The death of an old king made it likely that there would be war in the realm. It had to happen because a young prince had died.
“The Black Queen,” the thrilling season finale of the Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon, changes everything. When Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) died, there was no doubt that there would be blood all over King’s Landing and the rest of Westeros. Now, that blood is flowing fast because of a dance of the dragon’s miles above the Seven Kingdoms, where two kids playing at being men are armed with weapons of mass destruction that can breathe fire.
Ironically, when “The Black Queen” by Greg Yaitanes starts, Prince Lucerys Velaryon (Elliot Grihault) thinks about death but not his own. He is still thinking about what would happen if his hurt grandfather, Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint), died. If that happened, Luke would get Driftmark. On the other hand, the young prince doesn’t want any of it. He’s been saying this since he was a little boy in episode 7, when he told the Sea Snake, “If I’m the Lord of Driftmark, that means everyone’s dead.” Oh, sweet summer child.
Luke’s mother, Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy), doesn’t have much time to calm Luke’s worries about these upcoming responsibilities. In no time, Princess Rhaenys (Eve Best), fresh from King’s Landing, comes to Dragonstone with bad news. She has dark wings and words about Viserys’s death and the Hightowers taking the crown in return. The two pieces of bad information are enough to send Rhaenyra into early labour. This leads House of the Dragon to another scene of a woman giving birth, and like the last one, Rhaenyra’s baby is born twisted and dead. Rhaenyra has never lost a child before, but we find out at the end of the episode that it won’t be the last.
Rhaenyra’s (one last big sigh for the Kingsroad) husband-uncle Daemon, who has just lost a child, doesn’t want to go through those steps again. Instead, war is the only thing he wants to do. The Rogue Prince gets ready to take the battle to King’s Landing, where he will directly challenge the Hightowers and try to force Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) off the throne. Daemon uses threats to force two knights to work for him. He does this in front of Rhaenyra’s heir Jacaerys (Harry Collett), so the young prince knows what’s at stake. Think about what’s at stake, mainly when Rhaenyra’s sad labour news spreads quickly around Dragonstone.
There are more dragons to be seen.
Learn more: https://t.co/yJcnvqnstg pic.twitter.com/hzRP2dTVd3
— House of the Dragon (@HouseofDragon) October 28, 2022
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The Targaryens get their first and only good news soon after when Rhaenyra and Daemon’s unborn child is laid to rest. In “Fire and Blood,” the baby is named Visenya after Aegon, the Conqueror’s sister-wife. Daemon and his personality throughout the season have mentioned this fearsome warrior. As the funeral pyre burns, Ser Erryk (Elliott Tittensor), one of the Cargyll brothers, arrives with Viserys’s crown. Erryk shows his support for Rhaenyra by bowing down to the Queen Who Should Be. The rest of the people there also bow, except for Princess Rhaenys. She is waiting to say anything until she talks to her husband, Corlys, who was recently hurt and is said to be on the road to recovery.
Queen Rhaenyra starts to take steps to get the Iron Throne back from the people who stole it while she is wearing her father’s crown. Some helpful explanations and the Painted Table of Dragonstone, an intricately carved piece of wood that serves as a map of Westeros, help us get a sense of where we are. As Rhaenyra and her allies stand around this old artefact from the time of the first King Aegon, it becomes clear that the Dragonstone Targaryens don’t have as many people as the Greens, but they have a lot more dragons: 13 to the Greens’ 4. Still, all the dragons in the world might not be enough to beat Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) and his allies, who have public, recent symbols of loyalty and legitimacy on their side.
Otto tells Rhaenyra when he and many of his men come to Dragonstone to demand her surrender, that old promises won’t get her on the Iron Throne. “When your father had a son, the succession changed. I feel bad that you and he were the last to find the truth.”
