Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 3, Episode 3 of HBO's "Game of Thrones," titled "Walk of Punishment."
"There's a beast in every man. And it stirs when you put a sword in his hand. But the Unsullied are not men." -- Jorah Mormont
The title of the third episode of Season 3 -- "Walk of Punishment" -- overtly refers to the seaside promenade Daenerys walks down in Astapor to see slaves who have been crucified for petty crimes. But several other characters take brutal strolls of their own. Robb makes it to Riverrun for a funeral and some bad news; Theon thinks he's riding to freedom at his sister's camp in Deepwood Motte; Jaime and Brienne are held captive by Roose Bolton's men and Arya and the Hound are led through the forest by the Brotherhood without Banners -- though Thoros of Myr says Arya, at least, is a "guest" rather than a prisoner.
Walking doesn't sound dramatic. In fact, though, this episode was much more exciting than the first two, which many fans thought were too slow. Here, the pace is quicker and the lines are more memorable. (Several were used in the trailer for the season, always a good sign.) Dany and Robb's plotlnes, in particular, got a bit more exciting after a couple slow weeks. Still, the action was more emotional than military or economic, so "Walk of Punishment" didn't shake up our weekly Power Rankings too much. Scroll down to see what happened.
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 is winning the game of thrones after the third episode of season three of "Game of Thrones," entitled "Walk of Punishment."
1. Tywin Lannister (Last Episode: 1) Tywin's position was encapsulated perfectly by his first scene this episode at the small council. He's moved the meeting from its traditional table off the Red Keep to a room off his own quarters in the Tower of the Hand, forcing everyone else near the top of the power ladder to come to talk on his terms. And he shows a firm, astute grasp of intra-Westerosi politics by sending Petyr Baelish to the Vale to try to bring Lysa Arryn onto the side of the Lannisters. That way, he explains, "The Young Wolf can add his own aunt to the list of people who have taken up arms against him." The Vale has remained neutral for the beginning of the War of the Five Kings, so this is a smart move.
That said, Tywin's neither omniscient nor omnipotent. Even though his small council "collectively controls more spies and informants than the rest of the world combined," they can't track down Jaime. So they have no idea that the heir to the Lannister fortune and name, one of the best swordsmen in the realm, got his right hand cut off by Roose Bolton's thugs at the end of this episode.
2. Margaery Tyrell (Last Episode: 2) Neither of the Tyrell ladies made an appearance this episode, but we have no reason to think they're doing anything but solidifying their position of strength in King's Landing.
3. Cersei & Joffrey Lannister (Last Episode: 4) No Joffrey, either. As for Cersei, we see her trying her hardest to insinuate herself with her father and trying to secure a spot at his (literal) right hand. These two didn't do much in this episode to deserve a promotion, but they did manage to avoid sliding backwards, unlike our new No. 4 ...
4. Robb Stark (Last Episode: 3) This episode opens on the Stark camp, which has moved to Catelyn's childhood home in Riverrun for her father Hoster Tully's funeral. That death, at old age, was neither surprising nor particularly sad (except perhaps for Catelyn). But Robb got more upsetting news upon arriving at his grandfather's castle, when he discovered that his uncle Edmure had foolishly attacked Gregor Clegane. Though his men won the battle, the fight dashed Robb's hopes of drawing Clegane into the west and killing him in a decisive victory. "I could have that head on a spike right now," Robb complains. "Instead I have a mill."
The essential problem, however, relates to what Jaime tells his jailer later in the episode. "The north can't win this war. We," he explains, referring to the Lannisters, "have the numbers. We have the gold." So when Tully loses 208 men in his fight against the Mountain, it matters. "We need our men more than Tywin needs his," Robb shouts.
On top of all this, Bran and Rickon are still nowhere to be found. "I will never see them again," Catelyn predicts in a conversation with her stalwart uncle, Brynden "Blackfish" Tully. But the Blackfish tells her she needs to be strong for her son. He's right. Winter is coming.
5. Daenerys Targaryen (Last Episode: 5) Walking along the Walk of Punishment by the sea in Astapor, Dany's most trusted advisors, Sers Barristan Selmy and Jorah Mormont, debate the merits of Dany buying an army of Unsullied eunuch slave soldiers for her invasion. Mormont describes it as a necessary evil, while Selmy argues that Dany should find soldiers who want to follow her into battle of their own free will rather than being bought, as her brother Rhaegar -- whom he calls "the last dragon" -- did. By the end of the conversation, Dany seems to indicate that she agrees with Jorah the Andal. Of Rhaegar, she says, "I wish I had known him. But he was not the last dragon."
