Game of Thrones: Every episode from first seven seasons ranked from worst to best – The Independent

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1/67 Season seven, episode five: Eastwatch There has to be a loser. ‘Eastwatch’ throws away one of the most important pieces of information in the whole show, Jon’s true parentage, as well as lots of good reunions. It’s the clearest example of how rushed the show has become in recent years, as its unpredictability gives way to conventional plot. HBO 2/67 Season four, episode three: Breaker of Chains Jaime appears to rape Cersei next to Joffrey’s corpse. The scene is confused, unpleasant and different from the books in confusing and unhelpful ways. HBO 3/67 Season five, episode six: Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken The Sand Snakes are just unbearably naff and this is one of their worst. HBO 4/67 Season 4, episode 4: Oathkeeper At Craster’s Keep, much rape and murder of children. Unpleasant. HBO 5/67 Season one, episode two: The Kingsroad The opposite of the rushed plot of the later seasons, this is basically a leisurely chat up the M1. HBO 6/67 Season two, episode eight: Prince of Winterfell There is some good stuff with Arya and Jaqen H’ghar, but it’s mainly placeholder as they set up the Battle of Blackwater. HBO 7/67 Season three, episode 10: Mysha Jon Snow and Ygritte’s goodbye at the climax of season three ought to have been much sadder. HBO 8/67 Season five, episode two: The House of Black and White Lots of setting up. Jaime and Bronn plan to go to Dorne, Arya arrives in Braavos. HBO 9/67 Season seven, episode six: Beyond the Wall This ought to have been one of the great battles: ice zombies plus dragons plus Jon Snow’s expedition. It looked spectacular, but everyone worried about teleporting ravens and speed of sound dragons. HBO 10/67 Season six, episode eight: No One Some absolutely horrible banter between Grey Worm and Missandei. HBO 11/67 Season two, episode seven: A Man Without Honour Pyat Pree kills the 13 in Qarth. Tywin talks to Arya about legacy. HBO 12/67 Season six, episode one: The Red Woman Melisandre is a very, very old woman. HBO 13/67 Season two, episode two: The Night Lands Lots of Tyrion talking in King’s Landing but not much else. HBO 14/67 Season six, episode seven: The Broken Man The Hound meets Ian McShane. That’s about it in an episode full of preparations. HBO 15/67 Season three, episode one: Valar Dohaeris A classic season opener that flits from place to place. HBO 16/67 Season two, episode four: Garden of Bones Lots of grimness. Rat and bucket torture at Harrenhal. Robb Stark meets Talisa. Joffrey is cruel to Ros and Daisy. HBO 17/67 Season five, episode one: The Wars to Come Mance Rayder refuses to bend the knee, is burned at the stake by Stannis before Jon shoots him with an arrow. A pretty good death actually. HBO 18/67 Season five, episode five: Kill the Boy Season five is perhaps the weakest, and this is one of the weakest episodes in it, despite some good Bolton action and the Stone Men’s fateful attack on Tyrion and Jorah Mormont as they sailed through Valyria. HBO 19/67 Season two, episode one: The North Remembers In the season two opener we meet Stannis at Dragonstone, and then Joffrey orders a tremendous infanticide. It was vaguely controversial at the time. Feels like a lifetime ago. ‘Power is power,’ Cersei tells Littlefinger, which was good. HBO 20/67 Season six, episode three: Oathbreaker Jon Snow coming back to life really shouldn’t have felt flat. Yet it did. HBO 21/67 Season one, episode three: Lord Snow Understandable given that it had to build an entire medieval universe, but 12 major characters are introduced here. That’s too many major characters. HBO 22/67 Season six, epsidoe four: Book of the Stranger Jon and Sansa reunite, which is cool, Daenerys burns some more enemies, which is hot, good High Sparrow monologue to Margaery. HBO 23/67 Season three, episode six: The Climb Theme of climbing. Thormund makes his way up the Wall; Littlefinger gives his most famous monologue, as he explains to Varys that chaos is ‘a ladder’. HBO 24/67 Season five, episode two: Sons of the Harpy Mid-season doldrums, particularly acute in five, as Jaime and Bronn arrive in Dorne. HBO 25/67 Season five, episode seven: The Gift The same, basically, except for Tyrion meeting Daenerys. Everyone gives each other presents. HBO 26/67 Season three, episode two: Dark Wings, Dark