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The Best ‘Game of Thrones’ Scenes Part 1: The Greatest Moments of Seasons 1-4

For the last decade, one show has consistently been in the headlines, on the covers of magazines, and in the top lists of every critic worth their salt: Game of Thrones. Based on the best-selling dark fantasy series by George R. R. Martin, Game of Thrones blazed trails, on the page and the screen, with its sardonic wit, top tier action, and medieval brutality.

Having at last done for TV what The Lord of the Rings did for movies, proving that fantasy has a very worthwhile market when done right, Game of Thrones has likely changed the landscape of TV forever. As we head into the final 6 episodes, we hold this fact in mind by counting down our favorite moments of Game of Thrones. 

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Best Game of Thrones Scenes: Crown for a King

Season One, Episode 6: “A Golden Crown”

Though there are early inklings of Game of Thrones‘ audacity for killing seeming central characters of the show with Lady and Jory being killed off in episodes two and four, neither prepared viewers for the incredibly cathartic moment that closed out “A Golden Crown.”

Set up as the main villain in Daenerys Targaryen’s plotline in season one, Viserys is a petulant, scheming sadist of a man. As if selling his sister off as a sex toy to the highest bidder wasn’t enough, he consistently belittles and challenges her even as she begins to grow into her role as the Dothraki’s Khaleesi.

The tension between brother and sister comes to a head at last when Viserys threatens to kill Daenerys right in front of her new husband, Khal Drogo. To diffuse the tension of the moment, Drogo vows to give Viserys the golden crown he promised him. However, in the greatest double entendre of all time, Drogo opts to melt some gold while his guards hold down Viserys, before pouring the concoction over his head.

When Viserys gilded head hit the ground with a satisfying thunk, the audience began to understand that Game of Thrones was not shy about killing off main characters. (Mike Worby)

Best Game of Thrones Scenes

Best Game of Thrones Scenes: Ned Stark’s Execution

Season One, Episode 9: “Baelor”

In the show’s debut season, it could be easily assumed that Ned Stark was the main protagonist. He was an honorable family man whose Call to Adventure began with the news of Jon Arryn’s death in the pilot episode. From there, we the audience grew invested in Ned’s relationships with his wife, his children, and his best friend, King Robert. We watched as he adjusted to his new position as the Hand of the King and saw him struggle with his internal struggles about right and wrong in the devious and hypocritical political backdrop. Upon discovering a scandal regarding the legitimacy of Robert’s children, Ned stands up for what he believes is right and is, of course, betrayed and accused of high treason. Regardless, we assumed he was safe in the end. After all, he was the main character.

As a humiliated Ned stands before his daughter Sansa and the Lannisters while an angry mob jeers, he begrudgingly declares Joffrey Baratheon the rightful king. We assume he is safe. Queen Cersei has agreed to let him surrender his titles and spend his life in the Night’s Watch in exile. We assume he is safe. Sansa begs Joffrey for mercy for her father. We assume he is safe. Bloodthirsty Joffrey betrays his agreement and demands Ned’s head. We assume he is safe. Surely something or someone will spare him at the last minute. It isn’t until the executioner swings his sword down on Ned Stark’s neck that we have no choice to admit he is not safe. That was the moment we realized no one in Game of Thrones is. Not even the main protagonist. All bets were off regarding the mortality of even the most honorable characters. (Sarah Truesdale)

Best Game of Thrones Scenes

Best Game of Thrones Scenes: Khal Drogo’s Death

Season One, Episode 10: “Fire and Blood”

It’s pretty wild how many supposedly “major” players in Game of Thrones are killed off before the end of the first season; Ned Stark’s death aside, the death of Khal Drogo in the climatic moments of season one is as surprising and haunting as any in a murder-packed season of television. After his throne is challenged by a tribe member pissed off about Dany’s presence as Dothraki fealty, Drogo fights and defeats the pissy traitor… only that victory comes at the cost of his life, when a deep wound becomes infected and quickly puts Drogo into a coma (and of course, the healer they have in tow wants nothing to do with helping Dany, especially after watching her town and people get burned to the ground).

