Power Rankings: Game of Thrones - Best Episodes
Episode Name: The Spoils of War
Air Date: August 6, 2017 - Season 7, Episode 4
Synopsis: Arya returns to Winterfell, where she reunites with Sansa and spars with Brienne, both of whom are unnerved by her exceptional fighting skills. Bran unemotionally bids farewell to Meera, divulging that he is no longer the boy she accompanied through the North. Littlefinger presents Bran with the dagger that was previously used in his attempted assassination. Cersei assures the Iron Bank a full return on their investment, as a train carrying gold from Highgarden is on its way to King's Landing.
In a cave filled with dragonglass, Jon reveals ancient paintings to Daenerys depicting the First Men and the Children of the Forest joining forces against the undead. Later, Daenerys learns of the sacking of Highgarden by Lannister forces and realizes her attack on Casterly Rock was a distraction. Despite Tyrion's protests, she decides to take action. Led by Daenerys riding Drogon, the Dothraki cavalry catches the Lannister army by surprise and decimate or capture its remaining forces. Drogon is wounded during the fight by a spear fired from the scorpion ballista. Jaime's desperate charge on horseback at a vulnerable Daenerys is thwarted by Drogon spewing fire. Bronn tackles Jaime into the river in time to save him.
Weight on Series: Jon showing Daenerys the supply of dragonglass and cave drawings helps her understand the importance of uniting all of the living in the coming war against the dead. Up until this episode, the Lannisters were still confident in their chances to defeat Daenerys. Seeing the fearlessness of the Dothraki army and the destruction just one of Daenerys' dragons could cause terrified Jamie and changed his whole outlook.
Best Moment: Jaime charging at Daenerys was a heart-stopping moment to close out the episode. Jaime was seemingly ready to die for the chance to end the war right there. He was lucky Bronn was there to tackle him off his horse and into the water.
Who Won The Episode: Daenerys
Why We Love It: It was a huge relief to see a full cave of dragonglass. It gives some hope for our heroes against the White Walkers. This episode also gave us plenty of action and carnage from one of the dragons, which we always are pumped to see.
Episode Name: Beyond the Wall
Air Date: August 20, 2017 - Season 7, Episode 6
Synopsis: At Winterfell, Littlefinger plots to isolate Sansa. Tensions between Arya and Sansa grow following Arya's discovery of the letter Sansa sent as a child begging for Robb's fealty to Joffrey. Sansa discovers Arya's bag of faces she took from Braavos. At Dragonstone, Tyrion counsels Daenerys about her upcoming negotiations with Cersei.
Beyond the Wall, Jon leads a raiding party to capture a wight to bring South as evidence of the White Walkers' existence. After successfully capturing one, the group is besieged by the White Walker army. Jon has Gendry return to Eastwatch and send a raven to Daenerys to request her help. Thoros freezes to death overnight. Daenerys arrives and saves the group from the wights, with the help of her dragons. The Night King, leader of the White Walkers, throws an ice spear at Viserion, one of Daenerys' dragons, and kills it. Daenerys flies off, along with the raiding party, but is unable to save Jon. Benjen Stark intervenes and sacrifices himself to allow Jon to escape. When Jon and Daenerys are reunited, Jon pledges himself and the North to Daenerys as Queen. The Night King reanimates Viserion, making the dragon a part of his army.
Weight on Series: Capturing a wight to prove their existence is a dangerous, but essential mission, and it takes a great toll. Daenerys losing Viserion and the Night King being able to turn the dragon for the dead's cause greatly tips the balance of the scales. Jon swallowing his pride and bending the knee (symbolically) was needed for our main characters to be able to focus on the real threat ahead.
Best Moment: Daenerys flying in for the save when the good guys were surrounded by the dead was amazing. Conversely, the Night King launching a spear into Viserion was soul-crushing. One of the most jaw-dropping moments in the show.
Who Won The Episode: The Night King
Why We Love It: There was still so much mystery surrounding what was on the other side of the wall that it built up tensions while watching this episode. You knew this wouldn't be an easy in-and-out mission and there was always a slim chance everyone would make it back alive. A dragon being taken out was a huge shock and Benjen coming in for the sacrificial save was another emotional bit.
