Now that everyone (save Cersei) is sufficiently recovered from the shocking death of the king, the question on everyone's mind is what to do next. The fact that it was so easy to get at Joffrey reveals a serious chink in his grandfather Tywin's armor, even though his successor Tommen will undoubtedly prove to be more pliable. As Tywin told Oberyn last week, the Iron Islands are still in open rebellion, the Wildlings are marching south and over in the east, a Targaryen girl has dragons. He needs to unite the Seven Kingdoms before any of these threats prove to be too much for his fragile alliances.
1. Daenerys Targaryen
Dany showed up to the gates of Meereen last week and showed off her tactical smarts once again, petitioning the slaves of the city to rise up and overthrow their masters to live in freedom under her benevolent rule. Daenerys has proven a particularly wily kind of conqueror, befitting her Targaryen name. She has the muscle (the army of Unsullied) and she can strike awe in the hearts of anyone (with her dragons), and she is steeped in moral thinking. She can conquer—now, can she rule?
2. Jon Snow
Much like young Dany, young Jon is well on his way to becoming a hardened leader of men, as we saw last week. His journeying with the Wildlings seems to have invested him with the cold-bloodedness required to make tough decisions. But he's still a crappy, crappy politician. All of the folks in charge at Castle Black, except for blind Maester Aemon, seem to despise him. How does he turn his long-time enemies and bring everyone together?
3. Cersei Lannister
If the death of Joffrey represented a chink in Tywin's armor, it was an open wound for Cersei, who was much closer to her son than anyone (despite their frequent disagreements). And in the last episode, she was debased in multiple ways, first by her brother assaulting her inches from their son's corpse, but also by Tywin, who is quickly drawing a net around her other son Tommen. But Cersei is not out of options here. There's no evidence that her son likes or hates her, but there's plenty of evidence that he's easily manipulated, so maybe she can start working on that. The danger for her is getting too obsessed with knocking off Tyrion, but it's undoubtedly true that her life would be easier if he weren't around.
4. Brienne of Tarth
Glancin' at the promos, looks like Lady Brienne is going to be involved in the next episode in some way or another, and she really is a person casting about for a role in this new society. Renly is long dead. Catelyn is dead. The Stark children are all missing. Jaime is maybe not at his most level-headed. Brienne is too valuable a character and fighter to waste, so look for her to get sent on her next mission this Sunday, whatever it turns out to be.
5. Bran Stark
Hey, Bran? Remember when you had that kinda-cool vision back in episode two? And you said you knew where you had to go? Why don't you TELL US? Cause it's season four and a lot of people are starting to wonder what the point of your continued trudging through the snow is. So, uh, maybe get to that this week. Just some friendly advice.