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Throwback Thursday - The Best Game-Changing "Game of Thrones" Episodes



VALAR MORGHULIS.

Fellow “Game of Thrones” fans, less than two weeks to go for the show to resume. After a long, long, long wait, season 7 will premiere on July 16. Because it’s going to be only seven episodes, we know it’s going to end really fast but that doesn’t mean it won’t go out with a bang. Especially because it’s going to be an even longer wait for the eighth and final season, which will be coming out in 2019. I bet it’ll be worth it.

To tide us over all these months of waiting and to celebrate season 7, I thought it was fitting to take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of the game-changing episodes and stunning episodes that “Game of Thrones” has gifted to us over the last few years.

Keep in mind, I’ve only picked two from each season because if I didn’t restrict myself so strictly, I’d probably write a thesis on every episode.

Let’s do this!

SEASON 1:

Episode 1 - “Winter is Coming”

Ah, the sweet beginning. Watching the first episode always makes me so nostalgic. All the characters look like such fetuses. They’ve all been through so much over six seasons but in this episode, they’re unsuspecting of the craziness about to come their way. In Westeros, Lord Eddard Stark rules over the northern town of Winterfell. He decapitates a ranger of the Night’s Watch, an army living on the great wall and protecting the country from Wildlings and white walkers. Why? Because he deserted his position to inform Ned that the white walkers, zombie-like icy creatures, are getting closer and closer. Ned learns from his wife Catelyn Stark that the Hand of the King and his friend Jon Arryn has died. He also learns that his other old, the King himself, Robert Baratheon is visiting him from the south with the rest of his family. Robert sits on the Iron Throne after he fought against the Mad King before him, with Ned by his side. The families meet and through that scene, we familiarize ourselves with the rest of the characters. We meet Robert’s wife Cersei Lannister, who’s actually sleeping with her brother Jaime. Ned’s daughter Sansa begins crushing on the prince Joffrey while his other daughter Arya dreams of sword-fighting. His illegitimate son, Jon Snow, is thinking about joining the Night’s Watch.The episode ends with Ned accepting the positing of Hand of the King to find out more about what happened to Jon. Across the sea, we also meet Daenerys Targaryen and her brother Viserys, who has arranged for her to marry Khal Drogo so he can form an army to attack Westeros and claim his position as the rightful king. His father was the defeated Mad King and when he died, Viserys and Daenerys, who was just a baby, fled the country. Whew. The closing scene in which Ned’s son Bran, while climbing up a tower, accidentally spots Jaime and Cersei together so the former pushes him out the window. Yikes.

Episode 9 - “Baelor”

“Game of Thrones” set the trend of delivering action-packed and heart-wrenching penultimate episodes with “Baelor.” In this episode, a lot has changed from when the show began. Daenerys is desperately trying to save her fallen husband Drogo’s life and orders Mirri Maz Dur, a witch, to perform blood magic. She warns her against it because only a life can pay for a life, which results in Dany losing both, her husband and her unborn child. Robb Stark, Ned’s eldest son, has declared war on the Lannisters for capturing and imprisoning Ned after Robert’s death. In an effort to proceed, Catelyn promises Sir Walder Frey, an ally, Robb’s hand in marriage to one of his daughters. He, along with his army, secretly attacks and captures Jaime Lannister. On the wall, Jon Snow learns of Robb’s war and wants to leave to be by his side but the Night’s Watch rules don’t allow it. He learns from the maester there, Aemon, that the reason for this is so that soldiers don’t have to choose between helping the country or helping the loved ones. He would know, after all, because he’s actually Aemon Targaryen, Dany’s great-uncle, who stood by his word and didn’t leave the Night’s Watch even when his family was being exiled. In the capital of King’s Landing, Ned is brought to the Great Sept of Baelor to face judgement from treason. He lies and accepts his crimes, promising fealty to Joffrey who is now king and betrothed to Sansa. Despite Ned’s promise, Joffrey orders his men to chop off his head. In the most heartbreaking moment, we lose Eddard Stark forever. His daughter Arya, living on the streets as a beggar, almost witnesses the execution. Ned’s death had consequences that reverberate through the show even now. Game-changing, alright.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
“A Golden Crown,” “Fire and Blood”

SEASON 2:

Episode 4 - “Garden of Bones”

What this show does really well is put characters you never thought would interact together and under most unusual circumstances. That’s what happens to Arya Stark, who on her way to the wall with Gendry, Robert’s bastard son, is captured and taken to Harrenhal, where prisoners are tortured. Tywin Lannister, Cersei’s father, arrives there and puts a stop to this, taking Arya as his personal servant but not knowing who she really is. Catelyn Stark, meanwhile, aims to reunite Robert’s two brothers, Stannis and Renly, who are against each other and also against Cersei and Robb, with all four claiming the right to the throne. She’s also visited by her childhood friend who harbors feelings for her, Petyr Baelish, secretly advising her an exchange between Jaime, still the captive of Starks, and her two daughters Arya and Sansa. She doesn’t know Arya is long gone from King’s Landing. Sansa, meanwhile, is mercilessly tortured by Joffrey as fun. Yeah, Joffrey sucks. Cersei’s other brother, the dwarf Tyrion, is now the Hand of King much to her displeasure. Stannis Baratheon sleeps with red priestess Melisandre, who delivers a son made of smoke (?) in some shady caves. Dany, who has been walking around the dessert in search for a home, finally lands up in a town called Qarth.

