The ninth episode of Season 6 of Game of Thrones premieres on HBO in just a few days. Every GoT fan knows by now every season’s Episode 9 is one to be feared and watched with a good stiff drink. It is also usually the best episode of its respective season. So which is the best of the best?
#5 — Season 2 Episode 9: Blackwater
Hey, remember when Tyrion was Hand of the King? Joffrey Baratheon was still alive and well and torturing his betrothed, Sansa Stark. Cersei’s hair was still long and Lancel Lannister still had hair. Speaking of people who still had things, Robb Stark, head intact, was waging a rebellion in the North as part of the whole War of the Five Kings extravaganza. As such, there were still Starks romping about, keeping the moral high ground. Most of the direwolves lived. Theon was a shite but he, too, still enjoyed all of his original appendages.
Guys, Gendry was still around. Ah the good ol’ days.
By the time Blackwater came about Stannis Baratheon had already murdered his brother Renly by proxy and was ready to get rid of his nephew to take his place on the Iron Throne. His fleet had arrived in the Blackwater Rush outside of King’s Landing. Tyrion, however, had prepared a bit of a frightening surprise: wildfire. It’s one of the deadliest, most potent substances in the Seven Kingdoms. Think napalm.
Before Robert Baratheon deposed King Aerys II, a.k.a. the Mad King, the tyrant kept caches of wildfire beneath the entire city and even the Red Keep itself. He planned to burn it all to the ground, expecting he’d arise from the flames as a dragon. Upon learning of this diabolical plan, Jaime Lannister killed the king, thus earning the unfair moniker “Kingslayer.” In the years following, most believed the wildfire inventory to be a myth. Tyrion was able to confirm that yes, it did exist as pyromancers, on the orders of Queen Cersei, had been secretly collecting the caches of wildfire in case of such a seige as they now faced.
Tyrion orders the substance poured into the river, unbeknownst to Stannis’ fleet. The wildfire is later lit with a flaming arrow, destroying most of the ships. However it’s not enough to stop Stannis altogether. Though he makes it into the city, at the last minute Tywin Lannister, joined by Loras Tyrell as part of a new alliance, arrives to stop the invasion and secure King Joffrey’s victory.
What makes this such a gripping episode isn’t just the huge battle scenes and the spectacle of green mystical fire engulfing a fleet of ships. Most of the gems of the episode lie in the details. Tyrion, in particular, truly shines as he suits up and takes the reins to command the defense of the city despite his stature and reputation. On the other hand, Joffrey proves to be the coward we’ve always known he was as he flees the battle at his mother’s behest. This is also when the Hound realizes he’s sick of being a Lannister lackey and takes off on his own. And though he’s a complete dick, you have to admit you felt a bit relieved when Tywin swaggered into the throne room in the nick of time. After all, the Lannisters are the ones we love to hate.
Most Satisfying Moment: The random kingsguardman, having sliced Tyrion on the cheek (giving him a permanent scar) and moving in for the kill, gets his come-uppance via Podrick impaling him through the head with a spear.
Most Heartbreaking Moment: Sansa’s refusal to let the Hound take her out of the city, choosing to stay with Joffrey despite all he’s done to her thus far. Bet she still regrets that decision.