"A hall to die in, and men to bury me. I am a knight. I shall die a knight."
—Ser Barristan the Bold
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1 - Winter is Coming
The very first sequence of the series, that introduces viewers to the White Walkers, and shows why they are something to be feared.
When we see Bran practising archery, he's not doing great but he's trying his hardest. A few moments later, he pulls back his bowstring, and an arrow slams straight into the bullseye... from behind Bran, revealing it was Arya who managed to score a bullseye from further away than him.
Joffrey: The boy means nothing to me. And I can't stand the wailing of women.
Tyrion: One more word and I hit you again.
Joffrey: I'm telling mother!
Tyrion: Go. Tell her. But first you will get to Lord and Lady Stark, and you will fall on your knees in front of them and tell them how very sorry you are, that you are at their service and that all your prayers are with them. Do you understand?
Joffrey: You can't—
Tyrion: Do you understand?
The Hound just stands by and lets Tyrion slap Joffrey around with a look that screams "And not a single fuck was given that day." One can think that Sandor was quietly cheering Tyrion on.
Arya's direwolf biting Joffrey.
And before that, Bran's direwolf coming to his master's (and the Lady's) defense and promptly tearing out the throat of the assassin.
Arya hurling Joffrey's sword into the river was particularly cathartic.
Until it became evident that, if she had held onto it, the blood from Mycah's cheek still on the blade could have helped prove her side of the story.
Ned gets a subtle one when he tells Cersei, in no uncertain terms, that he refuses to let Sansa's direwolf Lady be killed by a heartless executioner and takes responsibility himself. And you can tell how much he's both bracing and hating himself for his actions, but still does it out of a sense of duty and mercy to the poor wolf. Also counts as Tear Jerker material.
Ned: (to Cersei) The wolf is of the North. She deserves better than your butcher.
Catelyn actually managing to catch Tyrion in a moment of Genre Blindness, setting him up slowly and steadily by calling upon members of various loyal houses in the Inn - just before accusing him of trying to assassinate Bran and asking that they take him into custody. It's a rare feat to get the drop on Tyrion.
5 - The Wolf and the Lion
First we have Loras Tyrell (aka the Knight of the Flowers) using an underhanded trick to beat Gregor "The Mountain" in a joustnote he brought a mare in heat to distract Gregor's stallion, which prompts Gregor to kill his horse painfully and charge at Loras... only to have his brother, The Hound, intervene. Not only does the scarred man fight his older brother to a standstill, he even immediately acknowledges the King's command to stop, kneeling down so that his brother's blade slashes through the air over his head!
The fight against the Mountain clan warriors. Tyrion (who for reference is about three feet tall) takes down an armored man with nothing but a shield in combat. Even better that it was the first time he killed someone with his own hands. The actor conveys his mix of pride, happiness and fear with one perfect expression.
While the best moment in the fight against the Mountain clan was Tyrion's, Ser Rodrik and Bronn do pretty well in the fight as well, the former taking a hit to the back and walking it off, the latter ending the fight without a scratch on him.
The duel between Eddard and Jaime at the end of episode five, sadly cut short by a spear to the former's leg.
Which obviously pisses Jaime off, as he proceeds to punch the soldier responsible in the face.
It was almost a missed Crowning Moment, because Ned damn near defeated Jaime, who'd made short work of Ned's Lancer, the much younger Jory, not even two minutes ago. Ned's at least a good decade to a decade-and-a-half older than Jaime, the Memetic Badass of Westeros, and he matches Jaime blow for blow and it even looks like he might win when he was stabbed...
And the nicest thing about it? It is canon, GRRM was present at its filming and said he gave the fight his green light because he approved of it. That's right, Lord Eddard Stark can match blades with Jaime 'The Kingslayer' Lannister. Jaime also walks out with a great deal of respect for the guy, as is evidenced on how he references him when Tywin receives order to appear at court to explain Gregor Clegane's un-knightly actions.
6 - A Golden Crown
"You shall have a golden crown, that men shall tremble to behold." Beware those Exact Words. It goes to show that while Drogo may be a barbarian, you do NOT threaten a Papa Wolf's wife and unborn child with a blade. And Daenerys shows that she has grown, too. Viserys had spent the entire series up until that point abusing her emotionally. But when he looks at her for mercy, he gets an expression that could have been chiseled from solid stone.
Renly: Which days, exactly? The ones when half of Westeros fought the other half and millions died? Or before that, when the Mad King slaughtered women and babies because the voices in his head told him they deserved it? Or way before that, when dragons burnt whole cities to the ground?
Robert: Easy boy, you might be my brother, but you're speaking to the king.
Renly: I suppose it was all rather heroic, if you were drunk enough and had some poor Riverlands whore to shove your prick inside and "make the eight."
Ser Barristan Selmy's reaction during Renly's rant shows that he completely agrees with the younger brother.
The Greyjoys. They rule the Iron Islands. Their symbol is the Kraken. Their castle is called Pyke. The Kraken is a motif throughout their kingdom, carved onto fireplaces etc. They worship The Drowned God. Their rituals use salt water. Their words "We Do Not Sow" (i.e. "We steal your shit") are praised in-story for their awesomeness.
He certainly has one of the more memorable lines in the show thus far.
"There is only one god, and his name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: 'Not today.'"
Old Nan's speech about winter and the White Walkers. An amazing capper to the career of Margaret John.
Catelyn does this again when she meets Tyrion, whom she suspects hired the assassin that tried to kill Bran, in an Inn. In one Badass Boast, she manage to rally the men in the Inn who just so happen to have served her father and tells them to capture Tyrion!
This gets better in the next episode: despite making the arrest right on the spot with no plan, she had the presence of mind to announce that she was taking Tyrion to Winterfell, when she actually planned to take him to the Eyrie, leaving anyone trying to rescue him to look in the wrong place.
Jon asks everyone to take it easy on Samwell, and one recruit doesn't agree. That night, Jon pays him a visit along with his wolf, and the next day he's fully committed to helping Samwell.
Arya gets confused for a beggar by two palace guards. This is her response:
Arya Stark: My father is Hand of the king. I'm not a boy, I'm Arya Stark of Winterfell. And if you lay a hand on me, my father will have both your heads on spikes. Now, are you going to let me by, or do I need to smack your head on the ear to improve your hearing?
Bronn's fight to win Tyrion's freedom, followed by casually accepting that he doesn't fight with honor...which is why he won.
Robert finally has enough of Cersei's bull and slaps her. Misogynistic, yet gratifying.
Cersei: I shall wear this like a badge of honor.
Robert: Wear it in silence or I'll "honor" you again.
Khal Drogo's Rousing Speech declaring that he'll cross the ocean, conquer the Seven Kingdoms, crush his enemies, see them driven before him, and hear the lamentations of the women. Do not anger the Papa Wolf.
"And to my son, the stallion who will mount the world, I will also pledge a gift. I will give him the iron chair that his mother's father sat upon. I will give him the Seven Kingdoms. I, Drogo, will do this. I will take my Khalasar west to where the world ends and ride wooden horses across the black salt water as no Khal has done before. I will kill the men in iron suits and tear down their stone houses. I will rape their women, take their children as slaves, and bring their broken gods back to Vaes Dothrak. This, I vow. I, Drogo, son of Bharbo! I swear before the Mother of Mountains, as the stars look down in witness. As the stars look down in witness!"
Cersei Lannister ripping up Robert's will and managing to secure Joffrey as king and herself as queen regent, solidifying her as a woman fans Love to Hate.
Robb's response to his summoning to King's Landing to bend the knee. "I'll go to King's Landing, but not alone. Call the banners". When Luwin asks "all of them?", Robb's firm answer subtly fills the Maester with pride and lights his face.
Drogo killing a horde member who insulted Dany by slicing his throat open and ripping his tongue out of the hole, refusing to let getting sliced across the chest interrupt his Badass Boast in the process.
The guy pulls out a BFS and Drogo pulls out knives then he drops them because he wants to kill the guy with his bare hands.
Drogo: I will not have your body burned. I will not give you that honor. The beetles will feed on your eyes. The worms will crawl through your lungs. The rain will fall on your rotting skin until nothing is left of you but bones!
Robb letting a captured Lannister spy go - not as an act of mercy, but so that he can deliver a message to Tywin Lannister:
Becomes even more awesome once it's revealed that this seemingly straightforward Badass Boast is actually part of an enormously clever plan: it makes Tywin think that he's bringing the whole army down to face him, when in reality Robb sends only two thousand men to meet Tywin and takes the rest around to surprise Jaime, managing to capture the freaking Kingslayer himself in the process. Hell. Yes.
He also manages to completely shatter the 30,000 strong army that Jaime had with him. Precisely half of the Lannister army's standing manpower.
Then tossing his sword in front of Joffrey and contemptuously telling him to melt it down and add it to his throne.
Mere seconds before, Littlefinger made a joke about Barristan being a naked knight as he's taking off his cloak and gloves. Everyone starts laughing, when Barristan pulls out his sword. Everyone stopped laughing. Littlefinger in particular looks as if he's about to break down in tears and beg Barristan for mercy (or use Varys as a human shield).
The Greatjon gets uppity at Robb. Grey Wind takes him down a peg.
Your meat... is bloody tough!
