HomeTelevisionStaff Picks: The Best Game of Thrones Episodes

Staff Picks: The Best Game of Thrones Episodes

Sunday marks our final journey into Westeros. We will gaze upon the iron throne, white walkers, fire-breathing dragons, and beautiful people wielding swords on final time. So we at The Pop Break, have assembled at The Wall, to remember our favorite episodes of all time.

And yes, there will be spoilers.

‘The Rains of Castamere’ – Season 3, Episode 9 (2013)

In the case of ‘The Rains of Castamere,’ the execution of the members of the Stark family was done beautifully. This event was foreshadowed constantly throughout Season Three. In the episode prior, Cersei alludes to the horrifying scene while discussing with Margaery the significance of the song, ‘The Rains of Castamere.’ She explains the demise of House Reyne as they tried to cross the Lannisters. Who knew that the penultimate episode of the third season would end up in almost the same light? But, by betraying the agreement between the Starks, Tullys, and House Frey, Robb Stark sealed the fate of his family and army through his marriage to Talisa.

The Red Wedding was and still is one of the most shocking and painful scenes we have seen in the show. From the stabbing of Talisa’s pregnant stomach and Robb Stark’s crossbows protruding from his torso as he holds her lifeless body — this is one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in Game of Thrones, ever. As Robb cries “Mother!” Roose Bolton heads over and stabs him to his death, and Catelyn’s throat is sliced just as quickly as we watched the life fade from her eyes.

Like the execution of Ned Stark, I don’t think anyone saw this coming (unless you read the books of course.) Poor Arya, though, to get so close to reuniting with her family to find out they have all been slaughtered. The Red Wedding is one of the most memorable episodes in Game of Thrones. The perfect execution of this scene assuages viewers feelings of betrayal that this show would kill off several main characters in one fell swoop.

-Erin Doyle, Contributor


‘Baelor’ – Season One, Episode 9

Even though this was back when the producers had to gloss over two major battles because they literally didn’t have enough budget saved for late in the season, “Baelor” may be the most consequential episode of the entire series. In this episode Robb agrees to marry one of Walder Frey’s daughters; Commander Mormont gives Jon Longclaw as a reward for saving him from a wight; Maester Aemon reveals himself as a Targaryen; Daenerys makes a deal with a witch to save Drogo: Tyrion meets Shae and tells the tale of his first wife; Robb captures Jaime Lannister; and, of course, Joffrey has Ned Stark beheaded. While Game of Thrones takes place in a fantasy world, people can be just as cruel in our own. Honor means nothing to people like Joffrey, Cersei, and Tywin. So it doesn’t matter that Ned is the main character. He dies all the same.

-Aaron Sarnecky, Senior Writer

‘The Children’ – Season 4, Episode 10

Multiple storylines wrap up or change course in the final episode of Season 4: Ygritte is buried beyond the Wall; Arya leaves The Hound to die and ventures out truly alone for the first time; and Daenerys is forced to put her dragons under lock and key. But this episode has stuck with me because of Tyrion Lannister’s shrewd and unsettling murder of his father Tywin, and his lover, Shae. It’s a surprise on multiple levels: Jaime and Lord Varys help him in a scenario that offered them little foreseeable upside.

And it shifts Tyrion’s character from a cunning-but-uninterested man into a complex individual who feels forced to have an impact (he is probably the only character to say “I’m sorry” through tears after killing Shae). For the first time, he finds himself doing what needs to be done out of necessity. The scenes themselves are stunning, and come in quick succession. A crossbow through the heart of his father, mid-sentence, is still one of the most quietly shocking moments we’ve seen. The Lannisters’ power is amazingly thrown into vulnerability, and Tyrion as a free agent shifts nearly every character’s storyline for the remainder of the series. While famous plot points like Ned Stark’s execution and the Red Wedding signaled that no one is safe from death, Tyrion’s actions demonstrate that anyone can betray even the strongest of bonds.

-Jennifer Marie, Photographer & Contributing Writer

‘Hardhome’ -Season 5, Episode 8

Game of Thrones is at its very best when the show is able to elevate the source material. For me, no episode better encapsulates that achievement than ‘Hardhome.’ By placing Jon in a moment only mentioned in A Dance with Dragons (the fifth novel), the episode seizes on a missed opportunity from the books. Jon’s futile attempt to save the Wildlings at Hardhome not only leads to one of the season’s best set pieces but also raises the stakes by revealing how outmatched the Night’s Watch is and by depicting the heartbreaking death and zombification of one wilding mother.

