And finally, here we are. With only one day left before we begin our final watch, it’s time to go back and recap some of the best episodes in the history of Game Of Thrones. It’s an excessively rewatchable show and as a person who not only has seen every episode multiple times, my last and I just rewatched from the beginning in anticipation for the final season. Having said that, most of these are obvious picks, but it’s only because of the brilliance exhibited by the cast, crew, creators and writers. No other show has ever been able to combine political intrigue, violence, sex, backstabbing, zombies, and Fucking dragons and not done it so well. There is no replacement for this show, and there never will be. And now, before our watch has ended, I present to you the best episodes of Game of Thrones. Enjoy!
5 BLACKWATER (S2, E9)
Granted, there were big moments before this episode aired, but this is the point where we get to the large scale glory of battle that has been teased. “Blackwater” is a litmus test for the show, and obviously they succeeded far and wide. We’d been leading up to this the entire season. As soon as news of the illegitimacy of Joffrey's reign is known, were introduced to Stannis Baratheon, whose scowl is legendary and is at this point, assumed to be the rightful king. Obviously he hates the Lannisters, but the victory he prays for isn’t to be. During the battle though, we see the true scope of the world the writers and creators have created for us. The battle of The Blackwater is marvelous to behold and the use of wildfire is a visual feast that hasn’t been seen on the show before. In the end we don’t get the king that was promised, but we end up with more reasons to hate Joffrey, Cersei and all their minions, which I guess is a win.
4 THE WINDS OF WINTER (S6, E10)
What a doozy of an episode. I guess that pretty clear based on its inclusion here, but still, goddamn if I don’t get pumped every time I watch it. Fun fact: I HATE religious zealots. Especially those who love to stand on a perch of condemnation under the disguise of moral superiority. This is why the High Sparrow is so repulsive and infuriating. The episode opens with the trial of Cersei, but please, like we ever suspected her to turn herself over to her torturer again. She looks down on them (rightfully so) but unfortunately King Tommen is essentially a little bitch for the entirety of his stay on the Iron Throne. Thus, Cersei takes her revenge against not just one enemy, but many. Sure it’s a shame that thousands have to die, but watching the satisfaction of the Queen Mother as the Sept burns is one of the best things the show has ever featured. Also, Cersei getting her revenge on that Sept maiden is wonderful to watch, even if I know in my heart that Cersei is evil as fuck. But, that’s only half the episode. Thought the episode, there's plenty of justified retribution. We get to see Arya take down the grotesque Walder Frey in spectacular fashion, along with Queen Tyrell joining forces with Allaria and her Sand Snakes. Basically, lots of moving parts coming together in preparation for the final battles to come. As the episode draws to a climax though, we get a bombshell that had been rumored for years. Jon Snow is no bastard at all, and in fact, he belongs on the Iron Throne. The reveal is heartbreaking but also executed perfectly. It’s one of the more satisfying moments of the show, and with that coming near the seasons conclusion, you can’t help to get pumped for what’s next to come.
3 THE RAINS OF CASTAMERE (S3, E9)
Arguably the episode that changed everything. Before this aired we were knee deep in a way between the Starks of the North and the Lannister’s from Casterly Rock. While the journey of Arya and the Hound hits a snag at the Frey compound, something else hugely majorly happens. Obviously we’re talking about the deaths of Catelyn, Rob, and his soon to be wife (insert name). It’s not just that they died, but it happens in spectacularly bloody fashion as both the Frey’s and Bolton has a hand in their opponents destruction. I can slightly understand Walder Frey’s Fontenot at them after trying unsuccessfully to get one of his daughters married off, but for real to just kill and entire family, and their dire wolf is just ducked up. Before this episode ends we know the true costs of going back in your word, but it still feels like overkill. But no matter, because eventually, all of the betrayers meet equally horrible painful deaths, and well, you don’t really feel bad for that. You only feel bad because for the better part of 3 years we’ve rooted for the Starks, and just as it’s starting to looking promising in their campaign for the throne, it all gets taken away swiftly and buried in the ground.
