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New to the ‘Game’: The Best and Worst New Characters from ‘Game of Thrones’ Season Two

Game of Thrones

Helen Sloan/HBO; Oliver Upton/HBO; Helen Sloan/HBO

The Game is over. The season finale of Game of Thrones aired Sunday night, and the seven gods finally revealed who will survive to play next season. That makes it the perfect time to rank the Game's rookies as they continue (or don't) into their sophomore phase. Many new faces appeared in Season Two – some stayed in the background while others drove the action and became fan favorites. We're counting down the top 15 new characters from worst to first. Who'll be the Game's rookie of the year?

By Sean T. Collins

Craster

Helen Sloan/HBO

13

Craster

Pardon my Olbermann, but this guy is the WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD. The Night's Watch may be willing to make a deal with the devil and indulge this creep's daughter-fucking and baby-sacrificing, but it turns our stomachs as much as it does Jon Snow's. Actor Robert Pugh plays this wildling with perfect unpleasantness, even though he's a bit player in the game at best.

Talisa Maegyr

Helen Sloan/HBO

12

Talisa Maegyr (aka ‘Jeyne’)

Oona Chaplin's foreign noblewoman has a great smile, a great backstory, and a great job, taking care of the wounded that Robb Stark leaves in his wake. (She's also got a great keister; if only the show had shown us Robb's too – for research purposes.) Chaplin's a lively and magnetic presence amid the muck of Robb's war, but until Talisa herself acts to influence the story, rather than serving as something for Robb to react to, it's tough to stack the Queen in the North up against the rest of the players.

Pyat Pree

Paul Schiraldi/HBO

11

Pyat Pree

An army of one: This self-described warlock's ability to replicate himself may or may not be an illusion, but his ability to draw power from Daenerys's dragons left his fellow rulers dead and the dragons (briefly – invest in a fire extinguisher next time, dude) in his custody. Ian Hanmore's wonderfully strange performance helps sell the seriousness of Pree's outlandish powers – he smiles a lot, but his eyes stay cold.

balon greyjoy

Helen Sloan/HBO

10

Balon Greyjoy

Unbearably cruel to the son he himself shipped off to his enemies in order to save his own skin, the lord of the Iron Islands relentlessly berates Theon, forcing him to choose between betraying his closest (only?) friend Robb Stark or reject his own family. Played by Patrick Mallahide, this guy makes Tywin Lannister look like the father of the year, but his cruelty appears to have helped his kids conquered the North. He's like the Joe Jackson to Theon and Yara's Michael and Janet.

Melisandre

Helen Sloan/HBO

9

Melisandre

Talk about a 'Game'-changer: We've had dragons here and zombies there, but this red priestess from foreign lands injects magic into the main action in a big way, seducing the otherwise upstanding Stannis in order to give birth to a killer shadow baby. Something about Van Houten's cocksure perma-smirk makes the character difficult to warm up to, like she's playing a game we can't even see, but I suppose that's the point.

Yara Greyjoy

Helen Sloan/HBO

8

Yara Greyjoy

Bronn, the Hound, the Kingslayer, the Mountain – sorry, fellas, but no one on this show looks like they'd kill you where you stand and walk away whistling more than Gemma Whelan's Yara Greyjoy. Since the Ironborn value skilled killers above all else, she's been able to fight her way through this society's otherwise unbreakable glass ceiling. It'd almost be admirable, if she weren't such a sarcastic dick about it all the time.

Ygritte

Oliver Upton/HBO

7

Ygritte

Melisandre may be a priestess of the Red God, but this very wild wildling brings the season's real heat. Admittedly, her non-stop smuttiness gets grating, but her total lack of DUTY AND HONOR bullshit adds as much of a much-needed contrast to Jon Snow's storyline as her bright orange hair does to the snowy wasteland they're wandering around in. Also, if it's possible to have a crush on an accent, let me know so I can buy Rose Leslie's voice flowers, maybe take it to a movie, I dunno.

Xaro Xhoan Daxos

Paul Schiraldi/HBO

6

Xaro Xhoan Daxos

The smoothest man that ever was or will be? This megarich merchant from the splendid oasis city of Qarth bears basically zero resemblance to the character of the same name from the books, but when you're confident enough in your own wealth, charm, and intelligence to dupe a queen into trusting you with three flying weapons of mass destruction, you can do what you want. (Except buy better guards for your bedroom, I guess.) It's been a great pleasure listening to Nonso Anozie's mellifluous purr, too.

Margaery Tyrell

Helen Sloan/HBO

5

Margaery Tyrell

Widow of the late King Renly and daughter of the second-richest House in Westeros, the gorgeous Margaery makes for a picture-perfect queen, in public anyway. Behind closed tent flaps, however, she'll do whatever it takes to be the woman behind the Iron Throne, including most un-queenly threeways with Renly and her brother or alliances with the scheming Littlefinger. The ego and insolence with which actress Natalie Dormer delivers the once and future Queen's creedo – "Do you want to be a queen, my lady?" 'No…I want to be the queen" – is the best line reading of the season.

Davos Seaworth

Helen Sloan/HBO

4

Davos Seaworth

The Onion Knight provides the court of Stannis Baratheon with just the right seasoning. This former smuggler turned trusted advisor isn't afraid to tell it like it is to his monomaniacal boss, or to question the creepy cult the Red Woman has formed around him. Actor Liam Cunningham gives him a rich, rolling voice as salty as the sea by which he lives or dies.

Jaqen H'ghar

Helen Sloan/HBO

3

Jaqen H’ghar

The Boba Fett of Game of Thrones – if Boba Fett ever, y'know, actually did something. Played with sleepy-eyed sex appeal by Tom Wlaschiha, Jaqen's a curiously courteous prisoner who slowly reveals himself to Arya Stark as quite possibly the most dangerous man in Westeros. You want to know more about him, but worry about what you might find out (with good reason, as we discovered in the finale).

Brienne of Tarth

Helen Sloan/HBO

2

Brienne of Tarth

Discriminated against for her gender, mocked for her appearance, in love with someone who could never love her back, cursed by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, quite possibly doomed for swearing allegiance to people whose fortunes are falling rapidly: The warrior woman Brienne embodies nearly every misfortune that can befall the people of Game of Thrones, all in a single character. And towering actress Gwendoline Christie embodies Brienne in turn: If it weren't for "Blackwater"'s wildfire explosion, her very real height would be the season's best "special effect."

Stannis Baratheon

Helen Sloan/HBO

1

Stannis Baratheon

Villains become antiheroes by being more charismatic and charming than the heroes themselves. So how do you explain the magnetism exerted by Stannis, the least charming man in Westeros? Despite being almost deliberately humorless and unlikeable, the man who would be king attracts followers and audience members alike through sheer stubborn relentlessness. When steely-eyed, jaw-clenching actor Stephen Dillane growls "The Iron Throne is mine by right," or when he gazes wild-eyed into the flames that allegedly foretell his victory, he leaves no doubt that his Stannis will fight until his dying breath, making him a worthy foil for all the Game's more sympathetic or scintillating players – and marking him as Season Two's rookie of the year.

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