Episode Name: The Watchers on the Wall
Air Date: June 8, 2014 - Season 4, Episode 9
Synopsis: The Night's Watch prepares for the wildling invasion. Gilly and her son arrive at Castle Black, where Sam hides them in an underground room. The wildlings attack from both sides. Tormund's army gets through from the south and engages the Night's Watch. One giant manages to break through the tunnel leading into Castle Black but is killed by Grenn and five others, at the cost of their own lives.
Alliser Thorne goes to fight in the southern part, leaving Janos Slynt in charge. However, Slynt proves to be incompetent and is tricked into going down the main level, effectively leaving Jon in charge. After watching Jon kill Styr, Ygritte prepares to kill him but is shot by Olly. Jon holds her in his arms as she dies. With the help of Jon's direwolf, Ghost, the Night's Watch secure the ground level of Castle Black, leading to Tormund's arrest. The wall climbers are obliterated by a massive scythe launched by the Watch. The wildlings retreat but not for long, Jon predicts. Seeing no other choice, Jon goes beyond the Wall to find and kill Mance Rayder.
Weight on Series: Jon got the chance to prove his potential as a leader of the Night's Watch after Janos cowered away from the battle. Ygritte's death is heartbreaking and weighs heavy on Jon. Holding off the wildlings for just one night took everything the Night's Watch had. Jon understands this and it forces him to take action that starts the series of events that will eventually unite their causes.
Best Moment: It has to be the giant scythe coming across the wall and slicing the wildlings. Imagine how exhausted you would be climbing nearly to the top of that wall and then seeing that blade come at you.
Who Won The Episode: The Night's Watch
Why We Love It: One of the most epic ways to set up a battle is to have one side that is vastly outnumbered defending a nearly impenetrable fortress. It gives this battle a similar feel to the Battle of Helm's Deep in Lord of the Rings. Some memorable shots include a giant riding a mammoth, a giant shooting an arrow all the way up the wall, and Grenn with four others holding the gate against a giant
Episode Name: The Door
Air Date: May 22, 2016 - Season 6, Episode 5
Synopsis: Sansa meets Baelish, who offers the support of the Vale and tells her that Brynden Tully, her great uncle, is gathering an army in Riverrun; she initially refuses his help. Jon and Sansa leave Castle Black to gather support from the other Northern houses, with her sending Brienne to Brynden. In Braavos, Arya is given a second chance to prove her loyalty by killing an actress named Lady Crane.
Beyond the Wall, Brandon learns that the White Walkers were created by the Children of the Forest to protect themselves from the First Men. In the Iron Islands, Euron wins the Kingsmoot despite confessing to killing Balon, causing Yara and Theon to flee.
In Essos, Daenerys learns about Mormont's greyscale, ordering him to find a cure and return. In Meereen, a red priestess named Kinvara meets Tyrion and Varys and promises to support Daenerys. Brandon's unaccompanied vision causes him to be touched by the Night King, making the cave vulnerable. The Night King, along with White Walkers and hordes of wights, attack the cave, killing the Three-Eyed Raven, several Children, Summer, and Hodor, whose younger self is shown to have been rendered mentally disabled by Brandon's interference.
Weight on Series: The time loop created by Bran is one of the biggest "mind blown" moments ever on the show. Seeing how he can effect the past opens up a whole new world of possibilities. We will probably see this used again at some point in season 8. The Starks are only victorious at the Battle of the Bastards because of the support of the Vale that started back in this episode. Euron's ascension is bad news for our heroes as he will continue to gain power and join forces with Cersei.
Best Moment: "Hold the door!" x 36 (yes, I counted). This was a jarring scene to realize Hodor's past tied to this moment in his future. It was sad to lose a sentimental favorite like Hodor, but at least he went out saving his friends.
Who Won The Episode: Brandon Stark
Why We Love It: Some other aspects of the story were advanced in this episode, but what we will always remember the most is Hodor's final scene. We were given an ending that truly left us in disbelief and presented us with so many more questions than answers. Bran's ability to impact past events sparked all kinds of speculation and theories, and what's better than talking wild GOT theories?