As season one winds down, Drogo’s become a vegetable, and Dany’s world begins collapsing around her. After her identity being defined by her brother and husband for much of her life, Dany faces an uncertain future, where her survival is suddenly very much in her own hands. Speaking in Dothraki to her husband, she makes one final emotional plea to him, to give her a sign that he’s still the Drogo she came to love over the course of a season; and when he provides no response, she spares him from further suffering by suffocating him with a pillow (a rather dark, if fitting, ending to their brief romance).

Drogo’s death is a defining moment for Dany, the moment when she decides to take her fate into her own hands, rather than let the men around her guide her to some fake sense of nobility and power. Drogo instilled strength in her (partially through marital rape, a reminder of how weirdly misogynistic Game of Thrones was and forever will be), and with that strength she was able to make the first tough decision of her life, to help end her husband’s suffering. That moment is the foundation for everything to come with Dany, a poignant farewell for one of Game of Thrones‘ most enigmatic (and photographic) characters, and a defining moment for the single most important character in all of Westeros. (Randy Dankievitch)

Best Scenes of Game of Thrones

Best Game of Thrones Scenes: The Mother of Dragons

Season One, Episode 10: “Fire and Blood”

Throughout the first season of Game of Thrones, there were whispers regarding the existence and extinction of dragons. The longstanding ruling family, the Targaryens, were rumored to have had dragon blood in their veins. After being overthrown by Robert Baratheon, the surviving Targaryens went into hiding. Young Daenerys Targaryen begins the season being married off to a ruthless warlord Khal Drogo and must live with him and his Dothraki tribesmen. While terrified at first, Dany adapts and eventually grows to love Drogo.

After Drogo grows deathly ill from an infected wound, Dany makes a deal with a captive witch Mirri Maz Duur to spare his life in exchange for her unborn son. Mirri saves Drogo from death but leaves him in a vegetative state to avenge the destruction of her village. Dany smothers her husband out of mercy and builds him a funeral pyre, putting Mirri and herself in it as well. The following dawn, her people are shocked to find an unburned Dany miraculously rising from the ashes with three newborn dragons clinging to her. It is at this moment that Daenerys and her fellow Targaryens earn some credibility in their claim that they have dragon blood. It is also what officially elevates her as a big player in the eponymous Game of Thrones. Above all, the introduction of dragons is what took Game of Thrones from a medieval period drama to a true fantasy epic. (Sarah Truesdale)

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Best Game of Thrones Scenes: The Shadow Baby

Best Game of Thrones Scenes: Season 2, Episode 4: “Garden of Bones”

In one of the most disturbing moments of the entire series, the Red Priestess Melisandre is escorted in the middle of the night to an eerie cave by Ser Davos Seaworth, also known as the Onion Knight, a.k.a. Stannis Baratheon’s loyal right-hand. As they enter the cave, the scene builds with some nice banter between the two as Davos remarks it strange that Melisandre’s Lord of Light asks her to work in the dark. As they light up the cave with lanterns, she replies that shadows cannot live in the dark and are servants of the light, and the stronger the light, the darker the shadow. From there, the lanterns glow with increasing intensity, as she takes off her clothes to reveal that she is heavily pregnant. Melisandre lies down on her robe, begins to moan and suddenly gives birth to a slithery amorphous black shadowy creature who grips her legs and pulls itself free of her womb. (Ricky D)

Best Game of Thrones Scenes

Best Game of Thrones Scenes: Battle of Blackwater

Season Two, Episode 9: “Blackwater”

56 minutes of sweaty hell, The Battle of Blackwater was the first signature battle episode of Game of Thrones, a gorgeous, bloody exclamation point to a sophomore season full of growing pains. More importantly, it establishes a blueprint Game of Thrones would employ to great effect in each season of the series, releasing seasons worth of tension in one fell swoop with a dramatic battle.

“Blackwater” remains one of the show’s very best episodes, because of just how simple and effective it was; stripping away the larger political games at hand in the show, “Blackwater” focuses on Stannis’ siege at King’s Landing, intently focused on the characters trying to survive the wildfire-enhanced onslaught by the cranky Baratheon brother. That focus turns “Blackwater” into a singularly intimate affair, absent of the wide, long establishing shots and heavy use of CGI that give later battles in Game of Thrones their immense sense of scale. “Blackwater” is ugly, dirty, and uncomfortably close to the action, which heightens the already-impressive drama playing out in the bay of King’s Landing.

