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Game of Thrones Power Play: The King Is Dead! Long Live the King!

Plus: Who's challenging Daenerys?

Hanh Nguyen

[WARNING: The following contains spoilers from Game of Thrones' premiere, "The Wars to Come." If you haven't watched it yet, read at your own risk!]

Another one bites the dust. Or, you know, just another Sunday onGame of Thrones.

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After Tywin Lannister met an untimely end on the loo last season, the series jumped right back in to kill another leader, this time in the North. Meanwhile, Stannis and two queens -- Cersei and Daenerys -- attempted to establish their sovereignty with varying success, and Tyrion Lannister emerged worse for wear (and wine) out of a crate. Who suffered? Who gained traction? breaks down the episode's power shifts below.

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Power Outage

Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds) Call the school board because this guy has principles! (Different spelling, but you get the idea.) The King Beyond the Wall would not back down from his ideals, namely not to live under the rule of any sovereign ruler, which the self-styled King Stannis deemed worthy of a fiery execution. And as Mance screamed his way into the charred afterlife, so burned up the voice of the wildlings in the North.

Power Faiulre

Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) Surprise! Not everybody is happy that Dany freed all the slaves in Meereen. Hiding their faces behind gold masks, the Sons of the Harpy have begun to slash Unsullied throats around the city. Even worse, the Mother of Dragons realized that she no longer commands the affection of the two dragons she chained up in the catacombs. Gee, we wonder why?

Jon Snow (Kit Harington) We don't blame Jon for shooting Mance with an arrow, if only to spare us from watching and hearing a man burn to death, but the Westerosi value ruthlessness. Stannis and McKayla were not impressed.

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Staying Power

Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) On Game of Thrones, it's a victory just to live another day, even while massively hungover. But can you blame Tyrion for overindulging in wine after killing his dad and lover and then living (and pooping) in a crate while crossing the Narrow Sea? Nope. In fact, we'll pour him another one. Besides, if he's going to try to put Daenerys on the Iron Thrones, he'll need to match his dear sister goblet for goblet.

Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) Similarly, the eldest living (legitimate) Stark offspring survived her ploy to paint her Aunt Lysa's death as a suicide, when in fact Littlefinger (AidanGillen) made her "fly" out of the Moon Door. The two allies in deceit are on a journey to play out their next scheme.

Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) Joffrey's widow clearly can't wait to marry Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman), but it was her words that she'll only "perhaps" be stuck with Cersei as a mother-in-law that had us intrigued.

Brienne and Pod (Gwendoline Christie, Daniel Portman) The lady knight got her knickers in a twist after last season's failed attempt to save Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), but Pod-lyanna her squire isn't ready to give up. Little did they know they came thisclose to Sansa, who was in the carriage that drove by them. Save the Winterfell heir, save the world!

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Power Surge

Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) After routing the wildlings, Stannis wasted no time in crisping up his rival for leadership in the North. At this point, he seems to have the name and force behind him to challenge the Lannister stranglehold on the throne. Maybe then he'll crack a smile.

Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) Speaking of, the Queen Regent will be calling the shots now that her father, the real power behind the Iron Throne, has died and her son the king is too young to know any better. We can't wait to see her first move -- perhaps redecorating the throne room a la Downton Abbey?

Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman) The mercenary is looking quite at home in Daenerys' budoir, to the point that he's walking around butt-naked and helping himself to wine. What's more important though is that he took this opportunity to try to change her mind about the proposed reopening of the fighting pits. That's some dangerous pillow talk!

Best Quotes:

Cersei to Jaime (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau): "Tyrion may be a monster but at least he killed our father on purpose."

Varys (Conleth Hill), after Tyrion says he killed his lover and father: "I never said you were perfect."

"You're not the Mother of Unsullied, you're the Mother of Dragons" -- Daario to Daenerys

Melisandre (Carice van Houten): Are you a virgin? Jon Snow: No. Melisandre: Good. [smiles]

Brienne: "I'm not a leader... all I wanted was to fight for a lord I believed in. All the good lords are dead and the rest of them are monsters."

Sansa: Where are we going? Littlefinger: To a land so far from here, even Cersei Lannister can't get her hands on you.

What did you think of the premiere?

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.

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