Before I start speaking blasphemy, I’ll begin by saying that Game of Thrones is one of the best shows on television – right now and ever. Year after year, it’s also one of the most watched television shows, which is impressive considering that it’s on a premium channel.
Game of Thrones is revolutionary and pushes the art of television forward in many ways, most notably in that it is a television show with film-like qualities. Some of the battle sequences are unlike anything you’ve ever seen on television before. This is, of course, because HBO forks out big money to produce this high quality programming. The reported budget for season 6 was $10 million per episode. With ten episodes, that rounded out to a whopping $100 million for just one season of television. It was worth it, as the latest season raked in viewers and awards alike.
Instead of continuing to sing its praises, I’ll cut to the chase. Game of Thrones has had some lackluster episodes during its time on the air. While a “bad” Game of Thrones episode is still light-years better than most other television shows, there are some GoT episodes that left fans unsatisfied. This can be for artistic choices, like Sansa’s infamous sex scene. Both fans and critics spoke out against the choice to focus on Theon instead of Sansa, but more on that later though. There can also be disappointing climaxes. With so much build up, if something doesn’t seem worthy of all the anticipation, it can be a major let down.
Long story short, not every Game of Thrones episode can be “The Winds of Winter” or “Battle of the Bastards". Below are 15 episodes of Game of Thrones that missed the mark. Sorry, fan boys.
15 Valar Morghulis (S2E10)
With the exception of season six, the final episode of every season is usually a little bit of a disappointment. Game of Thrones has a reputation of making episode 9 the most climatic episode. The ninth episode is usually when the jaw-dropping events happen. S1E9 was when Ned Stark lost his head. RIP Ned. We all still miss you. S2E9 was Battle of the Blackwater. That episode was marvelous for many reasons, one of which was watching The Hound say, “F**k the king." Rounding out an episode all about the masculinity of warfare was Sansa and Cersei’s discussions about being a woman, as they waited for the outcome of the battle. All in all, S2E9 was great. This may be why S2E10 missed the mark.
Here's what happened in S2E10: Margaery makes a play for Joffrey, which he accepts, publicly shaming Sansa, who isn't too upset about it. Tyrion wakes up with bandages on his face. Stannis is bummed that he lost. Robb marries Talisa against his mother’s advice. It was an episode that set up puzzle pieces for the next season, but did little as a whole.
The best part was watching Daenerys escape the House of the Undying through the power of her adorable, teeny dragons. Oh, and getting a little Khal Drogo via a magic fantasy scene was nice too. That was basically the high point of this episode.
14 Dark Wings, Dark Words (S3E2)
Episodes early in the season are very difficult to do well. Since the seasons usually build towards a singular climax, the early episodes can be all set up. When it’s done well, with action and loaded dialogue, it’s fun to watch. When it isn’t done well, it’s a bore. That is what happened with S3E2.
This snoozefest of an episode had some redeeming qualities. The scene in which Sansa meets with Olenna and Margaery is well done, as all three ladies are in their zones. Also, any scene with Olenna Tyrell can’t be bad. She’s a gem. Before this meeting with Olenna and Margaery, Sansa is escorted by Loras Tyrell. She’s clearly into him and has no idea that he’s gay. This further proves the point that Sansa Stark has the worst taste in men ever.
We also see Shae warning Sansa about Littlefinger, because Shae was a ho and knew a bad guy when she saw one, Shae and Tyrion flirting then having sex, and Margaery flirting with Joffrey by shooting his crossbow. There was a lot of flirting in this episode. Catelyn, Robb, and Talisa receive news that Rickon and Bran may be in trouble and they pray. Yep, we get to watch Catelyn praying. Arya is still on the road, as are Brienne and Jaime.
Aside from Sansa meeting Olenna, it’s an episode that can be skipped. Lots of flirting and praying.
13 Blood Of My Blood (S6E6)
The latest season of Game of Thrones had some great episodes. “The Winds of Winter” and “Battle of the Bastards” were high points in the series. However, “Blood of my Blood” was neither a high point in the series nor the season. It didn’t help that it had to follow the episode “The Door," in which Hodor meets his fate in one of the most tragic scenes of all time.
In this episode, Meera drags Bran along, running from the White Walkers. Just as it seems they will meet their end, Benjen Stark appears. He’s like half-White Walker, half-human, which is cool I guess. It wasn’t cool enough to save the episode, though.
Much of the episode centered on Sam and Gilly traveling to Sam’s home. Gilly had a She’s All That moment, after taking a bath for the first time ever and wearing a dress. Sam stole his father’s sword and was like, “We out.” Sam will most likely end up being more important than he seems, which is why they took the time to develop him through this episode. However, watching it was boring as hell.
