I think we can all agree that no one had a worse week in the Game of Thrones than Theon Greyjoy, who lost his manbits as part of a mysterious man's campaign to totally destroy him. But this was an episode full of continuing shifts in the power rankings for the ladies, from Talisa's pregnancy to Brienne's fight with an actual bear. From top to bottom, here are the women winning—and losing—the Game of Thrones:
1. Daenerys Targaryen: Dany may have been advised to blood her Unsullied early, but the Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons is clearly feeling a little feisty herself. “You will release every slave in Yunkai," she tells the Yunkish emissary, who is trying to buy her off. "Every man, woman, and child shall be given as much food, clothing and property as they can carry as payment for their years of servitude.” When he refuses, her dragons get excitable. “You swore me safe conduct," the man tells her, panicked. “But my dragons made no promises. And you threatened their mother," Dany shoots back. A whole bunch of gold and the potential conquest of a new city is one heck of a Mother's Day gift.
2. Margaery Tyrell: Okay, so her plans to marry her brother off to Sansa Stark may have failed. But Margaery has good advice to offer to the younger woman—and her plotting is far from over. “My son will be king," Margaery tells Sansa. "Sons learn from their mothers. I plan to teach mine a great deal.” In the Game of Thrones, patience, and the ability to recover from setbacks, are some of the greatest virtues.
3. Melisandre: “My mother’s a tavern wench,” Gendry tells the woman who bought him from the Brotherhood Without Banners as they sail through the wreckage of Stannis Baratheon's fleet. “Mine was a slave," Melisandre counters, reminding him that he should never count himself out. "So was I. Bought and sold, scourged and branded, until the Lord of Light lifted me up." And she warns Gendry, "There is power in a king's blood." It's not clear what Melisandre has planned. But given the way she's talking to Gendry, maybe he isn't the one who should worried about what happens when she gets her work underway.
4. Talisa: Robb Stark's wife hasn't been much of a player since she married the King in the North. But everything changes after she reveals she’s pregnant. Now, Talisa's the woman who will give the Starks an heir, a position that makes her, if nothing else, an extraordinarily powerful pawn.
5. Brienne of Tarth: Normally, getting tossed in a pit with a bear with only a wooden sword to defend yourself makes for a terrible day in Westeros, a country with a lot of bad days to choose from. But this day, and this torment, happen to make Jaime Lannister discover that he cares rather a lot for Brienne. They've bonded on their road trip. Now that they’re back together and on the same page, they'll make a fearsome pairing.
6. Ygritte: One moment you're smooching your boyfriend on top of a giant ice wall and teasing him about his country's style of fighting. The next, Orrell, who is the archetype of a creepy Westerosi Nice Guy, is trying to get between the two of you. He tells Ygritte, of Jon, "You like his pretty hair and his pretty eyes? You think pretty’s going to make you happy? You won’t love him so much when you find out what he really is.” And the thing is, he may be right.
7. Sansa Stark: All season long, all I've wanted is for Sansa Stark to wake up and recognize what's happening around her. Now she has, bitterly castigating herself for her childhood dreams. “They seemed so nice in their painted armor," Sansa says of her romance with King's Landing. “All those candles burning in all those windows. I’m stupid. Stupid little girl, with stupid dreams, who never learns.” She may be terrified by the prospect of marriage to—and sex with—Tyrion Lannister. But with Margaery there to comfort her, and a clear-eyed assessment of her life, Sansa might just begin to find her way.
8. Shae: Sansa isn't the only one to get a dose of misfortune out of her betrothal. Tyrion's engagement leaves Shae to give her lover some real talk about their relationship. “I am a Lannister of Casterly Rock,” Tyrion says. “And I'm Shae, the funny whore," she rebuts. And when he offers her a home and children, Shae's assessment of this fairy story is withering in the extreme. “Children? You think I want children who can never see their father? Who would be killed in their sleep if their grandfather found out about them?” "You'll always be my lady," Tyrion tells her, trying to substitute sentiment for logistics. "I'm your whore," Shae tells him. Let's hope the energy from that anger helps her find a way out of her predicament.
9. Arya Stark: I love the younger Stark girl, but tonight, Arya finds out that spunkiness is not always her friend. After telling Thors of Myr that her god is Death, Arya makes a run for it, only to end up in the custody of Sandor Clegane, aka the Hound. "Kick all you like, Wolf Girl," he tells her. "It won't make a difference." We just got a setup for a buddy comedy even blacker than the one Brienne and Jaime lived through.
10. Osha: Poor Osha. Bran's blowing her off. The Reeds are forcing her to go North. And in this episode, we find out just how much she lost. "I had a man once, a good man. Bruni his name was," Osha explains to her charges. "He came in through the back of the hut. Only it wasn’t Bruni, not really. His skin was pale, like a dead man’s. His eyes bluer than clear sky. He came at me, grabbed me by the neck and squeezed so hard I could feel the life slipping out of me. I don’t know how I got the knife. But when I did I stuck it deep into his heart. And he hardly seemed to notice. I had to burn our hut down with him inside." All those Westerosi women complaining about their arranged marriages have no idea what pain can follow when you get to choose the person you're with, especially when winter is coming.
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