Game of Thrones is Bad About Rape

In light of the recent controversy brought on by an old rape joke of Jason Momoa’s resurfacing, I thought I would make a brief statement about this.

There is no room for equivocation.  There is no need to defend the show on this particular topic.  Game of Thrones, by which I mean the producers, writers, directors, and many of the actors, as well as the broader cultural phenomenon, is a show that is at best, very thoughtless, and at worst, dangerous in its depictions of rape.

The show has capitalized on rape since episode one.  It has shown a female rape victim growing agency through the dubious plot point of changing sex positions with her rapist and then falling in love with him.  One director has depicted a scene in which a male character physically holds down a female character, rips her clothes, and has sex with her while she is saying “no,” and explained in an interview that the sex “became consensual” by the end.  At least one episode has men raping women in the background of scenes literally as set decoration.  Another episode concluded with the just-offscreen rape of a major female character, filmed immediately after the actress turned eighteen, and centering the scene on the sad reaction of a male character who was forced to watch.

Game of Thrones is a TV series created by two men, based on a book series written by a man, produced on a network whose board of directors is almost entirely men.  Out of 67 aired episodes, women have had a hand in writing three, and directing four episodes.  I do not grant these men the benefit of the doubt in their decisions relating to the depiction of rape onscreen.  I do not support any of these choices and will not apologize for them.  My interest in the series is in spite of, not because of these things.  I just wanted to make that absolutely clear.

The Best Game of Thrones Youtube Concept

Steve has never seen an episode of Game of Thrones before.  He started watching in August 2017 in the middle of season seven, and he’s been making his way through the series ever since.  Seriously, I hate gimmicky comedy videos, but these are fantastic.  I love his nicknames for characters and his rather surprisingly sharp inferences, but I love his wrong impressions even better.

Podcast Recommendation: History of Westeros

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One of my life goals is to become a pop culture podcaster.  In the meantime, until I learn how sound recording works, I get by with listening to the best of the best.  History of Westeros recently put out an entire two-hour episode focused specifically on speculation about what Jaime Lannister will be up to next season.  This is really the perfect combination of three of my favorite things (podcasting, wild predicting, and the Kingslayer).  If that sounds like fun to you, check it out!

Every animal on Game of Thrones, ranked

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Aside from Zoobilee Zoo and other children’s programming, I can’t think of very many contemporary TV shows that feature animals to such an extent as Game of Thrones.  Whether fantasy or real-world, treasured companions or tools of battle, cuddly Sers or toothy beasts, every animal of Game of Thrones has brought an extra level of emotional investment and often incredible spectacle.

See below my personal ranking of the best animals of Game of Thrones, from my least to most favorite.  Please note: my criteria for including animals on this list meant that we had to actually see them on screen which unfortunately ruled a few out.

A warning: some of the images below may be considered graphic or disturbing.  If you watch Game of Thrones you shouldn’t have a problem, but I figured it’s only fair to properly prepare you.

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19. Pie pigeons. The last victims of King Joffrey’s petty and unnecessary cruelty.  RIP pigeons.

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18. Dany’s silver mare. The first gift that Drogo ever gave Dany, she was a very pretty and good horse until she starved. It might have been a little more sad if Dany had cared enough to give her a name, though.

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17. Shaggydog. Look, I’m just saying, I’m pretty sure the entire existence of Shaggydog and Rickon in general is an instance of G.R.R.M. trolling us, and so far no one has been able to convince me otherwise. He had a couple of cool moments protecting Rickon and Bran in season 3, but he’s definitely the least interesting of the direwolves.

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16. Ser Gregor’s horse. The time that the Mountain threw a tantrum about losing a tournament and beheaded his own horse is one of my favorite early WTF moments from Game of Thrones, the kind of scene that said “haha yeah you thought we were just having a fun friendly tourney but lol we’re going to show you horrific violence against innocent creatures.”

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15. Tywin’s dead stag. Look, I’ll admit I’m kind of an idiot about noticing visual details that aren’t directly referenced by dialogue. But even I noticed that the introduction of the entire character of Tywin Lannister is set against a background of him expertly skinning a huge dead stag. Also, apparently the actor straight up learned how to skin a deer on the same day they filmed it, which you’d never know honestly.