Meanwhile, ‘Hardhome’ also marks the first time (in the show and books) that Daenerys formally meets one of the main characters from the Seven Kingdoms. After seasons of hearing Daenerys talk about Westeros, meeting Tyrion represents a major turning point in her mission and the series as a whole. As a narrative crossroads, then, this episode epically fulfills past promises and concretely lays the groundwork for massive developments to come. In other words, “Hardhome” perfectly embodies everything a mid-series episode should be.

-Josh Sarnecky, Staff Writer

‘Watchers on the Wall’ – Season, Episode 9

One of my all-time favorite episodes of Game of Thrones ever. The set-up is simple — it’s a castle siege episode. We’ve all seen a castle siege before — however this one just feels special. Maybe it’s because there’s giants, and mammoths, and flesh-eating Thenns. Or maybe it’s because we’re seeing Jon Snow ascend to his rightful place as a complete bad ass — one who is still conflicted by the love of Ygritte. Maybe it’s because we are in fear the entire time that Ghost or Sam or Gilly and the baby might get killed (this IS Game of Thrones). Whatever the reason is — this episode is absolutely amazing. The battle sequences are quite unique, and it’s an absolutely thrilling and terrifying at the same time. Yet, as with everything in the GOT world there is still a tremendous sense of drama — particularly when young Olly kills Ygritte — which of course foreshadows Jon’s death as well. Go seek this episode out as a pre-game to Sunday, you’ll thank me.

-Bill Bodkin, Editor-in-Chief

‘Winds of Winter’ – Season 6, Episode 10

The tenth episode of Game of Thrones season 6, ‘The Winds of Winter‘ felt like the final turning point in the series before the madness of the white walkers hit Westeros. [Pop Break called it the best finale in series history]. Just as winter is finally here, so are the final reveals that makes this story more interesting. It was finally confirmed that Jon is officially from a Stark/Targaryen bloodline and born from Lyanna Stark. The noble Ned Stark never cheated on Catelyn at all — one of the shows biggest plot twists yet.

We finally saw Arya use what she learned with Jaqen as she crosses off Walder Frey on her list. After feeding his children baked in a pie to him, she slices his throat just as her mother had died prior in the same room.

Then, ‘The Winds of Winter’ gives us a subtle reminder of how fast characters can die. For an overwhelming 22 minutes of television, a haunting instrumental plays as characters we had watched for seasons die in seconds. Cersei blew up the Great Sept of Baelor using wildfire, and as much as you wanted to hate it, you couldn’t help but congratulate her.

The destruction of the Great Sept was a visual that was foreshadowed as she overlooked the great church from her bedroom window as she got ready for her trial (that never took place.) Cersei, in this episode, proved herself to be cruel as she incinerated thousands (including her own people) and erase all of her past and the pain she went through. With a price to pay, Tommen jumps out of a window to his inevitable death, a clear parallel to Bran being pushed out of a window in Season 1 by Jamie Lannister. This solidified Maggy the Frog’s prophecy and it all finally came together. Cersei may be just as mad as the Mad King and she will do anything for the power of Westeros.

-Erin Doyle, Contributor

‘The Battle of the Bastards’ – Season 6, Episode 9

Intense. Claustrophobic. Horrifying. Epic.

These and hundreds of other words can describe one of GOT’s most famous, and most-anticipate battles, ‘The Battles of the Bastards.’

Again, this episode is not something groundbreaking in terms of a concept — it’s a land battle not unlike something out of Braveheart. Director Miguel Sapochnik masterfully takes the visceral land battle cliche and makes it something unforgettable. He makes us furious at Jon Snow for running into a trap everyone can see but him. We fear as the now beloved Tormund is nearly killed countless times. We get emotional as the giant falls to his death. We find ourselves gasping for breath as Jon is nearly covered by dead soldiers.

Oh, but there’s one other thing he did in this episode — give us all the bloody vengeance we desired on Ramsey Bolton. While Sansa’s revenge will never wash away the terrible and unnecessary violence done upon her (both by Ramsey and the writers) — it was still very satisfying to see Ramsey have his dogs turned against him.

-Bill Bodkin, Editor-in-Chief



Pop-Break Staff
Pop-Break Staffhttps://thepopbreak.com
Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.


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