2 HARDHOME (S5 E8)
This was a difficult choice, but in reality all of these could’ve been the number one episode. The buildup of Hardhome is spectacular, as we’ve seen the Knights watch and the Free folk battling it out for years and years, well before we as viewers start to see the tension. The point of this episode is that being human puts them on the same side, whether they like it or not. Most don’t. I watched this episode at least 3 times the week it aired, and still I can’t find anything wrong with it. The action is tremendously well done, and the palpable danger is flowing through the scenes. It’s also noteworthy because we finally get to see the White Walkers unleash hell as the living try to get away to a remotely safe place. Much of that is futile though, as Jon learns that any person left behind instantly joins the ranks of the dead. Meanwhile we get to see Cersei still being tortured by the Sparrows, and that plot line is reaching its breaking point. You just know that this isn’t going to work out how the Sept wants it to, but it takes then some time to gain that knowledge for themselves. It’s also the episode that Tyrion’s journey finally ends with his formal introduction to the Mother of dragons. All of this is well scripted and acted, but for everything else that occurs in this episode, it’s quickly forgotten as soon as the White Waller’s begin rampaging on the living.
1 BATTLE OF THE BASTARDS (S6 E9)
Long regarded as the key episode in all of the seasons, this penultimate hour has so much to love and chew into. We open with Queen Daenerys fighting her way out of Mereen with the help of the unsullied and her children. The opening battle is visually breathtaking, and it’s an important conclusion to this section of the story. But, obviously, this isn’t even the biggest event in this episode. Instead, that honor goes to the Battle of the Bastards, as we finally see Jon and Ramsay do battle. This fight is epic as fuck for a few reasons. Jon and Ramsay are the Batman and Joker of the series. Jon, bound by honor, and built from pain and resilience, he attacks head on,
not leaving it to someone else. Ramsay on the other hand, is a deceptively smart violent individual, who sows chaos as easily as he wins battles. Secondly, It’s a showdown like we hadn’t seen up until this point. The filming and plot is ridiculous and inventive, and you agonize over all the details being thrown at you. Finally it’s great in conclusion. Much of this show has been seeing people you love get destroyed, but on this night we get exactly what we hoped for. Ramsay is defeated, valiantly. In a strange twist of Irony, it’s because one of the other most vile people in this universe, Little Finger. Again he has a hand in shaping a desirable outcome for himself. Lastly, the final touch of Bolton being eaten alive by his own dogs as Sana’a walks away smiling is a beautiful moment of sweet redemption and the knowledge that eventually, violent people end violently is a small delight in a world that is dark and full of terrors. For all of these reasons the “Battle of the Bastards” stands as the best episode of Game of Thrones. That’s likely to change as the series concludes in 6 weeks, but we’ll have to wait and see how they top it. Thanks for reading!
What makes a great villain great? The answer can be many things, but in the world of Ice and Fire, one trait is shared among all the best bad guys and gals. That is, adaptability and the will to survive while your enemies fall. Today we launch into the second round of our Game of Thrones week with the worst of the worst. I hope you enjoy.
*WARNING MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD*
Let’s start with this question: Who is the Waif actually? That isn’t easy to pinpoint, frankly, but what we do know is that the character definitely has it out for Arya during their shared time together in Bravoos. From the jump this lady (or is she?) seems to despise the very existence of Arya, making things difficult for her around every corner. She’s pompous, arrogant and frankly a flat out bitch. Her strength is also her weakness though. She likes to torment, and she enjoys even more making people she sees as a threat look dumb or untrained. But maybe that was her whole purpose. Perhaps she wasn’t just a dirty bitch trying to suck up in order to rise in the ranks of the Faceless men. Maybe she was herself a trained Faceless man meant to show Arya her true calling. You can’t say for sure, but there’s plenty of evidence to back it up. Either way, she’s presented as a miserable person who enjoys punishing others, and that’s what makes her a good villain.
