Let me guess, you probably flirted with the idea of a doing a whole Game of Thrones re-watch then realized 7 seasons of death, gore, and drama was too much to commit to in the span of a few days (or even weeks). But now that the final season is fast-approaching, it feels like you should go back to at least some essential points. If that’s the case, then we have Bryan Cogman’s very own guide to the ultimate GoT rewatch. And it’s only 21 episodes long!
While GoT has had a rotation of writers throughout the seasons (with George R.R. Martin even stopping by for a few!), Bryan Cogman stands as one of the most consistent. He’s been writing for the series ever since the first season up until this last one. So in terms of continuity and familiarity with the show, only showrunners Benioff and Weiss outrank him.
Below are the 21 episodes he recommends for a rewatch (complete with commentary by him):
21 & 20. WINTER IS COMING & THE KINGSROAD (Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2)
Let’s start the rewatch with a double feature, shall we? Taken together, these two episodes serve as a mega-pilot as so much of Episode 1 is devoted to simply meeting the various characters and understanding the world of the show. Episode 2 really makes you care. I remember watching a rough cut of the opening sequence (in which Jon bids farewell to his family and heads for the Wall) on my laptop in Belfast and thinking: This works! We have a show! Oh, and Ep 2 is the one where Tyrion slaps Joffrey (not for the last time).
19. BAELOR (Season 1, Episode 9)
Aw, man. Y’all know how this one ends. Sean Bean’s Ned Stark still looms large over this story — there are very few subsequent episodes in which a character doesn’t mention his name. Alan directed Ned’s tragic execution scene brilliantly, the POV shifting seamlessly between Ned and his two daughters. And this episode also features Peter’s first Emmy Award winning performance… of three!
18. FIRE AND BLOOD (Season 1, Episode 10)
Baby dragons. Need I say more?
17. WHAT IS DEAD MAY NEVER DIE (Season 2, Episode 3)
My favorite “court intrigue” episode. I’m particularly proud of the sequence where Tyrion plays the various council members against each other and roots out a spy. And I love Alik’s homage to Akira Kurosawa with the flapping banners during Theon’s baptism scene. Plus, I got to introduce Brienne!
16. THE OLD GODS AND THE NEW (Season 2, Episode 6)
This one starts with one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the whole series (Theon’s botched execution of Ser Rodrik). And then you meet the incomparable Rose Leslie as Ygritte. And then you have the King’s Landing riot sequence. And then: “WHERE ARE MY DRAGONS????”
15. BLACKWATER (Season 2, Episode 9)
Our first big battle! And it’s awesome. But I love this episode (written by Grand Maester George himself) for its intimacy and the rare opportunity we had to zero in on one location and a smaller group of characters. Boy, we put the crew through hell making this episode. Little did they know… (insert evil laugh here).
14. WALK OF PUNISHMENT (Season 3, Episode 3)
This episode is very funny (the Small Council plays musical chairs!), very dark (Jaime’s hand is chopped off!), and very weird (there’s a rock song over the end credits!).
13. AND NOW HIS WATCH IS ENDED (Season 3, Episode 4)
This mid-season stunner features the brutal mutiny at Craster’s Keep (RIP Commander Mormont), the emergence of Ramsay Snow as one of our major villains, Varys’s creepy origin story, and Dany’s triumphant march from Astapor with the Unsullied army at her back. One of Emilia’s finest hours.
12. KISSED BY FIRE (Season 3, Episode 5)
This is my favorite of the episodes I’ve written, partially because the finished product most closely resembles its very first draft. But it’s also one of our best “smaller,” character-focused episodes. I put “smaller” in quotes as we still found room for a big sword fight (Beric vs. The Hound). The episode’s centerpiece is the long, impeccably acted two-hander between Jaime and Brienne – quite possibly the best thing I’ll ever be associated with. Well… it’s a toss-up between that scene and Selyse’s dead babies in the jars (I stand by that idea. Eat it, haters!).
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