Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS ARE AHEAD for the Season 1 finale of House of the Dragon, called “The Black Queen.”
The first season of House of the Dragon as the very first Game of Thrones spinoff has ended, and “The Black Queen” packed in plenty of shockers and just enough heartbreak to do the original series justice. Although Rhaenyra was finally crowned queen, the rise in ranks came with terrible losses for her and her family despite her intention to prevent war in the Seven Kingdoms. First blood has now been drawn, and fans should look at what happened in the Season 1 finale for what is likely going to matter moving forward.
Book readers may be pleased that the episode title finale gave Rhaenyra’s faction their name of “The Blacks” from George R.R. Martin (although no character named them as such explicitly in the episode), but there were enough departures from the lore that even experts in Fire & Blood may not be 100% positive about what comes next. So, let’s dive into the biggest points that are bound to matter in the already-ordered Season 2!
First Blood Was An Accident
The Greens guaranteed that the conflict between King Aegon and Queen Rhaenyra would boil over into bloody war when Aemond chased Luke through the skies over Storm’s End, riding the massive and battle-tested Vhagar against Luke’s young (albeit faster and more agile) Arrax. Luke clearly feared for his life, and Arrax was spooked into shooting flames at Vhagar, who retaliated by biting straight through the younger dragon and killing Luke.
Aemond tried to stop Vhagar to no avail, but that’s not going to make a difference now that the dragon has clearly awoken in Rhaenyra, and Daemon was already ready to rain fire and blood on the Hightowers even before Luke was killed. Whether Aemond claims credit for doing it or not, fans knows that he didn’t intend to kill his nephew like he did. The look on Aemond’s face… well, that was the look of a man who knows that he just started a war.
Even Targaryens Can’t Necessarily Control Their Dragons
As King Viserys said way back in the series premiere, it was “an illusion” to believe that the Targaryens controlled their dragons, and “The Black Queen” showed just how true that was. Luke had trouble controlling Arrax when both were scared, and Arrax made the fatal mistake of aiming fire at Vhagar against what Luke wanted. Aemond screaming at Vhagar to stop made it clear that once Vhagar decided what she wanted to do, no Targaryen teenager was going to stop her.
Interestingly, the fact that young Arrax and much older Vhagar were the ones to act out means that we can rule out the idea that age makes a dragon less likely to disobey, and establish that it doesn’t necessarily make a difference if it’s a dragon hatched by its rider or claimed. Both were relatively young riders, but perhaps it’s time to start accounting for dragon personalities as well as their masters.
Some Targaryens Have Stronger Dragon Bonds Than Others
In the same episode that had Luke losing control of the dragon he hatched and Aemond losing control of the dragon he claimed, viewers saw two riders whose connections to their dragons are clearly extremely close. Syrax was reacting to Rhaenyra’s pain as she gave birth to her stillborn daughter, even though they were surely quite far apart at the time. She also seemed to read the queen’s mood when they were opposite Otto on the bridge.
Plus, Caraxes managed to hit his cues perfectly when Daemon intimidated the Kingsguard on Dragonstone to reaffirm their fealty to Rhaenyra. The Blood Wyrm didn’t need a sign or a word from Daemon to do it, either. Notably, Daemon claimed Caraxes (like Aemond did Vhagar) and Rhaenyra hatched Syrax (like Luke did Arrax).
Daemon Believes The Greens Killed Viserys
When Rhaenys was unable to confirm how Viserys had died, Daemon immediately jumped to the conclusion that Alicent had murdered him. Considering that Lord Beesbury raised the same accusation against the Green Council before he was killed and Daemon and Rhaenyra had concerns about the care the king was receiving shortly before he died, this isn’t one of Daemon’s wilder ideas, and House of the Dragon hasn’t actually disproved the possibility that one of the Greens hastened Viserys’ demise.
The belief that the Greens had killed his brother made Daemon all the more frustrated with Rhaenyra’s unwillingness to strike the first blow, and could make him all the more dangerous to the Hightowers in Season 2. Unless the loss of Luke overshadows the idea that Viserys was murdered, Daemon has an extra grudge on top of the usurping, and Daemon isn’t a man you want holding a grudge against you.
Daemon Will Obey Rhaenyra
“The Black Queen” wasn’t a great episode for Daemon as Rhaenyra’s right hand, as he responded to her talk of the prophecy by literally choking her, and argued with her about not going to war in front of her people. That said, he obeyed every time she gave a direct order, and was her fiercest supporter as queen right away, even crowning her himself.
As hinted by Episode 7 when Rhaenyra first proposed marriage, he also didn’t receive the title of “king consort” like Laenor was expected to. While he has more power to fight a war against the Hightowers as Rhaenyra’s husband, he evidently won’t do so unless she unleashes him. Daemon isn’t a good man, but he’s a good man to have on your side in a war.
The Blacks Have More Dragons And The Velaryon Fleet
While The Greens have more men and – as Otto Hightower pointed out – the optics of a King Aegon wearing The Conqueror’s crown and wielding Blackfyre atop the Iron Throne – the Blacks have far more dragons, even with the deaths of Arrax and Luke. Caraxes, Syrax, and Rhaenys’ Meleys are all full-grown, and Jace, Joffrey, and Baela all have dragons.
Vermithor (a.k.a. the dragon that appeared for a risky trailer moment) was confirmed to be living on Dragonstone, along with one belonging to a former queen in the Targaryen family tree, and Laenor’s Seasmoke is still on Driftmark. Plus, there are three wild dragons that could be claimed. Rhaenyra raised the valid point that they don’t have enough riders to mount these dragons, but one thing is clear: The Blacks have more… even if the Greens have Vhagar.
Plus, the Blacks have the Velaryon fleet and the Sea Snake’s control of the Stepstones, which will allow them to cut King’s Landing off from shipping routes and trade if all goes according to plan. Queen Rhaenyra has suffered the major losses so far – Aegon usurping her, the death of her child, the death of Luke – but she has some advantages in the skies and on the seas.
Rhaenyra Seems Ready To Unleash
Based on the look on Rhaenyra’s face at the end of “The Black Queen,” any hopes that the Greens had of striking terms to get the Blacks to pledge fealty to Aegon died along with Luke and Arrax. She was previously the only one on her side showing moderation; with Rhaenys off to patrol on Meleys, there may be nobody to temper any desire to go on the offensive. Daemon certainly isn’t likely to caution her to hold back if her goals align with his of killing the HIghtower contingent. The Black Queen seems ready to let loose, and Otto may rue the day that he allowed Aemond to go as envoy to Storm’s End.
Emma D’Arcy Crushed It
Can we all send up a round up applause for Emma D’Arcy and how they absolutely crushed the Season 1 finale from start to finish? Rhaenyra went from having a sweet moment with her son to learning about her father’s death and half-brother’s coronation in one fell swoop, followed by early labor and a miscarriage while still issuing orders.
Then she had her daughter’s funeral, her own impromptu coronation with her dead father’s crown, her husband choking her, and decisions to make to prevent war despite a room full of men wanting to strike a blow against the Greens. Throw in Rhaenyra's wordless reaction to Luke’s death, and I just hope that there are already plans to submit this episode for some awards attention. Emma D’Arcy was fantastic, which bodes very well for wherever Season 2 takes the Targaryens.
Unfortunately, there’s no saying at this point just when fans will get to see Season 2 of House of the Dragon. Although the fantasy series received an early renewal, that renewal didn’t come with an expected date for the start of production, let alone when the new episodes will premiere. 2023 seems unlikely, but nobody can say for sure just yet. At least it’s probably likely to arrive before George R.R. Martin finishes The Winds of Winter?
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).