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Game of Thrones Episode Ranking: 20-11

With one day left until the House of the Dragon premiere, we crack into the top 20. This list will contain episodes of triumph, new beginnings, and betrayals. We'll also rank episodes that have some of the best scenes in this portion of the list. With that being said, here is your spoiler warning. Without further ado, let's check out the episodes ranked 20-11.

Photo: HBO


20. The Kingsroad: Season 1, Episode 2

We get a great look at some of the mainstay characters in the series. We see Tyrion's power over Joffrey, even though Joffrey towers over him in stature, we learn more about Ned's backstory about how Jon was born - while simultaneously learning about the Targaryens in the same conversation, and Dany learns how to act more like a Khaleesi from Doreah. We also get some top tier dialogue between Jon and Tyrion, mainly Tyrion's quote of "a mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone". It shows how committed Tyrion is to improving himself despite his challenges. The episode ends with Joffrey's true nature coming to light, as well as Cersei's devious ways to get what she wants. As Ned kills Lady, Sansa's direwolf, Bran wakes up, capping off a collection of saddening scenes with a sense of relief.

19. First of His Name: Season 4, Episode 5

There's a tone of backstory revealed that has been built up over the course of four seasons. As Petyr and Lysa are talking about their marriage, she reminds him that it was Petyr's idea to have Jon Arryn killed and he was the one who gave her the poison. The whole purpose, at least according to Lysa, was so that they could be together. This is one of the biggest reveals of the show, as it proves Petyr was the one who truly started the War of the Five Kings. Outside of that, the Hound harshly teaches Arya more about life in a practical sense, Dany questions her ruling capabilities, and Cersei and Tywin talk about the crown's debts. To round out this episode, we get an underrated battle sequence at Craster's Keep where we see the Night's Watch and the mutiny fight, Bran warging into Hodor and killing Locke, and Ghost and Jon reunite. In a symbolic sendoff, the Night's Watch and Craster's daughters burn down his keep, burning away the stain he left on them.

18. Second Sons: Season 3, Episode 8

Between meeting the playboy Daario, Melisandre taking blood from Gendry, and Tyrion's comical wedding ceremony and reception, this episode hits a bunch of different tones. We get some foreshadowing as Stannis says he saw a vision in the flames of a great battle in the snow, Margaery and Cersei talking about the story behind the Rains of Castamere, and Sam killing a White Walker with dragonglass. Between that and Daario pledging his sword for Daenerys, Tyrion respecting Sansa enough to not consummate their marriage, and Arya learning that her family will be at the Twins, every scene felt different in theme, but still added great value to the overall story.

Photo: HBO

17. Oathkeeper: Season 4, Episode 4

We get a major reveal this episode that Petyr and Olenna conspired to kill Joffrey together. Petyr tells Sansa that the Tyrells are more predictable, and that his alliance with them will be stronger than his former one with the Lannisters. We also get some great scenes between Jaime and Tyrion talking about who could've murdered Joffrey, Margaery sneaking into Tommen's room and manipulating him, and Jaime gifting Brienne armor and sword, which she names Oathkeeper. We also see what's happened at Craster's and how the mutiny is somehow treating the women worst than Craster did. Bran and company spy on Craster's, only to get captured and Bran is forced to admit who he is to Karl. The episode ends on an ominous tone, as we see the Night King for the first time as he turns Craster's last boy into a White Walker.

16. The Mountain and the Viper: Season 4, Episode 8

This episode is filled with sad and shocking moments. We get kickstarted with the Wildlings invading Mole's Town, leaving Sam in a funk thinking that Gilly might be dead, Reek acts as Theon in order to win Moat Cailin for Ramsay, who just ends up killing everyone who surrendered anyways, and Barristan and Dany learn that Jorah was spying on her, leaving Dany with no choice but to exile him. Through Petyr, we also get some foreshadowing at how multiple future deaths will happen, and Ramsay Snow is renamed Ramsay Bolton, natural and legitimate son to Roose Bolton. The episode closes with Tyrion and Jaime chatting about cousin Orson before Oberyn fights the Mountain. Oberyn taunts the Mountain throughout the entire battle, and when the Mountain is most vulnerable for a kill, Oberyn loses sight on the battle, and only have the Mountain admit he murdered and raped his sister. In Oberyn's lust for the truth, the Mountain sweeps his leg, gets Oberyn in a chokehold, and smashes his face in like a grapefruit. It's utterly gruesome moment that leaves us in fear for Tyrion, and in amazement that someone could actually collapse a face like that.

15. Valar Morghulis: Season 2, Episode 10

The Lannisters and Tyrells celebrate their victory at the Blackwater, resulting in Joffrey tossing Sansa to the side and proclaiming his love for Margaery, Stannis nearly kills Melisandre, who then shows him the vision she saw in the flames, and Theon gives a riveting speech to his men just before getting knocked out by Dagmer. They leave Winterfell in a ruin, as Bran and company see as they leave the crypt. We also see Osha put Maester Luwin out of his misery, Robb marries Talisa - because that won't backfire, and Arya learns about the faceless men from Jaqen. The season rounds out with Jon killing Qhorin to gain the trust of the wildlings, Dany reunites with her dragons and kills Pyat Pree, while also learning Xaro has been lying about his riches this entire time, and Sam is left stranded by Edd and Grenn, to which he sees the Army of the Dead making their way towards the Wall. It's a jampacked episode, but it does a great job capturing each emotion in every scene.

