By Bryan Cogman and James Hibberd
March 29, 2019 at 11:08 AM EDT

Game of Thrones rewatch guides are all over the internet from critics and fans suggesting which episodes you should revisit before the final season. But this one is different. Because Bryan Cogman is a GoT co-executive producer and the writer of some of the show’s finest hours (including an episode in the upcoming season 8). He’s also the only GoT writer along with showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss who has been with HBO sensation since season 1, so he knows the world of Westeros and Essos better than just about anybody. 

Here is Cogman with his 21 favorite episodes:

HBO

WINTER IS COMING & THE KINGSROAD (Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2)
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss. Directed by Tim Van Patten.
Let’s start the rewatch with a double feature, shall we? Taken together, these two episodes serve as a mega-pilot as so much of Episode 1 is devoted to simply meeting the various characters and understanding the world of the show. Episode 2 really makes you care. I remember watching a rough cut of the opening sequence (in which Jon bids farewell to his family and heads for the Wall) on my laptop in Belfast and thinking: This works! We have a show!  Oh, and Ep 2 is the one where Tyrion slaps Joffrey (not for the last time).

Helen Sloan/HBO

BAELOR (Season 1, Episode 9)
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss. Directed by Alan Taylor.
Aw, man. Y’all know how this one ends. Sean Bean’s Ned Stark still looms large over this story — there are very few subsequent episodes in which a character doesn’t mention his name. Alan directed Ned’s tragic execution scene brilliantly, the POV shifting seamlessly between Ned and his two daughters. And this episode also features Peter’s first Emmy Award winning performance… of three!

HBO

FIRE AND BLOOD (Season 1, Episode 10)
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss. Directed by Alan Taylor.
Baby dragons. Need I say more?

HBO

WHAT IS DEAD MAY NEVER DIE (Season 2, Episode 3)
Written by Bryan Cogman. Directed by Alik Sakharov.
My favorite “court intrigue” episode. I’m particularly proud of the sequence where Tyrion plays the various council members against each other and roots out a spy. And I love Alik’s homage to Akira Kurosawa with the flapping banners during Theon’s baptism scene. Plus, I got to introduce Brienne!

HBO

THE OLD GODS AND THE NEW (Season 2, Episode 6)
Written by Vanessa Taylor. Directed by David Nutter.
This one starts with one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the whole series (Theon’s botched execution of Ser Rodrik). And then you meet the incomparable Rose Leslie as Ygritte. And then you have the King’s Landing riot sequence. And then: “WHERE ARE MY DRAGONS????”

HBO

BLACKWATER (Season 2, Episode 9)
Written by George R.R. Martin. Directed by Neil Marshall.
Our first big battle! And it’s awesome. But I love this episode (written by Grand Maester George himself) for its intimacy and the rare opportunity we had to zero in on one location and a smaller group of characters. Boy, we put the crew through hell making this episode. Little did they know… (insert evil laugh here).

Helen Sloan/HBO

WALK OF PUNISHMENT (Season 3, Episode 3)
Written and Directed by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss.
This episode is very funny (the Small Council plays musical chairs!), very dark (Jaime’s hand is chopped off!), and very weird (there’s a rock song over the end credits!).

HBO

AND NOW HIS WATCH IS ENDED (Season 3, Episode 4)
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss. Directed by Alex Graves.
This mid-season stunner features the brutal mutiny at Craster’s Keep (RIP Commander Mormont), the emergence of Ramsay Snow as one of our major villains, Varys’s creepy origin story, and Dany’s triumphant march from Astapor with the Unsullied army at her back. One of Emilia’s finest hours.

HBO

KISSED BY FIRE (Season 3, Episode 5)
Written by Bryan Cogman. Directed by Alex Graves.
This is my favorite of the episodes I’ve written, partially because the finished product most closely resembles its very first draft. But it’s also one of our best “smaller,” character-focused episodes. I put “smaller” in quotes as we still found room for a big sword fight (Beric vs. The Hound). The episode’s centerpiece is the long, impeccably acted two-hander between Jaime and Brienne – quite possibly the best thing I’ll ever be associated with. Well… it’s a toss-up between that scene and Selyse’s dead babies in the jars (I stand by that idea. Eat it, haters!).

Helen Sloan/HBO

THE RAINS OF CASTAMERE (Season 3, Episode 9)
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss. Directed by David Nutter.
The Red Wedding. This was the episode that changed everything — both for the story and for the life of the show. I’ll never forget the experience of shooting that scene (more or less in sequence) over the course of a week. Michelle Fairley performed her final, gut-wrenching moments with 100 percent commitment during every single rehearsal and every single take — even when the camera wasn’t on her.

