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House of the Dragons, Season 1, Breaking down Episode 6-10

If you haven’t checked out my previous post, check out the breakdown of the first 5 episodes of the season 1 of the show, House of the Dragons, in the below link.

Episode 6 through 10 takes place with some older actors taking place of their younger counterparts. As mentioned by Emma D’arcy in one of her interviews, the actors were asked to observe the younger actors acting in the earlier episodes to have a better understanding of their characters.

Episode 6: The Princess and The Queen

Ten years passed. Rhaenyra had three sons with her lover Harwin Strong- Jacaerys, Lucerys and Joffrey while maintaining her marriage with Laenor. None of the three boys had the signature silver hair like the Targaryens or Velaryons, which made everything painfully obvious. Queen Alicent had grown aggressive and resentful towards Rhaenyra over the years. Now she didn’t hesitate to talk about princess’s illicit children in front of the king. King Viserys, much feebler and sicklier, wouldn’t believe in Alicent in this matter. Ser Criston is now a loyal servant to the queen and more or less a sworn enemy to the princess.

To ease the visible friction between the families the princess proposed marriage between her son and queen’s daughter, however Alicent rejected the offer without much consideration.

Meanwhile Daemon had married Laena Velaryon and had 2 daughters – Baela and Rhaena with her. They were living in Pentos for a while, where Daemon was offered a lordship in exchange for an alliance against the Triarchy. Because of complications, she couldn’t give birth to the third child and committed suicide by commanding her dragon Vhagar to burn her alive.

Ser Criston was appointed to train the boys of the royal house – Aegon II, Aemond (Visersys and Alicent’s sons) and Jacaerys and Lucerys (Rhaenyra and Harwin’s sons). Out of blind loyalty to the queen and hatred towards the princess, he was showing favouritism towards Alicent’s son. After being called out for his teaching method by Harwin, the two got into a fight in public embarrassing the current hand of the king, Lyonel Strong. Lyonel was an honourable man, he wasn’t pleased with his son’s affair with the princess, the fight in the public made things all clearer to the public eyes, so he wanted to resign from his position.

King dismissed his plea, however allowed him to escort his son back to Harrenhal. Over the years, Alicent had become friends with Larys Strong, another son of Lyonel. Alicent secretly expressed her wish to have her father as the hand of the king. Larys used this opportunity to hire some criminals to kill his father and brother (which would lead Ser Otto to regain his position and Larys to inherit the lordship of his father’s lands).

Rhaenyra decided to move to Dragonstone with her children, Laenor and his lover.

My Thoughts:

One of my favourite scenes from this episode was Daemon and Laena having fun riding their dragons Caraxes and Vhagar (yes, the freaking Vhagar, the biggest living dragon of that time) through the clouds. Remember the time little Laena asked about Vhagar to the king when their marriage was being discussed in episode 2? Well, Laena wasn’t here to play.
Daemon and Laena’s marriage on screen was short-lived, Laena’s death was really upsetting to watch.

This was the first episode after a big leap… Milly Alcock and Emily Carey already won my heart as princess Rhaenyra and Lady Alicent, I couldn’t imagine to see somebody else fill up those roles… I was pleasantly surprised to watch Emma D’arcy and Olivia Cooke playing the characters of Rhaenyra and Alicent. It felt a little unsettling at first but upon taking a closer look it made more sense. In the beginning the narrative princess Rhaenyra was much more different than what she became after a decade- she was rebellious, carefree, somewhat immature (which is not unusual for her age)- Milly Alcock has done an excellent job playing this persona. When Emma took up the role, the character had gone through so much changes already. She’s more patient and dutiful, even after sensing Alicent despising her, she remained composed and tried to amend their relationship.

Same goes for Alicent, Olivia took up a very different Alicent to play than Emily… We got the hint of Alicent’s change of alliance in episode 5 and the transformation happened dramatically over the decade.

