On Saturday, Oct. 23, the HBO max television show “House of the Dragon” concluded its first season on a frustrating note. To make matters worse, viewers will have to wait two years for the next season. Earlier in September, the Maine Campus published an article covering the first five episodes of “House of the Dragon” but so much has happened since that publication that needs to be addressed. If you haven’t already, take a look at the article. If you have not watched the show, stop here now. Spoilers lie ahead. The dance has begun.
The first episode of “House of the Dragon” introduces the premise of the show, which is the lead up and aftermath of the civil war that occurs within the house of Targaryan for the seat on the Iron Throne. This period in time is called in the lore of the series as The Dance of the Dragons. Where we left off at episode five, we saw the beginning of the end of King Viserys’ reign and the marriage of Rhaenyra Targaryan and Laenor Velaryon. The wedding established the two sides of the civil war between the Greens and the Blacks, pitting Alicent Hightower and Rhaenyra Targaryan against each other.
The beginning of episode six shows a gruesome birthing scene of now-adult Rhaenyra, portrayed by Emma D’Arcy. The time jump of approximately eight years explains how Rhaenyra has already had two children since her wedding. Her relationship with her stepmother, Alicent, has also severely deteriorated over the years. We see this lack of trust emerge as Alicent, now played by Olivia Cooke, calls upon a newly postpartum Rhaenyra to trek up to her quarters to show off the new baby. It becomes more clear later in the episode when we see that Rhaenyra’s children have brown hair, implying that the children are not of Velaryon parentage.
Rhaenyra has also developed her skills as a ruler, but her father is still clinging onto his life. We watch as the King slowly deteriorates toward the end of the season with remarkable acting by Paddy Considine. His slow death is even more convincing with the show’s “The Walking Dead” level of makeup and prosthetics applied to him.
Prince Damon has married Lady Laena Velaryon and sired children of his own during the time jump. However, after yet another grueling birthing scene, Laena chooses to die by dragonfire.
By episode eight, we get a taste of the type of people Rhaenyra’s half-brothers have become. The eldest of Alicent’s children, Aegon, has begun a life of lust and drunkenness that would ruin the reputation of the throne… if he had any desire to sit on it. The second son Aemond is a power hungry fiend that will do anything to prove his worth, even if that means stealing a dragon and losing an eye because of his nephew in the process. Vengeance fuels his determination for the throne. The actors who portray them, Tom Glynn-Carney and Ewan Mitchell respectively, are miraculously and frustratingly able to depict infuriating characters that the series is known for.
They’re not the only ones that are plotting for their position on the throne. In a political scandal, Damon and Rhaenyra fake the death of Lord Laenor Velaryon so that they can get married. They then marry Damon’s daughters to Rhaenyra’s sons.
At this point in the show, Viserys is all but a corpse but he hangs on until episode eight. In episode nine, the Hightowers plot against Viserys’ wishes and place Aegon on the Iron Throne as his replacement. Damon and Rhaenerya are out of King’s Landing and do not hear of this news until the finale. After yet another gruesome birth scene that results in a miscarriage, the Blacks begin to mobilize. Familiar families are listed off as potential allies in the fight, as well as Damon’s impressive fleet of dragons that he has stowed away. The show ends with the death of Rhaenyra’s son, Lucerys after he is eaten by Vhagar and his rider, Aemond.
That’s the end of the summary of the important parts of the first season. Each actor did an incredible job with their characters and their development over the episodes. The season felt complete and not rushed, which was impressive considering the years this season spanned. The show writers still have enough content to fuel a few more seasons, too. With a few character upsets here and there and arguably more blood and stomach churning scenes, it’s all up to the production to see what the second season will look like: end of the show for good or another twisted trail of war and manipulation.
The Dance of the Dragons has started, but we have to wait for the next season to see any battles occur. But due to HBO Max’s new Jon Snow show, it won’t be until 2024 before we see this second season hit the airways.