Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 3, Episode 9 of HBO's "Game of Thrones," titled "Rains of Castamere." Seriously. Don't do it.
"All men should keep their words, kings most of all." -- Robb Stark
If you didn't cry during "Rains of Castamere," you either weren't paying attention or don't have a heart.
The ninth episodes of the past two seasons of "Game of Thrones" -- "Baelor" and "Blackwater" -- were powerful and sad and epic, but this was far more epic, sad and powerful still. And bold! It featured the shocking event known as the "Red Wedding," in which "A Song of Ice and Fire" series author George R.R. Martin kills off two of his most sympathetic characters, Catelyn and Robb Stark. Book readers like us have been dreading this sequence since the beginning of the TV series. But to judge by the social media reaction Sunday night, many TV watchers were totally blind-sided by what is, in hindsight, a near-inevitable reaction to Robb's decision to marry Talisa. Yet, actually seeing the gruesome deed on screen was affecting no matter what level of knowledge you approached it with.
The Red Wedding, though, wasn't the only thing to happen during "Rains of Castemere." Dany, Jon and Bran had unusually action-packed storylines as well. Scroll down to see how all the tumult and tragedy affected the original "Game of Thrones" 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 is winning the game of thrones after the ninth episode of season three of "Game of Thrones," entitled "Rains Of Castamere."
1. Tywin Lannister (Last Episode: 1) We may not have seen Tywin in the flesh this episode, but we saw the brutality he's capable of point blank. Roose Bolton made it abundantly clear that he was the chief architect of The Red Wedding when he said, as he was shoving a sword in Robb Stark's belly, "The Lannisters send their regards." Tywin is also among the primary beneficiaries of the bloody event. With Houses Tyrell and Martell tied to his grandchildren by betrothal, Houses Tully and Stark mostly dead, Houses Baratheon and Greyjoy on the run and Houses Frey and Bolton in his back pocket, he's more or less uncontested as the leader of Westeros.
2. Daenerys Targaryen (Last Episode: 3) The Red Wedding's impact on Dany is rather ambiguous. Technically, she now has one fewer rival claimant to the Iron Throne. But when or if she ever does get to Westeros, she now faces a united front -- yet, she becomes more ready for that sort of challenge by the day. This episode, she took control of Yunkai, yet another major city in Slaver's Bay. More people live there than in almost any city in Westeros. It's a long way from the Iron Throne, but it's a major accomplishment. (Maybe the equivalent of conquering Abu Dhabi and Dubai, while trying to take over England, if we're looking for a terrestrial analogy?) Moreover, she took Yunkai without even using her dragons! Just her trusted lieutenants, who now include Daario Naharis.
3. Margaery & Olenna Tyrell (Last Episode: 2) Don't get us wrong: the Ladies of the Reach didn't get any weaker this episode. They still have lots of money and lots of men. But with the Stark rebellion quashed, and without their help, they don't have quite the value to Tywin that they once did. They've also just lost some luster vis-a-vis Danaerys.
4. Joffrey Baratheon (Last Episode: 4) The Shithead King benefitted almost as much as Tywin from the Red Wedding. He has no rivals left on the mainland of Westeros. (And we can't imagine he's all that worried about Stannis Baratheon or Balon Greyjoy.)
5. Roose Bolton (Last Episode: -) What a dick. What a rich, powerful, treacherous, chainmail-wearing dick.
Dead: Robb Stark (Last Episode 5) Robb was the most honorable, likable and handsome of the contenders for the Iron Throne. It was impossible not to root for him, even (or especially) when he did impulsive things like marry a foreigner for love instead of doing his duty and marrying a Frey girl. So we were pumped to see him and Catelyn conferring about a plan to invade Casterly Rock, the Lannister home base. Can you say comeback? Alas, it wasn't to be. Walder Frey and Roose Bolton had already made a pact with the devil (i.e. Tywin Lannister) to have him killed at his uncle Edmure's wedding, along with his mother and his beautiful, pregnant wife (which should put speculation about her motives to rest). With Robb and his fetal heir Ned dead, the Stark Rebellion is over. At least until Sansa, Bran, Rickon and Arya accrue enough influence to take revenge.
These characters are important, but don't make it to the top five in our Power Rankings -- yet.
Arya Stark Arya and the Hound almost seem to be getting along -- he threatens her, and she threatens him right back, coolly promising to drive a sword through his eye until it sticks out the other side of his head. He brings her to the Twins to exchange her for some gold, but she runs off, just in time to see a table of northern men slaughtered and Robb's wolf killed. The Hound hoists her over his shoulder again, and they're off.
Bran Stark Arya isn't the only Stark to have a close brush with family this week. As Bran, Rickon, Osha, Hodor and the Reeds hide out in a tower near the Wall, Jon and his band of Wildlings ride up below. Hodor, predictably, freaks out, yelling Hodor in a very aggressive manner, until Bran's eyes roll back and Hodor passes out. Later on, Bran does it again, this time, slipping into his wolf and aiding his brother Jon's escape. Also: Rickon and Osha agree to leave together. Osha doesn't want to go north, and Bran doesn't want his little brother -- the heir to Winterfell should something happen to many more of the Starks -- in danger. Rickon's not happy about leaving his brother's side, but Bran is on the hunt for the three-eyed raven.
Jon Snow The Wildlings attack the Watch's horsebreeder, and to prove Jon's innocence, ask him to slit his throat. Ygritte intervenes, sending an arrow into the man's chest before Jon can reveal his perfidy. But it's no use. The Wildlings aren't convinced, a melee breaks out, and with Bran's help (in the body of a wolf noshing on an enemy Wildling's throat), Jon flings himself onto the back of a horse and rides away, leaving behind a stunned and sad looking Ygritte.
Samwell Tarly After heroically dispatching of one icy Other, Sam also uses his wizard powers (literacy) to make it just outside of an empty Watch castle. Gilly is suitably impressed.
"Game of Thrones" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.