This is it, folks. House of The Dragon gave us its Season 1 finale this week, and it was everything we’ve been waiting for. There’s miscommunication, betrayal, shade throwin’, death… I know you may be thinking, “Isn’t that every episode?” And while the answer to that would be "yes," the pivotal moments that have been building all season long have finally happened. And it was worth the ten episodes to get here! This episode pulled me all the way back in, and I can’t wait to tell you about it!
Before we get too far into the episode, here’s a quick reminder to catch our new show, "Decoding Dragons," where my talented co-host Liza Phoenix and I break down all things House of the Dragon (also available on YouTube and podcast format)! We dive deep into lore, symbolism, easter eggs, and more of Westeros and Game of Thrones. If you don’t have 40 minutes to listen or watch, but you do have a few minutes to read, continue forth, my Lords and Ladies. If you don’t want to get burned by spoilers, I suggest watching the tenth episode before continuing on!
Let’s go ahead and get into Episode 10, “The Black Queen.”
Just as there was no time-jump in the previous episode, there was not one this time, either. In fact, this one opens as quickly after Episode 9 as possible. Rhaenyra is having a conversation with her son Lucerys (a.k.a. "Luke") when she gets told Princess Rhaenys just arrived on dragonback. If you recall, the last episode ended with Rhaenys rising through the ground of the Dragonpit, interrupting Aegon’s bitch-ass coronation in the most epic way possible (and likely killing a few dozen onlookers), and flying seemingly towards Dragonstone. Just as the previous episode revolved solely around the greens in King’s Landing, this one revolves solely around the blacks in Dragonstone.
When Rhaenys arrives, she unceremoniously tells a pregnant Rhaenyra and Daemon that King Viserys has died and that Aegon has stolen her crown. This stress sends Rhaenyra into premature labor, and she spends the next 5 minutes of the episode attempting to birth a babe that's clearly not ready to be birthed. Daemon goes Daemon’s way and prepares for a battle sure to ensue. He ignores the wails of pain from his wife-niece and continues to plot even after Jacaerys (a.k.a. "Jace") brings him the message from Rhaenyra saying not to act until she says so.
Through a very graphic but accurate scene, Rhaenyra births her baby without the help of the nurses. The baby is a stillbirth, and she takes the time to grieve. She wraps the baby in burial cloth as we saw the Silent Sisters doing to King Viserys after his death. Daemon and Rhaenyra have a funeral for their daughter with close family, friends, and supporters in attendance. During the funeral, Ser Erryk shows up with King Viserys’ crown and recites the oath of the Kingsguard to support her in her rule as Queensguard. Daemon takes the crown and places it upon her head, he leads the small assembly in kneeling before Rhaenyra. During one of the worst 24 hours of Rhaenyra’s life, she has lost her father, her crown, and her daughter, and she is crowned Queen of the Seven Kingdoms as rightful heir.
Easter eggs: Daemon and Rhaenyra’s daughter was to be named Visenya after Aegon the Conqueror’s sister-wife. She was the original rider of Vhagar the dragon, who is now ridden by Aemond. Daemon placing the crown upon Rhaenyra’s head was also a callback when he placed it on his brother’s head in Episode 8, proving it is not the crown he is particularly after. Then what is he after? That is the eternal question of Daemon isn’t it?
Once Rhaenyra is crowned as queen with her father’s crown, she steps into the role with only slight hesitation. She is not accustomed to the bowing and offering of wine (which she definitely should have chugged but, you know, classy, I guess). Daemon, however, seems as if he is sent into a tizzy with war on the horizon. We also get to see the glow-up of the Painted Table, which was as epic as it needed to be!
One member of the Black Council that needs her own article based on this episode is Rhaenys. She was throwing so much shade she might as well have been a forest, and I was here for it all. Her wisdom, ice cold demeanor, and love for her husband and family shone as bright as Aemond’s weird blue eye (more on that later). When Daemon was naming the dragons that the blacks had on their side and included Meleys (Rhaenys’ dragon) in that list, Rhaenys shot a side-eye that let them know for damn sure they knew she hadn’t yet chosen a side.
