Valar morghulis. All men must die, and this week’s Game Of Thrones puts the emphasis on the men. The Sand Snakes continue to kill after Ellaria Sand delivered a poisoned kiss to Myrcella in last season’s finale, and this week they killed three of their main obstacles to war with the Lannisters: Dornish prince Doran Martell, his son and heir to the Dornish throne Trystane, and their loyal bodyguard Areo Hotah. Six Bolton soldiers died, too, but there’s always quite a bit of cannon fodder on this show. Here’s a handy guide to this week’s recently deceased:
Who died?: Doran Martell, prince of Dorne and lord of Sunspear, was assassinated at his home in the Water Gardens on Sunday. A measured—his detractors might even say passive—ruler, Doran used a wheelchair for the majority of his life, and rarely left his palace as a result. His decisions weren’t always popular, but they were always made with the best interests of his family and the Dornish people in mind. He is survived by the common-law sister-in-law who murdered him, and the bastard nieces who murdered his son.
How did they die?: Stabbed in the chest and left to bleed out by Ellaria Sand, who is clearly still more than a little upset about the untimely passing of her consort, Oberyn “The Red Viper” Martell.
How shocking was it?: With zero being “died peacefully in their sleep” and 5 being “eyes squished like grapes inside their skull,” this one only rates about a 2.5. Yes, it was violent and sudden. But there have been rumblings of political discontent in Dorne since the introduction of the Martells in season five, and assassination is a common form of protest in the world of Game Of Thrones.
How awesome was it?: Ellaria Sand gave a big speech while he bled out on the pavement. It was framed nicely, but that was about it.
How much do we care?: On a scale of “nameless mercenary” (zero) to “Jon Snow” (5), this rates about a 3. Doran’s role has always been to keep things from happening, so with his death the Sand Snakes’ bloodthirsty quest to avenge Oberyn’s death—and film some pretty awesome combat sequences in the process—can continue unabated. But he seemed like a good guy, so that’s too bad.
What does it mean for the show?: The death of the Martell men foretells a new era in Dornish leadership, one far more inclined toward firey vows of revenge and random stabbings than the previous administration.
Who died?: Trystane Martell, son of Prince Doran Martell, was assassinated by his cousin Obara Sand on Sunday. Similar in demeanor and temperament to his father—not to mention the Dornish heir—the Sand Snakes couldn’t kill Doran and let Trystane live. More a casualty, then, of his father’s inaction than his own doing, young Trystane didn’t have much chance to prove himself. He did try to take on Bronn once (Bronn knocked him unconscious). Trystane was betrothed to Myrcella before she was killed by Sand Snake leader Ellaria. He is survived by his bastard cousins who killed him.
How did they die?: Though he chose to fight with cousin Nymeria Sand, putting his back to cousin Obara was pretty stupid: Why would cousins coming to kill him care about rules of engagement? Once he presented his back as an easy target, Obara finished him off by way of spear through head.
How shocking was it?: Considering it immediately followed his father’s death on-screen, not very. The scene did lead viewers to believe a fight was imminent, though, making the spear through the back of the head unexpected to both Trystane and the viewers. That quick end makes his death a middle shocking 3.
How awesome was it?: Spear through the back of the head qualifies as gruesomely awesome. Dornish deaths are nothing if not visually dramatic.
How much do we care?: Trystane was more of a pretty boy than a character with much agency; after Myrcella died at the end of season five, Trystane didn’t even matter in relation to anyone else on the show. His death is a 2.
What does it mean for the show?: With no one of Doran’s direct bloodline left to claim his place, the Sand Snakes are in prime position to take power for themselves.
Who died?: Areo Hotah, captain of the guard at Sunspear, was stabbed and killed by Tyene Sand. Despite legendary prowess with his ax and faithful allegiance to Prince Doran, Areo was not able to defend himself or his lord, as Tyene’s dagger came out of nowhere. He leaves no known kin, though he was symbolically wed to his ax upon completion of his training.
How did they die?: Tyene Sand stabbed him in the back; Areo never saw it coming. It seems Doran’s fear that Areo had gone soft wasn’t misplaced.
How shocking was it?: Interrupting another beautiful day in Dorne, Areo’s death was the surprising first in a series of kills carried out by the Sand Snakes. Though his name won’t be invoked in the annals of Dornish history like Doran’s and Trystane’s, his blood was the first to be spilled, and the sudden, unexpected nature of his death makes if a 4 for out-of-the-blue shockingness.
How awesome was it?: Not very; poor Areo didn’t even get a chance to show off those mad ax skills.
How much do we care?: Areo didn’t get a lot of screen time, but he was a faithful guard, a low-born man doing his duty and killed in the crossfire of a scheming family: a sympathetic 3.
What does it mean for the show?: The Sand Snakes add a death to their kill count to show how far they’ll go to get what they want.
Six Bolton soldiers
Who died?: Six men loyal to the Flayed Man of House Bolton were cut down in the woods outside of Winterfell while in the service of their lord. They were sent out to retrieve Lady Bolton, a.k.a. Sansa Stark, after she fled the palace in the company of the one known as Reek. How many family members they leave behind is unknown, but it’s safe to assume they had mouths to feed.
How did they die?: At the hand of Brienne Of Tarth, who was also following Sansa and Reek (a.k.a Theon Greyjoy) through the woods as part of her oath to Sansa’s now-deceased mother, Catelyn Stark. The loudmouth leader went down right away after mocking Brienne’s gender (bad idea, dude), followed by three of his colleagues. One was killed by Brienne’s squire, Podrick Payne, while the last of the six died when Theon stabbed him in the back of the head by surprise (a recurring motif in this episode).
How shocking was it?: Every episode of Game Of Thrones has its nameless casualties, so that wasn’t even a remotely a surprise. But it did resolve the otherwise rather suspenseful situation Sansa and Theon found themselves in at that particular moment, so that’s worth one point.
How awesome was it?: Hey, if you have to die—and, as we’ve already established, all men must—you might as well be able to brag in whichever of the seven hells you end up in that you were killed by the legendary Brienne Of Tarth. Unless you were the guy killed by Pod. That poor bastard.
How much do we care?: These guys are zeros. Not only are they faceless soldiers, they work for the evil House Bolton. One guy even says he’s looking forward to seeing the captives get tortured. Good riddance.
What does it mean for the show?: An exciting fight scene in an episode that was pretty light on those, overall.