#40Jon finds an unexpected ally outside the Night’s Watch, but his own men strongly disapprove of his next move. Meanwhile, Brienne tries to let Sansa know she’s not alone; Daenerys faces a tough decision after losing a trusted adviser; Ramsay maintains his control over Theon; and Jorah and Tyrion have a terrifying encounter on the water.
Critics Consensus:“Kill the Boy” takes a fresh approach to themes of growth and change, using poignant storytelling to dramatize the challenges of making life-altering choices and struggles with power.
#38In the frenzied aftermath of the royal wedding, Tyrion gets a visit from a loyal subject, but wonders if anyone in his family will help him out of his current predicament. Meanwhile, Tywin offers to work for the common good with a presumed enemy; Sam takes stock of the personnel at Castle Black; the Hound gives another life lesson to Arya; and Daenerys makes a decision outside the walls of Meereen.
Critics Consensus:While “Breaker of Chains” is a letdown after the Purple Wedding, the episode expertly weaves together a number of necessary plot points — and still manages to deliver a very memorable scene.
#36Jaime and Bronn sneak into Dorne by sea, but their arrival isn’t the secret they’d hoped it would be. Meanwhile, Sansa discusses her future with Littlefinger; Jon is tempted by Melisandre; and Tyrion has a new traveling companion on his way to Meereen.
Critics Consensus: An episode that benefits from the intricate plotting of the previous three, “Sons of the Harpy” balances bloody action with illuminating character interplay.
#35Jon welcomes volunteers; Bran, Jojen, Meera and Hodor seek shelter; Jaime and Brienne discuss his honor; Daenerys balances justice and mercy.
Critics Consensus: If it’s a bit more subdued than its predecessors, “Oathkeeper” is nonetheless a rock-solid installment of Game of Thrones — one that features assured direction, strong action scenes, and intriguing plot developments.
#34A verdict is reached on Tyrion’s fate after a battle between Oberyn Martell and Sandor “The Mountain” Clegane. Meanwhile, Daenerys learns unsettling news about Jorah’s past; unexpected visitors arrive in Mole’s Town; and Reek assumes his former identity.
Critics Consensus:With one of the most gruesome scenes to date, “The Mountain and the Viper” delivers a tense, twisty final scene well worth the wait.
#33Daenerys and her new advisers map out a strategy to conquer Westeros, and a surprise visitor counsels her to summon Jon Snow to Dragonstone. Meanwhile, a reunion in the Riverlands causes Arya to change course; Cersei continues her desperate search for allies; and Sam thinks he’s found a cure for a deadly ailment.
Critics Consensus:While necessarily setting up the events for the season, “Stormborn” features compelling strategic discussion, and a cracking action sequence to end the episode with a bang.
#32Catelyn tries to save two kings from themselves; Tyrion practices coercion; Robb meets a foreigner; outside the gates of salvation, Dany finds her ally; Melisandre casts a large shadow on the Stormlands.
Critics Consensus:“Garden of Bones” continues GoT’s stellar second season with a bleak, disturbing, and powerful episode that culminates in a bizarre confirmation that the night is indeed dark and full of terrors.
#30Jon gives a history lesson on the Children of the Forest and the First Men to Daenerys, who later unleashes the fury of her Dothraki horde and Drogon on the Roseroad. Meanwhile, the reunions continue at Winterfell with the return of another Stark; and Cersei mulls her next move once the Crown’s debts are repaid to the Iron Bank.
Critics Consensus:“The Spoils of War” delivers arguably the greatest battle sequence of the series so far, in exciting, epic, fiery spectacle.
#29Season Three Premiere. Jon is tested by the wildling king; Tyrion asks for his reward; Dany sails into Slaver’s Bay.
Critics Consensus:“Valar Dohaeris” overextends itself trying to reintroduce a multitude of characters and plotlines, but is strengthened by its brilliantly acted two-person scenes (and three growing baby dragons).
#28In the Season 4 finale, Daenerys must face harsh realities; Bran learns more about his destiny; Tyrion sees the truth of his situation; and circumstances north of the Wall are altered by an unexpected arrival.
Critics Consensus:Capping off the best season of Game of Thrones to date, “The Children” provides enough satisfying plot developments for a finale, while its twists and turns leave you wanting more.
#27Jon starts a new mission; Cersei and Tywin consider the next move for the Crown; Daenerys makes plans for the future after hearing the latest news from King’s Landing; Baelish and Sansa reach their destination.
Critics Consensus:Only slow by Game of Thrones standards, “First of His Name” demonstrates how carefully constructed this show has been since season one.
#22Series Premiere. Lord Ned Stark is troubled by disturbing reports from a Night’s Watch deserter; King Robert and Lannisters arrive at Winterfell; the exiled Viserys Targaryen forges a powerful new allegiance.
Critics Consensus: “Winter is Coming” is an introduction to a wonderfully bleak journey that honors its source material with stellar execution and an impressive cast.
#21Bran’s fate remains in doubt; Jon and Tyrion head to the Wall; Ned faces a family crisis en route to King’s Landing; Viserys bides his time in hopes of winning back the throne; Dany focuses on pleasing her new husband, Drogo.
