One stands at a point in time wherein one is considered to be living under a rock if the person hasn’t watched Game of Thrones during the entire years of their existence. Currently filming their eighth and final season, the HBO original show based on George R.R. Martin’s novels of the fictional world of Westeros takes the planet by storm every year it airs, inciting discussions, spoiler wars, or just fans gasping for breath over an explosive twist or an unexpected death. It doesn’t come as a surprise then that GoT still remains one of the most watched and loved shows the world over, and for right reason.
The show boasts of top-notch production values, easily rivaling many films, and an impressive ensemble of cast members, some well-known, and some who struck gold gaining wider recognition through the show. While picking the 10 best episodes from a gamut of excellent ones spanning over 7 years is a tough job, we attempted it, and the episodes so chosen are brilliant in every aspect one could think of, giving some large studio produced films a run for their money. Undoubtedly, Game of Thrones has escalated TV viewing experiences and upped the ante for what TV shows are meant to accomplish.
Without further ado, here is the list of top episodes of Game of Thrones. Let the giddy excitement and nostalgia from when your favourite character was alive fill you up.
10. The Mountain and the Viper
‘The Mountain and The Viper’ remains one of the most heartbreaking episodes of the entire series for me, in the same league as the Red Wedding, albeit not as devastating. However, little justice is served when it is George R.R. Martin’s world. It is perhaps the only episode in this list that is not as uniform or spectacular as the others, yet it finds a spot her because of its final ten minutes. Oberyn Martell was a character one could easily fall in love with and endear to, played with much swagger by Pedro Pascal.
As the episode commences, Tyrion’s trial by combat is underway, and Oberyn and the Mountain clash. Oberyn won many hearts as he volunteered to fight for Tyrion, while it is here that his personal vendetta against the Lannisters is revealed. He sways, dances along athletically with his spear in battle with the heavily armoured giant, but soon resorts to taunting his weakened opponent and calling out Tywin on his crimes against the Martells. As one watches, all joy turns to ashes as the Mountain one-ups him and splatters his skull across the floor. Not only was this one sequence disconcerting and extremely gruesome and tough to sit through, I must also admit that it effectively delivers the shock value Game of Thrones is infamous for. An evenly paced out episode otherwise, but the final ten minutes make it a winner.
9. The Children
While all the other episodes on this list are somewhat highlighted by a single moment or sequence that stands out, ‘The Children” is an episode that earns its merit on being consistent throughout and handling major revelations, character moments and deaths finely within its limited runtime. In fact, by virtue of the sheer number and magnitude of arcs it handles, it also is one of the fastest moving and complex Game of Thrones episodes, never once missing out on important, dramatic conversations and shining character moments either.
Be it Jon’s encounter with Mance and the attack on the wildlings by Stannis’ army, or Cersei’s acceptance of her incestuous relationship with Jaime in front of her father that leads to some heated exchanges, Daenerys chaining her dragons up, Tyrion’s escape from King’s Landing, or Bran meeting the three-eyed raven and learning about the children of the forest, all arcs receive equal, doting attention. Balance is the key in this episode, and ‘The Children’ comes out proud on striking that balance.
9. The Door
Tying with ‘The Children’ is the fifth episode of the sixth season of Game of Thrones, ‘The Door’. Before watching the episode, I was curious as to what the title meant and I went into it completely oblivious. Being the fifth episode of the season, no one exactly expected something explosive either.
However, the reveal of ‘The Door’ at the end of the episode had me in jitters and I couldn’t reel from the effects of this one for days. It is an achievement if you ask me, growing so fond of a character given the only word he speaks is his own name. He didn’t meet an end as ugly as many other characters on this show, but it was a hard-hitting one because his origins as a stable boy named Wylis in Winterfell, and how he got his disability are simultaneously revealed through this extremely well-edited sequence. Rest of the developments in the episode are pretty standard except Jorah’s confession of his love for Daenerys and Bran’s discovery of the origins of the White Walkers, two of the moments that stand out, along with a teary-eyed farewell to the adorable giant, Hodor, who protected Bran with his life till the end.
8. The Laws of Gods and Men
This episode, or rather the last fifteen minutes of it, prove why Peter Dinklage is an absolute treasure of an actor, putting up one fine performance here. It actually shows how television has come to grow into something that rivals motion pictures in every sense, be it scale, production values or performances, sometimes even surpassing them. Tyrion’s trial is finally underway, and Dinklage emotes beautifully as he sees people he held dear to him turn on himself, testifying against him.
Following this, Tyrion then delivers an excellently written and even more well-acted out monologue, that is sure to go down as one of the best-written scenes in GoT history, and as pure gold in overall TV history. While the trial itself lasts for a good part of the episode ending in Tyrion demanding a trial by combat, there are smaller character moments for Yara Greyjoy, Daenerys, and Stannis to shine in elsewhere in Westeros and beyond the sea. However, the trial sequence, the stunning exchange and rebuttals between Tywin and Tyrion Lannister and Dinklage’s monologue shoot this episode up right into the hall of fame.
The Battle of Blackwater is the first major battle to take place in the series, and is also among the most impressive, both production and scale wise. Little development takes place in the show other than the titular battle with Stannis Baratheon laying siege to King’s Landing. Lots of strategizing, lots of kills, lots of slash and hacks and lots of visual treats and surprises here to relish.
The battle begins with Stannis’ fleet and army looking confident, when moments later Tyrion uses mind over might to deliver a severe blow by burning half his fleet with wildfire. Cersei’s conversation with Sansa and Shae, Joffrey’s abandonment of the battlefield, The Hound’s “f**k everything” moment, and Tywin Lannister’s and Loras Tyrell’s opportune arrival are definite highlights, but this episode belongs to Tyrion and his well strategized quips, proving his moniker of drinking and knowing things.
6. The Winds of Winter
In the rare event of a spectacular ninth episode accompanied by an eventful, almost spectacular season finale, season 6 scores. Following a major development in the previous episode, things finally start looking up for Winterfell. Jon is declared the King in the North for good reason, while Lyanna Mormont slays, like always. Arya’s story too comes full circle, with her displaying the deadly assassin she had become by slitting Walder Frey’s throat in a moment of epic badassery.
What comes as a bitter shock though, is the second act. On the day of her trial, Cersei has the entire sept of Baelor blown up with wildfire, instantly killing everyone in the sept, including one of my personal favourite characters, Margaery Tyrell, while she watches the horror unfold from her keep, sipping on wine. While it enrages me hearing that this was done due to budget constraints and streamlining the story to fewer claimants to the throne, one cannot deny this development was a major shock and excellently portrayed on screen, as is the hair rousing moment of Daenerys assembling her impressive fleet and setting sail for Westeros with her dragons screeching in the sky. While establishing a few major things for its own, it also manages to set the wheel turning for the seventh season in a great storytelling feat for television.
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