When Tyrion and Bronn are ambushed by the hill tribes. They're out numbered, surrounded, and only Bronn has a sword. Tyrion first talks the hill tribe out of killing him with a joke. Then saves Bronn's life and turns the hill tribes to his own personal army, just by talking.
Tyrion: The Lords of the Vale spit upon you. The Lords of the Vale want me dead. I think it's time for some new Lords of the Vale.
Lord Stark's retort to Baelish:
Littlefinger: Gold wins wars.
Ned: Then how come Robert is king, and not Tywin Lannister?
Tyrion gets a small one when he gives a Rousing Speech to the hill tribes just before they go into battle. By the end of it, they're cheering him.
Tribesmen: Halfman! Halfman! Halfman!
Sansa finally grows a backbone and tells Joffrey that Robb might give her his head. And then she's prepared to push him off a bridge until the Hound stops her.
Joffrey: After I raise my armies and kill your traitor brother, I'll give you his head as well.
Sansa: Or maybe he'll give me yours.
The sheer Tranquil Fury in Sophie Turner's voice, as well as the Kubrick Stare she gives Joffrey, really sell this scene, and raised Sansa's stock with a lot of people. Especially since immediately after she tries to shove Joffrey off the balcony, and even though it doesn't work it proves once and for all that Sansa really is a Stark.
Arya thoroughly intimidating one of the Night's Watch recruits she takes up with, talking about how much she loves killing fat boys.
The final scene of season one, where Daenerys gives a Badass Boast to a bunch of recently freed slaves that their enemies will "die screaming" if they team up with her, then burns Mirri Maz Duur on Drogo's funeral pyre before walking in herself.
The next morning, as the music swells, Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, rises naked from the ashes of her husband's funeral pyre, the first three dragons to be seen in generations curled around her in a manner reminiscent of Botticelli's "Birth of Venus".◊ Ser Jorah and what remains of her khalasar fall to their knees in awe and reverence. Cut to black.
Mirri Maz Duur herself arguably has one. As she points out to Daenerys, Rhaego was prophesied to be a great conqueror, and by killing him in the womb she may have saved countless lives — in addition to avenging her own rape and the enslavement of her peaceful tribe in the process.
Catelyn promising Robb that after saving Arya and Sansa they will wipe out the Lannisters
Really, Catelyn in that whole scene. She walks through the camp totally proud and calm, and you wonder if she hasn't heard yet or something...then the moment she's out of view of the men, she just collapses. And then she hears Robb and puts away her grief to go comfort him.
Sam refusing to get out of Jon's way when he rides out of Castle Black.
Jeor Mormont's speech after telling Jon they'll be riding beyond the wall., after Jon has spent the whole season whining about his problems and how no one can understand them.
Jon Snow, intending to desert the Night's Watch to ride beside his brother, being caught and reminded in no uncertain terms by his friends Pyp and Grenn and even self-avowed coward Sam Tarly that he took an oath. Nicely summed up by Commander Mormont in the following scene, in which Jon objects to Mormont's statement that honor brought him back.
Jon Snow: It was my friends that brought me back.
Jeor Mormont: I didn't say it was your honor.
And, of course, their having reminded him of his duties by reciting the Night Watch's Badass Creed, the oath he'd taken upon becoming a member.
Sansa gets a quiet, subtle one in the final episode— after bowing and scraping to the Lannisters for much of the season, she shows the first act of defiance when Joffrey shows her the castle wall adorned with the heads of her father and the members of her House. It's clear that Joffrey is very disappointed by her reaction:
Sansa: (showing no emotion whatsoever) How long do I have to look?
Septa Mordane gets a very subtle one when the Lannister troops begin killing all of the Stark household. She hears them coming, tells Sansa to hide, and then calmly advanced toward them. The real amazing part is that in spite of there being four of them, with bloody swords in hand, when they see this single old, unarmed woman calmly striding toward them, the four soldiers stop and start very slowly backing away. Though she still ends up getting killed, the fact that her silent acceptance and defiance actually gives armed soldiers who were butchering others before her pause is pretty damned awesome.
THE KING IN THE NORTH!
Ned resigning as Hand of the King and telling Robert off for ordering Daenerys's assassination, even when everyone else on the council disagrees with him.
Considering how misogynistic and sexist Westerosi society is, Renly's acceptance of Brienne into his Kingsguard is quite astounding, and this act alone makes him one the most progressive characters on the series. Everyone (except perhaps Catelyn) around him is unhappy with the decision, and he could've very easily refused Brienne's request, saying something along the lines of, "I wish I could give you the position, but only men may serve as a Kingsguard." But Renly defies his followers' expectations in favour of publicly showing his respect and admiration for a warrior who has proven herself worthy. Even Loras' sulking and Lysistrata Gambit afterwards doesn't change the king's mind.
Also note that after Brienne defeats Loras in the melee, Renly is the only person who claps and smiles for her. After she is appointed to his Kingsguard, watch Renly carefully as he applauds. He actually winks◊ at Brienne to further communicate his warmth and reassurance that he's on her side, regardless of the others' negative reaction.
Brienne thinking outside the box, and fighting dirty to win her duel with Loras.
Catelyn putting all of Renly's knights, along with Ser Loras, in their place with one line. And best of all, judging by Renly's smile, he agrees.
"My son is fighting a war, not playing at one."
4 - Garden of Bones
The scene where Tyrion saves Sansa. He shuts down Joffery simply by showing up, making the bastard recoil in worry, warns him that being a king is no source of protection (citing the moment when Jaime murdered the Mad King). Tyrion is the only person in the world Joffrey is actually afraid of. Tyrion. Let that sink in for a minute. And when Ser Meryn tries to accuse him of threatening the King, his simple response that confirms the little man is the most powerful person in the room:
"Bronn, the next time Ser Meryn speaks, kill him. (pause) That was a threat. See the difference?"
When Littlefinger arrives at Renly's camp Margaery offers to show him around the campsite. As they walk, Littlefinger makes jabs at her marriage to Renly and the fact that her husband is sleeping with her brother Loras. Margaery, having previously shown that she doesn't mind Renly's sexual preference or his affair with her brother, doesn't get upset, barely reacts to his remarks, and then tells him to piss off (in much more polite language, of course) before walking away with a smile on her face. Margaery, you are one classy lady.
Renly's ability to turn Melisandre's oh-so serious prophecy into on the one of the best jokes of the series.
Renly: "Born amidst salt and smoke"... Is he a ham?
Tyrion revealing he knows Lancel is Cersei's glorified bed warmer, and threatening to spill the beans to Joffrey. He gets the lad down on his knees and essentially tells Lancel "you're my bitch now".
Hot Pie looking Gregor Clegane in the eye as he picks who gets tortured to death. Yes, he had been told that it could save his life, but still, that took guts.
5 - The Ghost of Harrenhal
Brienne cutting down two of her fellow Kingsguard brothers with ease when they attack her believing that she had killed Renly, and she's still in shock from his death. Not only that, but she keeps a clear enough head to know the best way to get out of the camp and make a clean getaway.
Loras has this moment even when he's grieving over Renly, who was killed by Melisandre's shadow demon, but only Catelyn and Brienne had witnessed it. Margaery is quick to accuse Brienne because she fled, but Loras defends her even though he felt humiliated being defeated by the Maid of Tarth in the melee. He knows Brienne would have never hurt Renly and rightfully puts the blame on Stannis.
7 - A Man Without Honor
Arya may have overstepped herself as Tywin's Morality Pet, but the fact that she still manages to have a proper conversation with someone so far above her and actually point out where he's wrong without losing his favour is very impressive.
After having a few moments in other episodes where she seems to channel Viserys' unjustified confidence in Targaryen superiority and their "right" to rule Westeros, Daenerys fully proves how different she is from her blinkered and unreflecting brother by showing that she has actually taken the Spice King's observations to heart.
9 - Blackwater
The beginning of the episode, Davos walks up the steps of a ship, while the song 'Warrior of Light' is playing. Then we see the entire Baratheon fleet and Stannis with a glare cold enough to freeze volcanoes.
Sansa's conversation with Tyrion before the Battle of Blackwater, in which she lets the only Lannister smart enough to pick up on it know exactly what she thinks of him:
Sansa: I pray for your safe return.
Tyrion: (pleased) Do you?
Sansa: Yes. Just as I pray for our king.
And Tyrion only grimaces at this: he's actually impressed. At a stretch, this could potentially work another direction, assuming that Sansa believes the rumor about Joffrey's parentage. By "our king" she could be repeating the same trick her father used when putting "the rightful heir" into Robert's will... meaning she actually likes Tyrion.
Or she was just praying that Stannis would win.
Stannis' rampage on the walls of King's Landing. What really defines this moment of pure badassery? Stannis leads from the front. The first ladder to be set against the wall, he scales, and he is the very first man up that ladder, braving swords and spears and arrows and hurled rocks to be the first man to hit the wall and just start cleaving through Lannister troops. There's no doubt in anyone's mind that Stannis has earned his place as one of the five kings.
Even after it became apparent his army was going to lose, Stannis had to be dragged off the battlefield kicking and screaming.
Tyrion, Bronn and Hallyne destroying most of Stannis' fleet with wildfire. More than just a crowning moment for the characters, it was a crowning moment for the producers as well. The massive fireball that engulfs the fleet is an UNBELIEVABLY awe-inspiring sight which really shows off how they made best use of the extra money they got for this episode.