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14. Lady. Ugh guys. What happened to Lady at the end of the second episode was so wrong. It’s such a great character moment for Cersei, Robert, and Ned, though. Cersei levels up in cruelty. Robert, instead of refusing to issue an absurd order that has nothing to do with the actual crime, shrugs and shows his weakness as a king. And Ned, even though he too knows that his daughter’s wolf is completely blameless, is too honorable to refuse. I mean, no wonder Sansa was kind of snotty to both him and Arya for a while afterwards. True, she could have told the truth about what happened by the river, but it’s absolutely not her fault that the ADULTS in the room dramatically overreacted and killed this poor innocent doggie.

Okay, I made myself too sad about that one, so please enjoy a happy picture of Sophie Turner, who adopted the real-world dog that played Lady.  She’s actually fine, guys.

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13. Rhaegal. I’m not saying he’s a bad dragon, but to be totally honest I have no idea if this is even an actual picture of Rhaegal. I couldn’t tell you which one he is nor could I differentiate him from Viserion pre-zombification. I’m sure Rhaegal’s a great guy and when Jon rides him into battle later, he’ll probably jump several ranks on this list. Let’s check back in with him in a couple of years.

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12. Nymeria. Like Rhaegal, Nymeria has some potential, but so far she just hasn’t done a whole lot of note. She seems like she’s having a great time in the Riverlands, though, and I’m excited to see her hopefully come back for at least one great scene next season.

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11. Various battle horsies. I don’t enjoy watching the more realistic battle scenes, especially when they involve horses getting chopped up and stabbed and speared. That said, they are GREAT for building tension with hoofbeats in the distance. Also, cavalrymen have a nice way of coming in and saving the day when you think all is lost (the Knights of the Vale in the Battle of the Bastards, Stannis’s men against the wildlings north of the Wall).

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10. Ramsey’s dogs. Up until the end of season 6, this is probably the most I have ever hated a dog, real or fictional. They are nasty and vicious creatures. And I hate the implication that they are probably mistreated and/or starved to make them behave this way. That said, they eat up Ramsey in the end, which is pretty great. I hope that afterwards, some nice people at Winterfell took them in and treated them right so that they could rehabilitate and be good doggies.

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9. Wight polar bear. I have heard that some whiners are mad about the zombie polar bear of season 7, because its inclusion only draws attention to the lack of Ghost. Look. I’m as big a Ghost fan as anybody (see below). But if you did not find this scene to be the most horrifying and nail-biting battle moment of the episode, I don’t know what to tell you. It’s a BIG DEAD BEAR. ON FIRE.

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8. Ser Pounce. He is a good kitty who, like much of the rest of Westeros, breathed a sigh of relief when Joffrey died and he no longer had to fear him. Poor baby Tommen: he’s supposed to be a lion, but he was really just a soft kitty cat all along. I still maintain that nothing that happened to him was ever his fault. Does anybody know what Ser Pounce has been up to lately though?

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7. Grey Wind. We’re entering the top half of direwolves now. No doubt, if I were going into battle, Grey Wind is the one I would choose to have at my side. He eats the Greatjon’s fingers, fights at Robb’s side, and scares Jaime Lannister. I refuse to even post the final picture that shows what happens to him. RIP Grey Wind.

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6. Viserion. The middle-ranking dragon has definitely risen in the rankings this season; it’s amazing what getting killed and resurrected as a zombie dragon can do for your personality. I can’t wait to see what happens to Viserion next season, unless it’s horrifying and upsetting, which to be honest it probably is.

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5. Summer. This direwolf is a VERY GOOD BOY and I don’t know if I can get through this paragraph. Summer, I’m going to remember you faithfully waiting for Bran while he climbed around the walls of Winterfell, defending Bran and Catelyn against the assassin sent to kill him, and protecting Bran, Meera, Jojen, and Hodor as you traveled north of the Wall. I hope you’re enjoying lots of belly rubs and fresh meat treats in direwolf heaven with your brothers and sister.

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4. Ravens. Okay so not only are ravens super useful for warging, I sometimes forget about how they are the sole means of rapid communication between cities for anyone who doesn’t have greensight. Seriously, it’s freaking amazing that these birds can go back and forth with messages so well. I’m also really looking forward to some kind of reveal, at least in the books, that may suggest that many of the ravens and other birds we’ve seen in passing are actually Bran warging or three-eyed-ravening around the country.