Critics Consensus:“The Kingsroad” brings surprising new developments for characters undergoing change while pushing the various plots forward at an effective pace.
#20Reinstated as the Hand, Ned sits for the King while Robert is on a hunt. Ned issues a decree that could have long-term consequences. Tyrion confesses to his ‘crimes’; Joffrey apologizes to Sansa; Viserys receives from Drogo his final payment for Daenerys.
Critics Consensus: The character-focused “A Golden Crown” highlights Game of Throne‘s cast to exhilarating effect, with particularly entertaining comic relief courtesy of Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion.
#19The Lannisters press their advantage over the Starks; Robb rallies his fathers northern allies and heads south to war; Tyrion forms an uneasy alliance with the hill tribes and reunites with his father.
Critics Consensus:“The Pointy End” is a fast-paced transitional episode which, though written by source novelist George R.R. Martin, proves the show is now finding its own way as a separate entity from from the books.
#18With Sansas life in danger, Ned makes a fateful decision. Catelyn brokers an unsavory deal. Tyrion is forced to fight on the front lines. Robb captures a prized prisoner. Jon discovers a dark secret about Maester Aemon.
Critics Consensus:Veering slightly from the source material, “Baelor” sports excellent performances and a bold, unprecedented climax.
#17Ned looks to a book for clues to the death of his predecessor, and uncovers one of King Robert’s bastards. Robert and his guests witness a tournament honoring Ned. Jon takes measures to protect Sam; a frustrated Viserys clashes with Daenerys.
Critics Consensus:Nuanced characters and a gripping plot help “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things” set a new first-season benchmark for Game of Thrones.
#14At Winterfell, Theon receives a visitor and holds down the fort. Arya calls in her final debt with Jaqen. Robb is betrayed. Tyrion and Varys find common ground. Dany ignores Jorah’s advice. Stannis and Davos approach their destination.
Critics Consensus:Though it’s mostly concerned with moving its pieces into position before the finale, “The Prince of Winterfell” is a pleasantly subdued episode that makes the most of its character moments.
#13At the Red Keep, Tyrion plots three alliances through the promise of marriage. Catelyn arrives in the Stormlands to forge an alliance of her own. But King Renly, his new wife Margaery, and her brother Loras Tyrell have other plans in mind.
Critics Consensus: Superbly written and directed, “What is Dead May Never Die” evokes a range of emotions as uneasy alliances are forged, past traumas are explored, and the stakes grow ever higher.
#12Theon completes his master stroke. In King’s Landing, the Lannisters send Myrcella from harm’s way in the nick of time. Arya gets a surprise visitor; Dany vows to take what is hers; Robb and Catelyn receive crucial news; Jon has a chance to prove himself.
Critics Consensus:Thanks to a balance of thrilling action, complex character work, and a savage twist, “The Old Gods and The New” justifies its deviation from the source material.
#10Season 2 Premiere. Tyrion arrives to save Joffrey’s crown from threats old and new; Daenerys searches for allies and water in the Red Waste; Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch face the wilderness beyond the Wall.
Critics Consensus:“The North Remembers” underscores Joffrey’s capacity for cruelty and Tyrion’s development as a key player in a compelling sophomore season opener.
#7The Hound is judged by the gods; Jaime is judged by men. Jon proves himself; Robb is betrayed.
Critics Consensus:Despite lacking the big action reveals of the previous episode, “Kissed by Fire” is anchored by a devastatingly intimate scene between Brienne and Jamie, and plenty of Lannister intrigue.
#6House Frey joins forces with House Tully. Jon faces his most difficult test yet.
Critics Consensus:The most unforgettable episode of Game of Thrones thus far, “The Rains of Castamere” (or as it shall forever be known, “The Red Wedding”) packs a dramatic wallop that feels as exquisitely shocking as it does ultimately inevitable.
#5Cersei meets the High Sparrow after learning of a clergyman’s embarrassing tale. Meanwhile, Davos talks to Jon about the future of Winterfell, where Ramsay Snow has just learned the identity of his future bride; Arya grows impatient doing menial tasks in the House of Black and White; and Tyrion searches for more comfortable surroundings on a long trip with Varys.
Critics Consensus: “High Sparrow” expertly weaves together characters from Game of Thrones‘ sprawling stories, though the episode ultimately belongs to Jon Snow, whose new position highlights unexpected qualities.
#4Jon pleads his case to form a new alliance north of the Wall that is immediately put to the test. Meanwhile, Arya makes progress in her training; Sansa learns surprising news about her family; and Daenerys and Tyrion find they have something in common.
Critics Consensus:Following several episodes of setup, “Hardhome” blends a sharp script with spectacular blockbuster action to offer viewers a powerful, game-changing payoff.
#3A who’s who of honored guests turns out for Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding in King’s Landing, but the king’s taste in entertainment rubs many of them the wrong way. Meanwhile, Bronn gives a lesson to an unlikely pupil; Bran’s vision helps map out his journey; Stannis loses patience with Davos; and Ramsay takes a perverse delight in his new pet.
Critics Consensus: The perfect pacing of “The Lion and the Rose” leads to one of the most excruciating — and gratifying — sequences in the series.