Helen Sloan/HBO

THE LAWS OF GODS AND MEN (Season 4, Episode 6)
Written by Bryan Cogman. Directed by Alik Sakharov.
The One with Tyrion’s Trial. I’ve been obsessed with courtroom dramas ever since I memorized practically every word and frame of Billy Wilder’s Witness for the Prosecution and I’ll be forever grateful to David & Dan for entrusting me with adapting this powerful segment of George’s book. Much like the Red Wedding, we shot the trial in sequence and it was such a thrill to watch Peter, over the course of a week, carefully modulate his performance before letting it all boil over in his final, blistering monologue.

Macall B. Polay/HBO

THE MOUNTAIN AND THE VIPER (Season 4, Episode 8)
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss. Directed by Alex Graves.
I can’t say enough about Pedro Pascal. His Oberyn Martell is one of most dynamic and memorable characters in our series. This is the one where his head is smashed in by the Mountain and it explodes!

Helen Sloan/HBO

THE CHILDREN (Season 4, Episode 10)
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss. Directed by Alex Graves.
Far too many iconic scenes and sequences to list here, so I’ll just name my personal favorite: Arya meets Brienne / Brienne fights the Hound / Arya leaves the Hound to die. And that’s just one small part of this truly epic installment. We also lose a bunch of major characters this episode. Which reminds me, if you want to see the most awkward talk show host ever check out the special feature on the season 4 Blu-ray where I attempt to channel Andy Cohen and interview all the actors killed off that season. I’m serious. That happened.

Helen Sloan/HBO

HARDHOME (Season 5, Episode 8)
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss. Directed by Miguel Sapochnik.
Remember the White Walkers? They’re BAAAACK. But this episode is equally strong in its first half, with a sensational two-hander between Sansa and Theon (two of my favorite characters to write played by two of my favorite actors in the world) and Dany’s famous “break the wheel” speech.

HBO

THE DOOR (Season 6, Episode 5)
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss. Directed by Jack Bender.
Hold the door. Hold the— (dissolves into sobs)

HBO

BATTLE OF THE BASTARDS (Season 6, Episode 9)
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss. Directed by Miguel Sapochnik.
Kit Harington is a rock star in this episode, which was a (beg pardon) game-changer for our crew and production team. They are the best in the world and I have been spoiled for the rest of my career.

HBO

THE WINDS OF WINTER (Season 6, Episode 10)
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss. Directed by Miguel Sapochnik.
Could this be the definitive episode of GoT? It’s got just about everything: Jon becomes King in the North (and we learn the truth about his parentage), Cersei blows up the Sept of Baelor and takes the Iron Throne, and Dany finally sets sail for Westeros. Boom! Another tour de force from Miguel Sapochnik… and it’s far from his last (insert second evil laugh here).

Helen Sloan/HBO

THE QUEEN’S JUSTICE (Season 7, Episode 3)
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss. Directed by Mark Mylod.
Many of the best scenes in GoT are simply people talking in rooms. This episode has three blockbusters in that vein: Jon and Dany meeting for the first time in the Dragonstone throne room (my favorite of Deb Riley’s many spectacular sets), Cersei exacting brutal revenge on Ellaria in the black cells, and Lady Olenna (all hail, Dame Diana!) informing Jaime it was she who murdered Joffrey all those years ago… just before she succumbs to poison herself.

HBO

THE SPOILS OF WAR (Season 7, Episode 4)
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss. Directed by Matt Shakman.
This is where things get real, y’all. Jaime and his horse face off against Dany and her dragon. And you don’t know who to root for!

Macall B. Polay/HBO

THE DRAGON AND THE WOLF (Season 7, Episode 7)
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss. Directed by Jeremy Podeswa.
Another epic season finale. The Dragonpit sequence (expertly staged by Jeremy Podeswa) features more of our main characters together than ever before as the various warring factions attempt a truce in the face of a White Walker invasion. Sansa, Arya, and Bran unite to make Littlefinger answer for his many crimes. Jon and Dany finally get together – wait, wait, he’s your nephew!  Oh, and the Wall is brought down by a zombie dragon.

And now our rewatch is ended. See you in season 8.

Game of Thrones returns April 14. 

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HBO’s epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin’s novel series "A Song of Fire and Ice."
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