Bronn casually saving the Hound's life despite the two of them being about to kill one another before the battle began. Bronn then proceeds to kill several other Mooks within the span of a few seconds. The said Mook , as well. On fire, dying, and still attacking the Hound head on. Even Sandor himself is too shocked to act (though it's implied that's because he himself almost burned to death as a child).
Sansa trying to goad Joffrey into fighting on the frontlines by comparing it to her brother.
Sandor Clegane deserting to the tune of, "Fuck the King." Even better: seeing Joffrey utterly and completely deflate after the fact.
Tyrion taking over the troops after Joffrey runs away in disgrace, entering the battle by slicing off the leg of the man in charge of the battering ram.
Sansa taking over as the leader of the women, after Cersei proves to be horrible at the job.
Shae telling Sansa to run; "No one is raping me," she says, showing the knife she has tied to her leg.
When Sansa flees, Shae gives Ilyn Payne the mother of all Death Glares, as if to say: "Yeah, just try and go after her. See what happens."
Podrick saving Tyrion after a member of the Kingsguard turns on him, stabbing the man through the head from behind.
Tywin and Loras teaming up to save the day. The cavalry charge, led by the Knight of Flowers in disguise as his dead lover, was beautifully shot in slow-motion.
Hearing 'The Rains of Castamere' sung both by the Lannnister soldiers and over the credits as an end to an amazing episode. It's also an Awesome Moment for Bronn, who proves that he's even good at singing.
Cersei putting Littlefinger in his place by showing how easily she can have him killed. "Power is power."
Of course Littlefinger does get her subtly back, since she indeed doesn't kill him; his knowledge is too powerful to throw away like that.
Littlefinger is so awesome in this scene you actually root for him - the series' resident Magnificent Bastard at his best. In response to Cersei's put-downs regarding his unimpressive lineage and the fact that as a child he had feelings for Catelyn Stark, he calmly turns the conversation around to the fact that brothers and sisters are susceptible to the same feelings. The mere fact that he manages to provoke her into lashing out counts as this trope.
Mellisandre taking a drink of poison after she's seen it start to affect Maester Cressen, just to make a point of her power being real.
Robb intimidating Jaime with Grey Wind, the first time we see a full-grown direwolf.
Not to mention not long after that, when he sends his terms to the Lannisters via Alton. "Third, Joffrey and the Queen Regent must renounce all claim to dominion of the North. From this time, to the end of time, we are a free and independent kingdom. Neither Joffrey nor any of his men shall set foot in our lands again. If he disregards this command, then he shall suffer the same fate as my father. Only, I don't need a servant to do my beheading for me."
Joffrey gets one after Cersei slaps him, showing that he's not going to be her puppet.
Sansa and the Hound quickly tag-teaming Joffrey to not only spare Ser Dontos a horrible death, but actually spare him outright and appoint him court fool.
Although, in the Hound's case, it seemed to be more about protecting Sansa.
Tyrion crashing Joffrey's name day party, verbally slapping him when he insults Ned in front of Sansa, before strolling into the Small Council where he announces himself as acting Hand and lays into Cersei for letting Joffrey screw things up so badly. And the smugness as he points out that for once he's the one in their father's good graces is just icing on the cake.
Even though he's a cruel, evil bastard, Balon Greyjoy still becomes badass as all hell when he announces: "No man gives me a crown. I pay the iron price. I will take my crown. That is who I am. That is who we have always been."
Tyrion gives Janos Slynt a brief "The Reason You Suck" Speech over his honorless betrayal of Ned Stark and his part in The Purge at the end of the previous episode, then reveals that he's replaced him as Commander of the City Watch with Bronn, before having him dragged off by his own former soldiers to be shipped off to the Night's Watch. Bonus points for never raising his voice or losing his calm during any of this.
Tyrion has another moment earlier in the episode. He walks into his private chambers, only to find Varys there, chatting up Shae. Varys comments on how lovely Shae is, and what a shame it would be if Tywin found out about her — at which point Tyrion coolly reminds Varys that unlike Ned Stark, Tyrion understands how the backstabbing politics in King's Landing work, and if Varys threatens him again, Tyrion will make him pay.
Varys gets a bigger one as his Take That he calmly tells Tyrion that other men have tried to kill him before and reminds him that no matter what political or violent turmoil happens in King's Landing he always survives
Varys more subtly implies that, powerful and savvy though Tyrion may be, the Master of Whisperers is not to be trifled with through easily missed body language: when Tyrion holds the door closed to confront Varys, he uses his whole hand and some of his weight to intimidate Varys. When Varys holds the door closed to counter Tyrion's threat, he uses a single finger.
Yoren and his knife that's sharp enough to shave a spider's arse, refusing to let the Gold Cloaks take Gendry. Also the rest of the group slowly converging on the two Goldcloaks threateningly with polearms and then staying silent to protect Gendry, even if it's somewhat spoiled by some of them reconsidering later.
After the awesomeness of Tyrion giving Joffrey a well-deserved smacking in season 1, how does he follow up? By making a huge splash as Hand of the King in the King's Landing political scene, simultaneously showing balls and a sharp mind by outperforming the three resident Magnificent Bastards at their own game and outright defeating one of them (Pycelle).
Yoren's You Shall Not Pass against Amory Lorch's men, starting with killing the guy who shot him.
Yoren: I've always hated crossbows. Take too long to load!
Followed by a very impressive piece of quick thinking by Arya to keep Gendry hidden.
Theon's scenes following the revelation that he must choose his loyalties swiftly because the Ironborn are going to war against the North and House Stark with or without him. Not particularly an awesome moment for Theon, but a brilliant piece of cinematography, acting and storytelling (and perhaps the highlight of the episode):
It begins with Theon sitting at a table having written a warning letter to Robb Stark of the impending Greyjoy invasion. The entire room is pitch dark, save for Theon himself and the writing table, illuminated by a single candle. Theon stares at the letter as he weighs his decisions to either support his adopted family or his biological family while a somber rendition of the Stark theme plays in the background...to be abruptly interrupted by the beginnings of the Greyjoy theme as Theon's gaze falls on the candle. Theon proceeds to burn the warning letter as darkness envelopes the scene until only he is visible, holding up the burning paper as if watching his years spent in Winterfell turned to ash. The Greyjoy theme rises and stands strong in the next scene as we see Theon at his "baptism" of the Drowned God on the windswept shores of Pyke, surrounded by his father, his sister, his uncle Aeron/a Drowned God Priest and attending bannermen as he takes his place in the war to come, noticeably conflicted but resolute in proving to Balon that he truly belongs with House Greyjoy.
"Let Theon your servant be born again from the sea as you were. Bless him with salt, bless him with stone, bless him with steel. What is dead may never die, but rises again, harder and stronger."
Theon Calling the Old Man Out. True, it didn't accomplish much, but it's the one time we actually see Balon Greyjoy show any kind of remorse for his actions.
A hidden one for Sansa during her dinner with Cersei and her two children. Cersei asks her what she will do once the war is won and Sansa responces she will meet the king happily and show her love for him. Read between the lines and you notice she never says Joffrey. She is clearly thinking of her brother Robb, the King in the North. But since she never says it Cersei can't accuse her of anything infront of her two children.
Not just that, but she says she'll do it in front of the Gods. She doesn't mean the Faith of the Seven, she means the Godswood, her family's gods. She's playing along for now, but she's a Stark, not a Lannister.
Daenerys has finally had enough, and outright threatens the Thirteen of Qarth to let her khalasar into the city - impressing Xaro enough to vouch for her.
Catelyn pulling a knife on Littlefinger.
What makes this scene great is the fact that one of Littlefinger's motivations for betraying Ned was so he would have a chance to woo Catelyn. This scene, however, makes it very clear to that Magnificent Bastard that his beloved Cat now knows just what kind of man he is and hates his guts for betraying her husband. In that moment it is made clear to him that he absolutely will not have his way in this regard, in spite of all of his manipulations.
Who would have thought Tywin Lannister would have a (sort of) Big Damn Heroes moment? But he does, even if he doesn't know it. He also manages to see through Arya's disguise almost at once.
Not to mention calling out his men for wasting perfectly good workers for the sake of pointless torture. Tywin may be evil, but at least he has a brain in his skull.
Sansa walking out of the throne room with her head held high after being beaten and stripped in front of everyone there. Even Tyrion is impressed.
Tyrion: Lady Stark, you may survive us yet.
Robb winning at Oxcross. Though we don't actually see it, when several thousand Northmen scream THE KING IN THE NORTH! in unison, you know asses are about to be kicked.
One for the opening credits: after twelve straight episodes of that same pan to King's Landing and then Vaes Dothrak (which wasn't even accurate for more than half of them) it's quite something to see the camera instead swoop high above the map, pass over the sun astrolabe, and land on Qarth.
Arya, incognito as Tywin Lannister's serving girl, is grilled by him for the Northerners views on Robb Stark, during which she, a girl not even in her teens, gets a solid serve on the most fearsome man in the kingdoms.
Tywin: And what do they say of Robb Stark in the North?
Ayra: They call him the young wolf. They say he rides into battle on the back of a giant Direwolf. They say he can turn into a wolf himself when he wants. They say he canít be killed.
Tywin: [smiling to himself] And do you believe them?
