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Television

Who will win the Iron Throne in ‘Game of Thrones’? Wicked, vengeful Cersei Lannister

In this undated image released by HBO, Lena Headey appears in a scene from “Game of Thrones.” “Game
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in a scene from “Game of Thrones.”
(HBO)

Cersei Lannister is not a nice person, and in the brutal world of “Game of Thrones” that’s a powerful advantage.

As she told her twin brother (and lover) Jaime in “The Dragon and the Wolf,” the Season 7 finale, “I don’t care about checking my worst impulses. I don’t care about making the world a better place. Hang the world.”

No kidding.

Cersei has been ruling as the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms ever since she blew up the Sept of Baelor, slaughtering her daughter-in-law Margaery — along with a hundred or so other innocent people — and prompting Tommen, her last surviving child, to kill himself in despair.

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Her alliance with Euron Greyjoy, King of the Iron Islands, has made Cersei an even more formidable military foe. Not only does he command the Iron Fleet, but in a bid to woo Cersei, he also commissioned the Golden Company, a celebrated mercenary army.

Now, either pregnant with her fourth child or just pretending to be, Cersei was last seen telling her lover/brother Jaime she was lying about that whole truce thing.

She’s also got absolutely nothing to lose: All of her children are dead, as is her father, and she’s been abandoned by her soul mate, Jaime. As if that weren’t enough, her hair, once flaxen and flowing, has been caught in that awkward in-between phase for two whole seasons now, ever since a bunch of religious fanatics shaved her head and made her walk naked through the streets of King’s Landing. There’s nothing scarier than a vengeful Cersei, and she has plenty of reasons to be cranky.

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And while it would be somewhat anti-climactic for Cersei to maintain her hold on the Iron Throne, “Game of Thrones” is a show that has thrived by defying fans’ expectations — killing off protagonist Ned Stark in the first season, then murdering most of his remaining family at the notorious Red Wedding. For Cersei to triumph over more virtuous characters like Jon Snow would be perfectly in keeping with a show whose motto has always been “don’t get too attached.”

And, frankly, I wouldn’t hate it if Cersei prevailed — not because she is likable. Quite the opposite: This is a woman who plotted to have her husband, King Robert Baratheon, killed by a wild boar; ordered the slaughter of all Robert’s bastard children; and forced Ellaria Sand to watch her daughter rot.

Complete coverage: The final season of ‘Game of Thrones’ »

When “Game of Thrones” began, Cersei was the arch-villain with an ever-present chalice of wine and a wicked Cheshire cat grin — the character who, along with her son Joffrey, viewers loved to hate for being so unapologetically bad.

But as the show progressed and the bodies piled up, nearly all her rivals have caught up to her in sheer ruthlessness. Daenerys likes to burn people alive for crossing her. Arya served Walder Frey a pie made out of his own sons. So it’s not even like Cersei is much of an evil outlier anymore.

But the real reason I will root for Cersei, until what I’m sure will be a very bitter end for someone, is because she is such a wicked pleasure to watch. And all credit goes to Lena Headey, who brings wit, humanity and empathy to a character who could be pure camp. Long may she reign!

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