Episode Name: The Winds of Winter
Air Date: June 26, 2016 - Season 6, Episode 10
Synopsis: Before her trial, Cersei destroys the Sept of Baelor by wildfire, killing the High Sparrow, Margaery, Mace and Loras Tyrell, Lancel and Kevan Lannister, along with hundreds of King's Landing nobles and the Faith Militant, while Qyburn has Pycelle killed. Tommen commits suicide.
In Dorne, Varys meets with Olenna and Ellaria, seeking to form an alliance between Daenerys and their houses against the Lannisters. Davos confronts Melisandre over the death of Shireen; Jon banishes her from Winterfell. The Wildlings, the Knights of the Vale and the surviving Houses of the North pledge loyalty to Jon as the new King in the North. Sansa stops Baelish from becoming intimate with her. Arya kills Walder Frey and his sons. Samwell Tarly and Gilly reach the Citadel in Oldtown.
Benjen tells Brandon and Meera to pass the Wall without him. Brandon uses his powers and learns that Jon is actually the son of Lyanna, being adopted by Eddard after she died during Robert's rebellion. Jaime returns to King's Landing to find Qyburn crowning Cersei the new monarch of the Seven Kingdoms. Daenerys leaves Naharis and the Second Sons to rule Meereen before she sets sail to Westeros with her other companions, armies and dragons.
Weight on Series: In one fell swoop, Cersei was able to take out the Sparrows and the Tyrells who had been in her way for some time. The death of another king finally puts Cersei in charge to do as she pleases. She no longer has to try to influence anyone else to do her bidding and from this point on, she gives zero thought to what others may think of her. Jon being named King finally ends all of the squabbling in the North and allows him to lead a strong, united front. Arya claiming revenge for House Stark provides some closure. This episode started to uncover Jon's past that isn't what we always thought it was. Daenerys sailing to Westeros sets the stage for season 7 and the epic war we know is coming.
Best Moment: So. Much. Wildfire. Although Cersei is far from a hero, it was sweet seeing the Sparrows blown away by the lime green flames. The build up in this scene with the music, Margaery realizing something is wrong, and Lancel slowly crawling down the dark hall to where the wildfire is set to go off is beautiful and heart-pounding.
Who Won The Episode: Cersei
Why We Love It: This was the first time we got to see the devastation of wildfire since Blackwater in season 2. Tommen was also the worst, so we didn't exactly mind his death. Seeing Walder Frey receive his justice was long overdue, but we were happy that Arya finally claimed it on behalf of her family.
Episode Name: Baelor
Air Date: June 12, 2011 - Season 1, Episode 9
Synopsis: The Stark army arrives at the Twins castle; Catelyn convinces Lord Frey to let them pass and assist them, in exchange for her agreeing to the marriage of Robb and Arya to Frey's children in the future. Robb sacrifices 2,000 soldiers in a confrontation with the Lannister army, to capture Jaime.
In a public hearing, Ned confesses to treason and publicly affirms Joffrey is rightful heir. However, rather than sentencing him to the Wall as had been negotiated, the vengeful Joffrey has him decapitated, while Sansa, and Cersei and other counselors object futilely. Sansa watches her father die, and Arya is present in the crowd. At the Wall, Jeor Mormont gives his family sword to Jon in gratitude, and Maester Aemon reveals to Jon that Aemon is a Targaryen.
In Essos, Drogo's wound becomes septic and his death imminent. Daenerys convinces a slave woman to use blood magic to save him. The woman tells everyone to leave the tent and stay outside until the spell is over. Daenerys goes into labor, and Jorah brings her into the forbidden tent seeking aid.
Weight on Series: The episode that truly crushed our spirits for the first time. Seeing the moral backbone of the show die so early gives us a harsh reality check. Ned's beheading marks the beginning of huge changes for all of the Stark children. From here, they start on their vastly different adventures and most of them won't see each other for a long time. Joffrey took out a major threat to his claim to the throne, leaving him free to carry out his sinister rule unopposed for the foreseeable future. Daenerys suffers a major loss as well that changes the course for her character. Her decision to resort to blood magic in an effort to save Drogo backfires in the worst way imaginable, robbing her of her child. Jaime being captured sets him on a long journey, at the end of which his character is completely different, physically and mentally.