Back in King's Landing, Jaime comes with an entire army to rescue Margaery from the High Sparrow, but nothing happens. Nothing! It turn out that Margaery has been drinking the Kool-Aid so Jaime just turns around. In a season of otherwise strong episodes, this stood out as bland.
12 The House Of Black And White (S5E2)
This is when Arya’s plot at the House of Black and White began, and that plot was boring AF. Okay, the whole plot wasn’t boring but it’s very slow, especially in this episode. Basically Arya just sits outside of the House of Black and White hoping to get in. It’s like she’s waiting to get into a really cool club in Las Vegas. She’s finally given entrance at the end of the episode. The end. We understand that they have to show just how difficult it is to get into the House of Black and White as well as Arya’s persistence, but if they could have done so in a way that was also entertaining that would have been awesome.
Meanwhile, Tyrion and Varys are traveling to see Dany. This was when Tyrion was on an emo bender after killing his father, who was a real asshole. It was some of the least entertaining Tyrion scenes to date. Meanwhile, Cersei worries about Myrcella and Ellaria wants to extract revenge for Oberyn’s death. Shireen teaches Gilly to reach. Blah blah blah, it’s all set up.
11 The Dance Of Dragons (S5E9)
Season 5 broke the rule of episode 9. Episode 9 is supposed to be the hottest episode of the season. It leaves everyone talking for weeks about a particular death or crazy battle sequence. In season 5 the battle sequence took place in episode 8 (“Hardhome”), during which a White Walker army attacks Jon and the wildlings. It was one of the most spectacular scenes on the show. Walkers were everywhere. Armies of Walkers were falling off mountains and rising. There were giants too. It was everything good about Game of Thrones.
Being that the 8th episode was great, the 9th episode ended up being a bit of a letdown. Jon comes back from his mission disappointed about all the men they lost. Jon Snow being sad, what a shocker! Arya rocks a horrible hairstyle and is supposed to kill a man with poisoned oysters. Instead, she sees Ser Meryn Trant, a name on her list. It’s Arya’s first kill off her list and it’s a great scene, but not enough to save the whole episode. Another great scene happens in Meereen, as Son of the Harpy attack. Dany's dragon saves her, as they always do. This was a spectacular scene, but it felt a bit empty. At this point, Dany survives every difficult situation with such ease because of her dragons. Yes, we like to watch the dragon special effects but it's one note by now.
Oh, Shireen is also burned at the stake. So, not only was this episode not great, but it was also heartbreaking. Killing off a nice, lovable character adds shock factor but cannot redeem an entire episode.
10 A Man Without Honor (S2E7)
Was anyone else really not into the Qarth storyline? The magic aspect was cool, but for the most part it wasn’t great. Sure, it made Dany realize that she has to be tougher and less trusting, but she (once again) got out of a sticky situation due to her dragons. Throughout the series, her dragons have been her ace card in her back pocket. While the dragons are fantastic and I want one for myself, it’s boring to watch someone always use this physical force as trump, especially when so many other characters use their wit and manipulation.
That aside, Dany is desperate to find her missing dragons in this episode. That’s pretty much it. Beyond the wall, Jon doesn’t have sex with Ygritte, but he totally wants to. Robb Stark flirts with Talisa, while Jaime Lannister strangles a member of Robb’s army and makes a run for it. In King’s Landing, Sansa gets her period. Yep, that’s about it. It was mostly a set-up episode. Definitely not the worst set-up episode, but it didn't offer too much beyond flirting and menstruation.
9 The Red Woman (S6E1)
How shall we describe this episode? Hm, okay. It’s like the first day back from summer vacation when you catch up with all of your friends. You find out what everyone was doing all summer, but in the flurry of social interactions you fail to have a meaningful conversation with anyone in particular. That was this episode. We met all our old friends and found out what they were up to, but we failed to have a meaningful scene.
With season 5 ending on such a shocking note, season 6 had to come back hard. Unfortunately, it failed. In this episode, Sansa and Theon run from Ramsay’s men and his dogs. It seems they are caught until Brienne and Podrick save the day. By the way, does anyone see a budding relationship between Podrick and Sansa or is it just me? Okay, the cheese stands alone. Whatever.
Arya isn’t much better off. She’s blind and being beat up by the Waif. Varys and Tyrion walk around Meereen. Dany is held by the Dothraki. Cersei mourns Myrcella. It’s all painfully boring. To top things off, Jon Snow is still presumed to be dead. This was such a cheap move by the show. We expect this sort of cliffhanger from The Walking Dead, but Game of Thrones had proved to be much most sophisticated than cheap tricks… until Jon's fake death.
Oh, and the big shocked at the end of this episode was that Melisandre is really old and not hot? Are you serious?
8 Laws Of Gods And Men (S4E6)
Before you riot, we’ll begin this entry by addressing the fact that this has one of the best Tyrion scenes on the show. While on trial for Joffrey’s murder, Tyrion gives one of the most epic speeches on the show, during which he says he wishes he had killed Joffrey. It’s on a whole other level. In fact, writing this, I want to watch that scene right now. However, it’s about the only scene from that episode worth watching.
