We take a look at Miguel Sapochnik’s best episodes of Game of Thrones including Hardhome, The Long Night and Battle of the Bastards

*Spoiler warning for Seasons 5-8 of Game of Thrones*

Game of Thrones has not become the world’s most popular TV show by accident. A lot of hard work, dedication and brilliant storytelling has played a massive part in the show becoming this all-encompassing behemoth in the world of entertainment.

Earlier seasons focussed heavily on the political game-playing as Westeros’s many great Houses vyed for the Iron Throne. In recent years though, the action in the show has become ever more present and just like the show itself, these action-heavy episodes are a cut above most set-pieces in even Hollywood movies.

This is an area where Game of Thrones director Miguel Sapochnik has really made his own in the few episodes of the show he’s helmed.

Since Season 5 of the HBO show, Sapochnik has now directed six episodes of Game of Thrones with his final episode coming in this week’s penultimate episode which saw King’s Landing destroyed in a blaze of dragonfire.

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It’s a credit to the director that most of his episodes make it into the upper echelons of lists ranking essential Game of Thrones episodes to watch. As a result, we thought we’d take a closer look at the Game of Thrones episodes directed by the revered Miguel Sapochnik.   

6. The Gift

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The director made his debut in the world of Westeros with Season 5’s ‘The Gift.’ The episode in question is the only one of Sapochnik’s not to feature a truly huge action set-piece as most of his episodes focus on the show’s biggest battles.

What we do get however, is a fascinating episode that sees the first ever meeting between Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister, her future Hand of the Queen. This episode also gives us the tragic passing of Maester Aemon, the only character in the show to die of old age as well as the surprising turn of events that sees Cersei Lannister imprisoned by the religious fanatics she helped to unearth.

5. The Winds of Winter

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The final episode of Season 6 completely changes the game in a manner only Sapochnik could bring to the screen.

The opening ten minutes of the episode alone sees countless main characters, all of whom had played a major part in the show until this point, die in a heartbeat as Cersei Lannister enacts her plan for callous revenge by blowing up the Great Sept of Baelor. 

On top of that, we also get the first revelation about Jon Snow’s true parents as well as Daenerys Targaryen setting sail on her conquest for the Iron Throne after spending all six seasons until this point in Essos.

The events in this episode completely reconfigured the direction of the show and Sapochnik handled it masterfully.

4. Hardhome

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Of course, Miguel Sapochnik has earned his reputation on Game of Thrones thanks to his adept handling of action set-pieces and what we get in Hardhome is one of the best the show has to offer.

This episode gives us our first real glimpse at the destructive and awesome power possessed by the Night King and his army of the dead. If you didn’t fear the undead horde or the White Walkers before this episode, you’ll certainly fear them after watching Hardhome. Not least for THAT moment when the Night King raises his arms and all those who have just fallen in battle reanimate and become more soldiers for his army.

Chilling stuff.

3. The Long Night

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At 78 minutes long, The Long Night is right up there amongst the longest episodes in the series and is filled to the brim with wall-to-wall action. The episode sees the final climactic showdown between The Night King’s army of the dead and our heroes on the side of the living. The battle that takes place over the course of this episode has to be regarded amongst the biggest and best in cinema, let alone TV.  

2. The Bells

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Sapochnik’s latest episode under his Game of Thrones belt is the show’s most recent, The Bells.

The penultimate episode in the show’s history completely tore up the rule book and gave us a dark turn for one of the show’s main characters. The episode perfectly signifies the show’s impending finale by tearing down the city where viewers will have spent most of their time, King’s Landing. The episode left me shaking my head throughout, not for being bad, but for the evil actions of a character we thought to be just and kind. 

With the show coming to an end after eight seasons, The Bells is a perfect way to set up the final episode that will finally give us the winner of the game of thrones itself.  

1. Battle of the Bastards 

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While the Battle of Winterfell that takes place in The Long Night may be the biggest battle put to screen in Game of Thrones, it still doesn’t quite take top spot.

No, that honour belongs to Miguel Sapochnik’s finest work yet, Season 6’s Battle of the Bastards. This episode was unlike anything seen in the show or mainstream movies up to this point. 

The final confrontation between Jon Snow and Ramsay Bolton dominates the episode but it’s the less obvious details, the way Ramsay toys with Jon as the battle begins to the chaotic scenes as the fighting gets ever fiercer, that really sells this episode and credit has to go to Miguel Sapochnik and his eye for detail in creating arguably the best episode in all of Game of Thrones.

And that’s our list. Do you think that Sapochnik’s episodes are among the best the show has to offer?

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