Best Moment: Joffrey's decision to have Ned executed sent everyone into a frenzy. Sansa, Arya, Varys, even Joffrey's own mother were all desperate to stop it from happening. This moment showed how Joffrey can't be controlled, proving him to be an extremely dangerous king. Ned going against his beliefs so he could remain alive for his family, only to see his demise all the same is one of me most rage-inducing moments as a viewer, which is what makes it so effective.
Who Won The Episode: Joffrey
Why We Love It: Clearly, this is not an uplifting episode, but it is one of the most emotional in the entire series. It sets the tone that this is a cruel world where doing the right thing doesn't always pay off. It was so long ago at this point, but we still can't get over it.
Episode Name: The Rains of Castamere
Air Date: June 2, 2013 - Season 3, Episode 3
Synopsis: Tarly, Gilly and her son arrive at the Wall. During a thunderstorm, Bran enters Hodor's mind to calm him down, an ability not possessed by any Wildling. Nearby, Snow refuses to kill a farmer, whom Ygritte kills before Snow is attacked by the other Wildlings.
Bran uses his warg ability to save Snow, who kills Orell before escaping, leaving a furious Ygritte behind with chief Tormund. Osha, Rickon and his direwolf depart for the Last Hearth, while Bran and his remaining company plan to go beyond the Wall. Daenerys sends Jorah, Naharis and Grey Worm to infiltrate Yunkai and open the city gate for her army. Yunkai soon falls to her forces.
Robb arrives at the Twins and apologizes to Walder, who appears to accept. Edmure marries Roslin and they leave to consummate their marriage before Walder's men murder Catelyn, Talisa and most of the Stark bannermen, while Bolton, revealed to be loyal to the Lannisters, kills Robb. Arya also arrives at the Twins and witnesses a part of the massacre, but Sandor knocks her unconscious and carries her to safety.
Weight on Series: Here it is, The Red Wedding. Another harsh reality check similar to Ned Stark's death, Robb seemed invincible right up until this massacre. Robb hadn't lost a battle and had the Lannisters on the ropes, but his sudden death swiftly changed that. Now that Daenerys finally had her army, we got to see what kind of leader and conqueror she would become, freeing slaves to earn her nickname of "Breaker of Chains".
Best Moment: Catelyn is looking lovingly at her son and new bride kissing, then the doors shut, music starts playing, and Catelyn suddenly has a concerned look on her face. That was the moment you felt chills, but you weren't quite sure why yet. The set up is perfect for the coming horrific scene where the Starks are butchered and Walder Frey creepily smiles as he watches it unfold.
Who Won The Episode: The Lannisters
Why We Love It: Ned Stark being executed by the ruthless Joffrey was shocking, but a slaughter of this magnitude at a wedding was next-level shock factor.
Episode Name: Blackwater
Air Date: May 27, 2012 - Season 2, Episode 9
Synopsis: Baratheon's fleet assaults King's Landing. Leading the defense, Tyrion destroys many of the attacking ships with an exploding ship full of wildfire, forcing the former to attack on land. Sandor leads the defense outside the gate, but is defeated and returns inside, denouncing Joffrey and leaving. Joffrey also escapes. Tyrion convinces the Gold Cloaks to fight with him.
Baratheon's forces make it inside the castle, but Tyrion leads his men behind the Baratheon forces via underground tunnels and mounts a rearguard attack. Cersei goes to the throne room with Tommen, intending to kill him. Shae convinces Sansa to go to her chamber, where Sandor offers to take her back to Winterfell, but she decides to stay. As Tyrion lies wounded and Cersei is about to poison Tommen, Tywin's forces, joined by Loras, arrive and defeat Baratheon's forces, forcing the latter to retreat.
Weight on Series: The pressure of battle reveals once again that Joffrey doesn't like to get his hands dirty. On the other hand, Tyrion proves his usefulness in coming up with the wildfire scheme. He also shows tremendous courage leading an attack while Joffrey hid. This assault was a big swing-and-a-miss for Stannis.
