We made it to the finale of House of the Dragon, season one and you bet we’re going to take a deep dive into all the clues and burning questions we have before season two arrives next year. Episode 10 was, in many ways, similar to episode nine—a reaction to the death of King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine). The difference? This episode focused on Rhaenyra Targaryen and her followers (The “Blacks”).
Our final, season ending question harks back to the early episodes: Rhaenyra strives to be a ruler similar to her father, targeting peace and unity, instead of war and bloodshed. We know she doesn’t succeed in this, but what happens now?
As everything boils back down to the deceased Viserys’ choice to name Rhaenyra heir, let’s look at some noteworthy moments from episode 10 and answer questions you might have about them.
How Does Rhaenyra Targaryen Handle the News of her Father’s Passing?
Episode 10 opens with Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best) breaking the news of Viserys’ untimely passing to both Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy) and Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith). They handle this news very differently. Rhaenyra is stunned by both the news and the revelation that they’ve passed over her presumed succession to publicly name Aegon Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney) King of the Realm. Daemon immediately assumes that the Hightower’s killed his brother and seeks near immediate declaration of war.
Rhaenyra fully wishes to uphold her father’s desires in holding the realm together at whatever cost. It’s been evident for the entire duration of the first season that Daemon sees the world differently than other Targaryen’s do, and that puts him at odds with the plans of his wife (for now).
How is Rhaenyra Similar to Viserys?
The scene of Rhaenyra cremating her ill-deformed, birthed child is one is the more heart wrenching scenes of the show so far and brings back memories of Viserys’ similarly difficult scenes cremating his son, Baelon Targaryen, in episode one.
Like her father, Rhaenyra suffers the unimaginable loss of a child (twice) in this episode yet is focused on pulling herself together for the good of the realm. Perhaps the passing of Viserys has finally cleared her mind as to what kind of ruler she wishes to be.
Similarly, Viserys wished to remain a noncombatant in the War of the Stepstones, as Rhaenyra now wishes to not engage in the pending Dance of the Dragons. In both situations, Daemon is ready to fight to death (though for very different reasons this time around).
How is Rhaenyra Similar to Alicent Hightower?
Though they are now enemies in the clearest and truest sense of the word, Rhaenyra’s restraint and desire to avoid conflict in this episode does bear some similarity to that of Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) in Episode 9. Both are at odds— yet both women seek to avoid the mistakes of men in this episode. Neither wishes to plunge into the realm headfirst and headlong into a bloody conflict, yet we know this is endgame. This is the Game of Thrones, after all.
How is Daemon Similar to Otto Hightower?
The always plotting Otto Hightower (Rhys Ilfans) shows up at Dragonstone with ideals of a truce/peace, offered by his daughter, but we can see that he truly doesn’t mean much. It’s a similar scene to when he went to reclaim the dragon eggs stolen by Daemon earlier in the season. Only this time, Rhaenyra’s arrival on her dragon signals imminent danger for him, not saving.
Much like Otto, Daemon sees only one way to resolve this affront to his family by the “usurpers” – through war and bloodshed. Daemon is fully prepared to dedicate his life to the conflict, like Otto (though we have yet to see if Otto is even 1/10th as skilled with a sword as Daemon Targaren)
Rhaenys Changes Her Mind Regarding Rhaenyra. How Much of an Impact Does this Judgement Call Make?
One of the more unexpected turns was Rhaenys’ development and eventual committal to Rhaenyra’s claim as Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. From first being introduced as ‘The Queen That Never Was’ who was jealous of Rhaenyra’s naming as heir to Rhaenys’ badass breakout from the Dragonpit in Episode 9, we’ve seen a lot of character growth from her.
She goes from quietly loathing Rhaenyra to being one of the most important declarers on her side—given her dragon riding capabilities and the support of her husband. Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) returns from near death to declare to his wife that he’s ready to settle down and stay out of the conflict, only to have Rhaenys affirm what he’s wanted to hear for so long: she’s ready to join the fray.
Corlys Velaryon being on the side of the blacks does fundamentally indicate a power shift – the blacks have more dragons (13-4, as noted by Daemon – though that number shrinks by the end of the episode) and now they have the Velaryon fleet, which outnumbers that of the Lannisters, on the side of the Greens.
The Loss of Lucerys Velaryon Changes Everything, Does It Not?
In short, yes.
The death of Lucerys Velaryon (Elliott Grihault) and his dragon Arrax at the hands/claws/talon/jaws of Aemond Velaryon (Ewan Mitchell) signals the start of the Dance of the Dragons, whether intentional or not.
As Daemon states: “Dreams didn’t make us kings. Dragons did.” And Dragons have so far started the great conflict. Aemond’s shock at the death of his nephew because of his angry dragon Vhagar indicates that he may not have intended to kill Lucerys—perhaps he only intended to scare him or maybe even get one of his eyes. The unintended consequence of Vhagar not fully being controlled by Aemond results in Lucerys’ demise, which fundamentally changes how Rhaenyra treats this conflict.
Her rage and sorrow upon learning of the death of her second son is likely the trigger she needed to launch fully into this conflict—not dissimilar from the deaths of Viserion and Rhaegal in Game of Thrones helping push Danaerys Targaryen over the edge in her bloodlust and desire to conquer the Seven Kingdoms. In many ways, Viserion’s death mirrors the death of Visenya Targaryen, and the death of Rhaegal mirrors that of Lucerys.
Who or What was that Dragon That Daemon Encounter’s in the Caves of Dragonstone?
For those diehard fans of the books and those with subtitles on, we learn that the dragon Daemon encounters is Vermithor—The Bronze Fury. Belonging to House Targaryen, Vermithor was once the mount of King Jaehaerys Targaryen (i.e. the predecessor to Viserys). Contextually, this would make Vermithor of a similar age and size to Vhagar. Perhaps we’ll get to see Daemon with a dragon that matches the might and fury of the one that used to be ridden by his ex-wife (Laena Velaryon).
What Can We Expect from Season 2 of House of the Dragon?
Filming for Season 2 is expected to begin in the spring of 2023 at the earliest, with some estimates expecting that filming might begin in the summer of 2023. Given that season 1 aired almost 15 months after filming for season 1 began, that places the most optimistic start dates for season 2 in August 2024.
Season 2 will likely cover most of the combat of the Dragon of Dragons – culminating with the successor to the currently named Ruler of the Iron Throne (Aegon Targaryen).
Fans of the original series were teased in Episode 10 with the mention of Cregan Stark, and the Stark Family is expected to play an important role in the upcoming civil war, likely on the side of the Blacks (Team Rhaenyra).
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Catch up on past House of the Dragon Burning Questions . . .
'House of the Dragon' Burning Question, Episode 9: King Viserys Targaryen is Dead! So Now What?
'House of the Dragon' Burning Question, Episode 8: Is Honor Worth Dying For?
'House of the Dragon' Burning Question, Episode 7: Is the Newfound Targaryen Legacy in Danger?
'House of the Dragon' Burning Question, Episode 6: Will Family Feuds Impact the Dance of Dragons?
'House of the Dragon' Burning Question, Episode 5: Is Vulnerability a Weakness?
‘House of the Dragon’ Burning Question, Episode 4: Are Rhaenyra and Alicent officially learning the Game of Thrones?
'House of the Dragon' Burning Question, Episode 3: Does Anybody Exist Above Tradition and Duty in Westeros?
'House of the Dragon' Burning Question, Episode 2: Why Are Women Treated Unworthy of the Iron Throne?
'House of the Dragon' Burning Question, Episode One: Will We See the White Walkers from 'Game of Thrones'?