Ten episodes later, House of the Dragon draws to a close. Was it all-out war? Was it the anti-climax that the end of Game Of Thrones was? Read on…
The finale – ‘The Black Queen’ – begins at Dragonstone, with Lucerys (Elliot Grihault), now 14, telling his mother Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) that when Lord Corlys (Steve Toussaint) dies he can’t be Lord of the Tides – because he gets seasick. Rhaenyra tells him that she was frightened to accept her destiny as well; he’ll be all right, she says, kissing him on the head. Why are we beginning the episode with this exchange? Ah, well, you’ll see…
Parking her dragon and sweeping in, Rhaenys (Eve Best) is the first to break the news of Viserys’ death to Rhaenyra and Daemon (Matt Smith). “How did Viserys die?” asks Daemon, despite his brother having been at death’s door with only one arm and half a face for about 25 years. Rhaenyra, who is pregnant, begins to bleed at the stress of the news – not a good sign.
We learn next that Lord Corlys isn’t mortally wounded and is on his way to Dragonstone to be reunited with his wife. Meanwhile, while Daemon plots war, Rhaenyra worsens – soon, a large amount of blood pours out of her; then she gives birth to a baby but it is far too young, and dead when it lands on the stone. In some distressing and moving scenes, she wraps up the body and she and Daemon give it a fire funeral. In the midst of this, Ser Erryk Cargyll (Elliott Tittensor) turns up, armed with Viserys’ crown, and, once he has presented it to her, everyone kneels before her – she is Queen to them.
Discussing the prospect of war, it is clear that Rhaenyra’s side is going to be outnumbered. Daemon, however, points out that there are riderless dragons they can command, outnumbering the dragons on the side of Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) and Alicent (Olivia Cooke). When Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) pays them a courtesy visit to offer them terms, neither Daemon nor Rhaenyra accept – despite Otto using his daughter’s childhood friendship with Rhaenyra as a bargaining chip. Though Rhaenyra is furious with Otto as well, she stops her husband slaying him – she doesn’t want to see anyone killed.
Although Daemon wants to see all-out war, Rhaenyra is the only voice of calm. “When dragons flew to war, everything burned,” she says – wise words, if a little unwelcome to the millions of viewers wanting to see exactly that. She and Daemon are at each other’s throats – literally, when Daemon puts his hand around Rhaenyra’s neck, furious that she doesn’t want to quash the rebellion of which Otto and his allies are guilty. Here we learn that, while Viserys told Rhaenyra about the Song of Ice and Fire – Aegon the Conqueror’s vision of a terrible winter that will see a Targaryen ruler uniting Westeros – he didn’t share it with Daemon.
Rhaenyra is assessing the lay of the land when her sons, Jacerys (Harry Collett) and Lucerys, say that, riding on dragons, they can deliver messages to potential allies faster than ravens. Rhaenyra reluctantly agrees, sending Jacaerys to Jeyne Arryn, then to the Starks in Winterfell, and Lucerys to the Baratheons in Storm’s End. Later, venturing into a cave, Daemon sings in High Valyrian, coaxing out a huge dragon whom we assume to be Vermithor, King Jaehaerys’ dragon. Good idea. This beast is big and angry.
When Lucerys arrives at Storm’s End, he discovers that Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) has beaten him to it. He gets a frosty reception from Lord Borros Baratheon (Roger Evans): “So you come with empty hands?” he says when he learns that Rhaenyra is offering him nothing, unlike Aegon and his side. Cowed, Lucerys is on his way out when Aemond demands that he take out one of his own eyes as payment for the one he took from Aemond. Borros puts a stop to this but, when Lucerys flies his dragon Arrax into a storm to leave, he discovers he is being chased by Aemond and the far, far larger Vhagar. Lucerys manages to lose him, using Arrax’s smaller size to his advantage, but when he rises above the clouds, Vhagar ambushes them all of a sudden – despite Aemond commanding him to stop. Before we can get our bearings, Vhagar has chomped Lucerys and Arrax in half. Rattled by this disobedience, Aemond realises the dragon has done something terrible.
We finish in Dragonstone, where Daemon silently breaks the news of Lucerys’ death to Rhaenyra. In the course of this episode, Rhaenyra has lost a father, a baby, and a son. She may have been counselling restraint before. But now we can see it in her eyes – she wants war.
- “Whatever claim remains to me, you are now its heir” – Rhaenyra underlines Jacaerys of his duty to the Iron Throne
- “I would rather feed my sons to the dragons than have them carry shields and cups for your drunken usurper cunt of a king” – Daemon rejects Otto Hightower’s negotiation terms in the strongest possible tone of voice
- “Dreams didn’t make us king; dragons did” – having no time for visions, Daemon wants to take what is rightfully his and Rhaenyra’s by force – a method that has proved successful for him on many occasions
‘House Of The Dragon’ is streaming now on Sky Atlantic and NOW