What makes a great villain great? The answer can be many things, but in the world of Ice and Fire, one trait is shared among all the best bad guys and gals. That is, adaptability and the will to survive while your enemies fall. Today we launch into the second round of our Game of Thrones week with the worst of the worst. I hope you enjoy.
*WARNING MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD*
Let’s start with this question: Who is the Waif actually? That isn’t easy to pinpoint, frankly, but what we do know is that the character definitely has it out for Arya during their shared time together in Bravoos. From the jump this lady (or is she?) seems to despise the very existence of Arya, making things difficult for her around every corner. She’s pompous, arrogant and frankly a flat out bitch. Her strength is also her weakness though. She likes to torment, and she enjoys even more making people she sees as a threat look dumb or untrained. But maybe that was her whole purpose. Perhaps she wasn’t just a dirty bitch trying to suck up in order to rise in the ranks of the Faceless men. Maybe she was herself a trained Faceless man meant to show Arya her true calling. You can’t say for sure, but there’s plenty of evidence to back it up. Either way, she’s presented as a miserable person who enjoys punishing others, and that’s what makes her a good villain.
4 HIGH SPARROW
The High Sparrow infuriates me more than nearly all the other villains in the universe of Game of Thrones. It’s not because he’s religious, but rather because he uses that high horse to reign over people who are lost. For me he’s a reminder of all the hypocritical figures we have to pick from in our own lives. The priests who tell us were going to burn because we don’t believe in their vision of god, or the politician who enforce their beliefs while ignoring the wills of the people. The High Sparrow is all of those things. He uses his persuasive abilities to make Tommen believe he doesn’t have a choice. Now, this is the only time I ever wished Joffrey was still king. The Sparrow would’ve have been rightfully killed almost from the jump, but Tommen is a little bitch who follows people he believes are smarter than himself. But in the end, his hubris and holier than thou attitude is what costs him everything. Margary implores him to let everyone out of the High Sept, but in his wisdom he knows better. Also one of the few times the watchers of the show are able to be happy that a horrible plan by Cersei comes full circle. Sure thousands die, but it’s important to remember that all of “Little Sparrows,” as Cersei proclaims, all end up ash as the pain and torture they inflicted is washed away in one giant swoop. They were willing to die for that asshole, and they got their wish.
It is unfair to the weight of the character to first first address truly How much of a force she is. Individuals like Cersei are bred for nobility, but also strength. Often times she exudes both, making the character and. brilliantly portrayed by Lena Headey. She really is one of the can’t miss characters, even if you do hate her. From very early she’s presented as evil, cunning and most of all, smart. She’s clever this one, but it comes with a price. Children dead, mostly as a result of her continued bad deeds. Her family killed for things she played roles in. Think about it, she hated her brother that much she actively tried to have him killed. Sure she gets punished by the Sparrows, but even that is somewhat short lived. She comes back though with an unquenchable thirst for sweet revenge, which she gets. Whether it’s wildfire, poison, or just sheer brutality, she seeks out what she wants and gets it, eventually. She is a force to be reckoned with, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.
2 RAMSAY BOLTON
I’ll be honest, these top three choices were more difficult than I thought it would be, but that’s part of what makes this show such a great treat. The villains often are weapons literally used to infect the seven kingdoms with grim. Ramsay is one of the most effective. Early on, he actually presents hope, before his full heel turn comes to dash all of Theons hopes and plans. He methodically tears away what little humanity Theon had left, but well, we know what other parts of Theon he takes for himself. What makes Ramsay so evil is the thrill it gives him. He doesn’t always do it for a victory, but rather for fun. It’s part of his bone and he never ceases to find ways to hurt people. His treatment of Sansa is particularly bad, but he’s still capable of worse. He single handedly takes his entire family down just to be the King. He’s savage, smart and evil to his core, and he’s a monster in a world of men. Even during the Battle of the Bastards he’s cunning to the end. The plan to box them in and smother them is brilliant, but Sansa wasn’t about to let him win again. The Vale shows up, and before long, Bolton is a heap of smashed bones. He never begs for his life, but his screams are enough to make anyone smile. Especially Sansa.
1 LITTLE FINGER
As I mentioned before, this was difficult. From afar Petyr Baelish looks like many of those who are high born. He’s not, but he certainly plays the role of advisor well. This helps him tremendously. Who needs to be in charge when those schemes you nurture and then unleash keep all the Kings and Queens fighting each other? Let’s not forget that his lie is literally what begins the Rebellion of Robert, and how Little Finger was able to navigate that. It’s brilliant, but it showcases his smooth talking, agreeable actions. I could take the hours it would take to dissect all of actions, but they run so fluidly through the narratives that it would simply take for more. But, the more time you watch the show the more it makes sense. He has a hand in the killing of Ned Stark, in pitting sister against sister in the battle of attention between the ladies of the Vale, Catelyn and Lysa Arryn. This one scheme also kills Lysa’s first husband, opening up the spot for Baelish to swoop in (albeit years later) and use her own paranoia against her in “saving Sansa” by pushing her out of the moon roof. It’s the same cunning that enables him to get Sansa back to Winterfell, even though it gives her quite easily to the evil Ramsay. He comes out of that nicely, but it’s not long before he has to choose a different side yet again to serve his purpose. But at this point, Sansa has entered the game, and his schemes are becoming obvious to her. This section nurtures Little Finger into a false sense of safety though. Arya, Bran and other soon come along, exposing his scams over the last however many years. What makes Petyr the most cunning villain isn’t his bloodthirsty rage, but rather his slow, purposeful sense of how the world works. He’s ruthless, but never face to face. He’s a snake, and most importantly, he whispered in the dark and gave nudges when needed, all to serve to fulfill his goal, which is to say himself. He’s done more damage than most, but rarely has he fulfilled the action himself. In some ways he controlled the iron throne by being persuasive and careful about his exploits. His lies have hurt many in the Seven Kingdoms, and while thankfully that came to an end with his throat being slit by Arya, who knows when something else will be uncovered, forgotten in the darkness.
Landon Murray is a New Orleans native, who thrives on painting the world he interprets through the useful forms of all types of art he feels connected to. He's seen over 1000 bands, and had loved mostly every minute of it. He has an amazing 10 year old dog, and is loving life.
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