They say that the original plan (or at least the pitch) with ‘The House of the Dragon’ was begin directly with the death of King Viserys. Thankfully they thought better of it because I have a hard time seeing how well this season finale would have worked as one of the first. A lot has happened to get here and I just want the next season to come now.
From here, spoilers for ‘The Black Queen’, the 1×10 episode of ‘The House of the Dragon’.
After the eighth episode, which concluded with the last words of King Viserys, we have had a double of episodes that we have been shown both factions of an impending war. If in ‘The Green Council’ (1×09) we did not move from King’s Landing to see how the usurpation of the Iron Throne was concocted, in ‘The Black Queen’ we see the reaction in Dragonstone.
black queen gambit
After the dragon escape and destruction of Rhaenys (Eve Best) during the coronation of Aegon the Second of His Name (Tom Glynn-Carney), the princess will be in charge of breaking the news to Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) and Daemon (Matt Smith). This will put the blacks on a war footing, with him moving to secure support and loyalties while she goes into labor.
As the masters already anticipate, it is not time for childbirth… which indicates that what we have in hand looks like an abortion and she knows it too. A new tragedy (symmetrical with the first episode) in a series quite obsessed with these moments. It is curious how the princess’s cries of pain are interspersed with brief flashes of dragons, as if trying to draw strength from them.
It will be at the child’s funeral when the timely arrival of a white cloak wearing Viserys’s crown prompts an impromptu coronation ceremony. The Seven guard the Black Queen. In this we will be when the entire episode also takes us through the disagreements and the ways of seeing the kingdom and the war policy between Rhaenyra.
From the beginning we have seen how both have “different agendas”, which includes the queen preventing Daemon from killing Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) when he shows up for negotiation (using a memory of the friendship between Alicent and her). Another, more problematic moment is when he strangles her by talking about the prophecy of the Song of Ice and Fire.
The reason, simple. Like her father, she believes that the prophecy implies a duty to keep the Seven Kingdoms in peace, so she does not feel comfortable with the war plans of her husband and other advisors and lords in Dragonstone. .
However, everything is taking shape and that path: a crippled Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) secures the alliance of his fleet, preparing an isolation of King’s Landing by sea; on the other hand, we must also secure the dragons and Daemon will go in search of Vermithor, once a dragon of King Jahaerys.
The episode ends on a sour note. Young Lucerys’s (Elliot Grihault) quest to find support in the Borros Baratheon ends with a tense showdown with Aemond (Ewan Mitchell). After avoiding a fight in the palace, it will be in heaven when we find a first battle between dragons: the gigantic Vhagar (claimed by Aemond in 1×07) against the smaller and faster Arrax.
After avoiding the first few attacks almost like a game of cat and mouse, the dragons will lose control andand they will attack disobeying two riders. The end is as expected: the little one has nothing to do against the big one and he will fall dead into the sea.
It’s funny how actually we do not see the death of prince Luke, because in fact according to the source material no one knows exactly what happened. Some say that he was devoured by Vhagar, others that he wanders the Shipwreck Bay as a fisherman with no memories.
Regardless of this, this tragedy is the final spark for the beginning of a war that Rhaenyra wanted to avoid. The last shot of him warns us that revenge will be terrible. And here we will be to see it after a first season that has shown that the series is not only not a worthy successor to ‘Game of Thrones’ but that it is a spectacular example of medieval fantasy.