Photo: HBO

14. Mhysa: Season 3, Episode 10

Another season finale, only this one has much darker tones. We see the immediate fallout from the Red Wedding, as Arya sees her brother's head chopped off and replaced with his direwolf's, Joffrey and his council share the news with Tyrion, and Stannis starts to believe in Melisandre's magic more now than ever. We also get heart-wrenching scenes, like Tywin telling Tyrion how he put the family above everything else by letting Tyrion live, Ygritte finding Jon and shooting him with arrows, and the Greyjoys receive a package from Ramsay with Theon's "favorite toy". Speaking of Theon, Ramsay tortures him to the point where he renames him as Reek. The season caps off with Davos freeing Gendry, and right as Stannis sentences him to death, Davos gives him a letter about the White Walkers, which Melisandre confirms by throwing it in the fire and seeing a vision in the flames. Lastly, Dany greets the people of Yunkai and tells them they are free to make their own choices. They call out to her as "Mhysa", she walks into the crowd and they lift her into the air, ending a grim episode on a lighthearted note, giving the viewers some hope of what's to come.

13. What Is Dead May Never Die: Season 2, Episode 3

This might be the best episode where nothing major happens. Jon is thrown before Jeor by Craster, and Jon learns that Jeor has known about Craster's sons all along, Theon feels cast aside by his father, so he decides to declare himself to the Salt Throne in order to win his love back, and Cat arrives to Renly's battlecamp, where we meet Margaery and Brienne of Tarth. We also get some incredible scenes with Tyrion, as he plays mind games with Varys, Petyr, and Pycelle to find out who has been feeding information to Cersei. Varys commends him and gives us one of the best quotes in the show: "power resides where men believe it resides". Arya and Yoren talk about how he sleeps at night, and he gives Arya the idea about a list full of names of people they want to kill. The Lannister army finds them, they kill Yoren and Lommy, and Arya deceives them into believing they killed Gendry. This episode is full of witty, gruesome, and astonishing moments, making it one of my favorites in the series.

12. Kissed by Fire: Season 3, Episode 5

Wow, this episode left me in wonder when I first watched it, and left me even more starstruck in my rewatch. It kicks off with an enticing battle between the Hound and Beric, where Beric is killed and brought back to life, Jon breaks his vows and sleeps with Ygritte, and Jaime and Brienne arrive in Harrenhal. Roose tells Jaime that Cersei is alive and well, and Qyburn treats Jaime's wound. We also get an awesome parallel moment where Lord Karstark betrays Robb and kills the Lannister boys, which leads Robb to taking his head off. Between the music, shot composition, and reasoning behind the execution, almost everything is mirrored exactly how Theon's execution of Rodrik went. The episode rolls along with Tywin forcing Cersei to marry Loras and Tyrion to marry Sansa, Robb comes up with the idea to get the Frey's support in attacking Casterly Rock, and we get the best monologue in the show with Jaime telling Brienne about the day he killed King Aerys. This scene is full of fantastic quotes, but the one that hit home for me was the following: "by what right does the wolf judge the lion?" The whole monologue shows a side of Jaime that we haven't seen until this moment, but this quote drives it home as he shows how much resentment he has for the Starks with how they've treated him since he killed the Mad King. It's one of the best scenes in the show, and turns one of the most hated characters into one of the most tragic.

Photo: HBO

11. You Win or You Die: Season 1, Episode 7

This episode sets the entire series into motion. We start things off by meeting the best character in the series, Tywin Lannister, who talks with Jaime about the family line and his role as a Lannister. Ned confronts Cersei about Joffrey being a bastard, we get backstory on Petyr's ideals and motivations, and Dany nearly gets poisoned before Jorah saves her. We also see Robert in his final moments, as he names Ned protector of the realm until Joffrey comes of age, Jon is named Jeor's personal steward, then he and Sam say their vows together, and Petyr meets with Ned to get the Gold Cloaks to work in his favor against Cersei. As Ned is summoned to the throne room, he challenges Cersei and Joffrey on his claim, and Ned orders the Kingsguard to turn on them. With just one look from Cersei, the Gold Cloaks attack Ned's men, and Petyr puts a knife to Ned's throat, saying "I did warn you not to trust me". Just magnificent writing and great execution by the cast and crew.


Final Notes:

Tomorrow, we finish the series with the top 10. The episodes in the top 10 has stayed the same, but I have been constantly changing the order to best reflect the quality, impact, and substance of each one. I will be finalizing the order tonight, and expect tomorrow's blog to drop well before the House of the Dragon drops.

Join me next time as I rank the top 10 episodes of Game of Thrones!


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