Ayra: No, my Lord. [staring right at him]. Anyone can be killed.
[Beat. Tywin's smirk turns to a very cold Death Glare. Arya keeps looking him in the eye]
Tywin: Fetch that water.
Double props for Maisie Williams being good enough to act opposite to a veteran like Charles Dance.
Even after Joffrey had at least one subject mutilated for publicly insulting his family, a street preacher is seen publicly shouting out much worse for all to hear, even the guards and passing Lannisters.
Street preacher: Brother fornicates with sister in the bed of kings, and we're surprised when the fruit of their incest is rotten?! YES! A rotten king!
Street preacher: A dancing king! Prancing down his blood-stained halls, to the tune of a twisted DEMON MONKEY!
Tyrion setting things up for the future:
"You will no longer be making wildfire for my sister. You will be making it for me."
Jaqen H'ghar giving Arya her first death. Specifically, the knowing look he gives her afterward.
The funny part is how nonchalant he is, eating an apple like nothing happened.
The best part is how it plays out. After receiving the name from Arya, Jaqen apparently intends to bide his time and carry out the assassination with careful planning, but Arya, who was desperate to prevent Lorch from speaking to Tywin, keeps screaming in his ear to get it done "NOW!", and he reluctantly obliges. The scene then immediately cuts to Lorch strolling through the door and looking Tywin right in the eye, and it's apparently already too late...until he promptly drops dead at Tywin's feet.
Gets better in the next episode, where it is clear that despite interrogating and hanging many people, Tywin is no closer to working out who killed Lorch.
Osha sleeps with Theon and then seduces and kills a guard, so that she can help Bran, Rickon, Hodor, Summer and Shaggy Dog escape from an occupied Winterfell.
The unnamed Spice King repeatedly shooting down Daenerys' attempts at Badass Boasting are a nice reminder of the fact that, even though she has dragons, she is not a queen yet, and is still entirely dependent on the goodwill of others, and consequently her Viserys-esqueYoung Conqueror pretensions aren't all that impressive under the circumstances.
Xaro Xhoan Daxos ascending to Magnificent Bastard-dom by declaring himself king of Qarth, while he and Pyatt Pree kill the rest of the Thirteen. And he has Daenerys well over a barrel too.
Jaime's ability to remain a JerkassDeadpan Snarker even when faced with being imminently lynched by an angry mob is quite impressive. Also, his pointing out the Logic Bomb of the contradictory vows he had to make may not have gained him any sympathy with Catelyn and Brienne, but neither could they come up with a good counter to it.
Maester Luwin showing that he has not forgotten how to be a Deadpan Snarker when he points out how unsuccessful Theon's hunt for Bran and Rickon has been "So far, hunting seems little different from riding."
Catelyn doing a bit of Shaming the Mob to save Jaime, despite (as she points out) having just as much reason to hate him as anybody else.
HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN ME, SER?
Everything Lord Rickard Karstark says and does.
Also, Jaime's expression while he's talking. He's almost nodding along: "Huh, you know what, good point." Deadpan snarking under pressure.
Shae pulls a knife on one of the queen's informants to protect the secret that Sansa's now able to bear Joffrey's children, calling to mind the bit in the last season she threatened Tyrion if he ever mentioned her family again, and now we see that she probably meant every word of it. The fact that the queen found out through other means in no way diminishes the awesomeness of Shae's actions here. Her protecting Sansa also has an entry on the Crowning Moment of Heartwarming page, given how willing she is to stick her neck out for Sansa despite having no real reason to like her.
Arya misses the chance to sic Jaqen on Tywin, but she more than makes up for it when, in order to get Jaqen to help her, Gendry and Hot Pie escape Harrenhal, she names...Jaqen himself. And stands her ground in the face of his growing annoyance and anger, even giving him a tiny little shrug. "A man can go kill himself."
And that shrug is in response to Jaqen saying she doesn't have honor. She's really learned from her father's mistakes.
Only topped by the moment when Arya puts her faith in Jaqen and walks towards the gates despite the fact that there are Lannister guards apparently on duty. Only when they get closer do they realise that Jaqen has already killed them all and just propped them up to look like they were still alive.
Tyrion thinks that Cersei has captured Shae and is aghast and panic stricken - and then the guards drag in Ros. Tyrion does not let his guard fall to show his immense relief for even a second, continuing to play the game and utterly dupe Cersei. There's a meta moment worked in as well, because this scene is a complete masterpiece of acting on Peter Dinklage's part.
Pretty much anything Yara does. She's a woman in a medieval setting, but she has twice her brother's balls and thirty ships under her command; thirty ships of Iron Islanders, who respect strength and capability, nothing less. She didn't get where she is because of her noble blood; she got there because she's damn good at what she does.
Yara's speech to Theon, in which she tears into him about how he treated her before he realized she was his sister. He's furious with her for not telling him and making him look like a fool. She coolly replies that she didn't tell him because she wanted to see what kind of man he was. She then quite accurately points out that he had every opportunity to ask her name and family, and she would have told him; but all he cared about was molesting who he thought was an everyday, lowborn woman...who was helping him, out of the kindness of her heart, when nobody else gave a damn. It's pretty satisfying to see Theon, a womanizer at best, taken down a few pegs.
Theon's amazing speech to his men. Even though they betray him right after he finishes.
Theon: You hear that? That's the mating call of the Northmen! They want to fuck us! Well, I haven't had a good fuck in weeks! I'm ready for one! They say every ironborn man is worth a dozen from the mainland. You think they're right? We die today brothers! We die bleeding from a hundred wounds with arrows in our necks and spears in our guts! But our warcries will echo through eternity! They will sing about the Battle of Winterfell until the Iron Islands have slipped beneath the waves! Every man, woman, and child will know who we were and how long we stood! Aggar and Gelmar! Wex and Urzen! Styg and Black Lorren! Ironborn warriors will cry out our names as they leap onto the shores of Seagard and Faircastle! Mothers will name their sons after us! Girls will think of us with their lovers inside them! AND WHOEVER KILLS THAT FUCKING HORNBLOWER WILL STAND IN BRONZE ABOVE THE SHORES OF PYKE! WHAT IS DEAD MAY NEVER DIE!
Dagmer even notes that the reason they didn't immediately turn on Theon was because it was a good speech and he didn't want to interrupt.
Dany's dragons, breathing deadly fire for the first time, killing the real Pyat Pree and freeing themselves and Dany.
What really makes it awesome is the way the fire erupts. Most fantasy depictions of dragonfire involves a steady stream of flame, like a flamethrower. When these dragons breath fire, it comes out in a barrage of rapid bursts of small fireballs, almost like flaming machinegun fire, and makes it suitably more awesome for it.
Dany and her khalasar robbing Xaro blind after imprisoning him in his own vault.
On a more out-of-universe level, the spine-tingling sight of Emilia Clarke in the Red Keep set.
Brienne is outnumbered three to one by the Northmen, but manages to dispatch them all in about three seconds. And she has a particularly fitting fate in store for one: "Two quick deaths?" Jaime is impressed...although that's not necessarily a good thing.
"I don't serve the Starks...I serve Lady Catelyn."
And after that she tells him to "stay", much like she would a dog - and he does.
Though the moment of the reveal rather negates it, a Fridge one for Xaro Xhoan Daxos rising to such power in Qarth on literally nothing.
Davos Seaworth's return to Dragonstone. Even though it ends with him getting thrown in the dungeons, it's heavily implied that he's the only one with enough balls to call Stannis and Melisandre out on moping and burning prisoners alive, instead of continuing to fight the war.
The scene of Davos' rescue; when asked who he serves, Davos, after only a moment of doubt, proudly proclaims to serve "the true king" Stannis Baratheon. While he could have simply said Stannis or Joffrey and hope for mercy if they belong to the other side, he went all the way to show his true loyality, even after having been stranded on a tiny rock for days.
Ser Bronn being more than willing to cut through Ser Meryn Trant and another Kingsguard if they get in his way after telling them just what he thinks of them.
Ser Meryn: You're an up-jumped cutthroat, nothing more.
Bronn: That's exactly who I am. And you're a grub in fancy armor who's better at beating little girls than fighting men.
The first time you see the giant in Rayder's camp. Just... wow.
Jon's reaction says it all, being a mixture of "We are so screwed!" and "Why don't we have those?!"
During the trip back to the palace from the sept, Margaery Tyrell (seemingly) whimsically stops the entire procession so she can visit an orphanage, mainly populated by children whose fathers were killed during Blackwater. Keep in mind that the last time Joffrey was in Flea Bottom, a riot broke out and the previous High Septon was torn to shreds. She even runs straight into a highly threatening and scarred looking man who ogles her for a moment, and she just cheerfully smiles and apologises for being in his way before brushing past him. When Margaery comes out...she's surrounded by happy children, smiling gently and asking the matron to please send word whenever the children need toys or foods. In less than ten minutes, Margaery has raked in a shed-load of goodwill from the common people, not just for her as the future Queen but for Joffrey as well.
It becomes clear that Margaery is also doing this so she can remove Joffrey from his mother's influence. Watch how he immediately defends her when Cersei tries to insult her for going off on her own in Flea Bottom. Cersei is cowed by her son, and soon realizes that Joffrey's new bride-to-be is not the 'little dove' that Sansa Stark was.
