Dan M., here….
10. The Lion and The Rose Season 4, Episode 2
One of the most important episodes because it is when no one steps up to confront Joffrey and everyone, including his Mother, realize what a monster he is. The Wedding feast for Margery and Joffrey is going well. Joffrey then uses his new sword to chop a rare book Tyrion got him, he then make Tyrion his cupbearer, and stages a completely offensive story of the five kings using dwarves. Tywin, Cersei, Margery, and even Jaime are disgusted. Luckily, a plan was in place and Joffrey soon chokes and dies in what was the most satisfied I have ever been watching a character die on this show.
9. Winter is Coming Season 1, Episode 1
This will ultimately go down as one of the greatest pilots of all time. Probably the best pilot since LOST. It introduces nearly 15 characters, 8 plots, and an entire World in just over an hour. It plants the seeds for future twists and turns and has so much symbolism for events that won’t be earned until later seasons… you can get dizzy breaking it down.
8. The Mountain and The Viper Season 4, Episode 8
Dany discovers Jorah’s betrayal and Sansa lies for Littlefinger regarding the death of Lysa. All of that is just important filler for the huge battle between Oberyn Martell and The Mountain at Tyrion’s trial by combat. One of my favorite scenes in the book was brought to life so perfectly by these performances. Oberyn toys with the Mountain and quickly has the upper hand. He mortally wounds The Mountain but still is trying to force a confession regarding the rape and murder of his sister (ordered by Tywin) and during this quest he lets his guard down and has his head turned to mush. The look on Tyrion’s face was shared by everyone watching that episode.
7. And Now His Watch Is Ended Season 3, Episode 4
I consider this to be the most important Dany episode. After she arrives in Astapor and buys her slave army for one dragon she orders the slaves to turn on the masters and then orders Drogon to burn the city leader alive. She then sacks the city, offers freedom to the slave army, and becomes a ruler all in the span of 15 minutes. It was a long time coming but this was 4 seasons of Dany’s character growth earned in moments.
6. The Children Season 4, Episode 10
One of the best finales of television ever. Mance’s army is destroyed by Stannis’ knights riding through them. Bran finally meets the three eyed raven and we discover that magic will play a huge role moving forward. Brienne and The Hound have a knock down, drag out fight that ends with Ayra choosing to let The Hound die instead of grant him mercy. Ayra then boards a boat to Bravos to train with the Faceless Men. The bulk of the episode that stays with me though is Tyrion’s escape after being freed by Jaime and Varys and his confrontation with his father. Tyrion discovers the woman he loves is sleeping with Tywin so he strangles her then kills his father. Tywin does not in fact shit gold.
5. The Rains of Castamere Season 3, Episode 9
If you ask someone who has never seen an episode of Game of Thrones if they’ve heard of the ‘Red Wedding’ there is a 90% chance they say, “Is that where people were killed in Game of Thrones?” This episode went viral because of jerks like me who read the books had been waiting for it to happen for years and if you knew a friend who hadn’t read, you were so thrilled to see them realize how awful this story can be. It sounds morbid. It is morbid. The Red Wedding episode was earned in every aspect of the show considering seeds for it were planted as far back as season 1. Robb’s betrayal of the Frey alliance was a slow burn that was paid in brutality for the Starks and viewers of the show.
4. The Watchers on the Wall Season 4, Episode 9
The wildling army attack on the wall was the “big” episode of season 4 and even got some select movie theaters to play it in IMAX. It was massive. Thousands of soldiers, giants, and Thenns from Mance’s army assault the wall for the full hour. The reason why this episode makes the list is that it is the first time we get to see the culmination of everything Jon Snow can be. The leadership and strategy he displays during this attack proves why he is the closest thing we have to a hero in this morally ambiguous show. Jon’s farewell to Ygritte still gets me every single time.
3. The Winds of Winter Season 6, Episode 10
The best paced and tension filled 20 minutes in the entire series’ history opens this episode as Cersei gets ready for her trial in front of the High Sparrow. As the scenes play out we realize that Cersei is not attending her trial and the concerns among the Tyrells and the High Sparrow grow as Lancel starts to unknowingly uncover Cersei’s plan. Far too late to realize the brilliant plot by Cersei, we get to see every single threat in King’s Landing to the Lannisters get burned alive. It was so satisfying. This episode didn’t stop there, we get the emotional reveal of what we knew all along, Jon is a Targareyan. He is then crowned King in the North by Stark banner men. On the other side of the World Dany begins her journey to Westeros after 6 seasons with a coalition of Highgarden and Iron Born defectors.
2. Baelor Season 1, Episode 9
Any hope anyone reading the books or watching the show had that this would be a typical fantasy hero story was dashed in this episode when Ned got his head chopped off. I don’t have much more to say than that. The typical archetype for these stories overplayed his hand in this sinister World and was killed in front of the city and his youngest daughter. Welcome to the Game of Thrones.
1. Hardhome Season 5, Episode 8
Hardhome happened “off screen” in the books but for the show they sent Jon there to rescue some Wildlings to his cause. Before we get to Hardhome we get the meeting we have all been waiting for of Tyrion and Dany in Essos. It is a great meeting and plants the foundation for what will be a good relationship going forward. Ok, back to Hardhome… It is the best action scene in the show to date. Far superior to the Battle of the Bastards in my opinion. As Jon and Tormund discuss the situation with Wildling leaders the wights attack the make shift wall and it turns in to a full or horror/action film. The leader of the Thenns makes a stand against a White Walker and is quickly dispatched then Jon fights the Walker until he is all but defeated. Jon finally grabs Longclaw (Valyrian steel!) and blocks the Walker’s spear. In the instant of shock by the Walker, Jon cuts him down. The Night’s King is watching from the top of a cliff and sends thousands of wights over the edge who land crumpled but start to get up to attack. Jon retreats with any survivors and boards the last boat. As they float away The Night’s King walks to the dock and raises his arms, all the dead Wildlings come to life with pale blue eyes and watch Jon float away. It is the most iconic and gripping moment of the show.