At the meeting with Kraznys mo Nakloz, however, Daenerys shows that she's taken Jorah's advise far further than he intended when she offers to give up one of her dragons in exchange for all 8,000 of the Unsullied in Astapor -- plus all the children in training. This shocks Kraznys, Jorah and Barristan, and the latter make that clear in the meeting. "You will win the throne with dragons, not slaves," Selmy says. But Dany insists. Evidently, she's calculated that 8,000 fiercely trained warriors are worth more to her invasion than one partially-grown dragon. And when she walks away, she rebukes the two older men for their insolence in no uncertain terms. "You're both here to advise me," she says. "I value your advice. But if you ever question me in front of strangers again, you'll be advising someone else. Is that understood?"
She's still on the other side of the world. She still doesn't have any money or land. But there's no doubting that Daenerys Stormborn, of House Targaryen, has inside her what it takes to be queen.
These characters are important, but don't make it to the top five in our Power Rankings -- yet.
Brienne of Tarth & Jaime Lannister After riding back to back on a horse with each other, these two lovebirds seem closer than ever. But really -- Jaime puts his neck out farther than most Lannisters would for a non-Lannister, spinning the story that Brienne's father lives on an island made of sapphires and would appreciate if she were left "unbesmirched and undefiled." He pushes his hand too far, trying to sweet talk Vargo Hoat with promises of wealth and riches. Hoat responds by knocking Jaime to the ground and scraping his knife across his face.
"Your daddy ain't here," he says. Then he chops off Jaime's hand.
Theon GreyjoyA young man frees Theon from his torture machine, and after vomiting, he's put on a horse, supposedly to meet his sister. Instead, a group of men on horses ride Theon down and knock him from his horse. He hits the ground headfirst, and is summarily kicked and stripped before one of his assailants tells him, "I'm going to fuck you into the dirt." Luckily, his friend from the dungeons shoots everyone in the heart with an arrow and helps Theon up.
Stannis BaratheonMelisandre is off, but she doesn't know where to and she doesn't know why. Stannis, understandably, would prefer she stay. In fact, he would like her to birth another shadow assassin, to kill his enemies. She tells him his fires are "burning low," but assures him that he will get everything he's ever dreamed of if the right "sacrifices" are made.
Arya Stark She's a guest, not a prisoner, but the woods "aren't safe for Ned Stark's daughter," according to her new captors. Sadly, this episode marks the end of Hot Pie, who leaves Arya with a vaguely wolf-shaped cookie biscuit cake thing.
Jon Snow Frozen horse corpses spiral on the ground like an outtake from "Signs." It's the Others' artwork. Unfortunately, something's missing: 300 men of the Night's Watch, who are now likely killer ice-eyed wights. More bad news -- Mance Rayder is planning his attack of the Wall.
Tyrion Lannister Ah, the politics of chair placement. Tyrion has clearly decided to lean in this week. And it wins him the title of Master of Coin, replacing Littlefinger. Apparently, Tyrion is responsible for getting Roz out of Cersei's clutches. Littlefinger thanks him, and reminds him of his debt to Podrick (his life).
Tyrion delivers on Littlefinger's suggestion, and gifts Podrick a romp with three exotic prostitutes (one of whom, he boasts, is one of "four women in the world who can perform a proper Meereenese knot," a joking reference to a narratalogical problem George RR Martin encountered while writing "A Dance of Dragons"). Pod returns, rosy-cheeked, and with a purse of money. The girls wouldn't take his gold. (We're not sure why, but they seem to be trying to tell us that Podrick has crazy skills under the sheets ... Goofy? Weird?)
Petyr 'Littlefinger' Baelish "She has always been ... positively predisposed towards me," he says of Lysa Arryn, Catelyn's sister (also known as the woman who breastfeeds her eight year old, and Sansa's aunt). He's off to the Eyrie to court and win her hand for the crown. He later blithely hands off his job to Tyrion.
"You want a real challenge? Try whores," he suggests.
Samwell Tarly It's back to Craster's Keep for the MIB of Westeros, where things seem even more creepy and desolate than the last time (when Jon saw a baby sacrificed to "one of them"). Gilly, who was pregnant last we saw her, is giving birth. It's a boy, but nobody wants to tell her because Craster has no sons (only daughters he marries and impregnates). Meanwhile, Craster's stinginess is starving the Night's Watch, who are getting rowdy. He also briefly glimpses Ghost, Jon's direwolf.
"Game of Thrones" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.