There are too many great moments in this episode to recollect here  – but the most memorable in the hour are those that had lasting effects on characters, beyond the world-shifting political machinations that would follow in “Valar Morghulis”, the season two finale. This is Stannis’s first (of numerous) big losses in the war, the moment that sets him down the path to killing his daughter out of desperation, leading to his ultimate defeat (and death). It’s also a turning point for Tyrion, who earns his signature facial scar in this hour, fighting when Joffrey’s bitch ass runs away in fear. Perhaps the biggest moment of all, however, is the climatic scene away from the battle, where The Hound tries to save Sansa from her shitty life in King’s Landing, a sign that one of Westeros’ most violent, cynical men, might actually still have a heart beating somewhere in his enormous chest. (Randy Dankievitch)

Best Game of Thrones Scenes: Daenerys Takes Control of the Unsullied

Season Three, Episode 4: “And Now His Watch Is Ended”

Daenerys Targaryen is a character who has plenty of key moments throughout Game of Thrones. Her character development has been strong throughout and there is no denying that she is a true contender to rule Westeros. Several moments have cemented this and the season three scene in which she negotiates for the army of Unsullied is undeniably one of them.

Daenerys sets up a deal for ownership of the Unsullied army in exchange for her young dragon, Drogon. She makes the exchange with a slaver named Kraznys who treats both Daenerys and his translator Missandei (who goes on to become a trusted advisor to Daenerys) with little respect. He speaks in Valyrian, assuming that Dany does not understand. Of course, he is dead wrong as Valyrian is her first language. He hands over the whip to her, symbolizing her ownership of the Unsullied whilst she hands him Drogon on a leash. Drogon cries for his mother as she walks away and for a moment, you are left wondering as to whether Daenerys really is willing to give up one her children for her cause and an army.

After proof that the Unsullied are now well and truly under her control, she reveals to Kraznys that she does indeed speak his language, after which he yet again disrespects her. She then proceeds to instruct the Unsullied to kill all of the masters and slavers and free those enslaved whilst her dragons burn them. As Kraznys attempts to get the soldiers to kill Daenerys, she gives the command that the audience was waiting for: Dracarys. Drogon proceeds to burn Kraznys alive. Her dominating strength as a leader and emancipator, who just so happens to have fire-breathing creatures by her side, is well established.

This moment not only showed that Daenerys is a clever and forward-thinking leader, but also that she is willing to do whatever it takes to get her way. Her role as a leader is without question but it leaves us wondering just how far she is going to go to get what she truly desires: the Iron Throne. (Antonia Haynes)

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Best Game of Thrones Scenes: Jaime Lannister’s Confession

Season Three, Episode 5: “Kissed By Fire”

For the first two seasons of Game of Thrones, Jaime Lannister is the show’s go-to scoundrel, and one of its most charismatic villains. However, after he’s spent some time on the road with Brienne of Tarth, we begin to see shreds of the man who was once a Golden Cloak, and worthy of the title of King’s Hand.

Tied up, dragged, beaten and dismembered, the Jaime Lannister that is delivered to Roose Bolton is a shadow of the pretty boy prince we’d come to know. Still, it isn’t until he begins to recuperate from his harsh journey that Jaime can begin his path to redemption.

As he sits in a hot tub with Brienne, Jaime begins to unravel a long-kept secret about his nickname, Kingslayer, thrown upon him as a curse after he murdered Aerys Targaryen II. The Mad King, having sown King’s Landing with wildfire, charged Jaime with giving the order to burn the city to the ground as Robert Baratheon’s army laid siege.

