'Game of Thrones': Who's Ahead Going Into Episode 4?

It's Tywin vs. the Tyrells as the major players for HBO's hit scramble to control the Iron Throne.
Macall B. Polay/HBO

We're just three episodes in and Game of Thrones has already thrown us plenty of curveballs.

One monarch is dead. Another continues to burn people at the stake, while in the East, a third's influence continues to grow.

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Here we rank the major players based on last Sunday's episode. Note that characters who did not appear in "Breaker of Chains" are not included. And for a look ahead, check out our theories for the upcoming episode, and see what clues writer Bryan Cogman could reveal to The Hollywood Reporter.

1. Tywin

With Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) dead and the much gentler Tommen (Callum Wharry) in line to sit on the Iron Throne, everything is going Tywin's way. The king-to-be will heed his grandfather's advice. The Hand of the King finally has an heir he considers worthy of his lineage, and one who will rule wisely. Even more impressive, he has brought Oberyn (Pedro Pascal) into the fold -- helping secure Dorne as an ally for a potential war with Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and her dragons.

Key line: "Your brother was not a wise king. Your brother was not a good king. If he had been, perhaps he'd still be alive."

2. Lady Olenna / Margaery

The Tyrell women are playing the game of thrones at the highest level. Margaery (Natalie Dormer) has already wed two kings, with an eye on the third. Margaery's prospects are much improved with Joffrey dead, and grandmother Olenna (Diana Riggs) indicates she will next marry Tommen.

Key line: "You did wonderful work on Joffrey. The next one should be easier." 

3. Daenerys

Even Tywin Lannister is taking note of Daenerys, who is poised to free her third slave city. We predict she'll soon have thousands of new people calling her "mother."

Key line: "I am not your enemy. Your enemy is beside you. Your enemy steals and murders your children."

4. Littlefinger

He had a hand in Joffrey's death, but Petyr's (Aidan Gillen) ultimate goal is anyone's to guess. But managing to assassinate the king and gain custody of Sansa (the key to Winterfell, as her brothers Bran and Rickon are believed dead) shows he's got what it takes to make huge moves. He will stop at nothing to advance his position.

Key line: "Money buys a man's silence for a time. A bolt in the heart buys it forever."

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5. Oberyn

Prince Oberyn isn't eyeing the Iron Throne -- he's more into whoring and revenge -- but his power is growing nonetheless. He will serve on the tribunal judging Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), get the chance to speak with (fight?) The Mountain and may even end up on Tommen's small council.

Key line: "When it comes to war, I fight for Dorne. When it comes to love, I don't choose sides."

6. Cersei

Cersei's beloved son is dead. Tywin has won over Tommen and will be the main influence in the future king's life. And Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) has betrayed her trust in the worst way. She's focusing her energies in the wrong area -- trying to get an innocent Tyrion executed. Cersei will need to stop focusing on Tyrion and pay attention to details that will help her win the game of thrones if she wants a chance at success.

Key line: "It was Tyrion. He killed him. He told me he would. 'The day will come when you think you are safe and happy, and your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth.' "

7. Stannis

The perpetually pessimistic Lord Dragonstone believes he is in grave circumstances. Stannis' (Stephen Dillane) enemies continue to drop like flies, but Joffrey's death doesn't help him much, as Tommen will surely be a more popular king. The ace up his sleeve continues to be Davos (Liam Cunningham), who has devised a plot involving the Iron Bank of Braavos. What that plot is remains to be seen. 

Key line: "If I do not my press my claim, my claim will be forgotten. I will not become a page in somebody else's history book. I'm running out of time, Ser Davos, which mean's you're running out of time."

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8. The Wildlings

They are having a great time slaughtering villagers and even have the numbers to take Castle Black. But what's their ultimate plan? They can pillage all they want, but when the White Walkers come south, they will be in just as much trouble as the rest of the realm.

9. Tyrion

Lannisters have a knack for finding themselves in shackles. Just as season-three Jaime, or season-one Tyrion, for that matter. But this time seems particularly hopeless, as Cersei is convinced Tyrion is guilty of murder. She will do her best to see her brother beheaded. Tyrion's wild cards may be his sellsword Bronn and his brother Jaime's affection.

Key line: "Whoever killed the king wanted me to lose my head for it."

Check back to THR.com/GOT after Sunday night's episode for a spoiler-filled post-mortem with writer Bryan Cogman, and let us know in the comments who you think is in the best shape going into episode four.

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.

Email: Aaron.Couch@THR.com
Twitter: @AaronCouch