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.
Episodes 6-10 feature older actors replacing their younger counterparts. Emma D’arcy mentioned in an interview that the new actors observed the younger actors from earlier episodes to better understand their characters.
Episode 6: The Princess and The Queen
Ten years had passed, and during that time Rhaenyra had three sons with her lover Harwin Strong – Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey. She also maintained her marriage to Laenor. However, none of the boys inherited the signature silver hair of the Targaryens or Velaryons, making it painfully obvious they were not his children. Over time Queen Alicent became more aggressive and resentful towards Rhaenyra due to this fact. She didn’t hesitate to talk about the princess’s illicit children in front of King Viserys who was now much feebler and sicklier but refused to believe Alicent’s accusations. Ser Criston had become a loyal servant to the queen and a sworn enemy of Rhaenyra.
To ease tensions between the families, the princess proposed that her son marry the queen’s daughter. However, Alicent rejected the offer without much thought.
Meanwhile, Daemon married Laena Velaryon and had two daughters with her – Baela and Rhaena. They lived in Pentos for a while where Daemon was offered a lordship in exchange for an alliance against Triarchy. Due to complications during childbirth, Laena committed suicide by commanding her dragon Vhagar to burn her alive.
Ser Criston was appointed to train Aegon II, Aemond (Viserys and Alicent’s sons), Jacaerys and Lucerys (Rhaenyra and Harwin’s sons). Out of blind loyalty to the queen and hatred towards the princess, he showed favoritism towards Alicent’s son. After being called out for his teaching methods by Harwin, they got into a public fight which embarrassed Lyonel Strong – current hand of the king.
Lyonel was an honorable man who wasn’t pleased with his son’s affair with the princess. The public fight made things clearer to everyone so he wanted to resign from his position as hand of the king.
King dismissed the plea, but allowed him to escort his son back to Harrenhal. Over time, Alicent befriended Larys Strong, Lyonel’s other son. She secretly wished for her father to become hand of the king and confided in Larys. He hired criminals to kill his family members so that Ser Otto would regain his position and he could inherit their lands. Rhaenyra moved with her children Laenor and his lover to Dragonstone.
One of my favorite scenes from this episode was when Daemon and Laena had fun riding their dragons, Caraxes and Vhagar (yes, the biggest living dragon at that time), through the clouds. Remember when little Laena asked about Vhagar to the king during their marriage discussion in episode 2? Well, she wasn’t here to play. The on-screen marriage between Daemon and Laena was short-lived, and her death was really upsetting to watch.
This is the first episode after a big leap, and Milly Alcock and Emily Carey already won my heart as Princess Rhaenyra and Lady Alicent. I couldn’t imagine anyone else filling those roles. However, Emma D’arcy and Olivia Cooke surprised me with their performances of Rhaenyra and Alicent. At first, it felt unsettling, but upon closer inspection, it made more sense.
Initially, Princess Rhaenyra was rebellious, carefree, and somewhat immature (which is not unusual for her age). Milly Alcock did an excellent job playing this persona. When Emma took up the role, the character had undergone many changes already. She became more patient and dutiful – even after sensing Alicent despising her – she remained composed while trying to mend their relationship.
Same goes for Alicent. Olivia took on a very different portrayal of Alicent than Emily did. We saw hints of Alicent’s change in allegiance in episode 5, and the transformation happened dramatically over the decade. Additionally, we caught a glimpse into Rhaenyra’s “contractual” marriage through a 15-minute long shot of her giving birth to her third child, being immediately summoned by Alicent, struggling up stairs right after childbirth, engaging in passive-aggressive small talk with the queen and leaving a trail of blood throughout the hall – this perfectly set the tone for their bitter relationship as former friends.
I find it hard to understand how King Viserys couldn’t see Rhaenyra’s affair with Harwin Strong when it was apparent to everyone else in the world. As heir to the throne, it was definitely unacceptable for her to have an affair and three children out of wedlock – especially as a female heir. It would have made more sense if Viserys had accepted this truth but denied it publicly to protect his house’s reputation; however, him not realizing such an obvious fact was difficult for me as an audience member to accept.
Episode 7: Driftmark
Everybody attended Laena’s funeral at Driftmark. King Viserys, Queen Alicent, Princess Rhaenyra, Ser Laenor (Laena’s brother), Daemon and his daughters, Lord Corlys and Rhaenys were among those present. Rhaenyra advised her sons to comfort the grieving daughters of Laena and Daemon. Aegon II was drunk while Aemond went to claim Laena’s dragon. The princess and boys had no time to grieve over Harwin Strong’s death because of the funeral.
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!)