The entire dinner was a highly cathartic reversal of a similar dinner with Sansa the previous season, where Cersei was revelling in politely taunting and threatening her.
Look again at the toys she's giving out to the orphans: they're her house colours, and the knight kind of looks like her brother Loras. Margaery is making sure that these children (and the people in the same district) don't forget who their saviour is, and which House she comes from, ensuring their loyalty when they're old enough to raise arms for her family. The people—and the next generation—will be nominally loyal to Joffrey, but ultimately loyal to her. The only other people who are playing the game of thrones that long-term have been Petyr Baelish and Varys, the two most Magnificent Bastards on the show.
And her charity work also sets her apart from the current Queen and current ruling House. Can you imagine Cersei—or indeed any Lannister—going around orphanages? No, because it's seen as below them and Tywin wouldn't even allow it anyway. But the Tyrells are making sure they're seen as friends of the lower classes, which is a brilliant PR stratergy and would help prevent more riots, and is something even Tyrion did not think of when he was bemoaning his abysmal reputation with the common people the previous season.
2 - Dark Wings, Dark Words
Brienne and Jaime's duel on the bridge. Brienne wins handily, against a man who's been repeatedly described as the best fighter in Westeros (even if he's not currently in top fighting form). Previously, she defeated Loras Tyrell, another man often described as one of the best fighters in the land. And this is a woman in a culture where the idea of women being warriors is completely unaccepted, who wouldn't have had remotely the top-tier quality of training that Jaime and Loras—sons of two of the major noble houses—would have had.
Another thing that cannot be emphasised enough, is that at first, it's very much an even match between Brienne and Jaime, even if he is out of shape and currently bound. However, we very quickly see Brienne figure out Jaime's style and learn to anticipate his every move, to the point that by the end of the duel, she's barely trying anymore and if anything, actually appears to have gotten bored.
Jaime looked to be losing stamina quickly due to long imprisonment (note he initiates rests a few times during the fight while she just waits for him to attack). Adrenaline only takes you so far.
6 - The Climb
If the sight of the Wildlings climbing 800ft up the Wall wasn't awesome enough, then how about a massive chunk of the Wall breaking off, casually wiping out half of the Wildlings. And what makes the sheer scale of the Wall more impressive, we can see afterwards that the avalanche barely even put a dent in it.
Jon saving himself and Ygritte when Orell cuts their rope while they were halfway up the Wall.
The absolutely fantastic shot of Westeros from the top of the Wall at the end. The World Is Just Awesome doesn't even describe it. Bonus points for it being the background to a fantastic kiss on the part of Jon and Ygritte.
7 - The Bear and the Maiden Fair
Jaime turning the Bolton column escorting him back to Harrenhal to rescue Brienne. When they get there they find that Locke has thrown her into a pit with a bear to fight with a wooden sword while wearing a dress. What does Jaime do? He leaps in to the pit and helps Brienne escape by giving her a boost on his back. Brienne escapes safely, but Jaime is still in the pit, so Brienne helps pull him up while the bear is advancing on him. They both get out and Locke can only look on while they leave safely with "The Rains of Castamere" playing.
Brienne once again shows just how brave and determined she is: before Jaime came back for her she must have known she wasn't going to get out of this alive but, seven hells, she's not going down without a fight, even after taking a bear claw to the neck.
Even before that, there is one when Jaime is saying goodbye before parting. Jaime tells her that she is to be left alone with Locke, which she is for good reasons unhappy to hear. After he tells her that he is indebted to her, instead of asking help for herself, she reminds him of his promise to Lady Catelyn of saving the Stark sisters to consider his debt paid. Until the end, and even in the worst of circumstances, Brienne is not going to forget her vows or honor. If this is not the true deffinition of a Knight in Shining Armor, I don't know what it is.
Please note that Jaime climbs the bear pitwith only one hand.
Jaime doesn't even have a sword. He jumps in with nothing. Yes, that self-absorbed, snarky, arrogant "Kingslayer" faced an eight-foot-tall pissed-off bear with nothing but that one hand. And his first words to Brienne? "Get behind me." Character Development, thy name is Jaime Lannister...
And Brienne didn't waste time relishing still being alive as soon as she was out, even though she had every right to; at once she's all "Hold my legs!" and is reaching back in to pull Jaime up to safety.
She also got a last one by walking away on her own, despite having been clawed by the bear at least 3 times.
His scene with Qyburn is also pure awesome. After finding out Qyburn "experimented" on living people, and shows his disgust and anger, Qyburn smugly asks him how many people Jaime has killed, and then how many he has saved. Jaime proudly replies he has saved half a million people, the entire population of Kings Landing. Then after finding out Brienne is in danger, he blackmails him into taking him back to Harrenhal.
10 - Mhysa
A supremely satisfying Kick the Son of a Bitch moment. As Sandor travels with Arya through the Riverlands, they come across some Frey soldiers talking and bragging about the Red Wedding. What does Arya do? She gets off Sandor's horse and walks over to them. Pretending to be an innocent, scared little girl, she asks if she can sit by their fire. They tell her to fuck off. She says she has money, and extends a single coin to one soldier, but drops it. As he bends down to pick it up, she pulls out a dagger and repeatedly stabs him in the base of the skull. As the other soldiers pull out their swords, Sandor swoops in and kills them all near effortlessly, his only admonishment to Arya being that she didn't tell him she was going to do that. Even better, what was the coin she handed to the soldier? Jaqen's coin from earlier.Valar Morghulis. Afterwards, Sandor asks where Arya got the dagger. She stole it from him without him even noticing it was gone. She then hands it back to him completely casually. Arya Stark is a goddamn ninja. Also note that the Frey soldier was only seconds earlier bragging about being the one who desecrated Robb and Greywind's corpses and mentioning how difficult it was to hack away at their necks. Arya had no trouble with his.
Yara going against her father's wishes and assembling a fleet to save Theon. Also a Heartwarming Moment.
Balon: I've made my decision.
Yara:(with cold, slow, determination) ...And I've made mine. I'm going to pick the fastest ship in our fleet. I'm going to choose the best fifty killers on the Iron Islands. I'm going to sail up the Narrow Sea, all the way to the Weeping Water. I'm going to march on the Dreadfort, I'm going to find my little brother, and I'm going to bring him home.
Sam standing firmly by his decision to help Gilly and his epic justification to Maester Aemon when he accuses him of forgetting the code;
Sam: "I remember every word of the oath. Night gathers and my watch begins. I am the shield that guards the realms of men. The realms of men; that means her, as well as us. We didn't build five hundred miles of ice wall, seven hundred feet high to keep out men. The Night is gathering, Maester Aemon, I've seen it. It's coming for all of us."
Davos sending Gendry away in a small rowboat to save him from Melisandre, knowing he could die for it.
Davos saves himself from execution by revealing that he knows how to read now and can understand Maester Aemon's letter about the White Walkers. Stannis and Melisandre realize they need his help to beat them.
During the Small Council meeting, Tywin politely informing Joffrey that in no uncertain terms, he's only the King because Tywin allows him to be King, before flat-out ordering him to go to his room without supper.
When Joffrey proposes to have Robb's head serve to Sansa at his wedding feast, Tyrion flat out threatens Joffrey's life. Again.
Joffrey: Everyone is mine to torment. You'd do well to remember that, you little monster.
Tyrion: Oh, I'm a monster. Perhaps you should speak to me more softly, then. Monsters are dangerous and just now kings are dying like flies.
And this time, unlike in Tyrion's wedding, Tywin attacks Joffrey's Evil Gloating instead of bothering to correct Tyrion. Tywin may never vocally approve of anything Tyrion says, but he nevertheless proves himself above Joffrey's level of evilness. And who's to say that Tywin doesn't see a bit of Aerys II in Joffrey when he looks his grandson in the eyes and says what everyone thinks to his face?
Joffrey (to Tyrion): I am the king! I will punish you.
Tywin: Any man who must say, "I am the king" is no true king.
Joffrey's outburst at Tywin is a completely failed example. Were it anyone else in the show furiously calling out Tywin for his inaction during Robert's rebellion and talking with pride about how their "father" was a true hero it would almost certainly be awesome. However since it is screeched at Tywin by Joffrey of all people, any awesome trait is instantly revoked.
The revelation that Ramsay repaid Dagmer and his crew for selling Theon out by having them all flayed alive. Brutal as hell, but still, that's for killing Maester Luwin.
Theon having the strength to say his real nametwice rather than immediately giving in to his tormentor. Considering everything he's gone through by this point, having any free will left at all is quite an achievement.
Jon Snow tells Ygritte that he knows that she won't hurt him because she loves him. She shoots him full of arrows anyway.
The departing farewell of Season Three. Centering around Daenerys liberating Yunkai's slave population. Designed to reaffirm faith in humankind after the horrors of the previous episode; we get great composition and cinematography along with the loads and loads of extras that appear on screen. Giving the scene a really epic feel. Not to mention the accompanying newest reprise of the Targaryen leitmotif, Mhysa, with plenty of eerie High Valyrian lyrics that will give even the most cynical of viewers shivers.
The Red Wedding. The way the scene plays out is so brilliant and disturbing, made more so by the music, the acting of, well, the actor that excels in that scene, and the evil death stare of, well, the character who gives a death stare in that scene. Also the fact that the scene is something of a legend and is pretty much the scene that everybody was waiting for. It did not disappoint.
