‘Game of Thrones’ Precap: Tommen’s Successors, the Greatest Battles, and the Night’s King’s Meme


The Maester List: Questions to Consider Going Into Sunday Night’s Episode

Jason Concepcion:

Chris asks, “If Tommen were to die — like from starving himself and being mopey — then who would be next in line for the vacant position of King?”

The answer to this is deceptively simple. If King Tommen Baratheon of House Baratheon, first of his name, should pass away, then that would finish off the male heirs of [coughs violently for 10 minutes] his father, King Robert Baratheon. Legally speaking, the throne should then pass to his [coughs loudly, punches chest with fist] UNCLE, Stannis Baratheon. Simple.

Here’s the thing, though: In Westeros, legalities mean very little without the power to enforce them. Remember: When Robert died by pig, the realm was not particularly thrilled with the prospect of being ruled by Joffrey. When the War of the Five Kings kicked off, the bannerlords of the Baratheon Stormlands — not to mention the Tyrells and the full power of the Reach — backed Renly Baratheon instead of Joffrey, stepping completely over the older of Robert’s brothers, Stannis. For the hot five minutes before he got smoked by the smoke baby, Renly, with the largest army in the war, was the odds-on favorite to sit in the Iron Throne. Power, in Renly’s case, took the form of the force of his personality: his charm and ability to politic. By and large, the lords of the south (excepting the Westerlands) felt they were going to get a better deal from Renly than from his older brother with the better claim. This probably had something to do with Renly being a chill guy and openhanded lord while Stannis rewards his most faithful supporter by hacking off the man’s fingers. Aegon the Conqueror had absolutely zero claim to the then nonexistent kingship of all of Westeros when he invaded. He just had dragons.

So, if Tommen dies, what then? King’s Landing is, at least nominally, held by forces loyal to House Lannister, with considerable support — in the form of cash, food, and troops — from the Tyrells. Neither would simply quit King’s Landing just because Stannis (or anyone else) had strong claim. In the event of Tommen’s untimely demise, I’d guess that Lady Olenna would move House Tyrell into the driver’s seat of their alliance with the Lannisters and cast around for an advantageous marriage deal for Queen Margaery. It’s that or call a Great Council of lords to decide which claimant would be Westeros’s next ruler.

Tyler asks, “Ramsay is a monster by any measure, but I’d like to know what Ramsay’s skills include, if any. For example, he said this week that all he needed was ‘20 good men’ to take out Stannis’s army. Is he an exceptional warrior? Is there anything else he’s good at? Singing? Cooking? Or does he strictly focus on hunting humans at all times?”

Ramsay is a wild brawler, not a trained warrior. Any knight worth the name would, in theory, be able to take him down. He’s useful to Roose because his bastard origins make him eager to please, so he’ll do things like volunteer to take 20 men on a spec-ops mission against Stannis’s army. Also, Ramsay being a psycho is a kind of assassination insurance policy; any wannabe Northern insurgents looking to take out Roose had better hit Ramsay as well, or else face the prospect of him as nominal Warden of the North.

Superfan Crazyperson Power Rankings of the Week: Battles!

Mallory “Mother of Dragons” Rubin: Greetings, my fierce little wildlings! How are you? Feeling stout of heart and mind after Sunday’s invigorating Thrones installment? Or stuck in a state of paranoia, sharpening your replica Longclaw in case you need to fight a group of mystical murderers?

Either way, you’re probably thinking about battles, specifically the glorious ones we’ve seen on Game of Thrones. But which of the battles that Lords Commander Benioff and Weiss have orchestrated was the best? And, uh, what actually counts as a “battle”? The Mountain versus the Viper? That’s single combat. The Red Wedding? That’s coordinated slaughter. The liberation of Slaver’s Bay? That’s siege warfare. Syrio Forel against the Kingsguard? That’s water dancing, as I think you know.

No, we’re talking about proper battles. The ones in which each side has numbers and does work. The ones that dominate episodes and spark a trillion articles about how expensive and time-consuming this stuff is to shoot. The set pieces. The season-definers. The bits that, you know, actually make it onto the screen instead of falling into budget-cut purgatory. There are three. And they’re glorious.