Words Sluggish early-season number, although we meet Olenna and Margaery shows how skilful she will be at manipulating court. HBO 27/67 Season one, episode eight: The Pointy End Until the later series, eight episodes are a bit hamstrung by setting up denouements to follow. This is true in season one, as the machinery creaks to set up the beheading they didn’t think could happen. HBO 28/67 Season three, episode seven: The Bear and the Maiden Fair Even re-looking at what happened in this episode I still can’t really remember it, except for the fight with the bear. Oh yes, Mackenzie Crook! Forgot he was in this programme. HBO 29/67 Season two, episode five: The Ghost of Harrenhal Two good moments: Renly is killed by the shadow, and Arya meets Jaqen H’ghar. HBO 30/67 Season six, episode two: Home The demise of top lad Roose Bolton, as well as Balon Greyjoy, both sent to their ends by their families. Melisandre finally works her anti-death magic on Jon Snow. HBO 31/67 Season four, episode five: First of His Name One of the good things about season four was that it was the only moment where, even briefly, it looked as though a kind of temporary stability had been achieved. Tommen is king, Sansa has escaped King’s Landing, Jon Snow and co get revenge on the mutineers at Craster’s Keep. HBO 32/67 Season two, episode 10: Valar Morghulis The White Walkers attacking the Night’s Watch at the Fist of the First Men is a good laugh, but other than that there is a lot to get through, after the events of Blackwater in the previous episode, and the season two finale anticipates some of the rushed feeling that will occur later on. HBO 33/67 Season one, episode seven: You Win or You Die Our first real glimpse of what Cersei will become, as she outmanoeuvres Ned Stark after Robert Baratheon’s death in a hunting accident. HBO 34/67 Season seven, episode one: Dragonstone A superb Arya moment, as she wipes out the rest of House Frey, but mainly this is set-up for a season that packs a lot in. HBO 35/67 Season one, episode four: Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things Ned working as policeman in Kings Landing to find out what happened to Jon Arryn. HBO 36/67 Season five, episode nine: Dance of Dragons One of the most upsetting deaths in Game of Thrones, as Stannis Baratheon burns his friendly daughter Shireen alive to appease Melisandre. HBO 37/67 Season seven, episode two: Stormborn Theon jumping off the boat after Euron overruns the Greyjoy fleet. Nice reunion between Arya and Hot Pie. Tyrion talks Daenerys down from incinerating King’s Landing. HBO 38/67 Season six, episode six: Blood of My Blood Midseasoner. Cersei sends Jaime to retake Riverrun, while Arya is finally trained as an assassin. Can’t really remember it, to be honest. HBO 39/67 Season one, episode five: The Wolf and the Lion Jaime and Ned have a brawl in the streets of King’s Landing in an episode that focuses on skulduggery rather than magic. If you ask me skulduggery always trumps magic. HBO 40/67 Season three, episode three: Walk of Punishment The first moment where a character’s trajectory was really reversed. We’d disliked Jaime since the start, but when his hand was chopped off he began to win us back. The Blackfish schooling Edmure at shooting fire arrows was another highlight. HBO 41/67 Season four, episode one: Two Swords The opening of the fourth series introduced the charismatic, enigmatic Viper of Dorne, one of the few good things other than wine to come out of Dorne. Also notable for an excellent scene with Arya and the Hound clearing out an Inn. HBO 42/67 Season two, episode three: What is Dead May Never Die Introduces Margaery Tyrell and Brienne of Tarth, two of the best characters, and also sees Theon decide to betray Robb Stark. What is family? Who can you trust? HBO 43/67 Season three, episode eight: Second Sons Built around Sansa and Tyrion’s unwelcome wedding, while in the north there is a display of how important Sam will be as he draws on reserves of bravery to dragonglass a white walker. HBO 44/67 Season four, episode seven: Mockingbird Littlefinger dumping Lysa out of the Eyrie is probably the most dramatic moment here, one of his decisive power-stealing moments as he saves Sansa. HBO 45/67 Season one, episode one: Winter Is Coming Can you remember a time before Game of Thrones? Re-watch ‘Winter is Coming’, marvel at the baby Starks, think on how many characters have died, reflect on