By now, all Game of Thrones fans are beyond excited that we’re about to get the premiere of a new (and final) season. It’s been a long wait, and our patience will be rewarded starting April 14th with six episodes— all of which will be feature length. Some of you may have already done a full rewatch of the entire series, but if you haven’t, you’ve only got a few days left to refresh your memory. This guide is not for the new or casual watcher, but rather for those whose watch has been loyal and true and is now coming to an end. Aside from the finale to Season 7, which you definitely must watch just prior to the premiere, here are 8 other episodes you need to binge this weekend no matter what.
Fire and Blood (S1 E10)
By now, you’ve surely rewatched “Winter Is Coming” as well as “Baelor” numerous times. The beheading of Ned Stark is a quintessential moment in Game of Thrones history. But so much happens in this finale: Robb is proclaimed King in the North. Jamie admits to Catelyn of having pushed Bran out the window. We begin to really understand the tyranny of King Joffrey, and the beginning of Sansa’s torment, now alone in the kingdom. Tyrion becomes Hand of the King. Arya takes on a new identity as Arry and meets Gendry (both of which we can only hope are reunited in this final season). But mostly, we see the development of Dany from Khalseei to the Unburnt Mother of Dragons. After losing her unborn child and Khal Drogo, she enters the funeral pyre with her dragon eggs and emerges with her babies — earning the respect of the khalasar, and all us viewers.
Rains of Castamere (S3 E9)
Why You Need To Watch: Sam reminds us about the secret sally port leading to the Nightfort (which may prove to be useful in this final season). We have several scenes between Arya and the Hound that really establish their disdain and respect for one another. Bran wargs into Hodor for the first time. And of course, the Red Wedding, which was a dark turning point on the show, killing off several of our main characters and truly capturing the loyalty of fans who no doubt all had their jaws drop by the end of it on their first watch.
The Children (S4 E10)
Why You Need To Watch: The masterful finale to an incredible season, The Children, focuses on exactly that. Dany is forced to lock away two of her three dragon children as they are wreaking havoc on her people. Bran (one of the Stark children) reaches the Heart Tree and meets one of the Children of the Forest, who take him and the others down to meet the Three-Eyed Raven. Cersei refuses to abide by her father’s wishes to marry Ser Loras, while Jamie disobeys his father by releasing Tyrion from prison; and then Tyrion ends up having to kill Shae and his father. Brienne also ends up finally finding Arya, fighting the Hound till he’s nearly dead. Afterward, Arya leaves him to bleed to death and then hops a boat bound for Braavos — a moment many of us were waiting for after the departure of Jaqen H’ghar.
Hardhome (S5 E8)
Why You Need To Watch: No doubt, Season 5 was the weakest season of the entire GOT series, but with it, we did get Hardhome — one of the most bone-chilling episodes of all time. Subplots involve seeing Arya develop in her training as a Faceless Man, Theon admitting to Sansa that her younger brothers are actually alive, and a level of trust is developed between Dany and Tyrion. Cersil learns from Qyburn that the High Sparrow has a strong case against and recommends a way around it. But what we recall the most though is the amazingly terrifying battle between the Wildlings and the undead, which Jon and the Wildlings lose for the most part. Quite possibly a sign of things to come.
The Door (S6 E5)
Why You Need To Watch: There are a few moving parts to this episode, like Sansa confronting Baelish for marrying her off to the sadistic and insanely cruel Ramsay, and Yara claiming the Salt Throne (and later having to escape with Theon and others, away from Euron). But undoubtedly, the most important parts happen within Bran’s consciousness, as he and the Three-Eyed Raven witness the creation of the Night King, followed by Bran himself becoming the new Three-Eyed Raven (and essentially dying himself in a way), and the devastating realization of how Hodor (formerly Wylis) became Hodor — holding a door so Bran and Meera could escape the wights, who can now find Bran anywhere in the world.
Battle of the Bastards (S6 E9)
Why You Need To Watch: This entire episode is extremely satisfying for a number of reasons. We have Dany and her dragons showing the Masters who is actually in charge (spoiler: not them). Yara and Theon finally meet Dany in Mereen to create an alliance. We nearly see Jon and the remaining Stark and Wildling force die at the hands of the Boltons until Sansa’s backup (the Tully’s) come in to save the day. And we FINALLY get to see Ramsay get his comeuppance.
The Winds of Winter (S6 E10)
Why You Need To Watch: We open with the highly anticipated death of Walder Frey at the hands of now-highly-trained assassin Arya. This is followed by a masterfully shot sequence complete with a haunting soundtrack that takes us from the murder of Maester Pycelle at the hands of the little birds; to the destruction of the Sept of Baylor and subsequent deaths of Margaery, her father and brother, the High Sparrow and his followers; and ends with the tragic suicide of King Tommen. We also see Cersei crowned Queen of the Realm, as well as, Jon named King in the North. Bran’s visions also reveal another major plot point: that Jon is not actually Ned Stark’s son. And the episode’s final scene, with Dany and her army crossing the sea on a ship, dragons flying overhead, is enough to give anyone chills.
Beyond the Wall (S7 E6)
Why You Need To Watch: This episode brings back a number of players back together again, including The Hound, Gendry, Beric Dondarrian, and Thoros of Myr, along with Tormund and Jon Snow. It’s almost like a stand-alone buddy adventure in some ways, except that it’s extremely dark and violent what with them all going beyond the wall (as the title suggests) in order to bring back a wight. The episode brings us the death of Thoros (which essentially means Beric is also now on his last life), and even more tragically, the death and undead transformation of one of Dany’s dragons: Viserion. We also finally have Jon pledge his allegiance to Dany, as well as the development of an obvious growing intimacy between the two.
The Dragon and The Wolf (S7 Ep7)
The final episode of season 7 is an important one. Daenerys and Jon Snow try to get Cersi to truce with them and work as allies to fight the Wights. They even bring her their captured Wight as evidence. Cersei initally agrees to the truce but only under the conditions that Jon stays in the north. But he announces that he has already pledged his allegiance to Queen Daenerys. Baelish continues plotting to get Sansa and her sister Arya against each other. But the two eventually work together to have him executed for murder and treason, something he didn’t see coming at all. On the ship, Tyrion watches Jon enter Dany’s room. Jon and Dany eventually make love to Dany and Bran shares a vision with Sam, that Jon is actually Ned Stark’s sister Lyanna Stark and Prince Rhaegar Targaryen’s son, the legitimate heir to the Targaryeon throne.
Feel free to refresh your memory of Ned Stark’s beheading, the Battle of Blackwater, Jamie and Brienne’s reluctant friendship throughout season 3 (especially when he loses his hand, helps rescue her from the bear, and their conversation in the baths), Joffrey’s death in the Lion and the Rose, Tyrion’s epic speech during Laws of Gods and Men, the fight between the Mountain and the Viper, the final moments of the Spoils of War… Oh, hell, just fast-forward through the whole show from now till Sunday night.