‘There is only one thing we say to Death. Not today’ – Unfortunately for many characters in Game of Thrones, including the much loved Syrio Forel who issued this now classic line, Death wasn’t listening. Yet Syrio was around for a good few episodes, at least. We grew to love the charismatic former first sword of Braavos. We mourned his death obsessively, inventing elaborate escape stories and fan theories, such as Syrio Forel and Jaqen H’ghar actually being the same person (this could be credible, but it’s too late in the Game to bring him back now. You know what they say about grief.)
Death is so common in Game of Thrones that a bloodless episode is rare. We’re used to seeing characters butchered after a few appearances. However, there are scores of characters that are introduced and then disposed of in the same episode. These characters are what I like to call, ‘One Episode Wonders’. So lets have a look at a few that made more of an impact than their screen time would suggest.
#1: Will – Ranger of the Night’s Watch (S1, E1).
Remember, Will? Think back all the way to the very first episode of Game of Thrones: three rangers of the Night’s Watch (Will included) head north of the wall to scout Wildling villages. At the beginning of the episode, Will discovers the mutilated remains of dozens of Wildlings. Will runs back to let the other rangers know, yet when they return the bodies are gone. At this moment, a White Walker strides into the clearing. He slaughters Will’s brothers, but spares Will. The next time we see Will, he has been captured by Stark banner men as a deserter. Ned Stark passes the sentence and swings the sword. Whilst Will’s death may seem inconsequential, his character introduces us to the threat of the White Walkers. Will is the first man in Westeros to warn of their return. For that reason, he is and always Will be (pun intended) a ‘One Episode Wonder.’
#2: Jon Arryn – Hand of the King and Lord of the Vale (S1, E1).
Okay, so we never actually see Jon Arryn alive. In this sense, some might say he’s a debatable ‘One Episode Wonder’. However, he technically did not survive one episode and that is pretty much all you have to do to fulfill the ‘OEW‘ criteria. Jon Arryn’s death in the first episode of Game of Thrones is the event that sets war in motion. Ned replaces Jon as hand of the King and, like his predecessor, learns the truth about the legitimacy of Cersei’s children. Ned’s sense of honor, however, ultimately dooms him, as he underestimates Cersei and, fatally, her willingness to do anything to protect her children. Jon Arryn, though never alive on screen, is a ‘One Episode Wonder’ whose death causes chaos in Westeros. As such, he is fitting member of ‘OEW’ club.
#3: Mag the Mighty – King of the Giants (S4, E9).
Mag the Mighty’s stint in Game of Thrones was short, bloody and absolutely thrilling. Who cares that we never heard a discernable word come from his mouth (aside from a scream of anger at seeing his kinfolk impaled by a ballista). I mean, that scene down in the tunnel of Castle Black. That was incredible. I had goose bumps all up my arms and was nearly moved to tears, as Gren and co recited their Night’s Watch vows whilst Mag charged toward them – ‘I am the watcher on the wall, the shield that guards the realms of men…’ It still gets me now! For that scene alone, and the small fact that he fits the criteria, Mag the Mighty is most definitely a ‘One Episode Wonder’.
#4: Karsi – Chieftainess of the Ice-River Clans (S5, E8).
I was gutted when Karsi died. She had so much about her and was such a strong character. In fact, I had a sneaking suspicion that she’d fill the Ygritte-shaped void in Jon Snow, but alas, a dead pack children put a stop to that wildling rebound. For me, ‘Hardhome’ is one of the best episodes, if not the best episode of Game of Thrones (a close second to ‘The Battle of the Bastards’, at worst!) Karsi is one of the characters that make the episode such a success. She fulfills both her roles perfectly, mother and leader. Her first priority is to see her children board the ships waiting in the bay. Her second priority is to secure her people’s safety, something she dies for. Saying that, The Night King does resurrect her at the end of the episode, so we may see her again. In any sense, she’s certainly a ‘One Episode Wonder’, for now.
#5: Brother Ray – Faith of the Seven Septon (S6, E7).
Brother Ray was introduced in E7 of S6, ‘The Broken Man’. Whilst the episode was a tad too Hollywood for my liking – man with dark past forced to re-enter his old world – Brother Ray was an interesting character who, of course, was responsible for bringing back the much loved Sandor Clegane (a.k.a. The Hound.) Ray also had a dark past of his own, formerly serving as a sell-sword before finding the light of the Seven, and was a well-needed counter weight to the relentless piety of the High Sparrow. However, Ray was short lived. At the end of the episode, Clegane returns from chopping wood to find that Brother Ray and his community have been murdered by rogue members of the Brotherhood without Banners. The Hound picks up an axe and so begins his revenge mission. For the simple reason that he brought back The Hound, Brother Ray is surely a ‘One Episode Wonder’.