… And that, y’all is how you end a season.
This week’s finale of House of the Dragon, entitled “The Black Queen” really kicks off the civil war we have all been waiting for, as the Dragons of the realm literally start to dance.
As someone who is seven months pregnant, this season finale made me feel many things for all sorts of reasons. The episode, after all, started and ended with the death of a child. Both are heartbreaking, and both are catalysts to a major decision that Rhaenyra takes.
With the death of her premature baby — which in all honesty, was way too graphic for me — we see her become crowned Queen at Dragonstone. With the death of Lucerys (Luke), we see her ready to start the war she tried all episode to evade. Both deaths take a toll on Rhaenyra… rightfully so. And Emma D’Arcy did a great job of making us care as well.
On the other hand, one could ask if Daemon cared. When the news of his brother’s death comes from Princess Rhaenys, he looks sad. But almost immediately after the death of his daughter, he chokes his wife. If there was one part of the episode that didn’t seem right, it was this scene. As Daemon gets more and more anxious and frustrated with Rhaenyra’s “peaceful” views on how to handle the situation with the Hightowers, he becomes physically abusive.
Yes. I know. This is the guy who killed his first wife.
But it’s not the guy who gave his niece a present in the first episode — a necklace she always wears. It’s not the guy who is supposed to be evil, sure. But not to those he loves. It seemed a bit out of character. I felt too extreme too quickly. Some groundwork on Daemon with Rhaenyra would have worked well here. Are we trying to say that Daemon has had his eyes on the crown this whole time for himself, and is upset that Rhaenyra is ruining his well-planned out, years-in-the-making plan? Or is he just overwhelmed with emotion, and doesn’t know how to handle it? It’s confusing at best. And what adds to the confusion is how tenderly he tells Rhaenyra about Luke’s death at the end of the episode.
It’ll be interesting how the show handles this in Season 2 from Aemond’s perspective. Because he just started a war. And he knows it.
The cinematography and music in this episode were of course, outstanding. But the scene between Vhagar and Arrax, was especially masterful. It was so unsettling to watch, knowing what was about to happen, and still hoping — praying — that we’d get a different outcome. The one shot we get of Vhagar above Arrax, showing us the size comparisons of the two dragons, made my heart drop.
How scared Luke must have been at that moment; Luke who never really wanted all this power that was promised to him — but wanted to make his mom proud. Luke, who did not want to fight his uncle Aemond. Turns out, maybe Aemond didn’t really want to hurt Luke either. At least not fatally.
At the beginning of the season, it was said that “the only thing that could tear down the House of the Dragon, was itself”– who knew that it could be taken so literally. Watching the boys lose control of Vhagar and Arrax, reminded us that they are just boys. And while Aemond is not the nicest person, he did not look like he meant to kill his nephew.
Viserys once told Rhaenyra “The idea that we control the dragons is an illusion. They’re a power man should never have trifled with,” and we see that come into play with the most devastating circumstances. But it was because of their superiority complex in thinking they could tame dragons, that ultimately led to so many deaths, wars, and the downfalls of houses.
With the many leaks this show has had to endure this season, I think it did so well still and held its own. The finale alone gave us action, trauma and drama, and a real look at the motivations behind the inevitable retaliations that will follow the events of “The Black Queen.”
We’ve been teased that Winterfell and the Starks will make an appearance in Season 2, and I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that it will be hard to wait till then. While House of the Dragon may have started off a Game of Thrones show, it has come into its own now. And I cannot wait to see where it takes us.
House of the Dragon Season 1 is available to stream on HBO Max.