Faced with two unthinkable choices, Jaime opted to murder the king, rather than carry out his orders. Seen in this light, Jaime was actually a hero, sacrificing his honor to save thousands of lives, and his subsequent fall from grace, and hatred for Ned Stark, suddenly all begin to make sense. Fans never saw the character the same way again. (Mike Worby)

Best Game of Thrones Scenes

Best Game of Thrones Scenes: Lord Baelish’s Climactic Speech

Season Three, Episode 6: “The Climb”

“The Climb” ends with perhaps the best monologue of the entire series, courtesy of Lord Baelish, whose climactic speech not only perfectly ties the episode together but was so good, the showrunners decided that it would be the basis of the season’s entire marketing campaign.

We’ve seen Varys and Baelish share some great scenes but this is without a doubt their greatest verbal battle, and sadly the last time the two men would ever appear together on screen. What makes the speech really work – besides Aidan Gillen’s terrific delivery – is its juxtaposition with Ygritte and Jon Snow, as they complete their treacherous climb up the Wall. (Ricky D)

Best Game of Thrones Scenes

Best Game of Thrones Scenes: Brienne vs the Bear

Season Three, Episode 7: “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”

In “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” Jaime parts ways with Brienne during an emotional farewell in which Jaime swears to uphold his duty to protect Arya and Sansa Stark. Jaime promptly returns at the end of the episode, rushing to Harrenhal on horseback once he realizes that Brienne is no longer safe. Jaime soon arrives to find that Brienne has been thrown into a bear pit and forced to face off with a towering grizzly with only a wooden sword to fend it off. Jaime pleads for Locke to let her go free to no avail and as Brienne is met with a heavy claw to the neck, Jaime jumps into the pit to defend her. With the help of Jaime’s guardsman, Jaime and Brienne are able to scale the steep bear pit and climb to safety.

The intense scene in “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” marked a huge leap in character development for Jaime, who once stood as a perfectly coiffed, hardened soldier on Cersei’s right hand. Jaime has perhaps one of the most interesting character arcs in the series as a direct result of meeting Brienne and losing his hand. In the first season viewers learned to fear Jaime and what he’s capable of, especially after he pushed Bran out of a tower window with the intention of killing him. The idea that Jaime could have changed so drastically that we fear for both Brienne and him in the bear pit scene is a testament to the writers and the incredible performance that Nikolaj Coster-Waldau delivers throughout the series.

At one point Jaime could have been one of the men in the crowd pushing against the wooden slats of the bear pit, calling for blood. By season three he is a changed man, leaping into the pit to defend a companion with a single hand and no weapon of his own. The scene also sets the tone for Brienne and Jaime’s relationship for the rest of the series, which is filled with notes of longing, words left unsaid, and steadfast loyalty. (Meghan Cooke)

Best Game of Thrones ScenesBest Game of Thrones Scenes: Sam Slays a White Walker

Season Three, Episode 8, “Second Sons”

When Sam retrieved the Dragonglass from a long-dead ranger who was buried at a treasure trove, we knew the ancient weapon would eventually come into good use, but I’m not sure if any of us pictured Sam to be the one to put it to great use.

The most crucial and memorable moment of “Second Sons” comes at the tail-end of the episode when Sam and Gilly are confronted by a White Walker in the middle of the night. Desperate to protect Gilly and her baby (also named Sam), Sam lunges at the mysterious undead figure and stabs in him the back with the dagger made of Dragonglass. As a result, the White Walker dissipates, shattering to millions of pieces and Sam becomes the first man on the show to slay the undead creature. It’s a beautifully photographed scene ending with Sam and Gilly running off into the woods, as a swarm of ravens follows in hot pursuit, but it’s also an incredibly important moment for the series overall. The closing moments of “Second Sons” is not only an important milestone and step forward for Sam but it’s also a huge revelation for the show, demonstrating that while the White Walkers seem unstoppable, there is, in fact, an item that can defeat the undead foes! (Ricky D)

Best Scenes of Game of Thrones

Greatest Game of Thrones Scenes: The Red Wedding

Season Three, Episode 9: “The Rains of Castamere”

What is easily considered one of the most memorable and emotional moments in all of Game of Thrones if not all of television, The Red Wedding has made its way into the cultural zeitgeist as a staple in contemporary pop culture. The very words evoke bloodshed and tragedy of Shakespearian proportions.