Episode 7 - “A Man Without Honor”

In another episode that’s full of twists for the show, Robb’s right hand man Theon Greyjoy takes over Winterfell but Bran and Rickon Stark, Robb’s two youngest brothers, manage to escape with the help of their caretaker Osha. To prove his fierceness, Theon burns two small village boys and hangs them up, proclaiming he killed the Stark brothers. Robb also meets with a nurse Talisa, and trust me, their upcoming romantic relationship is soon going to turn deadly. Beyond the wall, Jon is with a captured wildling Ygritte, who tries convincing him to join their group instead. She escapes but Jon finds her, only to learn he’s surrounded by other Wildlings. Sansa, now afraid of Joffrey, tries to hide the fact that she has bled and can now bear his children. Cersei finds out anyway and tells her that it might be impossible to love Joffrey, but at least she’ll find love in her children. Cersei also admits to Tyrion that she’s worried the Gods are punishing her for incest because Joffrey grows more and more tyrant. In Qarth, Dany finds out her three small dragons have gone missing and is on the hunt. She learns that the magician Pyat Pree has taken them to the “House of the Undying.” When she gets there, he gives her visions of Westeros, Khal Drogo, and what life would have been like for her. Her ally in Qarth, Xaro, proclaims himself the ruler and betrays her, causing her to flee with Jorah Mormont.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
“Blackwater,” “Valar Morghulis”

SEASON 3:

Episode 4 - “And Now His Watch Is Ended”

Let’s just start by saying that Daenerys Targaryen gets to be a real badass queen in this episode. After spending the episode pretending not to know Valyrian in front of the trader Krazyns in Astapor, she reveals her true motivations, ordering her dragons to slay them all with one simple word. Dracarys. She was there to trade for an army of eunuchs called The Unsullied, who were actually slaves. The Unsullied decide freely to follow her. As does Krazyns’ translator Missandei. As for Samwell Tarly, Jon’s friend from the Watch, he escapes Craster’s keep where the army has been holed up with one of many Craster’s wives, Gilly and her newborn son after a huge and violent fight breaks out. Arya also meets the leader of the Brotherhood without Banners, Beric Dondarrion, after she escaped from Harrenhal with Gendry and Hot Pie in tow. Jaime is being transported back to King’s Landing in a secret mission from Catelyn by the Lady Brienne of Tarth, and the latter has an amusing relationship with Jaime. Bran, still on the run, has been warging and learning more about it with the help of Jojen Reed. Theon, who has been captured in Winterfell by the Bolton’s, is freed by a man who takes him on the run but it is revealed that the man is actually Ramsay Bolton himself, and has fun torturing Theon, castrating him in the end. Tyrion tries to hunt for proof that his sister Cersei tried to have him called during the Blackwater battle in season 2. Joffrey bonds with Margeary Tyrell, with whom he is supposed to wed. Margeary also bonds with Sansa, learning about her desire to leave King’s Landing.
 
Episode 9 - “The Rains of Castamere”

Bring on the tissues. Remember when I said Robb’s romance with Talisa would prove fatal. Well, that time has come. Because Robb’s hand in marriage was promised to one of Walder Frey’s daughters, and that cannot work out anymore because he secretly married Talisa and the two are now expecting a child, his uncle Edmure Tully is to wed the daughter. After the wedding, as the festivities continue, Frey reveals his betrayal to the Starks and alliance with the Lannisters when his army shoots and kills Robb, Talisa, and when Roose Bolton slays Catelyn’s throat but not before saying the famous line, “The Lannister’s send their regards.” Arya, who was finally about to reunite with her family, witnesses the whole thing and escapes once again. Bran, who is just south of the Wall, hides out with his Osha, Rickon, Hodor, Jojen, and Meera atop a tower and sends Rickon and Osha to hide on their own for Rickon’s safety. Below the same tower, Jon Snow and Ygritte fight against the Wildlings who were trying to kill an innocent man, but Jon escapes, leaving Ygritte alone and heartbroken. Dany is now in Yunkai where Jorah Mormont and Daario Naharis along with leader of The Unsullied Grey Worm, fight and defeat the soldiers, causing Dany to gain control of the city.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
“The Bear and the Maiden Fair,” “Mhysa”

SEASON 4

Episode 2 - “The Lion and the Rose”

Or, also known as the episode in which Joffrey finally gets what he deserved aka a brutal death. Yes! The poor lad couldn’t make it through his own wedding party and for that I am glad. He was poisoned and in his dying breath, he points towards Tyrion, sure that his uncle was responsible for this. Cersei, heartbroken, demands that he be arrested. Sansa, who was forced to marry Tyrion, flees with the help of Petyr Baelish. Ramsay Bolton’s father Roose blames him for mistreating Theon to the point where the latter has given up on life and flaily follows Ramsay around. Roose believes Theon’s family, the Greyjoys, can be real allies. We meet Shireen Baratheon, the wise young daughter of Stannis who is plagued with a disease, causing even her mother to be ashamed of her, while Stannis isn’t. Shireen has a deep bond with Stannis’ advisor, Davos Seaworth.

