by Preston Tolliver
Over the last few weeks followers of The Word’s Facebook page have been participating in a tournament to select the “Greatest Drama Episode” in television history. Sixty-eight episodes began the tournament and on Monday the “Game of Thrones” third season episode “The Rains of Castamere” came out victorious over the “Breaking Bad” fifth season episode “Ozymandias” taking the crown with 59 percent of the vote.
The Word’s Preston Tolliver explains why “The Rains of Castamere” is a deserving champion:
Make no mistake. “The Rains of Castamere” (season three, episode nine) of “Game of Thrones” wasn’t voted The Word’s Best Drama Episode because it was captivating and enthralling start-to-finish. In fact, I don’t even remember what happened through most of it.
“The Rains of Castamere” won because of a scene. A scene that ripped viewers out of the Westeros they envisioned of hopes and possibilities and plunged them into what Westeros really was: a cold place where Cersei Lannister’s words of wisdom to Ned Stark in the first season, “when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die,” cut deeper than Roose Bolton’s knife in Robb Stark’s back. And in the world of Westeros, there were a lot of players.
It was also an episode that changed the way television is written - normally, you know who the main character of a TV show is when you start it, and you expect to ride with them until the final credits roll. Sure, Ned Stark losing his head (spoiler!) was a surprise, but they wouldn’t pull that again. But then they did, and our comfort for the rest of the series was as shaky as the towers on the wall during an ice dragon attack (another spoiler!).
With the penultimate episode of the show’s third season, “Game of Thrones” (or more accurately, George R.R. Martin, in the books) flipped the narrative on its head, fulfilling a promise that other shows left empty: a show that truly gave viewers the unexpected (OK, unless you read the books). Good doesn’t always conquer evil, and the main protagonist may sooner find themselves without a head than with a crown. In the face of “The Rains of Castamere,” all other dramas just became too predictable.
The Word’s Greatest Drama Episode Tournament: Top 40