I don't know which of you beautiful humans spilled the beans that I'd be sitting on my butt all holiday season, looking for some kind of content to point my face at, but someone heard you loud and clear, because HBO is airing a Game of Thrones marathon between Christmas and New Year's, and I couldn't be more delighted. They'll be airing one season a day, so 10 episodes, every day from Dec. 26 to Dec. 31, which us non-Westerosi know as New Year's Eve. Obviously I won't be moving an inch, so I will be able to catch every moment of all 60 hour-long episodes. But maybe you have other things to do, like eating piles of delicious food (acceptable) or interacting with other human beings (unacceptable). In that case, how are you supposed to pick the moments when you veg out watching Game of Thrones and when you come up for air to thank your Aunt Maggie for the footie pajamas she's gotten you 25 years in a row?
Well, don't worry, because I have your back, and I'm going to remind you of the one episode from each GoT season that is absolutely can't-miss. That way, you can tune in and out to your heart's content, and still have plenty of time for other important stuff like apologizing to your family dog for being away all the time and being way too big for your childhood bed. So come along with me and listen up — here are the six episodes of Game of Thrones, one per season, that you absolutely have to catch during the marathon.
Season 1, Episode 9 — "Baelor"
Remember the days before you knew that every season of Game of Thrones was going to be an exercise in saying goodbye to your favorite characters? This was the episode that brought reality crashing down on fans of the show, in the form of a shocking death of a character so important to the series that everyone assumed he was safe.
Season 2, Episode 3 — "What Is Dead May Never Die"
A lot of people would probably choose a later episode from this season, like "Blackwater," with its mind-blowing battle scenes and hugely consequential victories and defeats. But personally, I'm much more drawn to "What Is Dead May Never Die," because it's where we meet two of my favorite characters in the entire series, Brienne of Tarth and Margaery Tyrell. It's impossible to imagine the series without them now, so going back to the beginning of their storylines and watching them get introduced is a real blast from the past.
Season 3, Episode 9 — "The Rains Of Castamere"
I mean, the Red Wedding, duh. If we're talking Season 3, it was never gonna be anything else.
Season 4, Episode 8 — "The Mountain And The Viper"
It's right there in the title: This is the episode that brought us the showdown between Oberyn "The Red Viper" Martell and Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane. It's a perfect little package of what audiences find so thrilling and frustrating about the show. Just when it seems that the Viper will defeat the Mountain, avenging the death of his sister Elia Martell, saving Tyrion Lannister, and giving us more of his fascinatingly equal relationship with Ellaria Sand, it ... doesn't go that way, and everything is ruined. Just a reminder to never get your hopes up, packaged in an extremely compelling episode.
Season 5, Episode 10 — "Mother's Mercy"
I'm undoubtedly biased because, as a book reader, this was the last episode in which I had any clue what was coming next, but I feel strongly that this is Game of Thrones' best season finale. There's so much in it that it's tough to even recap in any cogent way, but it includes huge moments for Stannis Baratheon, Myrcella Baratheon, Theon Greyjoy, Sansa Stark, Arya Stark, Jaime Lannister, Tyrion Lannister, Cersei Lannister, Varys ... and, y'know, Jon Snow, who may or may not be dead at the end of it.
Season 6, Episode 5 — "The Door"
You can watch the season finale on your own time to get ready for the seven new episodes coming your way in Summer 2017, but while you're under my roof, you watch "The Door." Hodor, hodor, hodor, hodor. I'm not crying, you're crying.
And there it is, you've made it through your time at home with a refreshed memory of Game of Thrones, and you've only had to dedicate six hours to it. You're welcome. Although I won't be mad if you ignore my advice and watch the other 54 hours as well. It's Christmas, after all.