Rhaenyra doesn’t want to start a fight on the shores of Dragonstone, so she takes Otto Hightower’s Hand, the Kingpin and tells him to leave right away while she thinks about the terms of her surrender. Rhaenyra has stopped a full-scale war on this bridge twice this season. The first time, she was on the other side of Daemon. Now, Rhaenyra and Daemon seem to be fighting for the same thing. But when they are alone together, a fierce fire burns between them. Rhaenyra says it is her duty as queen to honour Aegon the Conqueror’s ancient dream, the Song of Ice and Fire, as her father told her. Hearing about it for what seems to be the first time, Daemon attacks Rhaenyra, nearly choking her to death as he says, “Dreams didn’t make us kings; dragons did.” Rhaenyra realises for the first time that Viserys never told Daemon about this dream, even when Daemon was his heir—a clear sign from Viserys beyond the grave that he never trusted Daemon’s closeness to the I
Journey to the end.
The #HOTDFinale streams tomorrow on @HBOMax. pic.twitter.com/Y1toK76J5r
— House of the Dragon (@HouseofDragon) October 22, 2022
Rhaenys, which is interesting, is also starting to trust Rhaenrya’s use of power. Rhaenys is finally reunited with her husband, the Sea Snake, and she tells Corlys that Rhaenyra, the woman they think killed their son Laenor (John Macmillan), is the best way for their family to move forward. Rhaenys has seen that Rhaenyra doesn’t want to use her dragon power to force Westeros to submit, even though everyone else wants her to. He says, “That girl is holding the realm together now.” Corlys throws his support behind Rhaenyra, adding sea power to her aerial dominance.
Even though Rhaenyra has checked off another box, her side still needs something else: allies and lots of them. Several houses are clearly behind the Hightower robbery, but others have supported Rhaenyra and her claim in the past. So, Jace and Luke Velaryon offer to join the war as envoys and fly on dragons to potential allies. Jace’s job is to ask Vale for help, and then he has to go further north to Winterfell to meet up with Cregan Stark. This is one of the most exciting casting opportunities for season two. In the meantime, Luke will fly to Storm’s End and ask House Baratheon for help. Rhaenyra tells Luke, “I think you’ll be given a hot welcome.” Those are some of the most famous last words ever.
Luke and his dragon Arrax arrive at Storm’s End in the middle of a storm, which is not a warm welcome. Even though he is soaked, the prince pushes into the castle and asks Lord Borros Baratheon (Roger Evans) for help. When he gets there, he finds that another prince, Aemond (Ewan Mitchell), has also come to ask for help. Aemond is the dragon rider whose eye Luke cut out all those years ago. Even though Aemond One-Eye is now big and scary, he hasn’t forgotten what Luke took away from him. Here is Storm’s End, Lord Burros’s clear support for King Aegon gives the sapphire-eyed Aemond the courage to tell Luke, “Give me your eye, or I’ll take it!” “Lord Borros tells the boys to do their business outside, which they do, but tragic things happen as a result.
As the weather in Storm’s End lives up to its name, Luke and Aemond show us the first and last dragon-on-dragon battles of the season from high above on the backs of Arrax and Vhagar. The way it ends makes it clear that it won’t be the last book in the series. At first, Aemond tries to scare Luke, but the fight gets out of hand when Arrax and Vhagar disobey their riders and start killing each other. Aemond tells his dragon to control it, but it doesn’t work. The oldest and biggest living dragon in the known world bites Arrax, killing it and its rider, Luke, on the spot. Aemond and his one eye look up in horror at the empty sky where Luke used to ride and live, and pieces of Arrax fall to the ground below.
With this, the book House of the Dragon is based on Fire and Blood and finally lives up to its name. It also shows why this time in Westeros’s history is called “The Dance of the Dragons.” If only these dragons would dance instead of tearing each other apart. House of the Dragon’s last season won’t end with characters singing a song of ice and fire. I hope that’s not a massive spoiler for you. It shouldn’t be too spoiled to say that Rhaenyra’s dear son Luke’s death may be the start of the war’s bloodshed, but it’s not the end. At least for the first season of House of the Dragon, it is the end.
The season finale.
Sunday on @HBOMax. #HOTDFinale pic.twitter.com/TSUN3P91Az
— House of the Dragon (@HouseofDragon) October 20, 2022
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