This was a bad week for the ladies of Game of Thrones who found themselves threatened with sexual assault, infanticide, or at minimum, irrelevance. But even if things look grim for our favorite women of Westeros (and Essos), we can hope that Episode 3, which seems to be setting up a lot of major developments, has them poised for plenty of action in the future. Here’s how things stand:
1. Dany: It may seem like a bad move for Daenerys Targaryen to barter away one of her dragons for an army. But after a season of being stuck on the sidelines, at least she’s making decisions and trying to do so in an ethical way. Buying a slave army may be unattractive, but as Jorah Mormont counsels Dany, “The Unsullied are not men. They do not rape. They do not put cities to the sword unless they’re ordered to do so. If you buy them, the only men they’ll kill are the ones you want dead.” Dany has terrible decisions before her. But at least they are hers to make.
2. Cersei: Cersei Lannister may be the highest-ranking woman in Westeros, but she’s reduced to demonstrating her influence by dragging a chair around a conference table. It’s depressing to see how quickly a powerful woman gets sidelined—rather than made use of—once her father shows up.
3. Ygritte: Winter is coming, and the Others are getting all Godfather-y on the Night’s Watch’s horses. But unlike almost every other women in Westeros, Ygritte’s free to make her own decisions about how to deal with the arrival of a horde of chompy ice zombies. And that means heading off to scale the Wall with a bunch of guys, including her maybe-boyfriend Jon Snow. Let’s hope those two crazy kids get to do something other than angst at each other on the march South.
4. Missendi: Working for the Wise Masters seemed like a miserable gig, but if I were Missendi, I’d be a little nervous about what my new mistress wants from me, especially when she seems to have made a really bonkers business decision. But going from an owner who makes her translate horrible things he says about potential clients to a woman who asks about her family and warns her about the risks going forward is a definite upgrade—especially if it comes with a chance to join the ranks of Dany’s advisers.
5. Talisa: Robb Stark’s wife seems to be spending her time at her mother-in-law’s ancestral home telling little Lannisters ghost stories. It may not be exciting, but as noblewomen’s lives in Westeros go, things could be worse.
6. Arya: On the one hand, she’s still a captive of the Brotherhood Without Banners. On the other hand, Thoros seems genially disposed toward her, and she’s got a seriously delicious bread wolf.
7. Catelyn: Her father’s dead. She thinks her younger sons might be as well. Her brother’s an incompetent. Her son is seriously honked at her. At least Cat gets to hang out with the Blackfish, who seems like a totally righteous dude, but that’s small compensation.
8. Brienne of Tarth: She’s gone from defeating the most powerful man in the realm to being threatened with rape and saved only by virtue of a lie. Winning Jaime Lannister’s respect is something very few people in Westeros have ever been able to do, but Brienne’s secured his good opinion at a time when his stock is at the absolute lowest. Whether the two of them can team up and get themselves free, particularly given Jaime’s loss of his hand, remains to be seen.
9. Gilly: Giving birth in a pig-filled compound with your sister-wives as doulas to a child who your father/husband plans to leave out as a sacrifice to ice zombies just seems like the absolute worst. And having a kind of creepy dude spy on you while you’re in labor is just a reminder of how bad things really are.