War is almost here, "Game of Thrones" fans.
HuffPost TV would like to welcome you to the first installment of the "Game of Thrones" Power Rankings. Each week, HuffPost TV will be answering the question on the minds of everyone in Westeros (and America): Who's winning the game of thrones this week? That is, which character or characters are the most powerful at the end of each episode? And we'll pepper the rankings with enough plot points that even those of you who shamefully missed the most recent episode will be able to follow what's going on.
To start you off on solid ground -- and prepare you for the April 1 Season 2 premiere -- the first installment focuses on Westeros as it stood at the end of last season.
To refresh your memory: The second-to-last episode of Season 1, "Baelor," closed with the execution of Ned Stark, that good guy from the North. And the finale, "Blood and Fire" was no gentle denouement. In King's Landing, new king Joffrey rules over an unsettled court, while further afield, the Starks swear vengeance upon the Lannisters. Over the sea, Daenerys proves she's a true Targaryen, as the scattered Stark children all come to terms with both the death of their father and the perilous road ahead. There's plenty of blood, and just enough fire to ensure that there will be plenty more blood in the future.
Now, on to the Power Rankings.
The Power Rankings
Using a complex algorithm that takes into account each player's wealth, military might and dominion over lands, along with a "bonus" factor that adjusts for unquantifiable assets that could influence events, we've surveyed the lay of the land to figure out who's winning the game of thrones going into Season 2.
1. Tywin & Tyrion Lannister
"A Lannister always pays his debts" -- True, mainly because the Lannisters seem to own half the country. But with ample gold, authority over new king Joffrey, and a certain lack of compassion, these scheming Lions have held their place at the top, small defeats in battle notwithstanding. Tywin and his son hate each other -- but Tyrion's still a Lannister, and Tywin names him as the Hand that rules the crown. From what we've seen, Tyrion is possibly the most cunning Lannister of all -- not an easy feat in his power-hungry clan.
2. Robb & Catelyn Stark
The news of Ned's death gave these two no time to celebrate their military triumph at the end of "Baelor"; the shot of Robb grieving by hacking a giant tree with his sword was brutal. But the possibility that he'll be able to find comfort in the kind of vengeance Catelyn used to console him ("We will kill them all") seems more and more likely. Kevan Lannister was impressed enough to float the idea of suing for peace. The Northmen's stirring proclamation of Robb as the King in the North, though, made it clear that they won't be coming to the table anytime soon. Winter may be coming after all -- for the Lannisters
3. Joffrey & Cersei Lannister
While Joffrey's decision to slice off Ned Stark's head made it seem like the boy-king had a strong handle on the "fear and intimidation" factor of ruling, it became clear at the end of Season 1 that no one likes a petulant sadist. Grand Maester Pycelle describes him as "stern" -- an understatement, considering Joff's effort to terrorize Sansa by forcing her to look at her father's head on a stick. But Sansa's ability to stand up to Joff makes us ask: If he can't stand up to a 13-year-old girl, how will he defeat the North? One thing's for sure: Cersei isn't going to be happy when she hears that her father nominated Tyrion as Hand, cutting her out of the adult management the Lannisters are setting in place to control the King.
4. Petyr 'Littlefinger' Baelish
Littlefinger's power play vis-a-vis Ned and the City Watch propelled the schemer onto our power list when we saw his secret machinations come to fruition in Ned's death. Never forget that in the game of thrones, it's not only the major aristocrats who stir the pot: Littlefinger may not have much access to lands or armies, but he's a canny financier and an even cannier politician. Though his conversation with Varys (another undercover operator) demonstrates his plan to keep his ambitions discreet until the opportunity serves, it's as Varys says, "A man with great ambition and no morals -- I wouldn't bet against you."
5. Daenarys Targaryen
Daenarys lost almost everything in between "Baelor" and "Fire and Blood" -- her husband, her army, her son. But in what was perhaps the most sublime scene of the series so far -- Daenarys walking calmly into Khal Drogo's funeral pyre -- she gained a potent asset: dragons. It's not clear yet whether the rest of the world will be quite as awestruck as her tattered khalasar, who fall prostrate in astonishment at seeing them. But Daenarys Stormborn's prospects seem potentially limitless in the coming season and beyond.
Stannis & Renly Baratheon: We have no idea what's going on with Robert's brothers at this point, but we'll surely find out early in Season 2. Their names seemed to be on the lips of everyone from King's Landing to the Wall at the end of Season 1. And Season 2's trailers and supporting material have focused to a large degree on the two Baratheon brothers and the powerful women arrayed about them. Just how much of a threat the Baratheons pose -- to the Lannisters, the Starks and each other -- remains to be seen.
Jon Snow: After an abortive attempt to flee to Robb's side on the battlefield, Snow returned to his Lord Commander -- and learned that Mormont plans to lead a massive expedition to the North. The key moment here was the Lord Commander asking Snow, "Do you think your brother's war is more important than ours?", underscoring the existential threat posed by the Wildlings and White Walkers.
Sansa Stark: The poor girl endured serious abuse at the end of Season 1, notably when she was forced to look at the rotting heads of her father and her Septa. But she showed new fierceness when she mused that Robb might decapitate Joffrey on her behalf.
Bran Stark: Bran is still in Winterfell, not doing much of anything, but his frequent dream sequences seem to portend something big. For example: What is up with the three-eyed crow he keeps seeing?
Arya Stark: Yorek is bringing the mangier-and-mangier Arya North along with a motley band of Night's Watch recruits, perhaps in the hopes of delivering her to Catelyn. Maybe she'll even go all the way to the Wall and reunite with Jon Snow -- if she can pass as a boy for long in such grisly company.
As Varys the eunuch has pointed out in nearly every promo trailer for Season 2 so far, "Power is a curious thing." So there's bound to be some disagreement surrounding the rankings. If you think we misjudged the situation, say so in the comments! And look out for our next installment of the "Game of Thrones" Power Rankings on Monday, April 2, the morning after the premiere of the second season.
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