Winter is finally here: Game of Thrones returns for its final six episodes beginning Sunday, April 14th on HBO. If you haven’t heard about this, it’s because you’re doing a really good job of avoiding the marketing and media onslaught.
I tried to launch a re-watch of the first seven seasons — many of which approach or surpass a full hour in length — and made it early into the second season. What often gets lost amongst all of the epic battles and dragons-y stuff is that the show is as good as it is because of its rich and finely developed world building, including the grounded politics and religion and relationships and “rules” of this world (including its super low tech and mostly non-magical technology). This is all thanks to the writing of novelist George R. R. Martin of course, but as someone who has read the five (of expected… seven, maybe?) published novels of the A Song of Fire and Ice series, I can say this is a rare occasion where the television or film version of an already very good (if quite dense) series of books is far surpassed in the visualized story form.
I looked for a solid synopsis of the TV series to date and couldn’t find anything worth sharing that’s in chronological order. However, The Ringer‘s Definitive ‘Game of Thrones’ Episode Rankings does a fine job of summing things up on an episode-to-episode basis with an editorial tilt, and further provides a take on who “won” each episode (Jon Snow’s the winner of the brilliant “Hardhome” — “The last 20 minutes are as blistering an action sequence as anything I’ve seen in films or television in the last five years” — for instance), and links to the equally nerdy and outstanding Binge Mode podcast episodes.
There’s an endless amount of content out there to help you get hyped for the final episodes. Staying with The Ringer (which has gone all in on coverage this week), they did a bunch of fun pieces, such as Power Ranking the Top 25 Villains in ‘Game of Thrones’ History. The #1 selection is a little hard to guess if you’ve not done a recent and full re-watch, but ultimately makes sense given the criteria The Ringer team rigorously applies. And here’s a power ranking of the 25 most anticipated reunions in the final episodes. (Yep, there are that many characters and moving pieces and locations to deal with at this late date.)
Alan Sepinwall checks in with the 10 Best ‘Game of Thrones’ Moments So Far. And I found this Vulture piece to be really cool: Game of Thrones Official Photographer on Her 14 Favorite Behind-the-Scenes Shots.
Then there’s just a bunch of silly and wacky stuff, such as this genuinely funny Saturday Night Live “New HBO Shows” promo sketch. If you’re curious about what Conleth Hill, who plays Varys, looks and sounds like in real life (full head of hair!), check him out on Seth Meyers’ couch. And then discover that Sean Bean Is Really Meaning to Catch Up on Game of Thrones.
There’s a lot of talk in TV critic-y circles about how GoT represents the end of an era, with this being the last TV show for the foreseeable future that people will watch when it airs (or close to it) and discuss in a next day, around the water cooler (virtual or otherwise) kind of way. Here’s a few of those pieces, if you’ve an interest.
Some opinion pieces are better than others. One, on the less better than other side, asks, “Must I watch them?” of the final episodes. This question is answered with musings such as, “Well, in part, it’s because I feel fairly certain that the final episodes will be bad.”
Last I checked, the Sons of the Harpy will not be on deck to massacre those who choose not to participate in watching the final Game of Thrones episodes.
This post originally appeared in what had originally been called The Eric Berlin E-mail Newsletter. To get a weekly blast of pop culture, digital media, and politics that helps make sense of an increasingly frazzled world, sign on up for The Berlin Files here.