The reintroduction of Daenerys, as the dragons swoop around the "small ship" we last saw her heading off to buy, with her theme swelling triumphantly. Special mention to one of the dragons catching a fish, tossing it up, roasting it, and letting it fall into his mouth, all in one smooth motion.
Ghost coming back to save Sam from a wight.
An assassination attempt is made on Daenerys, using a scary giant scorpion-esque creature called a Manticore. She's saved by the mysterious figure in a black cloak who first appeared to be trying to kill her himself, who then reveals himself to be Barristan Selmy. Now that's how you do a He's Back!
That is not even the impressive part. Impressive is that he was caught in a choke hold by Jorah after he knocked the box out of Dany's hand, then managed to take Jorah out offscreen before managing to kill the manticore in time (16 seconds :D). That is some serious ownage (and Jorah is not really bummed after he sees who nailed him).
Jojen Reed approaches Bran, and Osha puts a spear at his back. He responds that he's unarmed...because his sister is better at fighting. Meera instantly has a knife at Osha's throat.
Margaery playing Joffrey like a fiddle when she gets a moment alone with him, and not losing her cool even when he says he might make homosexuality punishable by death in spite of what that would mean for her brother.
An earlier one is when Sansa is finally persuaded to tell Margaery and her grandmother that Joffrey's "a monster", Olenna just gives a mildly disappointed "that's a pity", and Margaery, despite marrying the monster, just gives an "Oh, well" shrug, because both Tyrells are totally confident that Margaery will be able to handle him. It takes all of five minutes for Margaery to prove that their confidence is well-founded.
Anguy shooting an arrow into the air with perfect accuracy to come down on Hot Pie's head in about ten seconds.
After Rast goes back to his Kick the Dog ways regarding Sam, and succeeds in convincing him to lie down and die, Commander Mormont declares that if Sam doesn't make it back for any reason, he won't either.
A subtle one. After Sansa calls Joffrey "a lion", Olenna interrupts and says "Yes, all Lannisters are lions." No one bothered mentioning that Joffrey is technically a Baratheon.
During the funeral of Lord Hoster Tully, after Edmure repeatedly fails to hit the boat with a flaming arrow, Blackfish simply knocks him out of the way and takes the bow, fires once, turns around, and chucks it back at him, before the arrow even hits.
Daenerys showing us which Targaryen she chooses to emulate.
Ser Barristan: When your brother Rhaegar led his men at the battle of the Trident, men died for him because they believed in him. Because they loved him. I fought beside the last dragon that day, my grace. I bled beside him. Jorah: Rhaegar fought valiantly. Rhaegar fought nobly. And Rhaegar died. Daenerys: Did you know him well, Ser Barristan? Ser Barristan: I did, your grace. Finest man I ever met. Daenerys: I wish I had known him. But he was not the last dragon.
Mance Ryder's Badass Boast when he describes the signal he'll give to the wildlings climbing the Wall.
Mance: I'm going to light the biggest fire the North has ever seen.
It turns out that Podrick Payne, quiet, virginal, occasionally badass, and certified by Cersei as an "odd little boy" is actually a Memetic Sex God beyond even the likes of Tyrion. With no experience whatsoever, and completely spur of the moment after Tyrion bought them in for him as a reward for his services, he is able to pleasure several extremely experienced whores to such heights that they refuse any charge and do everything for free. Tyrion and Bronn are clearly shocked, a little bit jealous, and eager to learn.
Even better, the next episode has Varys and Ros discussing his sexual exploits during their secret meeting, with Ros revealing the whores described Pod as "The most extraordinary man they have ever had" with both trying to work out just what the hell he did. This discussion took precedence over Varys' plotting regarding Littlefinger. Memetic Sex God does not even cover it at this point.
It's an Offscreen Moment of Awesome, but Brienne is heard clearly fighting off her would-be rapists, and judging by their angry yells she gave them a hell of a time.
Theon being rescued by the Boy, who effortlessly picks off four men with his bow.
Before that, when Theon is being hunted down by the Bolton men. There's just something incredibly stunning about the scene: Theon, battered and bloody but still fighting, galloping headlong on a pure white horse in a doomed race against four men in black, dodging arrows with the Greyjoy theme rising in the background...
After Daenerys warns Missandei about the risks she faces going with her, Missandei simply replies "Valar morghulis." Rather Bad Ass on its own, but what makes it even sweeter is Dany's reply.
Daenerys: Yes...All men must die. But we are not men.
Missandei's little smile says it all. Especially as Dany has subtly revealed that, of course, a Targaryen would speak High Valyerian... which Missandei's assholish old masters had been cheerfully insulting Danaerys in and forcing her to censor them in translation. That smile is a mixture of "I think I'm going to like her" and "Oh, she's good."
Plus, the development this shows for Daenerys. This time last season, she never would have been able to stand there and take it while waiting for the right time to strike back.
Varys' monologue about how he was castrated by a sorcerer, then thrown into the street to die. But just to spite the man, he did whatever he had to to survive, and make his way into power. And then the perfect capper, as he reveals that his long desire for revenge has finally paid off and he has the sorcerer at his mercy, trapped in a tiny crate and looking quite tortured.
Margarey has become an Ensemble Darkhorse after the events of episode four. She's got Joffrey wrapped around her fingers to the point he's more willing to comply with what she wants than Cersei . Not only that, but her actions from the previous episodes of the season has the townspeople chanting her name wildly outside the castle gates and the people adore her so much they're even willing to root for Joffrey as she successfully manipulates him to act decent in front of them for once as his mother looks on in jealousy. You can only smirk with delight at Cersei's obvious jealousy.
Even more awesome whether it's genuine or not, Margarey being kind to Sansa borders between this and Crowning Moment of Heartwarming. She shoos away Sansa's guards so that they can chat like ladies, share secrets and laugh. That and Margarey shows great interest in marrying Sansa to Ser Loras so that she may spirit her away to Highgarden. Out of genuine of her heart or not, Margarey knows how a true queen should act.
Her befriending of Sansa is a MoA in that it once more shows how the Tyrells are playing the long game. If you look at a map of Westeros, you'll notice that the Riverlands (loyal to the Starks), and the Westerlands (belong to the Lannisters, and will fall if they lose) are on the Tyrells' borders. If Tywin wins, she'll have lost nothing, but if Robb wins, they have the Starks' gratitude for rescuing Sansa.
The Liberation of Astapor. By the Old Gods and the New, the liberation of Astapor. Daenerys buys all of the Unsullied with Drogon, and as Kraznys struggles to control the dragon, she speaks to the Unsullied in High Valyrian, causing Kraznys to have a massive Oh Crap moment as he realizes she's understood all the insults he's been hurling at her.
"I am Danaerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen. Valyrian is my mother tongue."
By sundown, Astapor is free and Daenerys is leading a huge Unsullied army, and the episode closes by showing them marching out of the city as Dany's three dragons fly overhead. Day-um!.
Daenerys: A dragon is not a slave.
Even better, Jorah and Ser Barristan, who have disagreed with each other all throughout the season, share a look of pride while Dany is pulling all of this off.
Really, the fact that Dany gets a "cool girls don't look at explosions" moment◊ is just gravy at this point.
Dunno if I am the only one, but I found it hilarious how Drogon looked happy burning stuff. The little guy was not pleased with the whole "stranger is tugging me around" experience.
Commander Mormont, after taking a fatal stab wound from Rast, spends his last few seconds trying to choke the man who did it to death.
The Night's Watchman played by Burn Gorman calling Craster a bastard to his face. What he does after may violate the most sacred laws of Westeros (a guest must not kill his host and vice versa), but seeing Craster get his just deserts was very satisfying.
To his credit, Craster did also try to kill him.
Sam, seeing just how much shit has hit the fan, immediately runs to Gilly and escapes with her and the baby, saving her from whatever would have happened if she'd been left to the mercy of Rast and his gang.
Lady Olenna's verbal sparring with Varys is both hilarious and awesome in that it shows perfectly that she is easily a match for some of the most manipulative chessmasters in Westeros and is not going to take any shit from any of them.
Anticipation for Beric Dondarrion's reappearance into the story was very high and its safe to say those expectations were met in glorious amount from his initial confrontation with The Hound before their trial by combat.
Sandor Clegane: "King Robert is dead, Ned Stark is dead; my brother is alive. *spits* You all fight for ghosts.
Beric Dondarrion: "Oh, but that's what we are, ghosts. Waiting for you in the dark; you can't see us...but we see you. No matter whose cloak you wear; Lannister, Stark, Baratheon, you prey on the weak...The Brotherhood without Banners will hunt you down!
Jaime stealing one of the Bolton men's swords and fending them off for about a minute before his weakened condition and injuries stop him. Brienne, completely bound, moves to join him when he starts to fight.
Jaime's monologue about how he became the Kingslayer, as we learn he saved the whole city and countless lives with the act everyone hates him for, with a spellbinding performance by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
Even before that, the moment we see that he's regained his trademark arrogance, acid tongue and general fearlessness even when he's at the mercy of his enemies is profoundly satisfying after seeing how low he was in the last episode.
Jaime refuses to be drugged while his festering hand stump is amputated out of fear that Qyburn might take away his whole arm.
Qyburn:"There will be pain."
Qyburn:"Quite a bit of pain."
