Valar morghulis; all men must die. Just not quite yet, unless they belong to House Frey. After killing nearly a dozen named characters in its previous episode, Season 6 finale “The Winds of Winter,” Game of Thrones offed only unnamed ones in the Season 7 premiere. After Arya laid waste to a feastful of Freys in the cold open, the rest of “Dragonstone” proceeded without any deaths, meaning that after one episode every player in The Ringer’s Thrones Mortality Pool is tied with zero points.
Fear not: It’s Thrones, so deaths are sure to come soon, and it’s a shorter, seven-episode season, so deaths are sure to come in bunches. Moreover, there’s still time to create a pool and entries of your own, and because nobody received any points in the premiere, there’s no disadvantage to starting now. In fact, because you won’t have selected five characters already, there’s an advantage to starting now, with the full allotment of characters at your disposal. As a reminder, the Mortality Pool functions on three basic principles:
1. Each week, players choose five characters they think will die on that Sunday’s episode.
2. Players rank those selections by “confidence” from 1 to 5 and, if they’re correct with a death prediction, receive that many points; the “5” selection, then, is the most confident one.
3. A player can choose a character only twice throughout the season.
Each week, The Ringer will provide a Mortality Pool rundown, including a recap of the previous episode’s deaths, a breakdown of picks from the most recent round, and a preview of the next episode. After a chapter of survival, we can skip the first section this time around. On to the picks!
The Hall of Faces
Ten characters were selected by at least 15 percent of Mortality Pool players in this episode. Septa Unella, last seen being terrorized by the Mountain, received more than twice as many picks as any other character; alas, she didn’t appear in “Dragonstone.” Neither did the majority of the other characters among the 10 most selected, which helps explain the lack of noteworthy deaths. There was no quick Dornish resolution in this season premiere, and pitiful lords Edmure Tully and Robin Arryn are presumably still moping offscreen.
1. Septa Unella (49.8 percent)
2. Edmure Tully (22.2 percent)
3. (tie) Benjen Stark (22.1 percent)
3. (tie) Robin Arryn (22.1 percent)
5. Obara Sand (20.8 percent)
6. Nymeria Sand (19.7 percent)
7. Yohn Royce (18.0 percent)
8. Tyene Sand (17.9 percent)
9. Ellaria Sand (16.4 percent)
10. Euron Greyjoy (15.9 percent)
Conversely, who did players believe in? Tywin Lannister’s children all appear among the bottom 10 characters selected, as do two of Dany’s three dragons and a pair of former fighting foes. A handful of those characters might die later this season, but they were smart bets to survive through at least the premiere.The bottom three, meanwhile, all seem likely to last awhile: Sam, too busy gagging through latrine duty to die; Lyanna Mormont, because when has rooting for a fan favorite ever turned out poorly on Thrones; and the Night King, whose tally proves only that 0.8 percent of Mortality Pool participants decided to adopt some game theory by not wasting a pick on a more promising character in Episode 1.
45. Sandor Clegane (3.2 percent)
46. Cersei Lannister (2.9 percent)
47. Brienne of Tarth (2.5 percent)
48. Rhaegal (2.5 percent)
49. Jaime Lannister (2.0 percent)
50. Drogon (1.8 percent)
51. Tyrion Lannister (1.5 percent)
52. Sam Tarly (1.5 percent)
53. Lyanna Mormont (1.3 percent)
54. Night King (0.8 percent)
The Wars to Come
Based on the preview shots for Episode 2, “Stormborn” will bring a greater dose of action than its predecessor. Arya’s direwolf, Nymeria, appears to be back after six seasons of absence, possibly to rip some throats; Littlefinger is in some amount of peril; and the Sands are back wielding weapons. But choose wisely: If you already selected the Dornish women in Episode 1, for instance, and added them again this week, you’d get points only if they die in Episode 2. After that, they’re off your board for the rest of the season.
There are new options available, too. Characters added to the pool are Archmaester Marwyn, Alys Karstark, Ned Umber, Dickon Tarly, Cley Cerwyn, Salladhor Saan, Hot Pie, Tycho Nestoris, and, of course, Ed Sheeran (character name for the purposes of the game: Ed Sheeran). And again, there is still time to sign up and register a group. Gather your friends and kneel before the Many-Faced God, and pray he plucks your selected characters from the show. Valar dohaeris.
Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.