5:00am PT by Josh Wigler
'Game of Thrones' Season 7: Every Episode, Ranked
Exiting the sixth season of HBO's Game of Thrones, fans were fully warned about the impending rush to the finish line. There were only 13 episodes remaining in the series, split across two shortened runs: seven episodes for season seven, and six episodes for the eighth and final round. The good news was that the budget for Thrones remained unchanged, meaning more massive sequences per episode than any season before. The bad news? Well, nobody wants this ride to end, certainly not at a rushed pace.
Now, we're halfway through the final run of Thrones, which the cast previously advised fans to view as a two-part final season. The reviews on the decision to reduce the episode order have been mixed, with season seven featuring some incredible highs in the action department, while also delivering more than a few scenes of utter improbability.
With the penultimate year of Game of Thrones fully unveiled, here are our rankings of each individual season seven episode:
The fifth episode of the season was the quietest affair of the year, dealing with the fallout from the epic Loot Train Battle, recruiting folks like Gendry (Joe Dempsie) for the cause against the White Walkers, and culminating in a fairly epic team-up at the titular Night's Watch fortification. It's a perfectly fine episode of Thrones, but easily the least memorable of the season in the grand scheme of things.
6. "Beyond the Wall"
Frankly, the season's penultimate installment very nearly landed at the bottom of our rankings. It's saved by the sheer joy involved in watching Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and his motley crew of allies on such a dangerous mission with one another, not to mention the fulfillment of the promise of ice meeting fire in the battle between the dragons and the White Walkers. With that said, the plan itself was stunningly ill-conceived, to the point that it felt like nothing more than an excuse to get a dragon into the Night King's clutches. (RIP, Viserion!) Sure, it was explosive and entertaining, but it was also filled with enough leaps in logic to solidify "Beyond the Wall" as the weakest penultimate episode in Thrones history.
In the first major battle scene of season seven, the two warring sides of House Greyjoy finally slugged it out on the open seas. The image of Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbaek) launching from the deck of Silence and into combat against his niece and nephew is one we won't soon forget. Beyond the battle, the episode deserves props for the terrific scene between Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Varys (Conleth Hill), not to mention the tragically brief return of Hot Pie (Ben Hawkey).
Through seven seasons of Thrones, "Dragonstone" ranks as the single greatest premiere episode. Not that it's a difficult hill to climb; premieres typically offer little more than stage-setting action, paving the way for everything coming next. This episode followed the energy of its predecessors, with the added boost of Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) killing the Freys and avenging the Red Wedding in the process. That scene was and will remain an all-timer in the pantheon of Thrones.
3. "The Queen's Justice"
The first-ever meeting between Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen was a bit of a rollercoaster, in which the two royal individuals holding vastly different priorities came into fiery conflict. By the end of the hour, the tension was thawing, paving the way for the romance that would eventually blossom between them both over the course of the rest of the season. The episode also featured Ellaria Sand's (Indira Varma) absolutely brutal final scene, in which she's left to watch her daughter die and rot for the foreseeable future. Few characters have ever suffered such a harsh sendoff.
2. "The Dragon and the Wolf"
The fall of the Wall, the death of Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen), the reveal of Jon's true Targaryen heritage, the first sighting of Rhaegar Targaryen, the first scene between Tyrion and Cersei in ages ... really, the list of reasons why the season seven finale was a riveting episode goes on and on, even if the episode is held back a bit by the awkward Bran monologue over Jon and Dany's sex scene, not to mention Jon's incredibly frustrating decision to sabotage his own peace offering with Cersei. Forgiving those wonky moments, "The Dragon and the Wolf" was a peak episode of Thrones.
1. "The Spoils of War"
Let's not mince words: The Loot Train Battle was a masterpiece. Director Matt Shakman's first Thrones episode featured one of the single greatest battle sequences in the show's entire history, as the first time Dothraki warriors made landfall in Westeros, not to mention the return of a dragon for the first time in years and years and years. Sure, nobody actually believed Jaime Lannister was dead by the end of the hour, but does it matter? The pacing and choreography involved in the imaginative battle, not to mention the sheer sight of dragon fire scorching the soil of the Seven Kingdoms, launch this episode into elite status.
How would you rank the episodes from season seven? Let us know in the comments section below, and follow THR.com/GameOfThrones for all show news, interviews, theories and more.