Brow Beat

This Week’s Worst Person in Westeros: Cersei Lannister

Wonder what’s in that cup.


After each episode in Game of Thrones Season 7, we’ll be considering a crucial question: Who is currently the worst person in Westeros? This week, Jacob Brogan is joined by Slate copy chief Abby McIntyre.

Brogan: Hi, Abby. Thanks for joining me to talk about “The Queen’s Justice,” an unusually intense episode that’s almost certainly the best hour this season has given us yet.

Last time we did this, we jointly declared men the worst “person” in Westeros. This week, I’m afraid, my attention turns from that benighted gender to other targets. In particular, I found myself fuming early on about Daenerys’ treatment of Jon. In her insistence that he bend the knee—and her refusal to accept that the armies of the dead are real—she threatens to destroy everything she’s trying to build. Why, I wonder, is she so insistent on preserving the honor her lineage when she’s accomplished so much on her own? Will it be her undoing? Does her hubris make her the worst person in the seven (or maybe six?) kingdoms that she’s trying to rule?

McIntyre: It was definitely the ladies and not the men who were behaving badly (or at least spitefully) this go-round. Yay, equality!

I admit, though, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Daenerys and thus found her behavior in the scene you mention somewhat appropriate. Yes, as a viewer, I was hoping that when Jon and Dany finally met, they would have glorious chemistry and form a perfect union (I mean, we’re all still hoping they bone, right?), ready to take on all other evils in Westeros, but this reality seems more fitting.

It makes sense that she was guarded here. She doesn’t know Jon Snow and has no reason to trust him. Plus, she’s got her own stuff to deal with. I can understand why at first she sees him as a nuisance to be dispatched with quickly by making him bend the knee. I’m still hopeful this relationship will evolve over the season—as it already did over the episode—most likely with the help of Tyrion, who, thanks to his trademark barbs and wordplay was a real highlight of this all-around great episode for me.

Brogan: That opening sequence—which featured a series of brief encounters between characters we’ve spent years following—showed how GoT’s long game can pay off. We’ve known some of these folks for so long that it’s easy to feel for them, even if it’s just a dividend paid on our long investment in the show itself. No one knows that better than Tyrion, whose explanation of how he ended up Daenerys’ hand could easily double as a description of my experience watching this show. It has been, he says, “A long and bloody tale. To be honest, I was drunk for most of it.”

It says something about this episode that it even left me feeling fondly about last week’s worst person in Westeros, Euron Greyjoy, who shares an extremely shady moment with Jaime near the start. Some characters merely live out their time on Game of Thrones, but Euron is living it up: This is a dude who, as my friend Caroline points out, is so extra that he rode a horse into the throne room. Even queen Cersei has to bend the knee to Euron, who is clearly the King of Drama.

But this hour also asked us to say goodbye to another fan favorite character Lady Olenna, who takes Jaime up on his offer of a painless poison, and then—only after drinking it—confesses that she was the one who poisoned his son. Winter may be coming, but Lady Olenna is always going to be the coldest bitch in town, and I love it.

Surely she’s not the worst, though. Not even close. Who are we missing here?

McIntyre: The Queen of Thorns may have just gotten the best death in this entire show, and I am so on board. And Jaime sparing her a violent demise proves he’s not the worst this week. As for other candidates: Lord Baelish seems up to something—or maybe that’s just his face?—with his little lecture to Sansa about how everyone is your enemy and your friend. But honestly I would be suspicious if Littlefinger wasn’t acting shady at this point. The Archmaester is kind of the worst for making Sam return to the grunt intern work of making copies after freaking curing greyscale, but at least there are no bodily fluids involved this time.

What about Bran?

He just shows back in up in Winterfell all cryptic and cooler-than-thou with his Three-Eyed Raven shit, and don’t forget: He may or may not be letting the Night King in.

Brogan: Bran truly is the pits and not just because he’s gone goth. Setting aside all the grim horrors marching from the North, this is a dude who sees his sister for the first time in like six years (or maybe six months? like the Trump presidency, this show dilates the passage of time in strange ways) and is all, Oh, hey, sis. I remember when you got raped. It was such a beautiful night. Just like this one.

McIntyre: Yeah, that was pretty gross. There had to be a better way to prove his powers to her. But it felt more tone-deaf than anything, not purposefully malicious.

Brogan: OK, if we’re going to talk malice, I guess we have to talk Cersei who, in this episode, forces Ellaria Sand to watch her daughter’s slow, inevitable death.

McIntyre: That was some truly twisted vengeful behavior. Not that we should expect any less from Cersei at this point. Honestly, for at least a moment, I did think to myself that there was a sort of poetic yet sick justice (I suppose the titular “Queen’s Justice”) to Cersei killing Ellaria’s daughter the same way Ellaria killed Myrcella—jaunty pink lipstick and all. But the added twist of making Ellaria watch as her daughter dies and then rots, and the gross way Cersei was so turned on by the act, reminds us of her pure, unadulterated evil.

Brogan: You’re right to point to the bizarre eroticism of her vengeance, which takes shape in her seduction of a somewhat-unwilling Jaime soon after. I do suspect that we’re seeing the show move together the pieces for him to turn on her, despite their deep filial love. Remember, after all, what Lady Olenna tells him: “She’s a disease. I regret my role in spreading it. You will too.”

He may act on that regret in time. For now, though, I suspect we have to call it. Cersei Lannister …

McIntyre: You are once again the worst person in Westeros.

Brogan: Welcome back, you terrifying monster.