Just like their mother and grandmother, the children had grown resentful of each other. Baela and Rhaena were upset about Aemond claiming their dead mother’s dragon on the day of her funeral. The kids got into a fight, during which Aemond teased Rhaenyra’s son by calling them bastards. In the midst of this squabbling, Lucerys hit Aemond in the face with a knife, causing him to lose an eye. Queen Alicent was outraged upon seeing Aemond’s condition and demanded justice. When the king attempted to settle things peacefully, she took matters into her own hands and demanded that one of Lucerys’s eyes be taken as retribution.
Later, Prince Aemond comforted his mother, saying it was a fair trade – he may have lost an eye, but he gained a dragon! Alicent and her father worked in silence to strengthen Aegon’s claim to the throne. Meanwhile, Rhaenyra united with Daemon and prepared to face off against the Greens. Princess Rhaenys encouraged her husband Lord Corlys to pass his title down through their granddaughter Baela, claiming that Laenor did not father any of Rhaenyra’s children.
“History does not remember blood. It remembers names.”Corlys Velaryon.
Rhaenyra wanted to marry Daemon, but couldn’t because she was still married to Laenor. So, Daemon asked Laenor’s lover to fake his death and run away. Everyone believed that Laenor had died in a fight. Rhaenyra and Daemon secretly got married in the old Valyrian Dragonlord tradition.
This episode gave me mixed emotions. My natural instinct is to identify the good and bad characters, then take sides based on the situation. However, in this show, the characters aren’t purely good or evil – they’re more complex than that. Even when I want to root for Rhaenyra, I dislike some of her actions. I’m still struggling to decide on my stance regarding Daemon; he’s charming and charismatic but undoubtedly cruel (not to mention his affair with his niece!). Initially, I sympathized with Alicent for a few episodes, but she has since become a sinister woman who schemed with her father to secure her son’s claim to the Iron Throne – which ultimately led him down a path of alcoholism.
So far, I like Rhaenys. She was unfairly denied her right to the throne at the start, but her sharp wit was apparent even in her brief appearances. The only thing that didn’t fully convince me is how and why Daemon threatened or convinced Laenor’s love to take him out of the picture. From the beginning of the show, Daemon seemed exceptionally cruel. He could have easily hired criminals to kill Laenor in his sleep or poison him, but instead he just asked for his death to be staged. Now Laenor might escape death by chance and return later on – but it doesn’t make sense that Daemon would spare somebody’s life like that without a good reason.
The best scene of the episode is when Rhaenyra and Alicent face off. It showcases that the queen’s power has surpassed the king’s control. Rhaenyra even orders Ser Criston to remove Lucerys’ eye, but Daemon intervenes just in time to stop him. This scene deserves a dedicated blog post, but I need to control my emotions and move on to the next 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 had passed when Lord Corlys was grievously wounded while fighting in the Stepstones. His brother, Ser Vaemon Velaryon, sought to claim the lordship of Driftmark by questioning Lucery’s legitimacy as a true-born Velaryon. While Vaemon presented his case before the king, Daemon and Rhaenyra defended their son’s right to claim. To gain Rhaenys’s support, Rhaenyra proposed marriage between Laena’s two daughters (Baela and Rhaena) and her two sons (Jaecerys and Lucerys). Alicent’s son Aegon II grew up to be a terrible person who molested and raped maids in the castle; despite this behavior, the queen covered it up. Aegon was married to his twin sister Haelena who only spoke in riddles which made her seem odd.
King Viserys was very sick, confined to his bed, barely recognizable and hallucinating due to heavy medication. Rhaenyra visited her father privately and urged him to support her. She also introduced Viserys to his grandsons Aegon III and Viserys (the sons of Daemon and Rhaenyra). Alicent and Ser Otto had taken control of the small council as well as other royal affairs. While Ser Otto listened to Vaemond’s petition, Viserys made a surprise appearance in court which shocked everyone. Vaemond proceeded to call Rhaenyra a whore and her sons bastards in front of all present; Daemon executed him on the spot.
The man refused to take the milk of poppy to avoid hallucinations. He wanted to have dinner with his family including his wife Alicent, their children Aegon, Aemond and Haelena, brother Daemon, daughter Rhaenyra and her children Jaecerys and Lucerys (Joffrey’s whereabouts were unclear). The king had to leave early due to health issues. However, things went awry when Aemond gave a toast for Rhaenyra’s kids 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 visited her father again and asked about Aegon’s dream, which he had told her about in childhood. It seemed ironic to her that she would sit on the throne to unite the kingdoms while breaking apart their own family. The king couldn’t talk much. Later, Alicent came to check on the ailing king and he mistook her as Rhaenyra and ended up talking about the promised prince, which Alicent interpreted as their son Aegon II. The queen’s handmaiden was working with White Worm (Daemon’s former mistress Mysaria) and trading secrets of the royal family.
