By Christian Holub
May 20, 2019 at 06:54 PM EDT
Helen Sloan/HBO
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All hail Bran the Broken! After eight seasons of betrayal, backstabbing, and breathless theories about who would ultimately end up in charge of Westeros, Game of Thrones came to an end Sunday by giving the crown to Bran Stark (played by Isaac Hempstead-Wright). The Iron Throne is no more, but the young Three-Eyed Raven is now the Lord of the Six Kingdoms.

Game of Thrones began with Bran, both in George R.R. Martin’s original book and the TV adaptation. Jaime Lannister pushing Bran out of the window was the catalyst for the War of the Five Kings, and it was Bran whom the Night King sought to kill above all others in the show. But even though he’s been integral to the greater narrative, Bran has often been sidelined from the action and separated from other major characters, and sometimes seemed lost within his own magical story-within-a-story. Now that fans can see how important he always was, it might be worth rewatching some of his best moments. Allow us to help with that!

Here’s our list of 10 essential Bran episodes.

‘Winter Is Coming’ (season 1, episode 1)

If you believe that Martin and GoT showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss knew some semblance of their endgame from the very beginning, then they certainly planted the seeds of Bran’s importance early. He is our first window into the world of Westeros after a prologue beyond the Wall. It is through Bran’s eyes that we first encounter the Starks, King Robert, and the Lannisters. The first episode ends with Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) pushing Bran out a window for discovering the best-kept secret in Westeros, just as the first chapter of Martin’s book does. From Bran’s fall comes the War of the Five Kings, the battle against the White Walkers, and everything else. It all begins here.

‘Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things’ (season 1, episode 4)

This episode marks the first meaningful interaction between Bran Stark and Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), though not the last. Tyrion, not yet knowing that it was his brother who crippled the boy, takes pity on Bran and provides him with a schematic for a saddle that would allow him to ride horses without the use of his legs.

‘The Old Gods and the New’ (season 2, episode 6)

Unlike his sisters, Bran did not have to see his father beheaded. But he does have to watch as Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), long his surrogate brother and protector, brutally executes Ser Rodrik Cassel (Ron Donachie) in order to cement his control over Winterfell. But Theon’s botched execution of the castellan only proves that he is nowhere near the leader Ned Stark (Sean Bean) was. Theon spends the rest of his life paying for it, and ultimately, only Bran is able to redeem him.

‘Dark Wings, Dark Words’ (season 3, episode 2)

Bran escapes the wreckage of Winterfell, but the next stage of his journey doesn’t really kick into gear until the arrival of Jojen Reed (Thomas Brodie-Sangster). This young prodigy is the first one to explain to Bran how his warg powers work and what the Three-Eyed Raven is.

‘The Children’ (season 4, episode 10)

Easy come, easy go. Jojen shows Bran the path to power, but he isn’t able to get there with him. After so many hints and lessons, Bran and his entourage finally make it to the great weirwood tree where the Three-Eyed Raven resides. Alas, even this beautiful place is not safe from the White Walkers’ minions, and Jojen sacrifices himself in order for Bran to make it to a place where he can meet the Children of the Forest and continue his training.

‘Oathbreaker’ (season 6, episode 3)

The road to Aegon Targaryen begins at the Tower of Joy. Although Bran won’t learn the full extent of Jon Snow’s (Kit Harington) parentage for another season, his flashback to the last battle of Robert’s Rebellion is the first indication that not everything Ned Stark told his children was true. Watching his father defeat Ser Arthur Dayne (Luke Roberts) with a back-stab rather than in an honorable duel suggests that maybe Jon isn’t Ned’s son either. Definitely one of the most productive training sessions with the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow).

‘The Door’ (season 6, episode 5)

Hold the door! Bran only gets to be the Broken King because a lot of people die along the way to keep him safe. This episode has a lot of them all at once. Once Bran accidentally makes himself vulnerable to the Night King (Vladimir Furdik), the undead army goes on a rampage through their refuge, killing the Three-Eyed Raven, the Children of the Forest, Summer the direwolf, and even Hodor (Kristian Nairn) before Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick) and Bran can escape. The time travel element makes it all feel even more tragic.

‘The Dragon and the Wolf’ (season 7, episode 7)

When he first returns to Winterfell as the new Three-Eyed Raven, Bran is a bit out of step with his siblings Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Arya (Maisie Williams). But when they all team up against Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen), Bran shows he can still contribute to House Stark. By the end of the episode, he uses his Three-Eyed Raven powers to boost Sam’s (John Bradley) maester knowledge, and together they figure out the all-important secret of Jon’s parentage.

‘The Long Night’ (season 8, episode 3)

The Battle of Winterfell hinges on the Night King’s desire to kill Bran. (We didn’t know it at the time, but Bran’s destiny to heal a divided Westeros probably factors into that.) In a very touching and poetic way, the last man left to defend Bran from the ice demons is Theon, whose actions had originally sundered Bran from his home. In reward for his valiant last stand, Bran tells Theon the one thing he’s wanted to hear all his life: “You’re a good man.”

‘The Iron Throne’ (season 8, episode 6)

We didn’t know it was all leading here, but maybe Bran did. When Tyrion unveils his grand plan to solve Westeros’ crisis by naming him king, Bran reacts like someone who knew all along: “Why do you think I came all this way?” The idea of a ruler with all of history in his brain is an interesting concept to contemplate, as is the idea of a king who can astral-project. He never rode a dragon, but he does get to fly.

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HBO’s epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series A Song of Ice and Fire.
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  • 8
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  • 73
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  • 04/17/11-05/19/19
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