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3. The Bear (and the Maiden Fair). This is such a great scene in a standout episode of Game of Thrones. I have to imagine that when G.R.R.M. was dreaming up his original vision, the above image popped fully formed into his mind, and a big part of the past twenty years has been his efforts to get it realized in the world. I hope he was as happy with it as I am.

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2. Drogon. Obviously the best of the dragons, Drogon has improved from being an annoying teenager who keeps a very messy room, to a very useful guy who you DO NOT want to mess with. I’m so relieved that he wasn’t he one who got taken down by the Night King, and it’s going to break my heart when he has to go up against his bro Viserion, but I believe in you, Drogon. You’re doing amazing sweetie.

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1. Ghost. Ghost is objectively the best animal on this whole show, there is no doubt. And it’s possible that this post was partly motivated by an idle hope that the show’s producers like to troll the internet for fan responses, and that if so, I request that you please bring me more Ghost okay?

Now, I will concede, that it cannot be easy to properly animate Ghost, especially in scenes where he directly interacts with humans. The above picture is good evidence of that. But if you can make me deeply respond to a CGI zombie king throwing a CGI spear into the heart of a CGI dragon, I’m not entirely sure what is so difficult about a big dog basically. And I swear to you right now, even if you don’t ever totally figure out how to make Ghost look quite right, I literally won’t care. My heart will overcome any complaints about whether he looks quite right on screen. I just want to see him again.

Honorable mentions:

  • Lions – I’ve posted about this before, you know I want it. Since the previous post, I’ve done some research and learned that lions were indeed once plentiful in the Westerlands, until they were hunted near to extinction. But, I mean, there still are lions somewhere probably. And I would like one please.
  • Sheila – Tormund’s bear girlfriend. You know, I’m not entirely sure that Tormund has been lying to us about her. Would it really be the most implausible thing on this show?
  • Ice spiders as big as hounds – I’m forcefully reminded of the powerful writing advice that you don’t show a loaded gun in scene one without having it go off in the climax. Well, how the HECK do you tell a story in season one about ice kings (verified), zombies (verified), and ice spiders as big as hounds (??????????????) without paying it off? Here’s hoping they’ve just been holding them back for the final battle against the dead.

Season 8 Production News – Directors Announced

Check it out, nerds: Entertainment Weekly has the scoop on season 8 directors.

Most exciting is the confirmation of what went around instagram yesterday: Miguel Sapochnik will be back to direct at least two, possibly three episodes!  For those of you who don’t spend all your free time listening to Game of Thrones podcasts, Sapochnik is basically the undisputed hero director of later-era Thrones.

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He busted in to Season Five with “Hardhome,” which is my personal all-time favorite battle sequence that introduced us to the Night King.  Then in Season Six, he directed “Battle of the Bastards” and “Winds of Winter,” the final two episodes of the season.  “Bastards” won him the 2016 Emmy for Directing, although I personally think “Winds” is even better.  Season 7 arguably suffered for lacking his direction, and it’s 100% awesome that he will be back for the final year.

The remaining episodes will be directed by David Nutter, who directed the Red Wedding, and Benioff & Weiss themselves, who will take on the series finale.  IMO this points to a less action-packed, slow denouement approach to the final episode, which is absolutely fine by me!

Where are my lions????

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Excuse me, I have an important observation.  (obligatory warning that this post will discuss season 7 related points)

Judging by the title card, there are four core houses of this show.  Remember:

  • Dragons = Targaryens
  • Lions = Lannisters
  • Wolves = Starks
  • Stags = Baratheons

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We’ve seen plenty of direwolves, starting with the very first episode.

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And dragons as well.

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We’ve had stags too, although notably only dead ones.

So, I think you can see where I am going with this.

When am I gonna get to see an ACTUAL LION on this show?  Or is Ser Pounce the closest we’re going to get?  Are there lions in Westeros at all?  Have they gone extinct?  Given all the interest in the House Animals, it is EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTING that so little attention has been given to the lion, and probably why House Lannister is close to dying out now.

You gave me a zombie polar bear, and it was one of the greatest days of my life.  I think it’s only fair to follow up with some actual lions now.