After Robb jeopardizes an allegiance with Walder Frey by marrying another woman, despite agreeing to wed one of Frey’s daughters, his mother Catelyn compromises with Frey by having her brother Edmure marry a Frey daughter instead. Despite the grudge, Walder Frey agrees and a wedding takes place. The initially reluctant Edmure is relieved to find that his betrothed, Roslin Frey, is a beautiful young woman and the pair seem to hit it off. All is well.

However, things start to feel uneasy for Catelyn Stark as she notices the doors closing, locking them in. The band begins to play the titular “Rains of Castamere,” a notorious song about the Lannisters. Catelyn notices lieutenant Roose Bolton wearing chainmail and realizes they are in a trap. It isn’t long before Frey’s men mercilessly kill Robb’s wife and his men, while mortally wounding Robb and Catelyn. Catelyn holds Frey’s young wife hostage and begs for her son’s life. Frey nonchalantly refuses and Roose kills Robb while ominously whispering “The Lannisters send their regards.” Catelyn howls in grief and stands in shock. While the camera focuses on a stunned Catelyn for ten seconds and we think things can’t get any worse, a guard steps in and slits her throat right before the credits roll with no music. The brutality will leave you in silence like very few moments of television ever will. (Sarah Truesdale)

Best Game of Thrones Scenes

Best Game of Thrones Scenes: The Purple Wedding

Season Four, Episode 2: “The Lion and the Rose”

It would be an understatement to say the “The Lion and the Rose” merely lived up to its hype; it nearly destroyed the meaning of hype. “The Lion and the Rose” has passion, raw emotion, true terror, and a palpable sense of evil, and despite knowing George R. R. Martin insists on ending each wedding with a gruesome death, as a non-book reader, I was shocked with the end result. It’s also worth mentioning that Martin himself wrote this particular episode, only the third after “Blackwater” and “The Bear and the Maiden Fair.” This time around, he kills King Joffrey, His grace, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm.

As it turns out, the person we hated the most in this series falls victim in what is perhaps the show’s most triumphant death. Had Joffrey suffered the physical torture that Theon Greyjoy suffered, he would have been labeled a martyr. Had Joffrey died in battle, he would have been remembered a great warrior and a great King who fought for his land. Instead, Joffrey is made to look ridiculous in death, and in front of hundreds of guests on his wedding night. There’s something to be said about watching him gasp in agony while staring directly at Tyrion, a man he’s tortured for far too long. As he dies, Joffrey goes out believing his uncle is responsible for his death, and that my friends, is the best kind of revenge Tyrion can have. (Ricky D)

Best Game of Thrones Scenes

Best Game of Thrones Scenes: Tyrion’s Trial

Season Four, Episode 6: “The Laws of Gods and Men”

The big moment in “The Laws of Gods and Men” comes well into the episode, half of which is spent at King’s Landing for the trial of Tyrion Lannister. We’ve seen Tyrion in this position before when Catelyn Stark and her sister loco Lysa had him on trial for commissioning the attack on Bran Stark but this time around, however, Tyrion gets to suffer through two shocking betrayals. First Varys, who chooses his words wisely so he doesn’t lie, nor does he have to fear the Lannister’s wrath; and second comes Shae, who delivers the final, heartbreaking blow.

Tyrion’s Achilles heel has always been his big heart, and like Ned Stark, his attempt to protect whatever decency is left in Westeros, doesn’t end well. Only unlike Ned, Tyrion still has his head on his shoulders allowing him to deliver his unforgettable speech. “I wish I was the monster you all think I am!” (Ricky D)


Best Game of Thrones Scenes: Jaime Visits a Condemned Tyrion

Season Four, Episode 7: “Mockingbird”

“Mockingbird” features three great scenes involving Tyrion, who receives three visitors to his suite of squalor, Jaime, Bronn, and Oberyn. Each of these scenes is a series highlight, questioning who could be Tyrion’s defender now that Cersei has named The Mountain as the crown’s champion. Jaime’s scene with his brother is a prime example of how well the series is written and acted and some would argue the best of the three scenes. In the end, Tyrion also admits his actions were partly driven by the desire to deny his father of the deal he’d crafted with Jaime.