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The Stakes: Oh, just the fate of humanity. There’s still a lot we don’t know about the White Walkers. What we do know: They pose a mortal threat to all living things, and they just upped the ante by leading an army of the dead in an all-out blitz against those assembled at Hardhome. This wasn’t a chance meeting in the Frostfangs; it was a planned massacre. And that has to petrify anyone with warm blood in his or her veins.

Shock Value: Even by Thrones standards, this was a jaw-dropper, in part because no one knew it was coming: not the characters, and, crucially, not the audience. The other two showdowns on this list were the culmination of season-long chest-puffing and drum-beating; this was an ambush that not even readers of the holy text knew to expect. Plus, the drama came in the eighth episode instead of the ninth for a change. Shifty!

Visual Grandeur: This looked like a goddamn movie. Those wights skittered like they were on the set of World War Z! That snow swirled like it was campaigning for an Oscar! That giant swung foes like limp clubs at a particularly stubborn piñata! And that’s how it felt before sneaking a little something from Qyburn’s kit for a repeat viewing.

Heroic Showing: Jon might be pouty and mopey, but he’s no coward. Instead of instantly seeking refuge aboard one of Stannis’s loaner ships, Lord Snow charged into the hut at the center of the camp, determined to retrieve the obsidian daggers without which all hope would surely be lost. He discovered shortly thereafter that dragonglass isn’t the only thing that can slay a Walker: Valyrian steel can, too, and Jon turned his popsicle foe into a slushie with one swing of the sword. Hot.

Jaw-Dropping Moment:


So, props to Jon and all, but the real Hardhome mic drop came from the Night’s King, who basically looked around at the casualties his side had sustained, gave Jon a “Yeah, what of it?” stare, and raised the dead right along with his hands. Do they sell Depends up North?

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The Stakes: The Iron Throne, baby! Remember that old thing? Admittedly, it’s become difficult to care about a hunk of metal when icicle men are ravaging the North and dragons are spreading fire in the east, but the humans at the center of this story still matter, and so does the prize that so many of them are fighting to claim.

Shock Value: We knew that Stannis was sailing toward King’s Landing. We knew that Tyrion was mounting the defense of the city. We knew that Joffrey was a right little git. We even had an inkling that wildfire would have a part to play. So, not a series of stunning events. But a series of entertaining ones nonetheless.

Visual Grandeur: How about those deep, rich blacks, am I right, plasma TV owners?! This battle was more conventionally shot and staged than Hardhome, but there was beauty in the precision. Each flash of light felt like a dagger in the eyeball in the best possible way.

Heroic Showing: Sex God Pod earned our eternal love for putting a lance through the head of Tyrion’s would-be assassin, Ser Mandon Moore. And the Hound has our undying gratitude for crafting a bit of Westerosi poetry by proclaiming “Fuck the Kingsguard. Fuck the city. Fuck the king.” Even Stannis won some points for continuing into battle after watching part of his fleet burn alive. But the true hero of the hour was Tyrion, who salvaged a rapidly deteriorating situation with a rousing rally speech.

Tywin and the Tyrells ultimately got credit for saving the day, but without Tyrion’s stopgap measures, King’s Landing would’ve fallen.



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The Stakes: Real-estate values in the Gift? The balance of power between the wildlings and the Night’s Watch? Jon’s forbidden love affair with Ygritte? It’s hard to say “the wildlings getting beyond the Wall and planting roots in Westeros,” since that’s exactly what Jon now wants to sanction. But Jon proved to be a formidable foe, and now he’s organizing a truce on his terms, which makes all the difference.

Shock Value: Literally zero? Jon knew that Mance was going to announce his arrival by lighting “the biggest fire the North has ever seen.” He knew that Tormund had brought a group of Free Folk over the Wall to attack Castle Black from the other side. He knew there’d be giants. The only thing he didn’t know was that Olly would end Ygritte as Jon watched. But what’s life without a little mystery?