Jaime:"I'll scream loudly."
Sandor Clegane's literal trial by fire. He fights Beric Dondarrion, who has a flaming sword, and wins. Not only that, but he kills Dondarrion. Who is promptly brought back to life by Thoros of Myr, but still, pretty amazing.
Depending on how recently the trial takes place after he was captured, he might still be ferociously hung over.
Season 2 also established that Sandor is terrified of fire. Imagine his fear every time that flaming sword came near him, then imagine the strength of will it took for him to not only hold his own and fight like a demon, but to actually win.
While Dondarrion may not ultimately win the duel, he also proves he's far from incompetent in that scene by managing to duel Sandor almost to a standstill. Even considering he has the flaming sword, it's still pretty cool, particularly given how Sandor has cut through more or less everybody he's fought against so far.
The Blackfish punching Lord Karstark in the face when he mouths off to Robb.
There's also Robb decapitating Lord Karstark with an even quicker and cleaner stroke than his father managed in the first episode. Bonus points since the last time we saw someone executed was Theon's bloody mangling of Ser Rodrik, making this another example of how Robb's The Ace compared to Theon in every way.
While the act may have been a potentially fatal case of Honor Before Reason, (as is pointed out to him by his various allies,) you can see him thinking to himself "what would my father do?", and deciding to follow his example deserves props.
One of the traitors begs for mercy, saying he didn't kill anyone and only watched the others do it. Robb tells his men to hang that guy last so that he can watch the others die first.
Tyrion finally Calling the Old Man Out on his cruelty to everyone, particularly poor Sansa Stark at that moment, and looking him straight in the eye and reminding him about his first marriage.
It may be in the middle of an extraordinary Kick the Dog moment, but Tywin's proving that he can make both his stubborn and rebellious children do exactly what he says with the force of his personality alone is quite impressive. As Cersei points out, she is Queen Regent, and thus technically outranks Tywin, but he is able to reduce her to begging simply by raising his voice.
Tywin shouting at Cersei was certainly this as only moments ago she was taking sadistic glee in watching Tyrion forced into his marriage with Sansa
Tywin: YOU'RE MY DAUGHTER!!!
Look at a map of Westeros and you'll see that if Tywin's plan works, the Lannisters will have a hand in ruling six of the seven kingdoms, with only the Iron Islands (which no one wants anyway) left apart from them.
One could suggest that Tywin's plan for dealing with the Iron Islands is already right there. Instead of wasting forces by engaging them directly, he's going to first seize all of Westeros, allowing him to cast as wide a net as possible around them, before tightening his hold. In other words, his plan has less to do with war and more to do with fishing.
Littlefinger taking all of two minutes of screentime to completely destroy the Tyrell's plot for Sansa, complete with lampshading of "That didn't take long."
Sansa gets a small one, showing that she's learned something by lying to Littlefinger about the Tyrell's plans. She doesn't do it very well, but at least she's learning not to blab secrets, unlike Loras.
Upon seeing Tyrion and Olenna in a room together, we prepare for an epic Snark-to-Snark Combat. Instead, Olenna destroys Tyrion, who barely gets a word in and is left with an expression of "So that's what that feels like."
Tywin actually getting the better of Olenna, after she'd held her own against Varys and Tyrion. She even remarks on how refreshing it is to finally meet a Worthy Opponent.
Though she still handles herself pretty well by bringing up Jaime and Cersei's incest point blank to his face, and gladly defending her grandson from Tywin's homophobic mockery while point blank suggesting Tywin himself indulged in this with his cousins. This lady is probably the single most badass character in the series now.
Littlefinger's chilling monologue about how no one can actually get their happy ending, because the "climb" to reach it is all that really exists, played over a montage of his handiwork for the past couple episodes.
Arya actually grabs Mellisandre and makes her turn around. Melly's so flabbergasted at the kid's nerve that it takes her several seconds to react. And then she looks into Arya's eyes and her expression morphs into one of horror when she sees what the little girl in front of her will do and what she will become in the coming future.
Daenerys receives the Yunkish emissary, Razdal mo Eraz, and forces him to sit in a lower chair while her titles are rattled off. Having received the gift of two chests of gold bars to bribe her to leave Yunkai alone, she then states that she'll destroy Yunkai unless its population of 200,000 slaves are freed and compensated. When Razdal tell his slaves to take back the gold, Drogon roars and screeches at them, sending them scampering away while poised over the open chest; Smaug would be proud. He's already learned to hoard!
The shot of Dany sitting in her tent with three dragons the size of large wolves around her.
Not even looking at the emissary while he's implicitly threatening her with 'glorious and mighty' Yunkai, the mother of dragons throws a slab of meat to her children. The dragons take flight within the tent inches away from everybody. If you look closely, Viserion loses the yummy snack to Drogon and Rhaegal emerges the victor while his brothers squabble over nothing. That moment was fucking awesome alone for the pant-wetting look on Razdal's face while Dany remains impassive to the beasts tumbling about. Like a boss.
Tywin faces his grandson, who up to this point has been a dangerously uncontrollable psychopath who no one dares cross. He proceeds to walk right up next to the Iron Throne, chastise him for not attending council meetings, tell him he needs to learn more about the kingdoms he's ruling, and finally turn and walk away with a smirk on his face while Joffrey looks like he wishes he could sink into the throne. The scene was a long time coming, and paid off beautifully.
Made all the more awesome in that Joffrey was clearly attempting his typical veiled threats about why it's not wise to make a King walk to a meeting, but Tywin is having none of it and politely informs him that if it's that much of a problem, they can have him carried.
There's also all the sarcasm and disrespect Tywin gets across without saying anything at all; first, as he approaches the throne he stops at the places where we've seen other people ritually kneel/bow, just to make the point that he's not bowing to Joffrey. Second, when Joffrey complains about the stairs, Tywin slowly and deliberately climbs the steps up to the throne's dais uninvited, both making it look as if he's demonstrating how stairs work for an idiot child, and once again making the point that he's got no interest in following the usual protocols. Third, he spends the rest of the meeting looming over the squirming Joffrey rather than letting him look down on him. Fourth, he decides to leaves as soon as he gets the last word rather than waiting to be dismissed, and when he says his final "Your Grace" his body language makes it look like he almost forgot to say it, and nearly left without saying anything at all.
His witheringly dry promise to ensure that Joffrey is properly informed of all "important" events when "necessary" is another one, because it's so blatant what he's really saying that it's hard to believe that even Joffrey could miss it, raising the possibility that Joffrey does know that he's being completely shut out of running his kingdom but is too scared of his grandfather to object.
A small and subdued one for Joffrey, of all people. While usually the greatest Smug Snake in the seven kingdoms, he somehow heard, and is Properly Paranoid, about Daenerys and her dragons at Essos. While he's still being quite the smug bastard, he actually takes the possible threat somewhat seriously, whereas Tywin is being completely skeptical, which earns him a few points for finaly using his brains. It's also possible that Margaery brought it up and he's just sucking up to her, but still.
Tywin still wins points here for telling Joffrey to basically shut up when, up to this point, no other character has even come close to simply telling his Royal Prickness what to do.
Tywin: "...Curiosities on the far side of the world are no threat to us."
Tywin: [Slowly, and with extreme pointedness, accompanied by a Death Glare] "You are being counseled at this very moment."
Gendry discovering his father's identity when in the shadow of the Red Keep, with the wrecked boats from the Battle of Blackwater around him and with King Robert's Leitmotif playing in the background.
Self-described coward Samwell Tarly stands up to a White Walker who's come for Gilly's baby, with no hope at all, just because it's the one good thing he can do before he dies. And even after his sword is destroyed and he's easily tossed aside, he attacks again with the one weapon he has left...an obsidian dagger which turns out to be able to kill White Walkers. That's right, "Ser Piggy" is likely the first person to slay a White Walker in thousands of years.
Look again, its the same White Walker that saw Sam at the end of Season 2. Looks like it made a fatal mistake in sparing him. The White Walker almost seems to realize this fact as it dies, its face contorting with fury as it saw just who killed it
The Establishing Character Moment of Daario Naharis, after he's ordered to sneak into Daenerys' tent and kill her. He instead presents Daenerys with the heads of his two co-captains of the Second Sons, and pledges himself to her.
Daenerys also gets a moment in that scene: after Daario presents the heads of his two co-captains, Daenerys just arches an eyebrow and asks if that's supposed to impress her. Then she gets out of the bath, slowly walks down the steps stark naked while giving Daario the coolest, most regal icy glare, as if daring him to objectify her even once. It's a parallel to her first scene in the series, where Viserys forces her to undress before she gets into the bath. It shows how far Daenerys has come from being a scared young girl to becoming a mighty queen.
Dany negotiating with the three leaders of the mercenary band.
"Take off your clothes and come sit on Mero's lap, and I may give you my Second Sons."
Tyrion putting downthat son of a bitch Joffrey during his wedding when as per usual Joffrey proceeds to make a dick of himself to try and humilate Tyrion and torture Sansa further into starting the bedding ceremony. Tyrion's response is as follows when Joffrey refuses to cut out the act.
Tyrion: (slams knife into table) Then you'll be FUCKING your own bride with a wooden cock!