When Corlys woke up back at Driftmark, all he wanted to do was talk to his woman, and Rhaenys said, “Nope, your ass abandoned me, now we have shit to do, so come here and let me wipe your face, you old curmudgeon.” Just like that. Word for word. Eventually, Lord Corlys and Princess Rhaenys join the council meeting to declare their support for the blacks.
While the Black Council is gauging the support Rhaenyra will have based on the old oaths promised to her father, the locations they need to rally begin to show themselves. Mainly, it’s the Riverlands (Riverrun to talk to the Tullys), Winterfell (to talk to the Starks... yay!), and Storm’s End to talk to the Baratheons. Jace and Luke volunteer to ride on dragonback since it will be “faster than ravens” and sends a stronger message. Rhaenyra forces them to swear not to engage in any fighting, that they are only going as messengers and not warriors. They agree and off they go.
Easter eggs: There was a moment during Corlys and Rhaenys’ conversation when Rhaenys was mentioning how calm, cool, and collected Rhaenyra was being throughout the chaos, and the music shift and the camera movement was a call back to Jon Snow. It’s a slight easter egg that not a lot of people will notice, but it was a nice nod seeing as how Jon Snow would be a descendant of those we are currently watching.
Even though our hearts ache to return to Winterfell, we don’t get the pleasure to see that in this episode of journeys. Instead, we watch Luke land in a rainy Storm’s End courtyard on his dragon, Arrax. In the distance, he spots the silhouette of Vhagar. Enemies are already here. (Side note, that boy has way more balls than me, because if that’s the silhouette that greeted me in the lightning, I’d throw that scroll at the door and peace out immediately. Anyway, back to the article.)
Once inside the throne room, Borros Baratheon is lambasting Luke for coming to him with subpar terms compared to those he just heard from Prince Aemond, who is also in the room. He has promised to wed one of Borros’ daughters on top of other offerings that Rhaenyra did not include. Once it’s clear he is getting nowhere, Luke turns to leave. Aemond then threatens him, demanding to take his eye for the eye Luke took years ago (not giving up on this, huh). Aemond removes his eye patch to reveal a bright sapphire eye, reminiscent of the future Night King. Borros quickly diminishes any threat of bloodshed under his roof, and Luke gets back to Arrax. A wicked storm has kicked up, and he has to be sure to tell Arrax to listen to his orders.
Once airborne, we get the visual shot of the century (see below) of Vhagar creeping up over on Arrax in flight. Arrax loses his cool by the threat and shoots fire towards Vhagar. This is our first glimpse that dragons may indeed not be “trained” to listen to humans. Vhagar of course retaliates even with Aemond shouting “NO!” and comes in from the side, mouth wide open, chomping Luke and Arrax into pieces with one swift bite of her massive jaws. Remember that Vhagar is a warrior dragon, and she came over in Aegon’s Conquest. She isn’t messing around! Aemond seems stunned by this turn of events as what just happened envelopes him. If there was no war before, there sure as shit will be now.
The last shot of the season is Daemon taking Rhaenyra’s arm to let her know what has happened to Luke. She breaks down, then turns in an epic shot of “let’s f****** do this, then.” In short, bitch snaps. Can we blame her? Nope!
Easter eggs: Arrax is five times smaller than Vhagar. He is old enough to be ridden but is still growing. Luke may have had the speed and agility, but he did not have the seasoned battle experience. The last shot of Rhaenyra determined to declare war, to me, is a callback to bridge the gap between the controversial Season 8 of Game of Thrones and this series. I’m talking specifically about the losses Daenerys endured that caused her character to turn so quickly. Rhaenyra has endured loss after loss in just this episode and went from saying no to war at the beginning, to ready to fight at the end.
What did you think of this episode? Did you enjoy the season as a whole? What are you looking forward to seeing in Season 2? Let us know in the comments!