House of the Dragon’s first season is done and dusted. Anticipation was high for HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel and, with around 30 million people watching each episode it’s proven to be a hit, even if no one really knew what to expect from House of the Dragon. We got some answers early in the season when the show was renewed for a second season, revealing it’d take more than 10 episodes to tell the tale of the Targaryen civil war.
On Sunday’s finale, we saw the precursor to the illustrious Dance of the Dragons. Word of King Viserys’ death finally reaches Rhaenyra and Daemon Targaryen, yet the queen is reluctant to go to war for the throne. Aegon the Conqueror’s propehcy rings in her head as she declares the need to preside over a united realm, not smoke and rubble.
Yet the closing moments of the show test her resolve, such that we know war is assured. Last warning: Heavy House of the Dragon spoilers below.
Lucerys, we hardly knew ye
The top-line news from House of the Dragon’s finale is the death of Lucerys Targaryen, Rhaenyra’s youngest child with Laenor Velaryon/Harwin Strong. Lucerys, you may remember, was named heir to Dragonstone in episode 8 — a decision that a disgruntled Vaemond Velaryon died contesting.
In the course of House of the Dragon’s finale, Rhaenyra and Daemon decide they need to shore up support from the Eyrie, Winterfell and the Stormlands if they’re to have a credible force to challenge the Hightowers. Towards the end of the episode, she sends her two eldest children out to petition the lords and ladies of these regions. Jacaerys will go to the Eyrie to procure Lady Arryn’s forces, then head over to Winterfell to speak with Cregin Stark. Lucerys, meanwhile, needs to go to Storm’s End to chat up Borros Baratheon.
When he gets there, however, we see that Aemond Targaryen has beat him to the punch. That’s the same Aegon Targaryen who lost an eye thanks to Lucerys — the same Aegon Targaryen who’s been fantasizing about revenge for years. Lord Baratheon rebuffs Lucerys: Aemond at least came with a marriage proposal to wed the two houses, while Lucerys only had a reminder from Rhaenyra that House Baratheon had years ago pledged their swords to her succession.
Lucerys tries to leave, but Aemond isn’t about to let the prince escape him. He demands Lucerys pluck out his own eye to pay the debt he incurred when he de-eyed Aemond. Lord Baratheon demands the two break it up, that no blood will be spilled in his castle.
Lucerys mounts Arryx, his dragon, to fly back to Dragonstone. Unfortunately, a hectic storm has broken out — it is Storm’s End, after all. Aemond and his enormous dragon Vhegar chase Lucerys. Aemond just wants to capture Lucerys and take out his eye, but his dragon has a mind of its own. After Arryx blases Vhegar with dragonfire, the angered beast takes a bite out of Arryx. But because Vhegar is so huge, it results in Arryx being chomped in half.
Lucerys is gone, as is Arryx. Crucially, Aemond Targaryen looks overwhelmed with regret at seeing his cousin killed. That’s not out of familial feeling, but rather knowing how much of an escalation his death is likely to entail.
Of dragons and men
Dragonfire was a motif throughout finale, which is what you’d expect from a show called House of the Dragon. But one recurring argument was the same one Daenerys Targaryen faced in Game of Thrones: Should Rhaenyra try peace, traditional warfare, or should she just burn King’s Landing down with dragons?
Aemond has Vhegar, the most powerful dragon of all, it’s true. But the numbers are on Rhaenyra and Daemon’s side — even without Arryx. One brief scene in the episode may end up having outsized importance: We saw Daemon walking through a pitch black cave, where he found another titanic dragon. He sang a song in Valyrian, apparently successful in his attempt to bond with the beast. More dragons mean more trouble for the Seven Kingdoms.
In the final scene of House of the Dragon, Daemon informs Rhaenyra of Lucerys’ death. Rhaenyra doesn’t say anything, but her rictus is reminiscent of Daenerys’ after Missandei’s public execution. “If it’s war you want,” her facial expression said, “it’s war you’ll get.”
Though we saw Lucerys’ journey ended with tragedy, we saw nothing of Jacaerys’ travels up north. If I’m a betting man, I’m putting my money on House of the Dragon season two kicking off in Winterfell. It’ll be nice to be back.