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Binge Mode: ‘Game of Thrones’ | Season 5

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(HBO/Ringer illustration)
(HBO/Ringer illustration)

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 5 is below. Click here for more seasons.


S5E1: “The Wars to Come”

Game of Thrones Season 5 starts with “The Wars to Come” — there are 20 more episodes to come in this Binge Mode recap series. On this podcast episode, Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion explore the theme of tough conversations and dissect Cersei’s defining prophecy, then crown a conspirator as the episode’s champion.


S5E2: “The House of Black and White”

The Thrones map expands again in “The House of Black and White,” as Arya arrives in Braavos and Dornish politics enter the game. Political maneuvering occurs at the Wall, too, as the Night’s Watch casts ballots for its new commander, and Rubin and Concepcion are on hand to detail the history of elections in the realm. They also unpack the various temptations offered to characters throughout the episode, and award a new leader with the champion’s purse.


S5E3: “High Sparrow”

Finally, a happy wedding in the Seven Kingdoms, where the only loss is the groom’s virginity. But not all is fun and pigeon pie in “High Sparrow” — characters seek vengeance throughout, and plots are afoot. Binge Mode analyzes those machinations and the history of Volantis before crowning a third-time queen as the episode’s champion.


S5E4: “Sons of the Harpy”

In the Thrones universe, the trickiest threat to quell is more often a gestating insurgency than an external foe. Look no further than “Sons of the Harpy,” where pockets of resistance to a ruling party develop from King’s Landing to Dorne and all the way to Meereen. Rubin and Concepcion discuss how actions have consequences and the bill comes due; they also study Ser Barristan’s biography and award a resurgent force with the champion’s purse.


S5E5: “Kill the Boy”

The final sequence of “Kill the Boy” epitomizes the Thrones viewing experience — wonder and awe from Tyrion at his first sight of a dragon, followed immediately by a violent physical attack on two of the show’s best characters. On Binge Mode, Rubin and Concepcion do their best Tyrion impression and dive into the greyscale-infested waters around Old Valyria to recount the place’s history. They also examine the theme of revolutionary thinking, which this episode’s champion adopts in a purse-winning performance.


S5E6: “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”

Among the larger connective tissues running throughout Season 5 is religion, which increases in fervor in King’s Landing and features prominently in the North and Essos as well. Religion can yield idealism and fanaticism — but it isn’t the only institution that generates such a level of extremism. Binge Mode explores that theme and more, including the backstory behind Braavos and the Faceless Men, before crowning a rising pupil as the episode’s champion.


S5E7: “The Gift”

A transitional episode finds various characters trapped in difficult circumstances — either literally imprisoned or practically so. Rubin and Concepcion analyze their attempts to take chances in “The Gift,” then relate the history of the Faith Militant and award a man of the gods with the champion’s purse (which he probably wouldn’t spend anyway).


S5E8: “Hardhome”

Raise your hands in the air like you just don’t care — or you’re a millennia-old magical being with the power to raise the dead into an unstoppable army. You do you, Night King, and show both Jon and Thrones viewers the real stakes on this show. “Hardhome” is a pulse-pounding episode, and Rubin and Concepcion break down what it means for the future of the series and how its events compare to the versions of the Night King and Hardhome described in the books. They wrap up by crowning a fierce fighter as the episode’s champion.


S5E9: “The Dance of Dragons”

Last episode, we saw ice; now comes the fire. There’s lots of it in “The Dance of Dragons” — some fun (Hi, Drogon!), some less so (Bye, Shireen!). The latter involves a literal sacrifice, but Rubin and Concepcion discuss how the concept manifests in metaphorical fashion, too; they also delve into the history of dragon-killing and crown a first-time episode champion.


S5E10: “Mother’s Mercy”

As one man’s war sputters to a disappointing finish and one woman’s queenly status dissolves on a walk, Binge Mode takes a reverse course and finishes its Season 5 recaps with a bang. Rubin and Concepcion examine the theme of hatred that runs throughout “Mother’s Mercy” and review the backstory behind the walk of atonement, before crowning a new power player as a repeat champion.