Joffrey is so enraged by this he is literally and physically seething with fury as he looks at Tyrion. Similarly, we can see Tyrion shaking with anger as he's digging the knife into the table, causing Joffrey to give it a few nervous glaces as if weighing up how serious that threat was. The best part? Tywin actually has to diffuse the situation before things escalate further, thus defending Tyrion and Sansa from Joffrey.
A more subtle one before that was Tyrion's rather successful efforts to make his father feel uncomfortable during their conversation.
The best part about all this is that Tyrion has been suffering from Badass Decay all season, due to his father being around constantly and having to kiss up to the Tyrells in order to pull the crown out of debt. In this episode he starts snarking and threatening just like his old self. No need to fear the old Tyrion is completely gone, he is still around.
Furthermore, Tywin actually manages to get Tyrion out of the room and prevent Joffrey from thinking of a sadistic punishment, which is quite impressive when Joffrey has mutilated people for less. It's an awesome moment for Tyrion too, as he likely knew that Tywin would be able to force the king into accepting that he'd been told where to stick it.
When the congregation in the Sept start laughing at Tyrion's attempts to fix the bridal cloak around Sansa's shoulders without the aid of a stool, one guest laughs a bit too loudly. Tywin looks round at him and glares, and the man instantly shuts up. Clearly someone forgot Lord Tywin Lannister absolutely hates laughters directed at his family, even if in this case it's Tyrion.
Tyrion, even when completely piss-faced drunk, still manages to stick it to his father by absolutely refusing to sleep with Sansa if she doesn't want it.
Tyrion: If my father wants someone fucked I know where he can start.
Cersei gets a moment against Margaery when she reminds her about the origins of "The Rains of Castamere" — a family much like the Tyrells stood up against the Lannisters, and as a result, Tywin wiped them out.
Cersei: If you ever call me "sister" again, I'll have you strangled in your sleep.
Margaery gets a minor one directly afterwards. One of the most influential women of Westeros just threatened her life and she doesn't look terrified at all, her face just says "It is so on..."
Ser Jorah, Daario Naharis, and Grey Worm vs. a large squad of eunuch soldiers in Yunkai. They beat them all handily in a Multi-Mook Melee with some effort...and then the NEXT, LARGER wave of soldiers surrounds the trio. 'To Be Continued... Right Now!' One transition scene later we see them all arrive at Dany's camp, caked in gore... And the city is hers.
Grey Worm, in particular, is a remarkable fighter, moving with all the grace and poise of a dancer. Made more impressive that unlike Jorah and Daario who are clearly trying to upstage each other, he's coldly taking down men with brutal efficiency, using only a spear. He's got a shield too, but barely anyone gets close enough for him to need to use it.
Daario gets a mention when it seems quite likely that he did kill both Mero and Prendhal in single combat considering how he distinguishes himself in the battle. At one time blocking an attack from behind without even looking and saving Jorah's hide with his thrown knife.
Let's not forget Team Mormont; Tag-teaming combo-finishers with Daario and fighting multiple opponents at once and holding his own alongside the two sprier men who must be about half his age. It seems that when fighting for the love of a woman, Jorah is the equal of Jamie Lannister. (In the books: Jorah fought with Jamie to a draw in the Lannisport tourney melee and King Robert declared him the victor; this was when he'd been offered Lynesse Hightower's favour, his future second wife. And fought all the harder for it.)
It seems that Jorah, when lovestruck, gains increased badass to go with his increased dumbass.
Bran warging deliberately for the first time, using Summer and Shaggydog to save Jon when the Wildlings turn on him.
Hell, Bran warging into Hodor counts as this too, because by doing that, Bran stopped Hodor's cries of distress from revealing their position to Tormund Giantsbane and his group of Wildlings.
Jon taking on the Wildings, and as a more subtle moment, how he 'accidentally' banged a rock as they charged the horse breeder. That spooked the horses, which gave the breeder warning enough to get away.
Jon killing Orell:
Jon: "You were right the whole time!"
Rather a villainous moment, but just as Jon kills his human body, Orell wargs into his eagle and swoops down on Jon, tearing his face a new one and getting very swift revenge.
Arya. A little girl of twelve. Talked down the Hound at every corner of episode 9. She called him out on his Blood Knight behavior and tried to mock his habit of going down on vulnerable people to dissuade him from killing a defenseless trader (he finally relents when she begs). When he talked about her fear as they got closer to the Twins, she retorted by mentioning his fear of fire and how he had 'looked like a scared little girl' when going up against Beric's flaming sword. She even brought up the tale of his experience with Gregor's brotherly affection, when for all she knew it might be his Berserk Button. She concluded with a curt but detailed description of how she intends to end Sandor one day. And in every instance, Arya's speech and her stone cold gaze stunned Sandor into silence. That was Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?, Staring Down Cthulhu and Shut Up, Hannibal! all combined into some of the best "The Reason You Suck" Speech delivered, ladies and gentlemen.
Arya(after the Hound suggests killing an innocent man to avoid witness): You're so dangerous, aren't you? Saying scary things to little girls. Killing little boys and old people. A real hard man you are.
Sandor: More than anyone you know.
Arya: You're wrong. I know a killer. A real killer. You'd be like a kitten to him. He'd kill you with his little finger.
Then again, the hound gets a moment of his own with the very next line.
Arya: I knew fear when I saw it in you. You're afraid of fire. When Beric's sword went up in flame, you looked like a scared little girl. And I know why, too. I heard what your brother did to you. Pressed your face to the fire like you're a nice juicy mutton chop.
Sandor: They're just over the river. The closest you've been to family since Ilyn Payne snipped your daddy's neck.
Arya: Someday I'm gonna put a sword through your eye and out the back of your skull.
Sandor does eventually retort back, by saving her life.
Robb is in too much deep shock at the brutal murder of Talisa and his unborn child to notice the twin bolts protruding from his lungs and the quarrel sunk into his thigh as he crawls towards her and then follows this up with a tragic rendition of Died Standing Up. As noble and dignified as his Father was when standing upon the steps of Baelor. The North Remembers; now more than ever. He has to be stabbed in the heart to finally be taken down.
Walder Frey:(Mockingly) The King in the North arises!
Robb Stark:(And so he does, while fucking perforated.)
Also Catelyn's utterly feralMama Bear moment as she threatens to slash Joyeuse Frey's throat if her husband does not let her son live. Since Walder doesn't give two shits about his wife, he lets Robb die at Roose's hand and Catelyn makes good on her vow regardless of its futility. Dark as all hell but it shows how badass she is.
And just before the bloodshed starts, Cat realizes that Roose Bolton has betrayed Robb, hauls off and slaps him right in his smug face before she shouts a warning.
Tywin Lannister manages to utterly crush the Northern rebellion without even having to battle them. Asshole.
Sandor helping the pig farmer fix his cart's wheel spoke by lifting the entire open wagon with one arm.
In this deleted scene there is the truly awesome sight of Tywin Lannister fishing on the shore of Kings Landing while verbally bludgeoning Pycelle for trying to screw Tyrion over the previous season, revealing he is perfectly aware of his "doddering old man" act, and casually threatening to kill him if he irritates him.
Pycelle (ofallpeople) also has a few subtle awesome moments once he stops the aforementioned "weak old man act", with him revealing his perfectly sane reasoning for the act (he does not want to be seen as a threat by anyone which allows him to stay in a position of power while those around him fall) and being pretty much the only person in the series so far aside from Olenna Tyrell and Arya to talk perfectly frankly and openly to Tywin without flinching or showing any sign of fear, even managing a bit of snark about how it is "the King's council" not Tywin's when asked why he should be allowed back on it.
Tywin, of course, isn't intimidated and orders him to take the fish he's caught to the cook, showing that while Pycelle may be able to snark back and may not be as harmless as he lets on, he cannot hope to match him.
HBO Go was killed within minutes after putting up episode 1x7 a week early. That's one rabid fanbase.
Peter Dinklage winning the Best Supporting Actor Emmy, something extremely rare for a fantasy show.
For anyone who's listened to the A Song of Ice and Fire audiobooks, it's pretty darn cool to actually see Roy Dotrice as one of the hundreds of characters he created voices for.
The episode 'Blackwater'. Although the episode received much of the new season's increased budget, the show was still limited in its resources compared to films. Yet they managed to create a visually stunning episode that many critics have called the best so far.
All in all, the crew had only one hundred extras, twelve horses, and a single ship. With that, they created a battle sequence worthy of blockbuster fantasy epic films.
Kudos also to the director, Neil Marshall, who was brought in to direct on extremely short notice and still managed to create one of the best episodes of the series.
You didn't think they could top the cliffhanger ending of the first season in sheer awesomeness? Think again.
What could be a better CMOA for the creator of the much beloved "Ten Minutes of Tyrion Slapping Joffrey" Youtube video than the fact that on the DVD commentary for that episode, the first words out of Nikolaj Coster Waldau's mouth as Tyrion gears up to slap Joffrey are, "Did you see that Youtube thing?"
Maisie Williams, a 15 year old girl in her first acting role, had to spend a good deal of her scenes in season two working opposite the highly experienced and respected Charles Dance, and easily stepped up to the challenge, going toe to toe with him over every nuance of every scene in their complex relationship, and always matching him.
Natalie Tena has managed to play her role so brilliantly that George R. R. Martin considers her portrayal of Osha more interesting than how he originally wrote her. The joke here of course, is whether that affects the odds of her survival.