We’re only a few hours into House of the Dragon but, already, the drama has amped up to a whole new level. With Viserys now out of the picture, his second wife and eldest daughter can really get into it, finally sparking the Targaryen civil war. There’s Rhaenyra and Daemon in one corner, and in the other, Alicent and Viserys’ remaining (and memorably creepy) children. Given this franchise’s scale and budget, there will likely be a lot of bloodshed and complication as the war (known as ‘The Dance of the Dragons’) unravels.
The season finale of ‘The Black Queen’ is going to be one of the most intense episodes yet as it leads up to the all-out war between Rhaenyra and her clan. Be sure to watch for key points that will help determine how the final battle unfolds.
While we know the general direction of the story (Game of Thrones takes place a couple of centuries ahead of the show) and it would be entirely possible to find out what happens by reading the source material (or even glancing at a family tree), this is a spoiler-free approach.
The Greens vs. The Blacks
The penultimate episode, ‘The Green Council’, came from Hightower green; the color of Alicent and Otto’s house. Rhaenyra’s side will become known as the Blacks, a traditional colour of House Targaryen and one you may associate with many of her dresses (thank you, HBO costume department). While many houses swore fealty to the Greens last week, there’s always time to switch allegiance – from the preview, it looks like one of the Cargyll brothers is having a change of heart. As war wages into Season 2, the support of Westeros’ various houses will be crucial.
Princess Rhaenys (Eve Best) provided last episode with its most memorable moment, breaking through the dragon pit atop Meleys and making her escape from King’s Landing. From the trailer, we know she’s on her way to alert Rhaenyra and Daemon about what’s up, but will she take their side?
House of the Dragon’s focus on the Targaryens – a deviation from Game of Thrones’ wide-lens sweep of Westeros – has mostly crafted a tighter show, complete with more psychologically compelling characters. There are hints, however, that this focus might be shifting, and it would be welcome, given how the show has begun to feel occasionally claustrophobic. Last week, when Rhaenys exploded through the dragon pit last week, she may not have hurt any of Alicent’s clan, but many Flea Bottom folk perished. That may color people’s view of dragons – they’re certainly awe-inspiring creatures, but there’s also room to be resentful of them. Rhaenyra, too, is intensely concerned about public opinion, with worries about her gender and questions over her children’s legitimacy. Understanding how the wider population views these characters, and how such perception may alter their actions, may be the jolt of energy Season 2 needs.
It may be time to update the family tree
The many, many royal offspring have grown up, and now seem very ready to fight, though admittedly, they have been at each other’s throats since they were children. But in this episode, Rhaenyra’s eldest son, Jaecarys, looks especially ready for battle with his uncles. Rhaenyra, it is worth noting, is still pregnant with her third child with Daemon.
I am not wishing for anymore violence against children in this show, but I can’t see all of them making it out of this finale alive; a death of a child will be a major way to raise the stakes, and provide Rhaenyra and Alicent some bitter motivation. And once Aemond, this show’s reigning cartoon villain, takes his eyepatch off, it’s all to play for.
Unfortunately, Larys Strong has become a main player in Westeros. Introduced as just another sinister background character, he quickly took centre stage by murdering Rhaenyra’s lover and the father of her children, Ser Harwin Strong. Last week, we learned about not only his foot fetish (no, thank you!) but also his extensive spy network. Even if Larys isn’t a main player in this finale, we expect him to have a key role going forwards, perhaps as the antagonist to another secretive figure, The White Worm.
Fabien Frankel Breaks Down ‘House Of The Dragon’ Scenes | Freeze Frame
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Will the dragons finally take centre stage?
Though there have been a few scenes for dragon fans – Daemon’s coastal affront, Rhaenys’ coronation interruption, plenty of sky shots – we’ve not really seen dragons go head-to-head yet. Could this be the episode when that happens? Judging by the preview, it may just be.
What will Daemon do?
While House of the Dragon’s cast is generally strong, Matt Smith is the prequel’s MVP. While Daemon first appeared as a run-of-the-mill bad boy, he soon emerged as something more extreme: a bad boy with a heart (and perhaps an addiction to murder). He’s extremely defensive over his new wife – slicing off Vaemond Velaryon’s head when he questioned her children’s legitimacy – and he looks similarly hungry for blood in the finale. “You cannot bend your knee to the Hightowers,” he tells Rhaenyra, “they stole your birthright.” It’s almost sweet to see how invested he is until you remember, of course, that he is her uncle, so it’s a family matter for him too.
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