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The Most Ironic and Comically Understated HBO Episode Descriptions for "Game of Thrones"

By Rob Payne | Lists | May 29, 2013 |

By Rob Payne | Lists | May 29, 2013 |

In our age of televisual guidebooks, channel listing channels on cable, and every network series (on top of every network) has their own website, it stands to reason that somewhere, somehow, somebody is producing content. Of course, in our age of fiscal frugality, it also makes sense that the fewer people filling those jobs (and thus drawing a paycheck) the better. This naturally accounts for the redundancy one finds in descriptions for episodic television, where, before an episode airs, the official synopsis from CBS or Fox or AMC will appear on a series’ page, the network’s main page, TV Guide/, Hulu, Amazon, your cable provider’s guide, etc., etc., amen.

All episodes of TV require this, because we demand as much useless information as possible at all times. So these descriptions are mostly stale, to the point, and devoid of spoilers unless you’ve been paying any amount of any attention. Even shows that are epic in scale and content, like HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” can’t escape the ever-expanding spiel of banal entreaties to please, please watch. But over time, whomever is responsible for writing the descriptions for each 10 episode season has started to have a little, mostly harmless fun. Perhaps a little too much fun. When the series began each installment was given a basic high-level summary of what to expect, but in the past season-and-a-half those summaries have gotten punchier and more erudite. Case in point are two episodes, both the eighth of their seasons (one and three, respectively), because that’s as far as I can go without spoiling myself.

From The Pointy End:
“Syrio comes to the rescue of his pupil Arya during a confrontation with the Lannister guards after Ned is captured. Meanwhile, Robb assembles the Stark allies to prepare for war in the south against Tywin Lannister; Jon clashes with drill instructor Thorne at the Night’s Watch; Tyrion finds an unlikely alliance in the hills; and Daenerys has second thoughts about her quest for power after a Dothraki attack on a peaceful village.”

From Second Sons:
“A wedding at King’s Landing starts a new life for an unlikely couple; Davos wants proof from Melisandre; Sam and Gilly have an encounter with an older man; Daenerys meets the Titan’s Bastard.”

The former, even in retrospect, doesn’t provide much entertainment value. The latter, however, is delightful in whimsy upon reinvestigation. It’s one thing to describe the scene of Drogo giving Viserys his golden crown as “Viserys demands that Drogo make good on his payment for Daenerys” — because that is essentially the circumstance for the not-at-all-unexpected action — and another to describe the scene of Jaime and Brienne breaking bread with Lord Bolton as “Jaime’s fate is in Roose Bolton’s hands” — playing up not only Jaime’s recent handicapableness, but also subtly referencing Bolton’s own cruel jest in the episode itself. That’s downright sardonic.

So, even though we don’t have any new events transpiring in Westeros to talk about this week, let’s take a stroll down memory lane and look at the 13 Most Understated and Ironic Episode Descriptions for HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” Enjoy!

Season 1, Episode 9 - Baelor: “Tyrion finds himself in an unfamiliar situation.”
Does it count if he never made it to the battle?

Season 2, Episode 5 - The Ghost of Harrenhal: “The Baratheon rivalry ends.”
You don’t say?

Season 2, Episode 6 - The Old Gods and the New: “Joffrey meets his subjects.”

Season 2, Episode 8 - The Prince of Winterfell: “Jaqen doesn’t care for Arya’s method of calling in a debt.”
Way harsh, Tai.

Season 2, Episode 10 - Valar Morghulis: “Jon proves his worth to Qhorin.”
That’s one way to put it!

Season 3, Episode 2 - Dark Wings, Dark Words: “Sansa tries not to crack under pressure.”

Season 3, Episode 4 - And Now His Watch Has Ended: “Daenerys deftly orchestrates her exit from Astapor.”
With that mic drop, I’d call the Mother of Dragons’ exit “Mos Def-tly.”

Season 3, Episode 4 - And Now His Watch Has Ended: “Varys plots revenge on an old foe.”
“Plots?” More like “takes,” am I right, folks?

Season 3, Episode 5 - Kissed by Fire: “The gods judge the Hound.”
I guess they didn’t find him wanting? Sorry, Arya.

Season 3, Episode 7 - The Bear and the Maiden Fair: “Daenerys exchanges gifts with a slave lord near Yunkai.”
Dragon Translation: “You watch your whore mouth, slaver!”

Season 3, Episode 7 - The Bear and the Maiden Fair: “Brienne battles a formidable adversary in Harrenhal.”
The bear wouldn’t be quite so formidable if Brienne had a non-wooden sword.

Season 3, Episode 8 - Second Sons: “Sam and Gilly have an encounter with an older man.”
He was so old…

Season 1, Episode 7 - You Win or You Die: “Robert hopes for a smooth transition at King’s Landing.”

Whoops! Again.

Granted, the depths of irony of that last plot observation couldn’t really be revealed until seasons after it was made, but it’s the smoking gun of HBO’s epic trollery. Somebody at the network is f*cking with us. That somebody deserves a raise.

Rob Payne also writes the comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter, tumbls on the Tumblr, and his wares can be purchased here. He can’t wait to read season 3’s finale description until after the episode airs.

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