Episode 9 - “The Watchers on the Wall”

This episode is a true beauty and focuses entirely on The Wall as Jon and his army of The Night’s Watch finally battle the Wildlings, including Ygritte. Sam and Gilly arrive at the wall as Wildlings attack them from every side. It may seem like the Night’s Watch is failing, but in the end, they obviously emerge as victorious, capturing the Wildling leader Mance Raydar. Ygritte dies after an arrow by a young lad Olly hits her, saying her famous words before passing in Jon’s arms, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” Why this episode, which doesn’t feature other characters and locations, is great is because of the masterful direction, stunning cinematography that make “Game of Thrones” the show it is today.

HONORABLE MENTION:
“The Mountain and the Viper,” “The Children”

SEASON 5:

Episode 5 - “Kill the Boy”

Once again, characters placed in unusual circumstances rules this show. Tyrion Lannsiter, after escape Westeros, is being taken by Jorah Mormont to Daenerys and as they are on the boat, two big things happen. Tyrion, for the first time, catches a glimpse of Dany’s dragon Drogon. They’re also attacked by stone men and while they fight them off, Jorah is infected with greyscale. Brienne and Podrick are on a mission to find Sansa and rescue her from Winterfell, where she is with Ramsay Bolton forcefully. Jon Snow goes south of the wall to meet Tormund Giantsbane to reach a deal between the two, whereas Stannis takes his family and his army to the Wall after receiving Jon’s letters of plea to send help. Dany decides to marry Loraq and open the fighting pits in Meereen in an effort to remain in a powerful position.

Episode 8 - “Hardhome”

Another episode filled with beautiful shots, “Hardhome” really hits home, hard! (ha!). Jon and Tormund arrive in the icy town of Hardhome to learn it’s been overrun by wights, who attack their army. Using his Valyrian steel sword, Jon manages to kill a white walker with ease. However, as they sail away, we see an epic shot of the Night King resuscitating the dead wights and openly declaring war. Meanwhile, in King’s Landing, Cersei is being left without water by her uncle Kevan, now the Hand of King, to get her to confess. Theon confesses the truth about not killing Bran and Rickon to Sansa, and you can just tell the two are going to plan their escape next. Tyrion and Dany bond, with the latter giving him a seat on her council! Yay to the beginning of their friendship.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
“The Gift,” “The Dance of Dragons”

SEASON 6:

Episode 5 - “The Door”

Another emotional gut-punch, “The Door” finally revealed why Hodor is the way he is. Or was. As Bran is warging, he see’s the Night King who senses him and touches him, revealing their location. Bran and his friends don’t get much time to escape before the wights reach the caves where they are hiding. Hodor, in order to let them escape, shoves himself against the door, with the last thing he hears being Meera yelling “hold the door,” “hold the door,” “ho...door,” ‘HODOR!”. All this while, Bran has actually warged into Hodor and is taken back to the past when Hodor was a kid and began having seizures, also saying hodor. Oh you poor man. Such a fitting end to a character that was loyal, always. Elsewhere in the episode, Sansa and Petyr talk and she tells him that her uncle Brynden is gathering an army. Sansa, who is at the Wall with Jon, leaves with him to get support from the other Northern houses. In the Iron Island, the Kingsmoot is on in full swing, and Euron wins. This causes Theon and his sister Yara to flee for their lives. Dany learns Jorah has greyscale, and sends him away, ordering to find a cure for himself, and of course, he’ll obey Khaleesi.

Episode 10 - “The Winds of Winter”

An epic end to an epic season, “The Winds of Winter” is a masterpiece. Everything about this episode, the background score, the acting, the scene, the direction, the sets… it’s perfection to the core. Cersei finally becomes Queen of the seven kingdoms after her son Tommen jumps to his death when he learns Margeary and her family have been blown to smithereens because his mother set fire to the Sept of Baelor. Varys goes to meet with Olenna in Dorne, getting their support for Dany and against the Lannisters. Davos learns about Shireen’s brutal death and confronts Melisandre, so Jon banishes her from Winterfell. Jon becomes the new King in the North. Sansa, after turning down advances from Littlefinger, supports Jon. Most importantly, we finally learn about Jon’s real parentage: he IS the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, making him the song of fire and ice. Dany finally sets sail towards Westeros with Tyrion besides her, ready to conquer the world.

Honorable Mentions:
“Book of the Stranger,” “Battle of the Bastards”

Which have been your favorite “Game of Thrones” episodes over the years?

VALAR DOHAERIS.



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