Best Moment: With a single flaming arrow launched by Bronn, the sea, along with Stannis' fleet, is set ablaze. The chaos that ensued on the ships was horrifying and breathtaking.
Who Won The Episode: Tyrion
Why We Love It: It was always fun to see Tyrion slap Joffrey around and school him in a battle of words, but to see Tyrion basically act as the king as Joffrey abandoned his duties and his people was a great character-building moment. Not only did Tyrion prove that the brain is sometimes more important than having the physical stature of a warrior in battle, but he also showed the willingness to risk his life just like any one of his men. Suck it Joffrey.
Episode Name: Hardhome
Air Date: May 31, 2015 - Season 5, Episode 8
Synopsis: Cersei learns that her uncle Kevan is appointed as the Hand. She is left thirsty in order to force her to confess, which she does not. Arya assumes the identity of Lana, an oyster merchant. H'ghar tasks her to study a man who sells marine insurance, but has defrauded beneficiaries. She is to learn everything about the insurer, and then poison him.
Theon tells Sansa that he faked the deaths of Brandon and Rickon. Ramsay suggests to Roose that they move on Stannis and asks for twenty skilled men. In Meereen, Tyrion convinces Daenerys to spare Mormont's life and she exiles him again. Mormont goes back to Yezzan and asks permission to fight in the pits. Daenerys accepts Tyrion into her council. Arriving in Hardhome,
Snow and Tormund convince about five thousand wildlings to join them before Hardhome is attacked by an army of wights. Snow kills a White Walker with his Valyrian-steel sword. As he, Tormund and the other survivors sail away, they witness the Night King reanimating the deceased wildlings as wights.
Weight on Series: The army of the dead is clearly growing and on the move. Jon learning about another way to kill White Walkers is a nice plus. Daenerys letting Tyrion officially join her inner circle of trust is a turning point, as she fully understands his value and respects his opinion.
Best Moment: The look on the White Walker's face when his ice blade is stopped by Jon's sword is priceless. Jon looks just as shocked just before he takes out the White Walker with his Valyrian steel blade
Who Won The Episode: The Night King
Why We Love It: This was a nice little preview of what a full on war of the living vs. the dead could look like. Seeing the wights charge Hardhome with such numbers is something we hadn't seen yet and scared the bejesus out of us.
Episode Name: Battle of the Bastards
Air Date: June 19, 2016 - Season 6, Episode 9
Synopsis: Daenerys meets with the slave masters to negotiate terms of surrender, but they refuse it. Riding Drogon, as Rhaegal and Viserion assist, Daenerys attacks and burns the slavers' fleet. Grey Worm kills two of the masters, leaving one to tell of what he had witnessed.
After the battle, Theon and Yara meet with Daenerys and Tyrion and agree to an alliance. Near Winterfell, the Stark and Bolton armies meet on the field. Ramsay feigns setting Rickon free, but kills him with a long-distance arrow before Jon can save him. In the battle, the Stark forces are pinned by Bolton soldiers, but are rescued by the Knights of the Vale.
Ramsay flees inside Winterfell, but the Wildling giant Wun Wun, having taken numerous arrows to his body, manages to break down the gate before succumbing to his wounds. Jon brutally beats Ramsay and takes him prisoner. Sansa later visits Ramsay's cell in the kennels and watches as his starving hounds devour him.
Weight on Series: Throughout this series the Stark family usually gets the short end of the stick. This is the first time that they come out on top with a huge win. Plus, any time we lose a Stark it's a big deal. Even if it was just Rickon.
Best Moment: Jon Snow is leading his army against insurmountable odds and this puts Bolton is in complete control. Just when it looks like it looks like all is lost the battle instantly shifts gears with a rare positive act by Little Finger. It all culminates with Jon Snow getting revenge on Bolton on behalf of the entire fanbase.
Who Won The Episode: Jon Snow
Why We Love It: This episode is widely acclaimed as a masterpiece. Outside of the scale of the actual battle, the episode is brimming with gripping suspense. From Rickon attempting to outrun Ramsey's arrows, Jon Snow being trampled, and Wun Wun breaking down the gate, the audience can't afford to look away.
Image Credits: Warner Brothers