Game of Thrones is about a lot of things, but we haven't spent enough time concentrating on its title as of late. With Robb Stark dead, Stannis Baratheon crushed, and Daenerys Targaryen a million miles away, maybe you all think the titular "Game of Thrones" has been decided. But no! The game goes on. We're going to be tracking the hunt for the crown of the seven kingdoms throughout the fourth season of Thrones. Influence, desire and smarts all come into play here, but actually having your butt on that sharp chair makes a big difference too.
#1: Joffrey Baratheon
I mean, he is after all the king. And don't go telling me he's not really in charge because his grandpa's behind him pulling the strings, or what have you. The king is the king is the king. Everyone's behind-the-scenes machinations intended to send Ned Stark to the Wall to preserve peace with the North. Joffrey decided different, and that kicked everything else off. Until someone's snatched the crown off his head, Joffrey is on the throne, and no one can take that away from him.
#2 Tommen Baratheon
Oh, you thought I was going to zig, and I ZAGGED on ya. If Joffrey dies, his younger brother (so far not much of a character outside of someone who occasionally grins at Tyrion's jokes) is king. It doesn't matter if he's another incest baby. SECOND IN LINE TO THE THRONE. END OF STORY.
#3 Margaery Tyrell
"I don't want to be a Queen. I want to be THE Queen," Margery told Littlefinger way back in season two. Well, she's almost there. Cersei tries to manipulate her son, but to lesser and lesser effect. Joffrey actively hates Tywin and Tyrion, even though they're smarter than him. But Margery seems to have figured Joffrey's weird spider-brain out. She knows how to nudge him in the right directions and, perhaps, secure the throne in the future for her family. Yes, they'd technically be Baratheon kids, but Joffrey is really a Lannister anyway. If she plays her cards right, Margery can be the beginning of a new world order in Westeros.
#4 Tywin Lannister
Tywin has a lot going for him. He's rich, he's smart, everyone is shit-scared of him and he's Hand of the King, so he makes most of the important decisions in Westeros. He has two big problems, though. The first is that Tywin clearly does not want to be king. The second is that his motivation is entirely burnishing the Lannister name and securing things for his children and their children. But his children, and their children, are an entirely rotten bunch. Cersei's a spoiled brat, Jaime's a handless cynic, Tyrion's smart but despised by his father and the city, and Tywin is completely aware that his grandson Joffrey's a real asshole. When you've focused your whole life on providing for your family, you should probably remember to raise your family right.
#5 Daenerys Targaryen
What Daenerys has going for her: dragons, a level head, a very firm and defensible anti-slavery policy. But as the show has waned on, Daenerys has seemed less and less interested in making the trip over the Narrow Sea to reclaim the kingdom she never saw (she was born as her family was being deposed). Clearing the eastern continent of slavery is a noble goal, but it will have little bearing on Westeros, which has already banned slavery. She has an army of loyal Unsullied, but she's not marching them on King's Landing, she's marching them on a bunch of evil slave cities. This strikes me as unsound. Yes, you can conquer the slave city. But then who's gonna be in charge of it? So far there's only really been one person in the Eastern continent Daenerys can really trust: Barristan. And he just wants to get her back to Westeros.
Must try harder: Stark Children, Stannis Baratheon, Mance Rayder
The Starks are not even doing anything anymore! So what if all your warrior relatives have been put to death. People used to talk about a "King in the North." Whatever happened to THAT? And Stannis, sitting on his island complaining about his magic fire God not making him king already. No one's gonna root for you if you just sit on your butt at Dragonstone! Finally, Mance Rayder claims he's got a hundred thousand-strong army to take down the wall and invade the North. Then what? Do you just want to cause trouble, bud? Or get away from the ice zombies? No problem was ever solved by running away from it, Mance.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.