One of the best things about Game of Thrones is the epic battles that take place in nearly every season. After recently watching the entire series from start to finish, they’re all fresh in my mind. Here’s how the battles rank in my opinion.
7. The Battle of Blackwater Bay
Season 2, Episode 9
This seige is the show’s first attempt at a large scale battle. The coolest thing about this battle is that it shows us what wildfire can really do. There’s a good amount of suspense as we, the viewers, know Tyrion has something up his sleeve, but we don’t know what it is. Watching the wildfire decimate Stannis’ ships was surprising and exciting the first time I saw it. After the wildfire, we see Tyrion head out to battle after giving a stirring speech to the troops. Unfortunately this is when a member of the King’s Guard tries to kill him. It’s really difficult to tell which way the battle will end until we see Tywin Lannister ride into the throne room.
6. The Battle for Mereen
Season 6, Episode 9
This battle is a small one by Game of Thrones standards, but it’s worth mentioning because it shows us the dragons in full force for the first time. We also get a nice bit of Daario Naharis leading the Dothraki to take out the Sons of the Harpy. And how can you not love the shot of Drogon landing right beside Danaerys and moving his wing so she can climb onto his back?
5. The Conflict Beyond the Wall
Season 7, Episode 6
This battle takes place as our not-so-merry band of adventurers travel north of the wall to capture an undead soldier. To be honest, I found the premise to be kind of goofy, but I loved the interactions between characters we’ve never seen together before. I had high expectations for this battle. After all, it was the most recent season and the penultimate episode, which is commonly the “big one.” Even with the ridiculously fast raven aside, I felt let down. It was still good, just not what I was expecting. The time spent actually battling is very short, and it’s not terribly interesting until Danaerys shows up with her dragons. Drogon moving his head back and forth like a flamethrower was very cool. Watching Viserion die was a very emotional experience, possibly one of the most emotional experiences in the show.
4. The Battle for Castle Black
Season 4, Episode 9
There are no dragons or White Walkers here. Instead it’s the wildlings that launch an attack on the Wall. Despite Jon’s warnings, the Night’s Watch are not terribly prepared for this attack. One of my favorite moments in the entire series is when Jon runs to the edge of the wall and sees the massive bonfire. Even though we don’t see dragons or White Walkers, we do see giants for the first time, riding on mammoths no less. Another interesting element in this battle is how personal it gets for a number of the characters whose roles have been pivoting around Jon. I was surprised at both Pip’s and Grenn’s deaths. The latter was a really emotional scene, where he and the men he’s with recite their vows as a giant bears down on them. The other highly personal moment is, of course, when Ygritte is shot and dies in Jon’s arms, one of the show’s biggest catchphrases the last thing she says.
3. The Battle at Hardhome
Season 5, Episode 8
After hearing about the White Walker threat throughout the entire series, we finally see them in all of their horror when they attack the large wildling community at Hardhome. One of the great things about this battle is that no one knew it was coming. Everyone is caught completely off guard and the battle isn’t so much a battle as a massacre. I was even surprised the first time I saw it. The suspense in this battle is through the roof. It’s filled with so many great moments and the change in music toward the end really emphasizes how pretty much everything is lost. One of the moments that stands out the most for me is when Karsi (the female leader of one of wildling tribes) finds herself face to face with a bunch of undead children. What happens there can be interpreted in a few ways. As a mom, I think she found herself unable to kill children, whether they were undead or not, and chooses to die. The major plot point in this battle besides the strength of the White Walkers is the fact that Valyrian steel can kill Walkers. Overall this battle is just amazing.
2. The Battle for Winterfell
Season 6, Episode 9
Everyone knew this battle was coming, so it could have turned out to be a big disappointment after all the hype. But it wasn’t. The show runners talked about the amount of work that went into producing it, and it exceeded my expectations. Despite both armies lined up waiting to face each other, it’s Ramsay’s act of killing Rickon that gets things going. I wasn’t expecting anything like what happened. I mean, everyone knows Ramsay was a psychopath, but he’s also a smart one. The orchestration of that act was brilliant at luring Jon right into his wide open trap. Then we get one of the most unforgettable moments of the entire series: the shot behind Jon as he pulls out his sword while the cavalry rides at him. (By the way, those were actually real horses running top speed at Kit Harington before pulling a way at the last second. The making of this battle is pretty fascinating.)
Once the battle really gets going it’s pretty exciting to watch. There were a few unexpected elements. The phalanx of Bolton troops closing in on the wildlings and northerners was not something I saw coming. I also wasn’t expecting Jon to get trampled nearly to death. I think the end of the battle and end of the episode are equally satisfying. This episode is my favorite one of the entire series. With the Battle for Mereen at the beginning and the Battle for Winterfell at the end, you can’t really top the level of excitement that’s achieved all in one episode.
1. The Loot Train Attack
Season 7, Episode 4
Wow! That’s the word to describe this battle. It was hard to believe it was going to be possible to top the Battle for Winterfell, but the show did it. The Battle at Blackwater Rush takes everything the show had done up to that point and takes up a notch. And, oh yeah, adds in a dragon. This battle was completely unexpected because it came in the middle of the season. It’s also unique in that there’s a large emotional investment on both sides of the battle. I didn’t want to see Danaerys or Jaime die, and Bronn. Who doesn’t love Bronn? I didn’t want to see him die either. We also get to see the Dothraki in full force, and the battle seems a bit more realistic than the Battle for Winterfell, in that we see Lannister soldiers trembling and even running away from the Dothraki. Like Hardhome, there’s a crazy amount suspense here. Being able to hear the Dothraki screamers before they crest the hill makes for great tension. Then, the appearance of Drogon takes it to the next level.
There are so many awesome moments in this battle, I’m not going to list them all, but more favorites are watching some the Dothraki stand up on their horses to shoot arrows and the use of the Scorpion weapon against Drogon. I’ve watched this battle over and over because it’s just so cool and exciting to watch.
I’m very much looking forward to the next season, in case you couldn’t guess, mostly because I can’t wait to see what big battles they’ve got in store for us.
What’s Your List?
So there are my rankings. Do you agree? Is there a battle in the show you think should be mentioned that’s not here?