‘House of the Dragon’ Finale: Tragedy Strikes & Rhaenyra Goes to War (RECAP)

house of the dragon season 1 episode 10
Spoiler Alert
HBO

House of the Dragon

The Black Queen

Season 1 • Episode 10

rating: 3.5 stars

[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for House of the Dragon Season 1 episode 10, “The Black Queen.”]

Was this House of the Dragon’s “Rickon” moment?

On the original show, Rickon Stark (Ethan Thwaits) died by Ramsay Bolton’s (Iwan Rheon) hand, seconds before Jon (Kit Harington) could save him. While Rickon wasn’t the most impactful of characters, it was a tragic moment—if only Jon had gotten there sooner, if only Rickon had run faster… or not in a straight line!

House of the Dragon’s Season 1 finale has a moment that evokes the Rickon tragedy, with far, far larger consequences for the realm. It also shows a surprisingly unpleasant side to Daemon (Matt Smith) and Rhaenyra’s (Emma D’Arcy) relationship that might leave some viewers with a bad taste in their mouths, especially considering we were never shown how their dynamic went so sour. But by the time the end credits roll, there’s no doubt that Rhaenyra’s coming for House Hightower’s blood. Here’s how it happens.

house of the dragon season 1 episode 10

HBO

Rhaenys (Eve Best) goes to Dragonstone. She informs Rhaenyra not only of her father’s death, but also of Aegon’s coronation. Suddenly, Rhaenyra goes into labor with her and Daemon’s child, much too early. The child is stillborn, and at the funeral, Rhaenyra is given a crown of her own. From there, Team Black sets to figuring out its allies and enemies. Of course, talk turns to dragons. Team Black has more of them than Team Green: 13, to Green’s 4. Daemon wholeheartedly believes they should use the dragons and be done with it, but considering none of their dragons have been to war, Rhaenyra is hesitant. As she later tells her war council, she does not wish to rule over a kingdom of ash and bone.

Daemon and Rhaenyra also receive a visit from Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), who tells them Aegon is offering terms: if they acknowledge him as king, Rhaenyra and her sons will rule Dragonstone and Driftmark, and be given other places of high honor within the realm. That’s not good enough for Daemon, putting it mildly. “I would rather feed my sons to the dragons than have them carry shields and cups for your drunken usurper c**t of a king,” he snarls. But many of Rhaenyra’s alliances are now stale, as Houses Stark, Baratheon and Tully are considering terms from Team Green. Enraged, Rhaenyra calls Otto a traitor, rips off his Hand of the King pin and throws it aside. They all nearly come to blows, but Rhaenyra calls it off. “King’s Landing will have my answer on the morrow,” she says.

house of the dragon season 1 episode 10

HBO

Her council meets, and Rhaenyra again expresses her hesitance to use dragons. Daemon very much feels otherwise. In the wake of his outburst, she tells the assembly to give them the room. She reminds him that their duty extends beyond the Iron Throne to the song of ice and fire and the danger in the north, as her father once told her. And Daemon… responds to this by wrapping a hand around her throat. As he chokes her, he tells her that Viserys was a slave to omens and dreams, but dreams didn’t make them kings. He lets her go, and Rhaenyra realizes Viserys never told him about the prophecy.

Corlys (Steve Toussaint) is alive! Once he’s healed from his injury, he and Rhaenys stand before Rhaenyra’s war council. Corlys declares that she has the support of his fleet and house. They outline a plan to control the Gullet, a trade route that leads into King’s Landing. It’s also decided that her sons will go with their dragons to the lords, to “remind them of the oaths they swore.”

house of the dragon season 1 episode 10

HBO

That’s where things go wrong, and fast. Lucerys (Elliot Grihault) goes to Lord Borros of House Baratheon, but when he enters the throne room, Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) is already there. He gives Lord Borros his message, but the lord is incensed that he came without an offer when the King promised a marriage pact. When he’s unable to take one of Lucerys’ eyes, Aemond chases him down on Vhagar. Both lose control of their dragons, and Vhagar eats Lucerys. Oh, no!

Back at Dragonstone, Daemon goes to Rhaenyra. Although we don’t hear the dialogue, it’s clear from her body language that he tells her Lucerys is dead. We also don’t see her expressions as she turns to the fireplace, but when she turns around, there’s fire in her eyes. And as the episode ends, there’s little doubt Rhaenyra Targaryen is ready to go to war.

House of the Dragon Season 1, all episodes now streaming, HBO Max