your own mortality. You are much, much older than when Game of Thrones began. Your life is running between your fingers. HBO 46/67 Season one, episode six: A Golden Crown Another dramatic death which is hard to remember now, as the miserable Viserys was put out of his grump with molten gold. HBO 47/67 Season two, episode six: Old Gods and the New Theon takes Winterfell. Theon, you utter bastard. I hope you are punished for this. HBO 48/67 Season five, episode three: High Sparrow A key Littlefinger episode, as he continues to manipulate Sansa, while Jon Snow executes Janos and, in King’s Landing, Cersei’s machinations are matched by Margaery’s. HBO 49/67 Season four, episode two: The Lion and the Rose Joffrey, scratching at his throat, going purple, dying. Top stuff. HBO 50/67 Season four, episode six: The Laws of Gods and Men An excellent mid-season episode, built around Tyrion’s trial but with lots of other things to admire that hint at the underlying economies in the Game of Thrones universe. Drogon barbecues some livestock, while the Iron Bank of Braavos refuses to bail out Davos and Stannis. HBO 51/67 Season three, episode four: And Now His Watch Is Ended The full depravity of Ramsay Bolton is laid bare as he taunts Theon with a fake escape, while Commander Mormont is murdered at Craster’s Keep. But really it’s all about Daenerys, as she and her pets flame Astapor to the ground. HBO 52/67 Season seven, episode seven: The Dragon and the Wolf It turns out Jon Snow is actually the true heir to the Seven Kingdoms, the remaining Stark children finally team up to kill Littlefinger, admittedly in overwrought style, and the White Walkers use their new lizard hairdryer to destroy the wall. There is far too much going on, especially the odd scene where Jon shows Cersei the wight, but nevertheless it sends you reaching for the popcorn and cheering along, which is more or less where we are at with the whole series by now. HBO 53/67 Season three, episode five: Kissed by Fire Most notable for Ygritte and Jon’s much-parodied love grotto scene, but also for the Hound’s duel with Bendric Dondarrion, which revealed his terror of fire. Nursing his stump in the baths, Jaime tells Brienne the truth about his assassination of the Mad King. Mid-seasoner. HBO 54/67 Season five, episode 10: Mother’s Mercy The denouement of the fifth series is the most sympathetic we ever see Cersei, as she completes her walk of atonement through the streets of King’s Landing, her hair cut and her clothes stripped. Strategically, humiliating Cersei proves not to be the masterstroke the High Sparrow thought it would be. HBO 55/67 Season seven, episode four: The Spoils of War Spoils aplenty. Arya returns to Winterfell and sees Sansa, then fights a brief duel with Brienne that shows just how much she’s learnt. It’s nothing on one of the great shots of the whole series, however: Daenerys riding Drogon above a Dothraki horde in full charge before incinerating the Lannister lines. HBO 56/67 Season one, episode 10: Fire and Blood We were promised dragons, and here they are, mewing atop the naked Daenerys. And one thing we know about baby dragons is they must grow up. This is Game of Thrones’ version of Chekhov’s rule about guns. You’ll keep watching until they torch something. HBO 57/67 Season five, episode eight: Hardhome As the big battles go, the showdown between the Night’s Watch and wildlings and the wights at Hardhome doesn’t quite match some of the others, but it is still dead cool, especially when Jon realises his sword works against the snowmen. If that wasn’t enough, Sansa also learnt that her family might be alive. HBO 58/67 Season four, episode nine: The Watchers on the Wall The big set-piece between the Night’s Watch and the wildlings. Not quite up to Blackwater’s standards, despite its battle specialist Neil Marshall being summonsed back to direct. HBO 59/67 Season seven, episode three: The Queen’s Justice There is too much crammed into this episode, which could have been spread over several hours, but it’s wonderful stuff all the same. Jon meets Daenerys for the first time, Sam cures Jorah of greyscale, Cersei obliterates the Tyrells. Best of all is Diana Rigg, at a table in her tower, bowing out from what is perhaps Thrones’ best overall performance. HBO 60/67 Season six, episode five: The Door Poor old Hodor. The death nobody wanted, as a wonderful character, played so sympathetically by Kristian Nairn, is