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Young Jaime with Tywin, c. 270 AL

Game of Thrones characters, in order of position in the Taylor Swift discography

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Fearless (2009)

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Sansa: “White Horse”

I’m not a princess, this ain’t a fairy tale

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Jorah: “You Belong with Me”

Can’t you see that I’m the one who understands you
Been here all along, so why can’t you see
You belong with me

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Lyanna Stark: “Love Story”

And I said,
Romeo, take me somewhere we can be alone
I’ll be waiting all there’s left to do is run
You’ll be the prince and I’ll be the princess
It’s a love story, baby just say yes

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Speak Now (2010)

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Theon: “Back to December”

So this is me swallowing my pride
Standing in front of you saying I’m sorry for that night

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Stannis: “Sparks Fly”

My mind forgets to remind me, you’re a bad idea
You touch me once and it’s really something

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Ygritte: “Dear John”

You are an expert at sorry,
And keeping the lines blurry…
But I took your matches before fire could catch me,
So don’t look now, I’m shining like fireworks over your sad, empty town

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Brienne: “The Story of Us”

I’m scared to see the ending
Why are we pretending this is nothing?
I’d tell you I miss you but I don’t know how
I’ve never heard silence quite this loud…
The battle’s in your hands now
But I would lay my armor down
If you’d say you’d rather love than fight

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Red (2012)

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Jaime: “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”

Ooh, we called it off again last night
But ooh, this time, I’m telling you, I’m telling you
We are never ever ever getting back together

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Viserion: “I Knew You Were Trouble When You Walked In”

Cause I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now
Flew me to places I’ve never been
And you put me down oh

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1989 (2014)

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Arya: “Blank Space”

I’ve got a blank space, baby, and I’ll write your name

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Jon: “Bad Blood”

Did you think we’d be fine?
Still got scars on my back from your knife
So don’t think it’s in the past
These kinds of wounds they last and they last
… You live like that, you live with Ghosts

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Reputation (2017)

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Cersei: “Look What You Made Me Do”

But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time
Honey, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time…
I don’t like your kingdom keys
They once belonged to me…
Look what you made me do
Look what you just made me do
Look what you just made me
Ooh, look what you made me do…
I’m sorry, the old Cersei can’t come to the phone right now
Why? Cause she’s dead!

(This song is the worst.  And so is Cersei.)

HBO to shoot multiple endings for Game of Thrones?

According to a report quoting an HBO exec that got widely publicized yesterday, the plan to prevent future leaks and spoilers includes shooting “multiple endings” of season 8.  The network hasn’t officially confirmed the statement, but it’s a plausible one.  HBO has done this before at least once, in the case of Sex in the City (unfortunately they chose the stupidest ending to air).

My problem with this is that it sounds like an expensive way to ultimately fail at their goal of protecting their secrets.  Last year’s script leaks came very early and were confirmed multiple times by creepy weirdos stalking filmsets from a distance with telephoto lenses.  To top it off, in the middle of the season, HBO Europe accidentally aired an entire episode a week early.  As Varys probably said, “the only way three people can keep a secret is if two of them are dead.”  This isn’t the first time that stuff got leaked, and it won’t be the last.

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My other problem is that I can’t philosophically bring myself to care about this issue.  I’m the girl who watched Return of the Jedi before I saw any other Star Wars movie, so my first introduction of the character of Darth Vader was when Yoda confirmed he was Luke’s father and then died.  It was fine.  Everyone was fine.  AND I STILL LOVE STAR WARS.  Nobody should be forced to hear spoilers if they don’t want to, but literally the entire first four seasons of this series were already “leaked” by the existence of the books.

If Ghost is still a missing wolf through season 8 because the obsession with secrecy blows the budget filming stupid multiple endings, imma be mad.

(Source: Entertainment Weekly)

Who’s going to die in Game of Thrones season 8? Part One

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If you honestly believe that everyone dying is a realistic conclusion, then this blog post isn’t for you!  (Also, if you’re reading this and haven’t yet caught up to the season seven finale, consider yourself forewarned.)

Continuing from G.R.R.M.’s description of the ending as “bittersweet,” I consider it plausible that a significant number of named characters will die, and at least a handful or so will survive to build a better world.  I’ve already discussed in a previous post that I expect Cersei, Melisandre, and the Mountain to be killed.

