Cleveland at home. Rickon…well, Rickon is still as useless as ever. Events here feel critical to the story’s final phase in a way that’s lacking anywhere else except the Weirwood tree.
Side note: boss-ass Sansa is rapidly becoming one of the show’s best characters. Yeah, she maybe should have cut Littlefinger into bite-sized pieces or brought him into the fold, but that would have robbed us of an amazing scene in which she owns the unownable Petyr Baelish. FUCKIN OWNS HIM! Which obviously means she’ll die a horrible, unexpected death at his hands two seasons from now.
The “Gonna Fold This Laundry Quick” Tier
The payoff to this interminable three-way chess match between the Lannisters, Tyrells and the Faith Militant will likely be worth the wait. Right now, though, we’re stuck with Frankenmountain scaring cats and Kevan Lannister acting like a Plastic by relocating small council meetings to avoid sitting with the unpopular girl. Amendment 27, article 4 of the Constitution [copy editor please verify before publishing] expressly forbids this show from having Natalie Dormer wallow in filth for more than five episodes. And huh would you look at that, we’ve reached the limit. FREE MY MARGAERY FROM HER MOLDY DUNGEON AND STICK HER IN A TIGHT-FITTING CORSET BY NEXT WEEK OR I’M TAKING THIS ALL THE WAY TO THE SUPREME COURT, BENIOFF! AT-TIC-CA! AT-TIC-CA! AT-TIC-CA!
Through four episodes Pyke was squarely in the bottom tier. But Euron’s arrival and the ensuing Kingsmoot that resulted from him pitching his decrepit, perpetually grumpy brother off a bridge livened things up considerably. Euron beat out Yara for control of the Iron Islands because Pyke is apparently where the men’s rights movement originated, but she and her brother with the Ken-doll groin region arguably won the day by stealing Euron’s ships while Gandalf made him suck brine. Didn’t think to leave a few men behind to watch over the fleet, dumbass?
Also, Euron, my man: I know you’ve been away for a while. But did you happen to notice your home is a land of salt and stone? Timber ain’t your main export, homie. There are, like, nine trees on Pyke. Where do you think you’re getting the wood for 1,000 ships to sail all the way to wherever Dany’s at to give her the pipe? And how are you making sails when your women have made it clear that they do not sew? Good luck chasing down your niece and nephew, too. They’ve got about a year head start on your Horn of Joramun-less ass. Your plan is butt, Euron.
It’s a testament to the sharp writing and brilliant chemistry between Peter Dinklage and Conleth Hill that Tyrion’s and Varys’ Stargate pyramid adventures aren’t lower on the list. Are they in a union or something? Seems like they sit around all day shooting the shit without ever really getting much accomplished. Still, we have lots of irons in the fire here to go along with Varys’ member: Tyrion’s détente with the Sons of the Harpy, another ruby-adorned Red Priestess, a potential slavers revolt. Mereen is about to be lit, and I’d be shocked if the ensuing fallout doesn’t catapult this storyline into the top tier.
Dany, Sonny from Treme, and Reptile Arm
/David Spade strolls into Vaes Dothrak on the way back from the unemployment office
“Hey, Dany. I liked your story better when it was called ‘SEASON ONE!’ Buh-bye.”
/is promptly disemboweled by Daario while Jorah makes a mixtape
The “DONNNNNNNNNNNNT CARRRRRRRRRRRRRE” Tier
AYO, WE KNOW YOU HAVE NO NAME! MAYBE IT’S BECAUSE YOU’VE BEEN HIT IN THE HEAD WITH A STAFF SO MANY TIMES YOU HAVE CTE. “Actually,” interjects Roger Goddell, “there’s no proven link between head trauma and—”
/gets hit in the face with stick to wild applause
There’s no reason Arya couldn’t have taken a Brancation and reappeared when her training was about to wrap. The show took a once beloved character and turned her into a Braavosi piñata. Yes, her combat and face-swapping abilities will undoubtedly play an important role in the story’s endgame. Right now, though, Arya is nothing more than a needless detour from more compelling storylines.
Sam and Gilly
“Hey, these scenes showing Westeros’ rich mythology, Jon’s resurrection, Sansa’s growth into a smart, confident badass, Dany spit-roasting Dothraki leaders, and Tyrion and Varys trying to govern a society are pretty dope, but why haven’t we spent more time in the bowels of a ship watching tertiary characters vomit into wooden buckets? Feels like a huge missed oppor—”
/gets hit in the face with stick to wild applause
Remember Dorne? Neither does this show. Last we saw the land of sun and stabbing, Ellaria shanked poor, underutilized Prince Doran and took out his 350-pound elite bodyguard with a letter opener to the back, while in King’s Landing, the Sand Snakes sunspeared Trystane through the face. That happened three weeks ago. We haven’t checked in on the fallout since. Dorne is so inconsequential at the moment that I originally forgot to include it on this list. Dorne is Dodgson; nobody cares.
The wackjob who sucked his crazy momma’s tit until he was old enough to ride big boy roller coasters now commands a massive army. And Littlefinger is his chief advisor. Can’t imagine this going sideways, nope, not at all. Lord Robin is the Westerosi Charlie (wild card, bitches!) He could swing the Northern war toward Jon and Sansa or stick his dick in the mashed potatoes. The little twat is completely unpredictable. So I’m….
Arryn on the side of caution and letting it play out.
The “Wait, is that motherfucker still rowing?” Tier
“Narrow fuckin Sea, my ass…”