The trail scene plays out slow and it’s painfully one note, as everyone betrays Tyrion in one way or another. The trial is only even there to lead up to the trial by combat, in which Oberyn and The Mountain face off. Meanwhile, Yara tries to rescue Theon, but fails. Boring. Ramsay plays more sadistic mind games with Theon, which had gotten boring. After a point, audience members get numb to the torture that Ramsay inflicts. Stannis and Davos look for money for their war effort. Dany’s dragons eat goats and piss people off. Boring and more boring.
It’s a shame that the other storylines couldn’t be better, because Tyrion’s scene deserved to be in a great episode.
7 The Climb (S3E6)
This is another episode with a scene so epic that helps us forget about how boring the rest of the episode is. The great scene we are talking about is, of course, the climb. Jon, Ygritte, and the wildlings climb the Wall when a massive crack threatens all of them. Threatened with his life, Tormund cuts the rope holding Jon and Ygritte. Jon, such a hero, saves the day. That was great, but then at the top, Ygritte and Jon look out at the horizon and kiss. It certainly could have done without the cheesy ending that made it into more of a Hollywood end than an episode of Game of Thrones. The climbing scene was still badass, though.
Meanwhile in King's Landing, Olenna and Tywin have a chess match of a conversation, which results in Cersei and Loras’ impending marriage. By the way, if Olenna and Tywin had hooked up back in the day, we’re pretty sure they would have ruled absolutely everything. Unaware that marriage plans have changed, Sansa flirts with Loras and talks about their wedding. Again, Sansa has the worst taste in men, ever.
The episode continues with a lot of talking, as Cersei and Tyrion discuss their new impending marriages, Cersei to Loras and Tyrion to Sansa. Then, Tryion breaks the news to Sansa – that she’ll be marrying him and not Loras. Sansa is clearly upset, because she has the worst taste in men. Tyrion is the catch of a century in Game of Thrones. Yeah, he might be a dwarf, but he’d be a better husband than almost any other male character. Melisandre takes Gendry and Arya is pretty pissed about it. Ramsay tortures Theon. But mostly, it's talking, talking, talking, and more talking.
6 No One (S6E8)
We’ve finally arrived at it. The worst episode of season 6. Sorry, fans. This episode was not good.
After Arya should have totally died, but somehow didn’t, she seeks refuge from Lady Crane. The Waif kills Lady Crane, who was actually a pretty interesting character, and then comes after Arya. They run, they fight, Arya wins.
It seems unlikely that Arya would beat the Waif, since the Waif is a better fighter and Arya was wounded. However, Arya leads her into a dark room and slices the candle, forcing the Waif to fight in darkness. Arya is skilled at fighting in total darkness, as she had to do so while blind. Arya's victory finally pays off the dragged out scenes of Arya getting her blind ass kicked. However, the pay off was not enough for us to forgive all the time we spent watching Arya be abused.
Meanwhile, the Hound meets up with the Brotherhood Without Banners. Tyrion proves to be the best enabler, as he convinces a reluctant Grey Worm and Missandei to drink with him. That scene between the three of them was good, but so clearly filler. Tommen announces that trial by combat is outlawed and Cersei looks pissed.
These scenes were overall lackluster, but the real WTF scenes took place in Riverrun. Riverrun suddenly matters to everyone. Honestly, we’re not too sure what even went down here besides Brienne and Jaime having some sexual tension.
5 The Watchers Of The Wall (S4E9)
Here is the weakest episode 9 in the series. Like we said, the 9th episode is usually epic and masterful. It leaves people discussing it in depth. It is the reason why people love the show. However, S4E9 failed the impress. In its defense, it had the odds stacked against it. It had to follow “The Mountain and the Viper," the episode in which Oberyn and the Mountain had their gruesome showdown.
After the showdown with tragic results (Miss you, Oberyn), we get this episode. This episode?! We only see the wildlings and the Night’s Watch. Um, hello. After the showdown between Oberyn and the Mountain, fans wanted to know what the hell was going down in King’s Landing. But hey, if we had to just watch the wildlings and the Night’s Watch at least the fight would be epic, right? Wrong.
Don’t get us wrong, it wasn’t the lamest fight sequence we’ve ever seen, but Game of Thrones had shown us much more exciting scenes earlier in the series. Pretty much besides the giant scene, this battle left audience members wanting more.
It was also the episode in which Ygritte dies in Jon Snow arms so if you cried during this lame episode, you’re not alone. That was definitely an emotional moment, but it wasn’t enough to elevate that fighting sequence. Considering S3E9 was "The Red Wedding," this episode did not follow up.
