There are few things more pleasurable than savoring every detail from a given episode of the Game of Thrones. Each installment is rich and dense and full of portent, with much of it deeply informed by what has come before. The details are so important, in fact, that it’s all also incredibly overwhelming. If you don’t possess a firm grasp of Westerosi history or a particularly good memory, the earlier seasons — which are crucial to understanding and contextualizing what’s happening — can exist as little more than hazy references, with callbacks, Easter eggs, and tied-up loose ends soaring by unrecognized.
Thank goodness, then, for the cottage industry of Game of Thrones recap podcasts, whose guidance has proven invaluable throughout the years. The TV-recap genre is an old staple within podcasting, and these days, there is no lack of choices when it comes to Thrones, with these five consistently being the most interesting or accessible:
A Cast of Kings
Hosts: Dave Chen and Joanna Robinson
Number of episodes: 79 (Average length: Over an hour)
New episodes: Tuesdays
Dave Chen is a prolific publisher of podcasts about film and TV going back years, perhaps most prominently as the co-host of the Slashfilmcast. Here, he partners with frequent collaborator Joanna Robinson, with whom he’s also done recap pods for Westworld and Twin Peaks. Chen is an interesting recapper, more technically driven in his approach than others, which pairs nicely with Joanna Robinson, who is one of the more prominent, engaging, and prolific Thrones recappers on the internet. So prolific, in fact, that you can also find her on another Thrones podcast …
A Storm of Spoilers
Hosts: Joanna Robinson, Dave Gonzales, and Neil Miller
Number of episodes: 101 (Over an hour)
New episodes: Wednesdays
A Storm of Spoilers is perfect for those who have a solid working knowledge of the books and a taste for speculation on which elements may or may not carry over into the adaptation. (Also, anyone who enjoys hearing fairly wonky discussions and osmotically learning about the books by floating in the deep end.) The “skirting into book territory” thing is a common point of contention and concern among Thrones recap podcasts, most of which try to keep things focused on the HBO production, since not everybody who watches the TV show has read the books, and not everything from the books is germane to the TV show. There’s probably a longer piece to be written about the creative politics and proper consumption etiquette for stuff like this, but that’s for another day. Anyway, if you’re super into the books and conspiracy theory, A Storm of Spoilers is definitely for you.
Game of Thrones The Podcast
Hosts: Jim Jones and A. Ron Hubbard
Number of episodes: 113 (Over an hour)
New episodes: Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays
The Cincinnati-based duo of Jones and Hubbard have been making recap podcasts since 2010, and you could describe this production as one that embodies much of how you’d conventionally characterize the early culture of podcasting: a bunch of people around microphones talking about something they love. That scruffy, DIY quality is the source of this podcast’s charm: Jones and Hubbard have a quiet, relaxed chemistry, creating a comfortable vibe. If you’re looking for space to chill and dust off the ashes of immolated Lannister soldiers, this is for you.
Nerdette Recaps Game of Thrones With Peter Sagal
Hosts: Greta Johnsen, Tricia Bobeda, and the titular Peter Sagal
Number of episodes: 29 (Under an hour)
New episodes: Mondays
It’s not the most intuitive thing to mix the NPR game show “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” with a Game of Thrones recap podcast, but hey, it’s also not intuitive to mix Coke and red wine, and yet that weirdly tastes really good. (Honestly.) Nerdette Recaps Game of Thrones With Peter Sagal is similarly weirdly good, with the fabulous duo of Greta Johnsen and Tricia Bobeda — whose Nerdette podcast is an excellent and quirky interview show with an eclectic guest list — serving as an entertaining foil to Wait Wait host Sagal, who’s quick with self-deprecation and a comedy-club-MC-esque shtick.
Binge Mode: Game of Thrones
Hosts: Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion
Number of episodes: 64 (Around an hour)
New episodes: Thursdays
The best, or at least most impressive, of these podcasts may be this relatively new entry by the industrious team over at the Ringer. Binge Mode has a design gambit that’s ambitious nearly to the point of absurdity: The show debuted earlier this summer with a weekly publishing schedule that saw it dropping ten episodes at a time — each bundle a full season’s worth of analysis — to serve as deep-dive compendium that unpacks every episode with an analytical rigor and a framework so comprehensive that it comes damn close to being actual scholarship. The show has shifted gears with the premiere of this season, taking on a more straightforward weekly recap format, but even these newer episodes are directly informed by the body of knowledge that hosts Rubin and Concepcion have laid down in the bundles that came before. The level of effort and unique editorial structure feel unprecedented, and in many ways you could argue that it represents a fascinating step forward in the evolution of this well-worn podcast genre.