When you play the Game of Thrones you win or you die, as Cersei told us in Season 1 of the HBO show. But sometimes playing the game takes a long time.
Now in the series' seventh season, the playing field for the Iron Throne has narrowed and the stakes have changed. But most characters are still playing the game.
We ranked the top 10 (or so) characters from Thrones' Season 7 premiere, "Dragonstone," based on how well they're winning the battle for Westeros, and their own survival.
1. Daenerys Targaryen
She may not have done any conquering yet, but she's in the best position on the board based on her resources, allies and location. To gain a stronghold in Westeros, all she had to do was sail in and pull down a sad Stannis Baratheon banner. Though she didn't do or say much in the premiere, she remains a huge threat
2. Cersei Lannister
What's that saying about possession being 9/10 of the law? Jaimie is right, the Lannister twins are in an incredible amount of danger, surrounded by enemies on all fronts and forced to consider an alliance with Euron Greyjoy, a professed murderer and traitor. But Cersei is the one sitting on the Iron Throne at the moment. And that is something.
3. Jon Snow
It's good to be the king, most of the time. Jon is showing off his leadership skills in the North. But, as Sansa pointed out, he is also surrounded by enemies and cares little to deal with the human ones to the South. Meanwhile, his tense relationship with Sansa could endanger his rule if it doesn't get better.
4. Arya Stark
Without any armies or ships or fancy titles, Arya Stark managed to do the most damage in the premiere. After murdering Walder Frey last season, she kicked off Season 7 by killing his entire family while wearing his face, an action that reverberated across the Seven Kingdoms. Her next stop is King's Landing and her next target is Cersei.
5. Sansa Stark
It's hard to play second fiddle. Although Sansa has become more powerful over the course of the series, she still wound up standing to the side of another ruler. Her dissatisfaction with Jon is clear but questioning him in meetings isn't the way to go. And neither is spending too much time with Littlefinger.
6. Lyanna Mormont
Little Lyanna continues her run as the Best Character on This Show and makes a strong argument for women in combat.
7. Jaime Lannister
His influence over Cersei is waning and, as he rightly points out, he lacks allies. But he is standing right next to the Iron Throne.
8. Sandor "The Hound" Clegane
If there was ever a survivor in Westeros, it's the Hound. Joining the Brotherhood is keeping him alive and in a position to do something meaningful, and after burying (quite literally) some personal demons, he is now seeing the bigger picture in the flames. And that picture involves the Lord of Light and the White Walkers.
9. Bran Stark
The new Three-Eyed-Raven is back on the right side of the Wall and together with Jon's trusted Night's Watch brother, Edd. If only the White Walkers weren't so close behind.
10. Samwell Tarly
We're so sorry, Sam, those are a lot of bedpans to deal with. One of the show's smartest characters is stuck doing menial labor at the Citadel despite his warnings about the White Walkers. But at least he has some time on the side to discover that there's an untapped mine of dragonglass on Dragonstone, ready for use in the coming battle.
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