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House of the Dragon season 1 finale recap: A shocking death leads to all-out war

The storm has finally broken, and it’s time for the dragons to dance. Season one of House of the Dragon, one of the best shows currently streaming on HBO Max, reached its highly anticipated conclusion with an episode that delivered all the thrills fans expected. The season laid the groundwork for the Dance of the Dragons, the civil war of succession that divided the Targaryens and eventually ended in misery for everyone involved, not to mention the extinction of all dragons for the next two centuries. And after nine episodes of political intrigue, drama, scheming, and dragons, the pieces are in place, and the dance can officially begin.

The episode, titled “The Black Queen,” centered entirely on the blacks; the previous episode, “The Green Council,” revolved around the greens and their successful efforts to crown Aegon II as king of the Seven Kingdoms. Episode 10 begins with Rhaenyra receiving the news of her father’s death from Rhaenys, who escaped King’s Landing at the end of episode nine and flew straight to Dragonstone to warn her niece about the greens’ plot. Rhaenyra goes into early labor, leaving Daemon to plan their next moves. The Rogue Prince quickly moves, despite Rhaenyra’s orders that no decision should be made without her approval.

Rhaeneyra conforts Luke in The House of the Dragon.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Unfortunately, Rhaenyra loses her baby, adding an extra layer of tragedy to the situation. During the babe’s funeral, Ser Erryk Cargyll, who helped Rhaenys escape King’s Landing in “The Green Council,” arrives at Dragonstone with King Viserys’ crown; Daemon places it on Rhaenyra’s head and declares her Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. The blacks then receive a visit from Otto Hightower, who carries terms from Alicent to resolve the conflict peacefully. The now Dowager Queen offers to bestow Dragonstone onto Rhaenyra and for the lands to pass to Jacaerys (Jace for short) after her death, to declare Lucerys (Luke) heir to Driftmark and Lord of the Tides, and to name her sons with Daemon — Aemon the Younger and Viserys — as Aegon II’s squire and cupbearer, respectively. Daemon immediately shuts the proposal down, but Rhaenyra claims she will consider it.

Daemon and Rhaenyra then have a tense confrontation in which he physically assaults her after she states her desire to avoid war and honor her father’s wishes regarding the Song of Ice and Fire prophecy. An enraged Daemon claims Viserys’ fantasies are of no consequence, leading Rhaenyra to understand her late father never told Daemon about Aegon the Conqueror’s dream and the threat from the North.

Corlys Velaryon recovers from his injuries and, after a one-to-one with Rhaenys, reaffirms his support for Rhaenyra and pledges the Velaryon fleet to her cause. Rhaenyra decides she must send envoys to three major houses — Arryn, Stark, and Baratheon — and Jacaerys volunteers himself and Lucerys for the task. Rhaenyra tells her children they must avoid fighting as they are messengers only and sends them on their way.

Daemon stands next to his dragon in House of the Dragon.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Luke arrives at Storm’s End atop his dragon, Arrax, to deliver his mother’s message to Lord Borros Baratheon. However, he discovers Aemond is already there and offering his hand in marriage to one of Borros’ daughters should the Stormlord back Aegon II’s claim. Lord Borros shuts Luke down because of his lack of offers and sends him back to Rhaenyra.

However, Aemond confronts Luke and demands he takes his own eye out as payment for Aemond’s earlier loss, recalling the confrontation between Alicent and Rhaenyra in episode seven, “Driftmark.” Luke logically says no, but before Aemond can attack, Lord Borros stops them and orders his men to escort Luke back to his dragon.

Daemon and Rhaenyra Targaryen looking in the same direction with confused expressions in House of the Dragon.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

A nervous Luke jumps on the unsettled Arrax and into the storm, only to discover the vengeful Aemond is chasing him atop Vhagar. Aemond teases Luke, but the young Velaryon prince evades his uncle, not before his still inexperienced dragon shoots Dragonfire at the increasingly angry Vhagar. In a major departure from Fire & Blood, Vhagar acts on her own accord and kills Arrax and Luke, leaving Aemond visibly shocked. The episode ends with Rhaenyra receiving the news of her son’s death and staring into the camera with a storm of emotions raging across her face.

Fans will have to wait approximately two years before season two of House of the Dragon, since production will seemingly begin in April or May 2023. The two-year wait for the next chapter in this exciting and larger-than-life saga might seem like torture, but that is the landscape we are currently living in, with shows taking their sweet time between seasons. Based on House of the Dragon‘s wild success, though, HBO might not want to let too much time pass between seasons. For now, fans will have to take comfort in the incredible first season they just experienced and look forward to a promising and fiery future. The Dance of the Dragons is finally afoot.

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David Caballero
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