The other extreme is much harder!  Who can we consider to be the safest?  I recognize that literally no one on this show is absolutely safe (and I don’t mean “No One” as a dumb joke about Arya).  But if we follow the books’ suggestion that the series is going to end with at least a dream of spring, I think there are two plausible best contenders for the title of Survivor: Tyrion and Sansa.  If I had to quantify it, I’d say that Tyrion has about a 80% survival chance, and Sansa 90%.

Why these two, and why the slight difference?  Well, first of all, as the Emmy nominations will inform you, Game of Thrones doesn’t have lead actors.  It does, however, have lead families, and the Lannisters and Starks have been the most consistent from the start.  We’ve lost 50% of the original Lannisters and a little more than that of the Starks (I’m counting Jon as a Stark), but of those members that are left, each one has been a major part of the series since the very beginning: Cersei, Jaime, Tyrion; Jon, Sansa, Arya, Bran.  It’s plausible to imagine that each family will have at least one survivor.  And between the two families, the Starks are the clear heroes.  An ending with the death of House Stark is very bleak.  An ending with the death of House Lannister is kind of sad as well, but mostly because we like Tyrion himself so much, not because we feel any particular allegiance to their House.

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Of the Lannisters, Tyrion is the most likely choice for survival simply by process of elimination.  I’ve already discussed that Cersei will obviously die.  I’m probably going to discuss Jaime in further detail in the future, because there is a lot that can be said about his character arc and what would be the most powerful end for him.  But for the moment, a simple comparison of the two brothers’ skills and likely future scenes will suffice.  Tyrion excels in diplomacy, politics, scheming, and motivating others.  He’s been quite lucky to survive the two war scenes he wandered into early on, and has avoided the field of battle completely since the end of season 2.  Jaime is not the swordsman he once was, but still an experienced general, and he’s carrying Widow’s Wail, a Valyrian steel blade.  Between the two of them, I think it’s far more likely that Jaime will see battle, and since every fight from here on is likely to have major casualties, Jaime’s simply at greater risk than Tyrion is.

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My calculus predicting Sansa’s survival is similar.  I don’t think we can count either Arya or Jon as safe, for the same reason as Jaime: they’re both equipped with Valyrian steel, and likely to face enemies directly.  With regard to Jon specifically, a case can also be made that either Jon or Daenerys may survive, but probably not both, and I have no idea which, so that makes Jon’s survival chances no greater than 50%.

Bran certainly isn’t going to be literally riding* into battle, and there’s a pretty good case to be made for him getting planted into a tree somewhere and living for centuries as the next Three-Eyed Raven.  But we also know he has already been marked by the Night King, and may be specifically targeted by the White Walkers as a threat.  I’m also inclined to consider Tolkien’s example, in which the triumph of Man over the magical threat means that magic recedes from the world; if G.R.R.M. follows suit, Bran becomes a part of the old world that might just fade away.  (I’m not going to get into tinfoil hat theories about Bran being the Night King, simply because I see no evidence for it onscreen.  Make your own blog post about it if you’re inspired.) *He might be warging into a dragon, but it’s unclear whether that would put him in any physical danger.

So, if Sansa dies, it would have to be in some kind of “rocks fall everyone dies” situation, because she’s simply not going to be a direct target personally.  It’s possible, but not as likely as any of her siblings or Jon.  Furthermore, I think that if House Stark and Lannister are to survive at all, Sansa and Tyrion are both best equipped to rebuild; they each have the most applicable normal-world skills needed to bring their lands back into some kind of order.

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I also like the funny little irony that Sansa and Tyrion were technically married, and she might have come to appreciate his kindness as a husband over the past couple of years.  If there’s a way for the two of them to end up back together without losing the Stark family line, I wouldn’t even mind for them to have their own happy ending; I certainly don’t think Sansa would willingly waste her time marrying anyone lesser than Tyrion.

See below for ranked list of characters discussed so far and predicted survival likelihood.

  • Sansa – 90%
  • Tyrion – 80%
  • Bran – 75%
  • Arya – 60%
  • Jon – 50%
  • Jaime – 50%
  • Cersei – 10%
  • Melisandre – 5%
  • The Mountain – 1%

Coming later… the rest of the cute kids, stalwart warriors, trusted advisors, and miscellaneous pirate kings!