We also got a glimpse into Rhaenyra’s “contractual” marriage, the 15-mintues long shot from Rhaenyra giving birth to her 3rd child, immediately being summoned by Alicent, struggling to climb stairs right after child-birth, having passive-aggressive small talk with the queen and leaving a trail of blood throughout the hall- the episode perfectly set the tone for the bitter relationship between the two former friends.

How king Viserys wasn’t able to see Rhaenyra’s affair with Harwin Strong which is apparent to the entire world is beyond my understanding. As per Rhaenyra’s position as the heir to the throne, it was definitely unacceptable to have an affair and have 3 children out of marriage- more so for a female heir… It would have made much more sense to me to see Viserys accepting the truth and yet deny it in front of the world to protect the name of his house- but him not realizing the painfully obvious fact was hard to accept as audience.

Episode 7: Driftmark

Everybody came to Driftmark to attend Laena’s funeral- King Viserys, Queen Alicent, Princess Rhaenyra along with Ser Laenor (Laena’s brother) and the boys, Daemon and his daughters, Lord Corlys and Rhaenys and many others. Rhaenyra advised her sons to comfort the grieving daughters of Laena and Daemon. Alicent’s eldest son Aegon II was drunken mess and Aemond went to claim Laena’s dragon. The princess and the boys couldn’t grieve over the news of Harwin Strong’s death for a moment.

Rhaenyra met Daemon after many years, her feelings for him hadn’t faded away, rather became irresistible, the two rekindled their old and love (and had sex at the beach!)

Daemon: “Each of us is capable of depravity. And more than you would believe.”
Rhaenyra: “I believe it of you.”
Daemon: “If you’re accusing me of some depravity, you’ll need to be more specific.”
Rhaenyra: “I’ve been alone. You abandoned me.”
Daemon: “You were a child. I spared you.”
Rhaenyra: “Yes. Yes, I was a child. And look at what my life became without you… Droll tragedy.”
Daemon: “Oh,… and I wonder what you think of mine by comparison”
Rhaenyra: “I know little of it. Did you love her?”
Daemon: “We were happy enough”
Rhaenyra: “Well that in itself is a great achievement… I’m sorry.”
Daemon: “Don’t be. I am at least allowed to mourn my losses.” …“Rhaenyra”
Rhaenyra: “I’m no longer a child… I want you…”

Just like the queen and princess, their children too had grown resentful of each other. Baela and Rhaena were upset about Aemond claiming their dead mother’s dragon right on the day of the funeral- the kids got into a fight and Aemond teased Rhaenyra’s boy calling them bastards. In this squabbling, Lucerys hit Aemond’s face with a knife and thus Aemond lost an eye.

Queen Alicent lost her shit after seeing Aemond’s condition and demanded for justice. When the king wanted to settle things down peacefully, she took matter into her own hands and demanded to take off one of Lucerys’s eyes.

Rhaenyra: “You have gone too far!”
Alicent: “I?! What have I done but what was expected of me? Forever upholding the kingdom, the family, the law while you flout all to do as you please. Where is duty? Where is sacrifice? It’s trampled under your pretty foot again. And now you take my son’s eye, and to even that, you feel entitled!”
Rhaenyra: “Exhausting, wasn’t it? Hiding beneath the cloak of your own righteousness. But now they see you as you are.”

Later prince Aemond consoled her mother that it was a fair trade- he might have lost an eye but he has gained a dragon!

Alicent and her father were working in silence to strengthen Aegon’s claim to throne. Rhaenyra on the other hand united with Daemon and started preparing to face off the greens. Princess Rhaenys urged her husband Lord Corlys to pass his title through their granddaughter, Baela, claiming Laenor did not sire Rhaenyra’s children.

“History does not remember blood. It remembers names.”

Corlys Velaryon.

Rhaenyra was asking Daemon to marry her, only problem was she couldn’t take another husband when Laenor was still alive. Daemon asked Laenor’s lover to stage Laenor’s death and run away. Everybody including Rhaenyra thought Laenor died in a fight. Rhaenyra and Daemon got married in a secret ceremony in the old Valyrian Dragonlord tradition.

