After last episode’s dramatic climax, The Ringer’s Game of Thrones Mortality Pool endured various queries about whether the Lannister-Tarly principals had survived the Loot Train Attack. Ultimately, we decided not to award any points because those characters’ fates were unclear. Fortunately for simplicity’s sake, there were no such vexing questions in “Eastwatch”; a clear shot of a dragon roast tends to make life easier for all involved.
Goodbye, Randyll, and goodbye, Dickon (Rickard? Rickon? What’s that again?). May the sweet ladies of Horn Hill survive your absence from the Tarly castle.
And Now Their Watch Has Ended
This week’s obituaries start with Dickon Tarly, whose character was tough to judge outside Randyll’s overbearing shadow. Dickon gained some sympathy points last week when he admitted his ambivalence about the sack of Highgarden, and he saved Jaime’s life during the Dothraki charge. However, he was also quite dumb in deciding to follow his father to a fiery grave rather than bend the knee to Dany — he had the whole rest of his young life to think about, plus his family and the Horn Hill estate, which he had just left undefended with a large enemy army in the vicinity of the Reach. That said, we’ll really remember him just for one recurring gag.
Like father, unlike son; Randyll was a gifted, intelligent commander who handed Robert Baratheon his only defeat of the rebellion, at the Battle of Ashford. Tyrion wasn’t wrong when he told Dany that Randyll would make for a capable leader at the Wall, at least in that respect.
In every other respect, though, Randyll would have been a disastrous fit in the newly integrated Night’s Watch. He views the free folk as subhuman, calling Gilly a “savage,” a “wildling whore,” and “it” when Sam returned to Horn Hill last season. His leadership strategy makes Alliser Thorne look gentle. Remember: Sam joined the Night’s Watch only because his father threatened to kill him on a hunt if he didn’t take the black, and just last episode, Randyll tried to flog his own troops as a means of motivation before Jaime talked him down.
In the books, he accuses Robb Stark of “hiding behind his mother’s skirts” when the Young Wolf sends Catelyn as an envoy to Renly’s camp, and he tells Brienne, “The gods made men to fight, and women to bear children. A woman’s war is in the birthing bed.” Little did he know a woman’s place in Westeros is actually on the back of a dragon that soon will end his racist, sexist life!
Randyll also offers the latest installment in Thrones’ ongoing sub-series, “Don’t Trust Cersei Lannister.” Let’s look at a comparison of Randyll from his first and last appearances of Season 7.
Here he is before he trusts Cersei. He has just brought up the reasonable — and foreshadowing! — concern that Dany’s three dragons, “the same number as Aegon when he conquered the Seven Kingdoms,” would prove too dominant a military force to counter. Look at that chiseled jaw, the stern visage, the proper posture that strikes a balance between arrogant and deferential. More importantly, look at the lack of flames and ash surrounding his person.
Conversely, here he is after he joins Cersei. About stopping those dragons — whoops!
The Hall of Faces
The Mortality Pool picks are getting better, or perhaps after last week’s dragon carnage, it was just easier to guess the identities of the follow-up victims. A whopping 82.4 percent of players earned points this week, while 20.8 percent earned the maximum nine for two deaths. Elsewhere in the top 10 of the most-selected characters were Tormund, Thoros, and Beric, which makes sense because of the episode’s title (“Eastwatch”); alas, those picks came just a week too early for the trio to face danger beyond the Wall.
1. Randyll Tarly (63.4 percent)
2. Dickon Tarly (61.1 percent)
3. Bronn (56.3 percent)
4. Tormund (42.3 percent)
5. Thoros of Myr (27.8 percent)
6. Beric Dondarrion (26.5 percent)
7. Petyr Baelish (26.3 percent)
8. Yara Greyjoy (19.9 percent)
9. Grey Worm (19.5 percent)
10. Jaime Lannister (19.3 percent)
Also, Drogon was in 11th place, with essentially as many individual selections this week as he had in the first four episodes combined. You monsters.
The bottom 10 featured more of the same faces as usual, with a few fun twists to mention. First, Jorah continued his decline in the Mortality Pool odds, as he’s fallen in pick percentage every week of the season. (Now that he’s headed toward a horde of undead soldiers, I suspect that trend might reverse next week.) Second, I really want to know what the 0.1 percent of you who picked Ned Umber and not Alys Karstark were thinking. And third, Sam Tarly eked out a “win” over the Night King for last place for the second consecutive week. They’re neck and magical neck in the race for least-picked character all season.
50. Cersei Lannister (1.7 percent)
51. Tyrion Lannister (1.6 percent)
52 (tie). Jorah Mormont (1.5 percent)
52 (tie). Ned Umber (1.5 percent)
54. Alys Karstark (1.4 percent)
55. Gilly (1.3 percent)
56. Lyanna Mormont (1.1 percent)
57. Daenerys Targaryen (0.5 percent)
58. Night King (0.4 percent)
59. Sam Tarly (0.3 percent)
The Wars to Come
As the seventh season reaches a crescendo, the largest battle teased in the preseason trailers looks like it’s finally here, and for once, filling out a five-person pool will force a character crunch. Jon’s Eastwatch crew — the King in the North himself, plus Thoros, Beric, Tormund, the Hound, Jorah, and the newly returned, hammer-wielding Gendry — is in the most danger, and as it looks like they’re making a hasty retreat from the army of the dead in the episode trailer, it seems like their fight goes awry.
Don’t sleep on a possible death in Winterfell, either. Littlefinger and Arya are engaged in a potentially fatal cat-and-mouse game with their scroll maneuverings, and the Sansa-Arya dynamic was already fraying before the latter discovered an incriminating letter her sister had written years earlier. Of note is that Maester Wolkan, who’s now ensnared in whatever scheme Lord Baelish is weaving, has been added as the newest character in the pool.
If last season’s final push is any model for this year’s to follow, the next two episodes will fill the screen with notable character deaths — and the Mortality Pool with plenty of corresponding points. Who knows, maybe even the Night King, seen with the hammer shot in this trailer, could be in trouble. (No, he’s not. Season 8 is still a full year away.)