4 The Bear And The Fair Maiden (S3E7)
Here we are at the lowest point of season 3. Being that most of the GoT episodes receive a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, the fact that this episode scored only an 81% doesn’t make it look too great. Of course, 81% is better than most episodes of other shows but we’re talking Game of Thrones. The bar is high.
What happens? Well, Jon, Ygritte, and the wildlings walks and talk. (Lame.) Dany is off freeing slaves and making grand speeches. (Typical.) Theon has his penis cut off. Margaery tells Sansa to stop pouting about her impending marriage to Tyrion because he might be a good lover. This is why I loved Margaery. Also, Sansa should have totally listened, but instead she was still a pouty baby during her short-lived marriage to Tyrion. The most entertaining scene was when Brienne was thrown in a pit with a bear and Jaime saved her.
It's an episode that could easily be skipped, even if the bear scene was cool.
3 The Night Lands (S2E2)
Like we said, those episodes early in the season can be difficult to get right. Season 2 had a rather strong opening episode, which was great. After a nearly perfect first season, the show came back very strong. Unfortunately S2E2 couldn’t keep the momentum going.
In this episode, Arya tells Gendry she’s not a dude, because duh. Dany walks around the desert with her army. There is a lot of talking in King’s Landing. Like, a lot of talking. In one scene, Ros (the redhead prostitute) has trouble performing after she sees Robert Baratheon’s baby bastard killed in front of her. This prompts Littlefinger to tell her a story that is about 10 minutes long... like, actually 10 minutes long. Sure, the story was interesting and a loaded threat towards Ros, but we didn’t need to listen to a 10 minute story from Littlefinger. He talks too much as it is.
The least necessary scene is when Theon goes home and accidentally hits on his sister. We already tolerate the incest between Jaime and Cersei because it is fundamental to the story and their characters. This odd joke of Theon hitting on and feeling up Yara added nothing plot-wise and was quickly forgotten. GoT was just like ‘Hey, here’s another uncomfortable brother-sister scene.’
2 Lord Snow (S1E3)
In a nearly perfect first season, this episode was the lowest point, rated at just 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. In fact, season one is so masterfully done that this is the only S1 episode to even make this list. Season one must have been so good because it was the introduction to the world. It was a season full of intrigue and entertainment in nearly every episode… every episode except this one.
Ned and the Stark gang arrive in King’s Landing, where we meet some of the players like Littlefinger and Varys. Cersei talks to Joffrey. Ned talks to Sansa and Arya. Talking, talking, talking. Barristan Semy talks. Jaime talks. Everyone talks. The best thing going on in King’s Landing is the introduction of Syrio Forel, Arya’s teacher.
In Winterfell, Bran wakes up and talks. Jon arrives at Castle Black and has trouble fitting in, since he’s been classically trained while the other fighters, well, suck. Dany tells Drogo she’s pregnant. Viserys is an asshole.
It’s not a great episode, but the redeeming quality is that Ned Stark is in it. Being that he only appears in nine episodes in the entire series, it’s worth watching just to see some Ned screen time.
1 Unbowed Unbent Unbroken (S5E6)
Ah, the lowest scoring episode on Rotten Tomatoes with a 57%. Yes, guys, this episode is considered rotten.
In this episode, Arya trains at the House of Black and White, like she does for a million episodes. Jorah and Tyrion talk while they travel to Dany. Jaime and Bronn were still in the midst of their buddy comedy plot in Dorne. Loras and Margaery are arrested by the Faith Militant. So, some stuff happened that wasn't great or horrible.
Then, this happened… In the North, Sansa prepares to marry Ramsay. Myranda (Ramsay’s side piece) gives Sansa a bath and tries to intimidate her. Sansa tells Myranda that she is Sansa Stark of Winterfell and this is her home. Mic drop. Sansa is a boss and finally coming into her own. That was a great scene.
The final scene of the episode is what really bothered both fans and critics alike. After their wedding, Ramsay precedes to rape Sansa in front of Theon. Instead of concentrating on Sansa Stark, y’know the one being raped, the camera pans to Theon’s reaction. Theon was horrified, but Sansa's reaction to being raped was probably more important than the person merely spectating. This rape was also a plot that didn’t happen in the books, so it seemed to be unnecessarily torturous to the most virtuous female character on the show.
In defense of this plot, the Sansa/Ramsay story played out marvelously, with Sansa feeding Ramsay to his own dogs in season 6. If marrying the worst dude ever had to be done as part of her arc, we can get down with that – but it’s her arc, not Theon’s. The camera should have been on her. Why were we staring at Theon’s face as she was raped? We’ll never know.
There you have it. The 15 weakest episode of Game of Thrones. We're all looking forward to season 7 due out in Summer 2017, but will it have a weak episode in the mix? We hope not, especially considering the fact that this season will only have seven episodes, as opposed to the usual ten.