My Thoughts:

This episode got me having mixed emotions. My natural instinct would be to identify the good guy and the bad guy and then take sides based on the situation- in this show, the characters are not plain black and white i.e. purely good or purely evil… Even when I want to root for Rhaenyra I don’t like all of her actions. I am still struggling to decide on my stance on Daemon, he’s charming, charismatic and undoubtedly cruel (not to mention the affair with his niece!) You guys saw me sympathizing with Alicent for first few episodes, but now she has turned into a sinister woman, while she was scheming with her father to secure her son’s claim to the iron throne- the son became a pathetic drunkard.

So far, I like Rhaenys, who was unfairly denied from her right to the throne at the start, her sharp wit was apparent even in her brief appearances.

There is one more thing which didn’t fully convince me… How and why Daemon threatened/convinced Laenor’s love to take him out of the picture. From the beginning of the show, Daemon seemed to be exceptionally cruel, he could easily hire some criminals to kill Laenor in his sleep or even poison him, instead he just asked to stage his death. Now Laenor might have escape death by chance and get back in later season- but Daemon sparing somebody’s life just like that didn’t make sense.

The episode’s best scene would be the face off between Rhaenyra and Alicent, it shows for the first time that queen’s power has gone beyond king’s control… She went as far as ordering Ser Criston to get an eye of Lucerys… and guess what? Criston was ready to do so if not resisted by Daemon at that moment. I can probably write one blog post dedicated to this scene only, however I have to control my emotions and get going with the following episodes!

Another quote from this episode-

“No matter how fat the leech grows, it always wants for another meal.”

Daemon looking at Otto Hightower

Episode 8: Lord of the Tides

Six years passed; Lord Corlys was grievously wounded fighting in the Stepstones. Corlys’s brother Ser Vaemon Velaryon wanted to claim the lordship of Driftmark questioning the legitimacy of Lucery’s right as a true-born Velaryon. While Vaemon came to make his case in front the king, Daemon and Rhaenyra came to defend their son’s claim.

Rhaenyra proposed marriage between Laena’s 2 daughters (Baela and Rhaena) with her 2 sons (Jaecerys and Lucerys) to gain Rhaenys’s support.

Alicent’s son Aegon II grew up to be a total d-bag, he molested and raped the maids in the castle and the queen kept on covering them up…Aegon was married to his sister Haelena, with whom he had a twin… Haelena was kind of odd, she would only speak in riddles.

King Viserys was extremely sick, bed-ridden, barely recognizable, hallucinating most of the time because of heavy medications. Rhaenyra came to meet her father privately, urged him to support her… She also introduced Viserys to his other grandsons- Aegon III and Viserys(2 sons of Daemon and Rhaenyra).  Alicent and Ser Otto had taken over the small council and all the other royal matters. While Ser Otto was listening to Vaemond’s petition Viserys made an appearance to the court surprising everyone.

Vaemond went on to call Rhaenyra a whore and her sons as bastards in front of everyone, Daemon beheaded him right then and there.

The kind denied to take the milk of poppy to prevent his hallucinations and wished to have dinner with his entire family- his wife Alicent, their children Aegon, Aemond and Haelena, brother Daemon, daughter Rhaenyra and their children, Jaecerys, Lucerys, (Not sure where Joffrey was in this scene)… The king had to leave early abruptly because of his health troubles… Everything seemed fine until Aemond decided to give a toast to Rhaenyra’s children, which led to a fight between the boys.

“To the health of my nephews- Jace, Luke and Joffrey- each of them handsome, wise and Strong… Let us drain our cups to these three Strong boys…”

Aemond Targaryen

Rhaenyra went to visit her father again, asking about Aegon’s dream- as she was told in her childhood by him- it seemed almost ironic to her to sit on the throne to unite the kingdoms whereas it will break apart their own family. The king couldn’t talk much. Later when Alicent came to check on the ailing king, mistaking her as Rhaenyra king talked about the promised prince – which Alicent interpreted as their son Aegon II.

Queen’s handmaiden seemed to working with white worm (Daemon’s former mistress Mysaria) and trading secrets of the royal family.