This episode introduces new actors for the characters Aegon, Aemond, Haelena, Jace, and Luke. New Aemond appears a decade older than his elder brother. Alicent was once a good girl but failed as a mother due to her hunger for power. She missed seeing how inhuman her own son had become. We don’t see Viserys reacting to the marriage of Daemon and Rhaenyra – he was previously disgusted with the idea when intoxicated Daemon asked him for her hand. However, he probably knew in his heart that they were similar in nature.
The dinner scene is inspired by The Last Supper and is my favorite scene from this episode. Even without any dialogue, the stare between Daemon and Aemond spoke volumes. I hope to see more scenes between these two characters because Aemond looked intrigued rather than scared or surprised when Daemon publicly sliced off Vaemond’s head; it seems like he shares the same kind of darkness as Daemon.
Episode 9: The Green Council
As soon as Viserys died, Ser Otto and Alicent began preparing for Aegon’s coronation. Lord Commander Harrold Westerling of the Kingsguard resigned. Noble lords and ladies were intimidated into bending the knee to Aegon II; those who protested were either hung or imprisoned. Alicent and Ser Otto disagreed on whether to kill Rhaenyra or keep her alive in prison. Meanwhile, Aegon fled from the castle, prompting Alicent and Ser Otto to send out search parties to find him.
Ser Erryk and Ser Arryk, appointed by Otto Hightower, initially found Aegon but lost him to Criston and Aemond. Lord Larys informed Alicent of the white worm’s network of spies and received her permission to eliminate the head of the network. Rhaenys remained under house arrest while Alicent attempted unsuccessfully to persuade her to switch sides.
Aegon took the throne after being convinced and was coronated in Dragonpit by the high septon, with commoners present. Ser Erryk assisted Rhaenys in escaping, and she made a final visit to Alicent and company before leaving on her dragon.
This episode depicts the Hightowers rising to power and seizing every opportunity. Alicent’s hunger for power or overprotectiveness of her own children didn’t diminish her humanity entirely, as she couldn’t agree to kill Rhaenyra to make things easier. Aemond appeared more suitable for the throne than Aegon II. Despite being the middle child, he excelled in his studies and martial training, making him a formidable warrior who clearly desired the throne for himself but remained obedient to his mother and assisted in getting Aegon crowned. It was disappointing that Rhaenys didn’t take action against the Hightowers instead of merely leaving- it would have been an easy solution!
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 experienced premature labor and lost her daughter. Ser Erryk brought Viserys’ crown and pledged loyalty to her. Rhaenyra was crowned before her family members, and Ser Otto arrived at Dragonstone to deliver Alicent’s message. By reminding Rhaenyra of their past friendship, Alicent asked for Rhaenyra’s allegiance to the new king; in return, she and her children would have lordship over Dragonstone and Driftmark. Daemon expressed frustration with Rhaenyra for not initiating a war yet; he believed Aegon’s prophecy was nonsense. Lord Corlys and Rhaenys showed their support for Rhaenyra…Daemon planned on claiming unclaimed dragons for the war by waking up another large dragon Vermithor.
Jacaerys and Lucerys rode dragons to secure alliances with Houses Arryn, Stark, and Baratheon. When Lucerys met with Lord Borros Baratheon, he was surprised to find Aemond already there representing Aegon. They proposed a marriage between Aemond and one of the Baratheon girls in exchange for an alliance. After failing to persuade Lord Baratheon otherwise, Lucerys left while Aemond asked for one of his eyes as payback for losing his own eye. In a stormy night, Aemond chased after Lucerys on Vhagar. The dragons got out of control – Arrax burnt Vhagar and Vhagar killed both Arrax and its rider – leaving Aemond speechless. This news pushed Rhaenyra off the edge when it finally arrived at Dragonstone.
Not gonna lie, the season finale episode was overwhelming. I can’t imagine how Rhaenyra felt with her day starting off badly and only getting worse. Her father died, followed by her half-brother (who was also the son of her childhood best friend) usurping the iron throne. She didn’t even have time to mourn over her stillborn daughter before losing a son too. Anyone would go crazy after all that! Despite being betrayed by those close to her, Rhaenyra remained composed and patient. She showed herself as the benevolent queen needed for the kingdom; instead of burning their way to victory, she wanted strategic steps taken to minimize casualties. Daemon choking Rhaenyra while talking about prophecy reminded us that he was still cruel and merciless like before- an abusive person at heart.
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 on Aemond’s face confirmed that he didn’t want to kill his nephew. This started the Dance of the Dragons, a civil war between Targaryens for the Iron Throne. We may see some of Haelena’s riddles come true in Season 2, which is set to release in 2023 or 2024. In the meantime, we can enjoy memes, fan theories and inside scoops. Thanks for reading! 🙂