4 HIGH SPARROW
The High Sparrow infuriates me more than nearly all the other villains in the universe of Game of Thrones. It’s not because he’s religious, but rather because he uses that high horse to reign over people who are lost. For me he’s a reminder of all the hypocritical figures we have to pick from in our own lives. The priests who tell us were going to burn because we don’t believe in their vision of god, or the politician who enforce their beliefs while ignoring the wills of the people. The High Sparrow is all of those things. He uses his persuasive abilities to make Tommen believe he doesn’t have a choice. Now, this is the only time I ever wished Joffrey was still king. The Sparrow would’ve have been rightfully killed almost from the jump, but Tommen is a little bitch who follows people he believes are smarter than himself. But in the end, his hubris and holier than thou attitude is what costs him everything. Margary implores him to let everyone out of the High Sept, but in his wisdom he knows better. Also one of the few times the watchers of the show are able to be happy that a horrible plan by Cersei comes full circle. Sure thousands die, but it’s important to remember that all of “Little Sparrows,” as Cersei proclaims, all end up ash as the pain and torture they inflicted is washed away in one giant swoop. They were willing to die for that asshole, and they got their wish.
It is unfair to the weight of the character to first first address truly How much of a force she is. Individuals like Cersei are bred for nobility, but also strength. Often times she exudes both, making the character and. brilliantly portrayed by Lena Headey. She really is one of the can’t miss characters, even if you do hate her. From very early she’s presented as evil, cunning and most of all, smart. She’s clever this one, but it comes with a price. Children dead, mostly as a result of her continued bad deeds. Her family killed for things she played roles in. Think about it, she hated her brother that much she actively tried to have him killed. Sure she gets punished by the Sparrows, but even that is somewhat short lived. She comes back though with an unquenchable thirst for sweet revenge, which she gets. Whether it’s wildfire, poison, or just sheer brutality, she seeks out what she wants and gets it, eventually. She is a force to be reckoned with, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.
2 RAMSAY BOLTON
I’ll be honest, these top three choices were more difficult than I thought it would be, but that’s part of what makes this show such a great treat. The villains often are weapons literally used to infect the seven kingdoms with grim. Ramsay is one of the most effective. Early on, he actually presents hope, before his full heel turn comes to dash all of Theons hopes and plans. He methodically tears away what little humanity Theon had left, but well, we know what other parts of Theon he takes for himself. What makes Ramsay so evil is the thrill it gives him. He doesn’t always do it for a victory, but rather for fun. It’s part of his bone and he never ceases to find ways to hurt people. His treatment of Sansa is particularly bad, but he’s still capable of worse. He single handedly takes his entire family down just to be the King. He’s savage, smart and evil to his core, and he’s a monster in a world of men. Even during the Battle of the Bastards he’s cunning to the end. The plan to box them in and smother them is brilliant, but Sansa wasn’t about to let him win again. The Vale shows up, and before long, Bolton is a heap of smashed bones. He never begs for his life, but his screams are enough to make anyone smile. Especially Sansa.