My Thoughts:

This episode had new actors for the characters – Aegon, Aemond, Haelena, Jace and Luke. New Aemond looked a decade older than his elder brother. Once a good girl Alicent, completely failed as a mother. In hunger for power, she missed to see how inhuman her own son had become.

We don’t get to see Viserys reacting to the marriage of Daemon and Rhaenyra- in the beginning of the show he was so disgusted with this idea when intoxicated Daemon asked him for her hand… I guess he couldn’t deny how similar they were in nature, he probably knew that in his heart.

The dinner scene is inspired from the last supper – this has to be my favorite scene from this episode. Also the stare between Daemon and Aemond, even without any dialogues, the scene spoke a thousand words…  Hope to see more scenes between these two. Aemond looked intrigued than scared or surprised when Daemon sliced off Vaemond’s head in public- I feel, Aemond shares the same kind of darkness as Daemon.

Episode 9: The Green Council

As soon as Viserys died Ser Otto and Alicent started preparing for Aegon’s coronation. Kingsguard Lord Commander Harrold Westerling resigned. Lords and ladies of noble houses were intimidated to bend the knee to Aegon II. Anybody who protested, was either hung or imprisoned. Alicent and Ser Otto couldn’t agree on whether to kill Rhaenyra or keep her alive in a prison. Meanwhile Aegon fled from the castle- Alicent and Ser Otto sent her personal search parties to find him.

Aemond: “Here I am trawling the city, ever the good soldier in search of wastrel who has never taken half an interest in his birth right. It is I, the younger brother, who studies history and philosophy, It is I who trains with a sword, who rides the largest dragon in the world, it is I, who should be …”
Criston: “I know what it is to toil for what others are freely given…”
Aemond: “hmm.. And we can’t find him, Cole. We are decent with no taste for depravity. His secrets are his own… and he is welcome to them. I’m next in line to the throne. Should they come looking for me, I intend to be found.”

Ser Erryk and Ser Arryk appointed by Otto Hightower found Aegon first, but they lost him to Criston and Aemond.

Lord Larys informed Alicent about white worm’s network of spies and gets her permission to kill the head of the network.

Rhaenys was kept in house arrest, where Alicent tried to convince her to switch sides but to no avail.

Alicent: “We do not rule but we may guide the men that do gently away from violence and shore destruction and instead towards peace.”
Rhaenys: “It’s in the name of peace you have imprisoned me and what of my dragon?”
Alicent: “If we overmatch, Rhaenyra will be tempted to strike us and war will ensue. Without your dragon she may be persuaded to negotiate. If its Driftmark that you want, you shall have it for you and your granddaughters to pass on as you see fit”
Rhaenys: “You are wiser than I believed you to be, Alicent Hightower”
Alicent: “A true queen counts the cost of her people”
Rhaenys: “Yet you toil still in service to men- your father, your husband, your son… You desire not to be free but make a window in the wall of your prison. Have you never imagined yourself on the iron throne?”

Aegon was somehow convinced to take the throne, he was coronated in Dragonpit by the high septon in front of the commoners. Ser Erryk helped Rhaenys to escape, she gave Alicent and company a last visit while leaving the castle on her dragonback.

My Thoughts:

This episode shows the Hightowers to rise in power using the opportunity to the fullest. Hunger for power or overprotectiveness for her own children- this Alicent was somebody else… she still had a little of humanity left as she couldn’t agree to kill Rhaenyra make things easier.

Aemond seemed to be a much better fit for the throne than Aegon II. Even as the middle child, he did all the studies and got trained to become a great warrior. He clearly wanted the throne for himself, but stayed obedient to his mother and helped in getting Aegon back for coronation.

Rhaenys not barbecuing the Hightowers and simply leaving the scene was most unsatisfactory- she could have solved the problem so easily!

Episode 10: The Black Queen

Princess Rhaenyra went into shock after receiving news from Rhaenys in Dragonstone.

“A war is like to be fought over this treachery, to be sure. But that war is not mine to begin. I only rushed this warning to you out of loyalty to my husband and to my house. The greens are coming for you, Rhaenyra.”

