The Greatest HBO Character of All Time: Day Six

You know when you’re sick- and I’m talking bad cold sick, not I’m close to death and/or becoming a zombie sick and it’s the day after you were at your worst. You’re head’s cloudy, sentences are tough to form and ideally you’d still be home, sipping on decaffeinated green tea and watching basketball. That’s how I feel today. I worked a few events with an Austrian gentleman named Heli and on a couple mornings, he’d profess to being a “little dark in the brain.” Now Heli was referring to being hungover. I am not hungover, but I feel that phrase is still applicable. I am definitely a little dark in the brain today.

But on the plus side, I survived the first day of March Madness with my final four still intact. So it’s not all bad. It’s just all a little cloudy.

With that being said, it’s time to tackle the second rounds of the Tyrion Lannister Bracket and the Stringer Bell Bracket. Yesterday we did the second rounds of the Tony Soprano and Jimmy McNulty Brackets. No major upsets in either, although I’m still a little upset I had to eliminate Bubbles. Hannah Horvath from Girls versus Larry David from Curb Your Enthusiasm was a very tight race, but L.D. prevailed. Don’t feel bad for Hannah, though. At least not because of this bracket thing. If anything you can feel bad for her because of what she did to her hair.


Let me spray some Zicam and we’ll get this show on the road.

The Tyrion Lannister Bracket: Round Two

1. Tyrion Lannister (Game of Thrones) vs. 4. Cersei Lannister (Game of Thrones)

You’re supposed to keep this Zicam stuff in your mouth for fifteen seconds before swallowing. Until you’ve actually done it, you most likely have no idea how hard it is to ballpark fifteen seconds. My fifteen seconds have ranged from 8 1/2 seconds to a tad under a minute. If I’m still sick tomorrow, I can’t blame the Zicam. I can only blame myself.

Speaking of sick, this match up is kind of funny because I’m pretty sure Tyrion is the only Lannister dude Cersei hasn’t slept with. Hey yo! (cue rimshot)

My first thought about this match up was that it was no contest; Tyrion had it in the bag. But the more I thought about it, the more I wasn’t 100% sure he was the winner. To clarify, it’s not as if I thought Cersei was the better character. Nope. It was more along the lines of- I should give her a fair shake because she is a great character and if anything, she wouldn’t be straight shut out going up against her younger brother.

Like anyone who had a problem, I reached out to folks on Facebook, asking them to weigh on who was better, Cersei or Tyrion, and why. Here’s what I got back:

Kent from Colorado:
“Tyrion clearly, for many reasons but most obviously because he doesn’t sleep with his relatives”

Dimitry from Philly:
“Tyrion hands down! Much better and more complex character. Cersei is mind numbingly annoying, selfish and self destructive. She thinks she is way smarter than she actually is. Tyrion on the other hand is more cunning and intelligent than just about any of the characters. Cersei is also selfish, cruel, evil and stupid. Tyrion has more upside. I’ve read every book, trust me, Tyrion is by far more interesting.”

Jake in Spain:
“Tyrion – sly, cunning, noseless, and a serial fornicator. You can’t not love him.”

Dan the Man up at Marist:
“Tyrion – I get mad when Tyrion is not on screen for long periods of time. When Cersei isn’t on screen, all is good in Westeros.”

Ali in Philly:
“Tyrion– duh!”

Chuter from Casco Bay:
“Tyrion by a landslide. He is far less self serving and well rounded.”

Phil in Maryland (and with a little bit of an attitude):
“If you’re favoring Cersei, then you need to hand over the reigns of this bracket to someone who knows what the hell they are doing.”

Joe Nixon in Norristown:
“Tyrion. There can be no argument.”

Liz up in Maine:
“Tyrion. He is brilliant.”

I agree with each and every one of those comments. Tyrion is going to win this one. But for the sake of hitting my unofficial word count goal, let’s briefly make the case for Cersei.

Cersei is as important of a character as Tyrion is. She’s the dominant female on a show largely run by dudes and…

Never mind. I can’t. Plus she creeps me out.

Winner: Tyrion

2. Omar Little (The Wire) vs. 3. Jimmy Darmody (Boardwalk Empire)

Another thing about Zicam is that you’re supposed to wait fifteen minutes before drinking anything. It turns out that fifteen minutes is as hard to ballpark when it’s elapsed as fifteen seconds is. Crazy, huh? Now if you’re first thought after reading that is- Ryan, why don’t you just look at clock? – my response to you is why don’t you look at a clock.

