So here’s the ranking. And remember, you can’t argue with it — it’s science.
12 ) Daenerys Targaryen
At the beginning of the season, Daenerys had every piece in place to succeed. She had the world’s most powerful army, three strong allies, a compelling objective of “breaking” the wheel that had hurt ordinary people, and — most importantly — she was the sole possessor of the world’s most powerful military technology, dragons. By all rights, she should have ended this season atop the Iron Throne and ready to confront the White Walker threat in the North.
She failed, miserably.
Later in the season, after losing most of her main allies, she became obsessed with winning Jon’s loyalty — leading to the precise opposite problem. She put her dragons at too much risk, sending them to rescue Jon in a situation where the enemy’s military capability was not well known. She managed to save Jon and win his loyalty, just as Lyall’s theory would predict — but also handed a weapon of mass destruction to a power bent on literally extinguishing all human life.
This was revisionism at its most incompetent.
Number 1 is Cersei:
Who else could it be?
At the beginning of the season, Cersei was isolated and friendless. She was surrounded by enemies, her kingdom was deeply in debt to the Iron Bank, and she was facing a kind of military threat — dragons — that she simply had no answer to. It seemed like most people, as my colleague Andrew Prokop writes, expected her to die this season.
She dedicated herself to one objective — protecting the survival of the Lannister dynasty and the life of her unborn child — and centered every tool of statecraft on accomplishing that goal.
She pledged to marry an unpleasant pirate, exposed a large chunk of her army to dragon fire in the name of acquiring vital gold to pay back the Iron Bank, and even let her ancestral home of Casterly Rock fall to put her enemy in a strategically vulnerable situation. No other Westerosi power thought as creatively about how to link the major aspects of state power — military, economic, and diplomatic — in order to accomplish a particular political end.