Somehow Tywin’s plan backfired in the worst way possible as his two sons continue to let their father down (Tyrion won’t be exiled to the Wall, and Jaime won’t be Tywin’s heir after all). Tyrion and Jaime joking at the thought of Tywin seeing the family line ends with them in one single stroke is nothing short of brilliant. In spite of everything that has happened, Tyrion knows he can always count on his big brother Jaime for help… except for this one time. When Tyrion expresses the hope that Jaime will be his champion, the Kingslayer admits that without his right hand, he isn’t strong enough to walk away as the victor. And since he can’t do it, Tyrion is forced to turn to another man – Bronn. (Ricky D)


Best Game of Thrones Scenes: Oberyn Becomes Tyrion’s Champion

Season Four, Episode 7: “Mockingbird”

In the season four episode “Mockingbird” Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) pays a visit to Tyrion Lannister in his prison cell as he awaits trial by combat for the murder of Prince Joffrey. Oberyn is amused by the way Tyrion talks about his family and says, “It is rare to meet a Lannister who shares my enthusiasm for dead Lannisters.”

A shared hatred for Cersei opens up an unlikely conversation between the two men as Oberyn divulges a secret from his past. To Tyrion’s surprise, Oberyn tells him that he met him as a child when he was visiting Casterly Rock for the first time. Oberyn recounts being excited to meet “the monster who had been born to Tywin Lannister:” a beast with a tail, claws, and red eyes. When young Cersei finally showed him to Tyrion’s crib, he was met with disappointment. He looked a little odd, Oberyn admits, but he was simply a baby. Tyrion’s eyes well up with pain and anger as he’s told how Cersei prayed for his death. “Sooner or later, Cersei always gets what she wants,” Tyrion says. But Oberyn refutes this, swearing to save Tyrion’s life and avenge his sister’s death as he declares, “I will be your champion.”

Tyrion is one of the more engaging characters in Game of Thrones, portrayed by Peter Dinklage with well-honed wit and rare warmth. Though he plays the games necessary to stay alive in Westeros, Tyrion is decidedly one of the good guys, and when Oberyn aligns himself with him the moment comes with a shining, prevailing feeling of hope. “Game of Thrones” is not designed to put viewers at ease, and only an episode later in “The Mountain and the Viper,” the likable Oberyn is brutally killed in combat by Gregor Clegane. But for one golden moment, both Oberyn and Tyrion feel like the justice they so desperately seek will be served. (Meghan Cooke)

Best Game of Thrones Scenes

Best Game of Thrones Scenes: The Red Viper vs. The Mountain

Season Four, Episode 8: “The Mountain and the Viper”

Few moments of Game of Thrones are as crushing and devastating as the ending of the eponymous battle between the Red Viper and The Mountain.

While the battle for Tyrion’s fate and the Red Viper’s justice is tense and frenetic, from the very start things seem to be going the Viper’s way. While the Mountain is large and clunky, the Viper is quick and nimble. Though there are a few seeming close calls, the Red Viper, Prince Oberyn, dispatches Clegane’s Mountain with apparent ease, using swift movements and a poison-tipped spear.

However, as Oberyn screams for justice in the center of the arena, he takes one step too close to the downed Clegane and seals his fate. In a few seconds flat, the Mountain pulls Oberyn down to his level before striking him full-fisted with his massive gauntlet. As the prince’s teeth go bouncing across the marble, Clegane crawls on top of him and confesses all of the horrific things he did to Oberyn’s sister and her children while popping the Viper’s eyes in their sockets.

Finally, the Mountain finishes the mess by popping the Viper’s head like a watermelon as his wife and lover scream in grief from the audience. It may be the most horrific and heart-rending plot twist in the entire series if not for the Red Wedding, and while Oberyn dies in gruesome terror, the greatest casualty here might have been the audience’s hope for a little justice at last. (Mike Worby)

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Best Game of Thrones Scenes: Battle of the Wall

Season Four, Episode 9: “The Watchers on the Wall”

We are somewhat cheating here because by including the “Watchers on the Wall”, we aren’t including a scene so much as the entire episode!