Anyway…

Jimmy Darmody. The young upstart. The war vet. The Princeton drop out. Jimmy did a lot in only two seasons on Boardwalk Empire, especially when you consider that the show has roughly 1,000 characters and story lines to go with all of them. In season one we saw Jimmy’s evolution from Nucky’s right hand man to foe and then in season two, we saw Jimmy give running Atlantic City his best shot. It didn’t work out. Not at all and he ended up getting shot by Nucky in a move that was:
A.) Surprising
B.) Massively disappointing
C.) A ballsy move by the show’s writers
D.) Ultimately something that had to happen

Example A

There was a point midway through season two when I started to wonder if Boardwalk Empire was going to go Game of Thrones and take out Nucky in the same way GOT took of poor Ned Stark. Oh sorry, spoiler alert. Actually I should have done a spoiler alert about a paragraph before this. Don’t blame me, blame the Zicam. It’s so minty fresh. But yeah, I started to think that maybe Boardwalk Empire wasn’t going to be about Nucky’s rise to power and Nucky’s story, but Jimmy’s story. Producers of the show had said that the show was about baby gangsters; it was about all these figures Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, etc before they got famous. If that was the case, I started thinking it would then make more sense to tell the story of Boardwalk Empire through Jimmy’s perspective rather than Nucky. Jimmy was one of their peers. Nucky wasn’t. The argument that because it was Nucky on all the posters and in the credits, then it had to be his show had some credence. But that certainly wasn’t the case with Game of Thrones (see example A)

So basically if Game of Thrones could kill it’s main character, that pretty much meant any show, including Boardwalk Empire, could do the same thing. Right?

Wrong.

Jimmy was a patsy. He was a pawn of the writers to advance Nucky’s story. Granted he was a pawn we all cared about, but he was a pawn n0netheless. I think the fact that the audience fell for Jimmy so much was a testament to the great writing of Boardwalk Empire. However, when looking at Jimmy’s role on Boardwalk, it’s hard to argue it’s significance when he was essentially replaced in season three by Owen, the charming Irishman. When it comes down to it, Jimmy Darmody was just another character on Boardwalk Empire.

You know who wasn’t just another character on The Wire?

Yes sir, Omar. Omar Little. The gun-totting, gay, stick-up artist. The wildcard of West Baltimore. This morning I had one thought about Omar. It wasn’t- is Omar going to be able to beat Jimmy Darmody? It was- is anyone going to be able to beat Omar?

I have no idea.

Omar’s comin’.

Winner: Omar

The Stringer Bell Bracket: Round Two

1. Stringer Bell (The Wire) vs. 4. Carmela Soprano (The Sopranos)

Carmela Soprano is a forty degree day. In the end, there just isn’t much to talk about. There isn’t much to complain about. There isn’t much to be happy about. It’s just forty degrees.

Winner: Stringer

2. Ari Gold (Entourage) vs. 6. Daenerys Targaryen (Game of Thrones)

I can’t decide if I ranked Ari Gold too high or Dany too low. If Dany were to win, this could be scene as a pretty big upset. I mean, it wouldn’t be Harvard over New Mexico big, but it’d be pretty big. But here’s the thing, if she were win, it doesn’t feel like it should be that big of an upset. I don’t know who that says more about- Ari or Dany.

The argument for Ari:

  • he made Entourage entertaining, even when it wasn’t
  • he had some great lines
  • he was force of nature
  • he was cool under pressure

The argument for Dany:

  • in only two seasons she has become a major player on a show full of major players
  • she has pet dragons
  • she’s cool under pressure because she literally can’t feel heat
  • she watched her brother, her last remaining relative, be killed with zero emotion

I think it’s that first bullet in Dany’s argument that is the difference here. Entourage was on for eight seasons…yes, eight seasons, that’s not a typo. I had to look it up because I didn’t think it was more than six. How is that even possible? Sidetracked, re-focus. Okay, so yes, Entourage was on for eight seasons and Ari Gold was essentially the same Ari Gold he was when it started and when it finished. Sure he went through some career changes and a personal hiccup or two, but ultimately, that dude was the same dude when that show ended.

On the other hand, little Dany, the Mother of Dragons, has evolved steadily in each of Game of Thrones first two seasons and I have to imagine she’ll continue to grow even stronger in season three. She has dragons for crying out loud! When the show started, she was the quiet, little pawn of her psychotic and disillusioned brother. Now? Well she had all those dudes who look like Moby killed and in previews for season 3, she’s road-tripping it to what has to be Westeros. She became Khal Drago’s equal, eventually killed his horse to save him and took a loyal group of Dothraki under her wing. I just feel like she’s destined to be like Omar in The Wire– the wildcard. Everyone in Westeros is fighting against each other, making their moves, but not at all suspecting that Dany is coming, packin’ dragons like shotguns and ready to take what’s hers.

Ari was entertaining and fun to watch, but I think that in the end, we want to see the characters we love evolve. It’s why Nucky Thompson is so interesting, why Friday Night Lights is effin’ incredible and the Roots are one of the most exciting bands out there. They are constantly changing, evolving, becoming something more. They are challenging us as viewers and making us connect with them emotionally.

Ari Gold, you were a funny character.


But you weren’t a great character.

The Mother of Dragons moves on.

Winner: Daenerys

Next up: Third round battles!

Tony Soprano vs. Nucky Thompson
Jimmy McNulty vs. Larry David
Tyrion Lannister vs. Omar Little
Stringer Bell vs. Daenerys Targaryen

Photos: HBO

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