Ever since Game of Thrones began, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) has been the antagonist you love to hate: a brother-banging, sociopath-spawning, power-grabbing alcoholic who was instrumental in the death of several beloved Starks and now occupies a well-deserved spot on Arya’s (Maisie Williams) kill list.
And yet! After six seasons of watching Cersei take her licks and keep on comin’ — and having learned her tragic backstory, which makes her a complicated character if not a sympathetic one — let’s be honest, we’re kinda rooting for her. And you should be, too! Forget the recently-resurrected Jon Snow (Kit Harington), and the dragon-riding Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke); Cersei Lannister is the one who really deserves to win the game of thrones, and here’s why.
She’s been through it.
If the game of thrones is an Olympics of misery, and the Iron Throne a rightful reward for he (or she) who has suffered the most, Cersei pretty much tops the list of the most deserving rulers in the Seven Kingdoms. Daenerys lost her husband and unborn baby, and yet she’s got nothing on Cersei, who lost three grown kids and received no dragons out of the deal. (RUDE.)
And Jon Snow? Yes, he was literally murdered — but what’s a quick (and temporary!) death compared to an all-day march through the streets, buck-ass nude, while a lemon-faced septa rings the bell of shame behind you and onlookers pelt you with dung? That’s before we even get to the part where Cersei has suffered all sorts of aesthetic indignities while everyone else gets to look fabulous; the trauma of that haircut alone should earn her at least ten more years as Queen.
She’s the ruler Westeros needs.
Keeping in mind that the battle for the Iron Throne is small potatoes in comparison to the coming fight against the undead hordes from beyond the Wall, the best candidate to lead the charge is someone ruthless enough to, say, blow up a sept if necessary — and pragmatic enough to make the potentially uncomfortable alliances against a common enemy that war so often demands. Needless to say, Cersei isn’t squeamish about getting into bed with… Uh, anyone, really. But when it comes to politics, that can be a good thing!
She understands power.
Not for nothing, there is a reason why Cersei’s butt keeps ending up on that throne despite the best efforts of practically everyone in Westeros to take her down — and despite the fact that she’s been up against serious odds as both a woman and a member of one of the least-liked families in the Seven Kingdoms. Tyrion once said that his sister’s two redeeming qualities were her love for her children and her fabulous cheekbones. But her gift for political manipulation is an obvious third item for that list.
And frankly, we like where she stands on the issues.
With Cersei sitting the Iron Throne, if the Seven Kingdoms is going to be overrun by a sea of White Walkers? At least we won’t have to be sober for it.
Game of Thrones returns to HBO on Sunday, July 16 at 9/8c.