Rhaenys Targaryen

She went into premature labour and lost her daughter. Ser Erryk brought Viserys’ crown and swore his loyalty to her. Rhaenyra was crowned before her kins and Ser Otto reached Dragonstone to convey Alicent’s message. By reminding her of their old friendship, she was asked to swear her allegiance to the new king, in return she and her children would be allowed have lordship of Dragonstone and Driftmark.  

Daemon was visibly frustrated with Rhaenyra not starting a war already, he considered Aegon’s prophecy to be complete BS. Lord Corlys and Rhaenys showed their support to Rhaenyra… Daemon planned on claiming the unclaimed dragons for the war, woke up another large dragon Vermithor.

Jacaerys and Lucerys went on dragonback to secure Houses Arryn, Stark and Baratheon as allies. Lucerys met with Lord Borros Baratheon, much to his surprise Aemond was already present there on behalf of Aegon. They had proposed marriage between Aemond and one the Baratheon girl in exchange of the alliance. After failing to make a better offer to change Lord Baratheon’s mind Lucerys left, while Aemond asked to take off one of his eyes as a payback of his lost eye. In the stormy night, Aemond started chasing Lucerys while riding Vhagar. The dragons got out of control- Arrax burnt Vhagar and Vhagar asserted his dominance by each Arrax along with its rider – leaving Aemond dumbstruck.

The news arrived Dragonstone finally pushing Rhaenyra off the edge.

My Thoughts:

Not gonna lie, this episode as season finale was a lot to take in. I can’t imagine how bad Rhaenyra’s day started, and it just got worse hour by hour. First her father’s death, then her half-brother (also, the son of her childhood bestfriend) usurping the iron throne, not getting time to mourn over her stillborn daughter, then losing a son- anybody would get crazy after this!

Rhaenyra was showing so much patience and composure even after betrayed by her close ones, she finally looked like the benevolent queen the kingdom needed- instead burning their way to the throne, she wanted to take strategic steps to minimize casualty. Daemon choking Rhaenyra while she talked about the prophecy reminds us that Daemon was still the same cruel, merciless abuser guy that he used to be.

Rhaenyra: “Does the promise of war excite you?”
Daemon: “You cannot bend the knee to the Hightowers. They stole your birthright.”
Rhaenyra: “If you could take the iron throne without putting Otto Hightower’s head on a spike, would you?”
Daemon: “Aren’t you angry?”
Rhaenyra: “Well, I should declare war because I am angry?”
Daemon: “No, it’s your duty as queen to crush rebellion.”
Rhaenyra: “You know my oath reaches beyond darkest ambitions… the song of ice and fire…”
Daemon: “What?!”
Rhaenyra: “the coming war against the darkness in the north, the conqueror’s dream… as Viserys shared with me when he named me heir..”
Daemon: “My brother was a slave to his omens and portents. Anything to make his feckless reign appear to have purpose. Dreams didn’t make us kings, dragons did. “

The last scene of Rhaenyra turning back after hearing about Lucerys gave me chills – reminded me of Daenarys in the last season of Game of Thrones, when she turned King’s landing into ashes.

But whether Rhaenyra would become the mad queen, that’s the story for season 2.

Vhagar going out of control reminds me of the conversation between Viserys and Rhaenyra in episode 1.

“The idea that we control the dragons is an illusion. They’re a power man should never have trifled with. One that brought Valyria its doom. If we don’t mind our own histories, it will do the same to us.”

Viserys Targaryen

The horror in the face of Aemond confirmed that he actually didn’t wish to kill his nephew- willingly or not, this began the dance of the dragons- the civil war between the Targaryens over the iron throne…
We may also see some of Haelena’s words coming true- the riddles that are yet to make sense in season 2.

Season 2 may release in 2023 or 2024… Meanwhile we all have to keep ourselves satisfied with the memes, fan theories and inside scoops.

That’s all for today, thanks for reading! 🙂

Post Author: Molten Cookie Dough

A typical Pisces person.

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