finally given his due. HBO 61/67 Season four, episode eight: The Mountain and the Viper Other things happen: Littlefinger takes over the Vale, and the Boltons move into Winterfell, but the episode is mainly memorable for the central duel, as Oberyn seeks justice from the man who murdered so many of his relatives, and for one image above all, of the Mountain’s armoured fingers crushing Oberyn’s skull like a grapefruit. HBO 62/67 Season one, episode nine: Baelor Poor old Ned Stark. The death they said could never happen! Clearly they had not watched enough Sean Bean films. HBO 63/67 Season six, episode 10: The Winds of Winter Winter has come. It opens with peak Cersei, as she eliminates all her remaining enemies in one enormous blaze. Arya kills Walder Frey. The Jon Theory is confirmed. Tommen walks out of the window. HBO 64/67 Season three, episode nine: Rains of Castemere The Lannisters send their regards. Some would have this number one, and one could easily make the case. The Red Wedding was the scene that broke Game of Thrones out of its fandom and into broader popular culture, the point where it was no longer avoidable. Fury, anguish, love, surprise, pity, hate: it’s all here. The look Roose Bolton gives Catelyn Stark when she reveals the chainmail he is wearing to dinner might be my single favourite moment of the whole programme. HBO 65/67 Season six, episode nine: Battle of the Bastards Anyone who has seen Mel Gibson’s Mayan drama Apocalypto knows that running in a straight line away from arrows rarely works. So it proved for Rickon, setting up one of the great battles not only on TV but on any kind of film. Where in previous seasons battles had occasionally felt hampered by budget, most egregiously when Tyrion was knocked out and missed the whole thing, this was the full belt and braces. It was brilliantly directed, with aerial shots, as well as face-in-the-mud close-ups to convey the full grinding horror of the battle, and the grim relief of victory. HBO 66/67 Season four, episode 10: The Children The fourth season is the best all-round, I think, the high-point of character development before it started to be forced by the machinations of the plot in the later series. Brienne’s bloody brawl with the Hound leaves him bleeding and broken, as Arya heads off to Braavos. Tywin finally gets his comeuppance, a crossbow bolt on the loo, administered by his son, Tyrion, who then flees. And Stannis’s cavalry arrives to save Jon and defeat Mance Rayder and the wildlings in a pincer movement, having been persuaded by Davos. HBO 67/67 Season two, episode nine: Blackwater This is purely a personal view, but if Ned Stark’s death was the moment you sat up and paid attention, Blackwater was the where you started cheering at the TV. The scale, the splendour, the depth of character brought to bear on grand events: they all felt new, somehow. This might have been the last moment where we were equally rooting for both sides, except for one side to be consumed in an eerie green glow. Wildfire doesn’t care who your favourite character is. HBO 1/67 Season seven, episode five: Eastwatch There has to be a loser. ‘Eastwatch’ throws away one of the most important pieces of information in the whole show, Jon’s true parentage, as well as lots of good reunions. It’s the clearest example of how rushed the show has become in recent years, as its unpredictability gives way to conventional plot. HBO 2/67 Season four, episode three: Breaker of Chains Jaime appears to rape Cersei next to Joffrey’s corpse. The scene is confused, unpleasant and different from the books in confusing and unhelpful ways. HBO 3/67 Season five, episode six: Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken The Sand Snakes are just unbearably naff and this is one of their worst. HBO 4/67 Season 4, episode 4: Oathkeeper At Craster’s Keep, much rape and murder of children. Unpleasant. HBO 5/67 Season one, episode two: The Kingsroad The opposite of the rushed plot of the later seasons, this is basically a leisurely chat up the M1. HBO 6/67 Season two, episode eight: Prince of Winterfell There is some good stuff with Arya and Jaqen H’ghar, but it’s mainly placeholder as they set up the Battle of Blackwater. HBO 7/67 Season three, episode 10: Mysha Jon Snow and Ygritte’s goodbye at the climax of season three ought to have been much sadder. HBO 8/67 Season five, episode
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