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Binge Mode: ‘Game of Thrones’ | Season 2

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Get ready for Game of Thrones Season 7 by binge-watching all 60 existing episodes with The Ringer’s experts, Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion, as they deep-dive one episode at a time to parse the theories, history, characters, and themes that enrich one of the defining stories of our time. Season 2 is below. Click here for more seasons.

S2E1: “The North Remembers”

As Game of Thrones Season 2 begins with “The North Remembers,” we’re off to new lands of both ice and fire, with new characters joining the cast and new competitors for the Iron Throne entering the fray. To kick off Season 2, Binge Mode unpacks the episode’s central theme of flexing — the shows of power and/or the facade thereof — and explores the history of Dragonstone and the rules of succession. Fittingly, given all of the new components appearing in this episode, a character making her onscreen debut receives the champion’s purse.

S2E2: “The Night Lands”

The Game of Thrones map continues to expand in “The Night Lands,” as one main character returns home while another continues her eastward journey. On this episode of Binge Mode, Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion parse how identity manifests on the show, and how a character’s self-perception and desired perception among others can clash and influence one’s outward appearance. They also break down the backstory of the Greyjoy Rebellion and Iron Islands culture before crowning a fan favorite as the episode’s champion.

S2E3: “What Is Dead May Never Die”

Strategy is afoot throughout the Seven Kingdoms in “What Is Dead May Never Die,” from small-scale detective work to larger-stakes plans for war. This episode analyzes the central theme of lessons, from both mentor-protégé relationships to broader teachable moments, before explaining the history of maesters and the disappearance of magic and crowning a new player in the titular Game of Thrones.

S2E4: “Garden of Bones”

As war continues in the Seven Kingdoms and threatens to expand on multiple fronts, its costs and widespread losses begin to mount, too, which comprises the central theme that Mallory and Jason explore on this episode. They also examine the backstory behind the curse of Harrenhal before crowning a repeat winner as the champion of “Garden of Bones.”

S2E5: “The Ghost of Harrenhal”

Game of Thrones is generally filled with action, but “The Ghost of Harrenhal” sees the main players recalibrating their expectations and resetting their intentions after a shocking first scene. This episode of Binge Mode analyzes the central theme of preparation and planning, and how characters at this stage of the game are regrouping and repositioning, taking stock and forming a plan — or, more perilously, failing to do so. It also details the battles and events leading up to the assassination of a would-be ruler before crowning a competitor for the throne as the episode’s champion.

S2E6: “The Old Gods and the New”

Move over, Benedict Arnold: After a quarter millennium of serving as the exemplar of betrayal, there’s a new man to take on that mantle. On this episode, Mallory and Jason parse the theme of betrayal in “The Old Gods and the New” before delving into the history of the city of Qarth and crowning the chief practitioner of betrayal as episode champion.

S2E7: “A Man Without Honor”

You win or you die, this show once said, so survival is a prerequisite for achieving one’s goals and ambitions. “A Man Without Honor” features characters taking steps to affirm their survival, from shielding themselves and seeking protection to securing their reputation and keeping future agendas intact. This episode of Binge Mode reviews that central theme and its varied forms of expression before examining the history of the Wildlings and crowning a pair of local rivals as the episode’s champions.

S2E8: “The Prince of Winterfell”

As the pieces settle into place for Season 2’s explosive penultimate episode, Mallory and Jason study the central theme of “The Prince of Winterfell,” fear, and its various manifestations and effects as either motivating agent or paralyzer. They also provide the backstory of the Onion Knight and siege of Storm’s End before awarding a debt collector with the champion’s purse.

S2E9: “Blackwater”

The first battle episode of Game of Thrones is an all-timer, as a season full of power flexes and lessons and preparation and betrayal and survival reaches its climax. The emotions run high and the battle runs violent, and this episode of Binge Mode explores how characters risk everything in “Blackwater.” Then, Mallory and Jason consider the backstories behind the Lord of Light and blood magic and crown an unlikely war hero as the episode’s champion.

S2E10: “Valar Morghulis”

The battle depicted in “Blackwater” is completed, but the war is far from over. Such is the central issue of note in “Valar Morghulis,” which Mallory and Jason discuss as the second set of Binge Mode episodes reaches its end. They also relate the history of the Fist of the First Men before crowning the final champion of the season, who adds a second tally to a certain season-finale streak.