It is a Game of Thrones tradition that episode nine, the penultimate episode of each season, has been the crown jewel. Season one saw Ned Stark’s beheading; season two featured the Battle of Blackwater, and season three shocked audiences with the Red Wedding. Needless to say, expectations were high for “The Watchers on The Wall;” the ninth episode of the best season yet, and the most expensive episode of the series so far. And who better to helm this installment, than Neil Marshall, the same man responsible for the triumphant, epic “Blackwater”.

Truth be told, “The Watchers On The Wall” is less of a plot-advancing episode than its predecessors, but it features spellbinding moments, big battles, raw emotion, and pure poetry. All honor and praise are due to the visionaries behind the project. Marshall and his crew, deliver something operatic and beautiful – striking an ideal balance of combat and camaraderie. “The Watchers On The Wall” is such a crowning achievement, such a pure spectacle, that it can be enjoyed even by those who have not seen a single episode of the HBO series. This is 50 minutes of total mastery, with extended, epic battles handled with flourish and coherence. Like “Blackwater,” “The Watchers On The Wall” has an exciting rhythm, and leaves viewers gripping their seats right up until the closing credits roll. This episode is everything a fan could want and possibly more. (Ricky D)

Best Game of Thrones Scenes: Brienne vs. The Hound

Season Four, Episode 10: The Children

A scene with weight is able to deliver in a multitude of ways. A shining example of a scene with weight is the battle between Brienne and the Hound. Two characters with motivations containing depth and storylines that converge in a timely manner.

In her search for Arya, Brienne travels north from King’s Landing to the Eyrie, in line with her goal of fulfilling her vow to Catelyn Stark. Meanwhile, The Hound and Arya remain travel partners heading south from the Eyrie upon hearing of aunt Lysa’s death. In perhaps one of the more macabre demonstrations of a “quasi-father-daughter” relationship, The Hound and Arya’s mixed feelings about the other are more apparent than ever.

When Brienne and Pod come upon them, The Hound immediately distrusts Brienne noting the Lannister sword. Brienne promises Arya safety, but The Hound quickly argues of what safety she could possibly offer. He details the laundry list of Starks now dead and the state of Winterfell (now a pile of rubble). “There’s no safety now…if you don’t know that by now, you’re the wrong one to watch over her.” With this line, The Hound confirms his new goal of protecting Arya and marks a turning point in his character.

The altercation leads to a brutal fight with an epic scene demonstrating Brienne’s true ferocity. Her brute force leads her to bite into The Hound’s jugular, and she eventually socks him off a mildly steep cliff to claim victory. At the conclusion of the fight, Arya’s distrust of Brienne causes her to hide from her and instead approach the wounded Hound.

The Hound was on Arya’s famous “list,” but it is clear she cannot deny the humanity within The Hound after their journey together. As The Hound awaits Needle in his neck, Arya leaves The Hound to suffer. Superficially, the act represents her cruelty towards his wish for death, but on a deeper level, it demonstrates Arya no longer desires to kill her unlikely ally. (Garrett Holton)

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Best Game of Thrones Scenes: Tyrion Kills Tywin Lannister

Season Four, Episode 10: The Children

While Game of Thrones often subverts our expectations that the villains will finally get their comeuppance, in the season four finale, “The Children”, Tywin Lannister got exactly that.

The architect of the Red Wedding and dozens of other evils, Tywin Lannister is taken down not by an army on a battlefield or by an assassin in his bedchamber, but by his son in the toilets. Jaime and Varys’ last-minute decision to save Tyrion leads us to believe that our favorite dwarf will live to see the light of day, but the surprise that he manages to get justice on his way out of King’s Landing is just the absolute cherry on top.

Tywin begs and bargains with little of his usual prestige and pomp when Tyrion catches him, quite literally, with his pants down. Though there is some suspense to the scene, as for most of us the notion of patricide is completely unthinkable, when Tyrion fires the bolts into Tywin, it is an incredibly cathartic moment.

Portrayed by the inimitable Charles Dance, Tywin would be missed for the remainder of the series, but the sweet, sweet taste of justice makes his death one of Game of Thrones’ absolute finest moments. (Mike Worby)

PART ONE  |  PART TWO   | PART THREE

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