1 LITTLE FINGER
As I mentioned before, this was difficult. From afar Petyr Baelish looks like many of those who are high born. He’s not, but he certainly plays the role of advisor well. This helps him tremendously. Who needs to be in charge when those schemes you nurture and then unleash keep all the Kings and Queens fighting each other? Let’s not forget that his lie is literally what begins the Rebellion of Robert, and how Little Finger was able to navigate that. It’s brilliant, but it showcases his smooth talking, agreeable actions. I could take the hours it would take to dissect all of actions, but they run so fluidly through the narratives that it would simply take for more. But, the more time you watch the show the more it makes sense. He has a hand in the killing of Ned Stark, in pitting sister against sister in the battle of attention between the ladies of the Vale, Catelyn and Lysa Arryn. This one scheme also kills Lysa’s first husband, opening up the spot for Baelish to swoop in (albeit years later) and use her own paranoia against her in “saving Sansa” by pushing her out of the moon roof. It’s the same cunning that enables him to get Sansa back to Winterfell, even though it gives her quite easily to the evil Ramsay. He comes out of that nicely, but it’s not long before he has to choose a different side yet again to serve his purpose. But at this point, Sansa has entered the game, and his schemes are becoming obvious to her. This section nurtures Little Finger into a false sense of safety though. Arya, Bran and other soon come along, exposing his scams over the last however many years. What makes Petyr the most cunning villain isn’t his bloodthirsty rage, but rather his slow, purposeful sense of how the world works. He’s ruthless, but never face to face. He’s a snake, and most importantly, he whispered in the dark and gave nudges when needed, all to serve to fulfill his goal, which is to say himself. He’s done more damage than most, but rarely has he fulfilled the action himself. In some ways he controlled the iron throne by being persuasive and careful about his exploits. His lies have hurt many in the Seven Kingdoms, and while thankfully that came to an end with his throat being slit by Arya, who knows when something else will be uncovered, forgotten in the darkness.
Finally, Winter has come for us. Nearly 8 years to the day after we first observed members of the Night Watch get brutally devoured and murdered by the White Walkers, we are going to see how this wonderful, chaotic, marvelous and visually stunning story concludes. I don’t normally devote an entire week of entries to television, or anything really, but for me, and likely many of you, this is a big deal. Today we start our week with the best characters throughout the years. Some of these start as horrible people and grow, some go the opposite way. One thing is for sure. All of these characters have been through hell and back, and what they’ve seen in the previous seven seasons has changed them, for better, and for worse. Without further adieu, I present to you the best characters of the Seven Kingdoms and beyond.
EDITORS NOTE: All of these blogs will be in countdown style with five entries each. As always I welcome comments, opinions and sharing. Lastly, MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.
When we first see him in season one, Tyrion is firmly enjoying the benefits of being a Lannister. He drinks, knows things, and has a voracious sexual appetite. The problem for the youngest Lion is that he can’t sustain it. He’s nearly killed multiple times, is betrayed by the ones he values most (even if they don’t value him), and is set off on a quest that means unknown trials but ultimate glory. Finding the Breaker if Chains is crucial to Tyrion because it gives him hope. Tyrion is more than likely the most intelligent person in the world, yet with that brain power comes the capacity and unfortunate knowledge that nothing stays positive or good. Darkness always finds a way. For Tyrion, it’s a long, hard journey that brings him to the side of his chosen queen Daenerys. What comes next, we don’t know, but I’m willing to bet his most formidable adversary, his sister Cersei, has an idea of how she wants “the mistake” to be taken care of.
4 DAENERYS, MOTHER OF DRAGONS
I’ll be honest here. I was never really a fan of her during the early years. Much of this might of had to do with how she was presented in the novels, but for better or worse I wasn’t a fan. What turned me to her was the sheer will she possesses. Continually, unflinchingly and at times heroically she renewed faith in the high born and sought to bring peace to the forgotten souls. Whether it was the devastation of Slaver's Bay, or the triumphant way she dismantled the armies and ships of the Masters after they ignored the agreement they had initially, she's thoroughly bad ass through and through. Yes she has her negatives (such as always having Missandrie announce all 85 of her self given titles) but she overcomes these obstacles by being not just a talking point but by ensuring her people she will always have her followers best interest at heart. Not to mention, her dragons are Fucking incredible and oh my are they so fun to watch.
