Warning: Spoilers for the first nine episodes of Game of Thrones to follow.
Queen Cersei Baratheon once said to Ned Stark, "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground." Cersei's words have proven to be prophetic; the first nine episodes of Game of Thrones has seen the death of one king, the rise of another, and devastating consequences for anyone bold or foolish enough to play.
The season finale of Game of Thrones airs on HBO this Sunday, and the execution of Stark patriarch Ned in last week's episode threatens to spark a civil war that could consume all of Westeros. The game of thrones is still being played. And with a tip of the hat to the characters who have already lost—both beloved (Ned, Robert Baratheon) and hated (Viserys Targaryen)—let's review who remains in the game, and how well they're playing it:
Read all of The Atlantic's Game of Thrones coverage.
Note: For the sake of viewers who are experiencing the Game of Thrones story for the first time, we request that those who have read the Song of Ice and Fire series avoid revealing spoilers for upcoming episodes in the comments section below.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.