The Story: King Stannis’ army invades Blackwater Bay.
Why It’s On This List: “Blackwater” marked one of the first major battles on Game of Thrones.
The show needed a larger budget to accommodate all the action, but it still managed to focus on specific characters, showing the terrible cost of war through the eyes of infantrymen, the women left behind, and main players like Tyrion, Davos, and Stannis. Tyrion came into his own this episode, rallying his men and stepping into a leadership position for the first time while Cersei exhibited how ruthlessly pragmatic she could be by planning the murder of her children should the city fall. It took the conventional formulaic method for on-screen battle and kicked it up a notch.