3 JON TARGARYEN
By now we all know the truth. “The Bastard from Winterfell” isn’t a bastard at all. Rather, Jon Snow finds his way in the dark terror filled world by not only being resilient but also by being the best man he could be. This all starts with his Uncle Ned Stark. Think about it: the Stark's are proud, strong and perhaps too trusting for their own good, but all this serves the purpose of making Jon perhaps the fiercest warrior in ASOIAF. he suffers daily taunts and is ridiculed by his own family, is ignored and pushed aside by his “step mother,” and after that he finds his place at the wall as part of the night's watch. This ends up being fatal to him, but clearly, the Lord of Light wasn’t done with him. He triumphs over the traitors that killed him for doing the right thing, survives Hardhome and the battle of the bastards. But he’s still not done. He goes through despair at the feeling of wanting to do the right thing in a world of wrong, but his perseverance is a mandate he can’t let go of. His story and how it ends will be a huge deal in the coming weeks, but for now, we know he’s ready to face the Night King, and won’t stop until the
life has been sucked out of his lungs, for what’s likely to be the final time.
2 JAIME LANNISTER
What would you do if the woman you loved lost her mind? Well, if you’re Jamie of House Lannister, you stand beside her until you can’t. When we meet the Kingslayer in season 1, you hate him immensely. He’s rich, smug, and worst of all, blond. Yet, over the course of 7 seasons he’s come to stand as one of the most honorable men in Westeros. You’re likely to still have a bone to pick with him over the whole almost killing Bran thing, but there’s so much more to him. You also have to remember that during the opening season he was still desperately trying to hide the fact that not only is he banging his sister, but all of her kids also happen to be his, thus making the basis for Ned reaching out to Stannis all the more vital and important. Over time though, we learn why he killed the Mad King, and the reasoning is sound and logical. He literally didn’t have a choice. The key moments for him though comes with the separation of his sword hand from his arm. He’s quoted as saying “I was that hand,” and it’s true. But in losing his hand, Jamie changes, and becomes a different type of person. His reasoning becomes more sound and less about saving his house. He’s still trying to save Cersei, but by the end of season 7, he abandons her because of the word he gave to Jon and all the others to help destroy the coming storm. That’s what makes him honorable, and ultimately an insanely interesting character.
1 ARYA STARK
Really, where to begin. Simply put she's a bad ass hell bent on bringing the glory back to her house. When we first meet her she feels very much like a person meant for great things. However, she’s the wrong sex in the medieval sense. In the world of Fire and Ice, women aren’t meant to be warriors, but rather waiting hands to strong men with desires for power. That all changes with the death of Ned. Instantly she’s plucked away and begins a years long journey. She has a list, and while she’s gradually building up her talents for killing she’s also keeping the names on her list front and center in her mind. The introduction of the Hound to her journey at first seems like a death sentence, but she learns from him, even while still wanting to kill him. The two of them together are a force to be reckoned with, and when that concludes (after the Hound is seemingly killed by Brienne of Tarth) her journey takes her to Braavos, and that’s when things get even trickier for her. She’s torn between becoming “No One” but also honoring her family and seeking vengeance. She learns a great deal from the House of Black and White, but that all comes to a head with the fight against the Waif ( or rather, a faceless man meant to push her to her limits). In the end she becomes stronger than ever before. She manages to take the lessons to heart and to become a faceless man, albeit not in the traditional way. She chooses the Stark crest while still embracing the the lessons she learned from Jaqen. In doing that she manages to escape with her life and a strong purpose. From there she heads north. Some of the best Arya moments come after that. Her killing of not only Walder Frey but literally everyone else in House Frey is a maddening moment where we get to see her drive and, quite darkly, her joy at dismantling the enemies that had long forgot her. The North remembers, and it’s in Arya's journey that we see that idea put forth over and over again. She still has names on her list, and she’s primed to seek bloody vengeance. It’s been a fascinating journey for her, and the girl is now a warrior. For all of these reasons, Arya is the best character in this heartless, cruel world, and the story is that much better because she’s part of it.
Landon Murray is a New Orleans native, who thrives on painting the world he interprets through the useful forms of all types of art he feels connected to. He's seen over 1000 bands, and had loved mostly every minute of it. He has an amazing 10 year old dog, and is loving life.
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