Visual Grandeur: That big fire looked neat! The Wall consistently looks dope. And Kit Harington’s hair is always a sight to behold. This battle lacked the wildfire and zombie avalanches that locked the aforementioned battles into our TV memory boxes, but it had giants and wall-scraping anchors, so it wasn’t a total dud.

Heroic Showing: Sam found his inner Ranger by putting a crossbow bolt into the head of a Thenn, but the real credit goes to Jon for stepping up and completing the journey from green boy to man grown. He took the command, and then he became Lord Commander.

Jaw-Dropping Moment: Grenn, buddy, there’s a place for you in the songs.


BONUS! Borderline Weird Mallory Rubin Game of Thrones Memorabilia of the Week

halo_6.5Mallory “Mother of Dragons” Rubin

Faces of Undeath: You Meme at the King, You Best Not Miss

Mark Lisanti:

The “Yo, Check Me Out, I’m About to Do Something Pretty Sweet”


The “Whatever, Dude. I’m Just Gonna Chill Here on This Boat for a Minute, Do What You Gotta Do”


The “I Swear This Will Be Huge on the Internet Tomorrow. You Ready?”


The “I Don’t Have All Eternal Winter for This, They’re Waiting for Me Back at the Castle”


The “I Call This ‘COME AT ME, SNOW.’ I Know, Right???”


The “It’s Kind of Obvious? Like, Every Meme Generator’s Already Calling It That?”


The “I Came Up With It Myself”


The “Next Time Do a Twitter Search First, Bro”


Intermission: You Fill Your Litter Box While Staring Intently Into the Camera With Gleaming Feline Demon-Eyes or You Die


Tyrion’s Tips: Seven Steps for a Successful Job Interview


Ben Lindbergh: You lost your life savings when you bought a wildfire factory at the height of the Blackwater bubble. Now you’re down to your last Silver Stag, and you’re buried in bills from the Iron Bank. You could go to the cock merchant and pawn an appendage you can never replace, but modifying your behavior might be a better way. It’s time to stop blending into the background like the Lord of Bones on a battlefield filled with undead. Instead, follow these simple steps to stand out like a Lannister and land the job you deserve. Remember: Halfman, not half measures.

1. Don’t Provide Documentation or References: Your prospective employer will want you to prove that you aren’t an impostor, but providing references is a risk: You never know what someone will say. If you’re asked to hand over ID, defuse any suspicions about who you are by sighing theatrically and saying, “If only I were otherwise.” Your interviewer will be so impressed by your self-deprecation that she’ll forget about the background check and move on to the tough questions, like why she shouldn’t kill you.

2. Brag About Your Criminal Record: Protecting your privacy is important, but don’t hide your heinous acts under a bushel basket. If you’ve ever committed a crime to get what you wanted — the closer to capital, the better — lead with it. Your interviewer will respect your ability to think outside the box (the box, in this case, being the legal system).

3. Bad-mouth Former Bosses: Prospective employers always hope to hear how terrible your previous employer was. A well-placed complaint displays your discernment, so seize any opportunity to slip in an anecdote about your old boss preferring sadistic bedroom rituals to fostering a collaborative corporate culture.

4. Undercut Other Applicants: Before your interviewer calls you into her office/throne room, work the waiting room until you can make a convincing case that the other applicants aren’t qualified. This method is most effective if your closest competitor has already betrayed your would-be boss and earned two different types of death sentence.

5. Insult Your Interviewer’s Family: These days, everything is online. Do some digging and dredge up a few facts about the most painful part of your interviewer’s past. A joke about her horrible father should show her you’re prepared.

6. Turn the Tables: The secret to getting an offer is not looking like you want one. Don’t try to tell an employer why she should hire you. Instead, ask why you would want to work for her. Pretend you have some power.

7. Drink Heavily: Don’t forget your flagon, and sip liberally to loosen your tongue. You’ll soon see where you stand: If your interviewer values your opinion, she’ll want to take your wine away to stop you from slurring.

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ICYMI: This Week’s ‘Watch the Thrones’ Podcast


Can we also interest you in Part 2 and Part 3? Of course we can. 

Exit Music


Filed Under: Game of Thrones, TV, HBO, Game of Thrones precap, Game of Thrones Season 5