House of the Dragon, the pain of a queen. Plot and review of the season finale

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On Monday 24 October, at 3 am, simultaneously with the United States, exclusively on Sky and streaming only on NOW, the tenth and final episode of the first season of House of the Dragon (LO SPECIAL), the HBO spin-off series from Il Game of Thrones – Game of Thrones. Here’s what happened in the episode.

House of the Dragonepisode 10: the plot

Lucerys talks to Rhaenyra about his future, fears he is not up to the task that awaits him as king of Driftmark, his mother confides in him about the doubts she had when her father told her that she would be his heir to the Iron Throne . As the two talk, Rhaenys arrives at Driftmark and asks for an immediate audience with Rhaenyra and Daemon. Rhaenys announces Viserys’ death and Aegon’s coronation to Rhaenyra. Daemon suspects that Alicent killed Viserys to bring his children to the throne. Rhaenys advises Rhaenyra to leave Dragonstone right away so as not to be captured by the Greens. While Rhaenyra is in pain, Daemon prepares for the attack.

On behalf of his mother, Jacaerys stops Daemon’s war plans, but the latter leads him outside, where he asks two members of the king’s guard to renew the oath of allegiance to Rhaenyra, offering them as an alternative, in case they immediately declare that they are. wanting to uphold Aegon’s right to a quick death by means of his dragon’s fire and admonishing them that if they change sides in the future, they will have a slow and painful death.

Rhaenyra, in excruciating suffering, expels the unborn fetus, holds it in her arms and then, herself, prepares it for burial. Daemon lives his mourning distant and alone, on the cliff, before the whole family gathers for the funeral. The ceremony is interrupted by the arrival of a soldier: it is Erryk, who swears his loyalty to Rhaenyra, bringing with him the crown that was Viserys’s. Rhaenyra is crowned queen at Dragonstone, Rhaenys is the only one who does not bow to her, observing her with a proud smile.

Rhaenyra meets with Daemon and his advisers to understand which houses can be allied to her, among the certainties include Winterfell and Riverrun, the most important doubt is linked to the decision of Lord Corlys Velaryon and the fleet of Driftmark, crucial for the balance of the war. Instead, the Lannisters and all their allies will be deployed against Rhaenyra. The queen, however, can count on a number of dragons much higher than that of her opponents. As the meeting progresses, a tall ship carrying the flag of a three-headed green dragon enters port.

Otto arrives at Dragonstone, greeted by Daemon and his guard. The Hand asks about Rhaenyra, who arrives at that moment in flight astride Syrax. Otto proposes a surrender to Rhaenyra: he will have to recognize Aegon as king, in exchange he will hold possession of Dragonstone which will then pass to Jacaerys, Lucerys will be confirmed Lord of Driftmark, the children he had with Daemon will have important roles at court. Daemon rejects the proposal, Otto explains that all the symbols of legitimacy are in Aegon’s hand and that the houses of Starks, Baratheons and Tullies are considering the offer. Rhaenyra snatches Otto’s Hand Knight pin, accusing him of treason, he plays the card of affection between Rhaenyra and Alicent. And while Daemon is ready to launch the attack, Rhaenyra orders them to put away their weapons, telling Otto that he will respond to the proposal the next morning.

Reunited with her advisors, Rhaenyra says she doesn’t want a bloody war, she doesn’t want to set the Seven Kingdoms on fire with dragons. The confrontation with Daemon is violent and develops after the others have left the room. Rhaenyra mentions to him the prophecy of the Song of Ice and Fire and he reacts by wrapping a hand around her neck, refusing to obey orders that come from an omen.

Rhaenys visits Corlys’ room. She berates him for abandoning her when she needed him most, then updates him on what happened, on Viserys’s death but also on Vaemond’s. Corlys proposes not to support either side and retire together at High Tide, but Rhaenys reminds him that their grandchildren, Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey, can never be safe as long as Aegon is king. And when her husband reminds her of Rhaenyra’s role in Laenor’s alleged death, Rhaenys reveals to him the efforts the queen is currently making to avoid war.

Corlys and Rhaenys enter the room of the Painted Table to give their support to Rhaenyra, who reaffirms her willingness not to attack first. Corlys reports that the Stepstones are now under his control and proposes to block the Narrow Sea in order to besiege the Red Keep. But Rhaenyra first wants to figure out if he will have the support of Winterfell, Eagle’s Nest and Storm’s End. The sending of the ravens with messages is imminent, but Jacaerys proposes that he and Lucerys be the ambassadors of her mother, astride their dragons.

Lucerys arrives at Storm’s End to deliver the message to Lord Borros Baratheon, but upon his arrival he discovers that Aemond is already there, with Vaghar. The ruler of Storm’s End rejects the queen’s proposal, who offers him nothing in return, while Aegon has proposed a marriage between Aemond and one of his daughters. Borros sends Lucerys away, but Aemond stops him calling him “Lord Strong”. Lucerys does not give in to provocations, Aemond asks for an eye of him and refuses, when he tries to attack him, he is stopped by Lord Borros. Lucerys leaves, flying into a blizzard, but he and Arrax are chased by Vhagar and Aemond in an uneven fight. They seem to be able to escape, but the smaller dragon provokes the larger one by spitting fire on him, Vhagar, now out of control, attacks Arrax and tears him apart with a single bite, killing Lucerys as well. Rhaenyra is informed by Daemon of the death of her son, her gaze swollen with tears and full of desire for revenge.

House of the Dragonepisode 10: the review

A season finale full of pathos and action, which ends with a cliffhanger that launches us towards the second season already announced. Episode 10 of House of the Dragon it tells once more of how ineluctable destiny is, of how being king or queen is not a privilege but a burden made even heavier by the immense load of pain that it carries with it.

Rhaenyra opens and closes the episode in tears, overwhelmed by two griefs that she doesn’t even have time to elaborate. She goes through it with a physically and emotionally painful premature birth, giving birth to a dead baby, hugging him to her chest and personally dressing him for the funeral. Yet she retains her integrity, her dignity, that humanity that is the most important legacy of her father, Viserys the Peaceful, a legacy that at least for the moment keeps her away from many other examples of House Targaryen.

Beyond the suggestions, Rhaenyra is not Daenerys Born of the Storm. The distance, evident throughout the season, is reiterated even more strongly in this last episode: “I do not wish to rule a kingdom of ashes and bones,” she tells Daemon who presses her to attack King’s Landing with the Dragons, erasing in the fire and in blood the rebellion of the Hightower and taking back the Iron Throne. “You look like your father,” her husband scolds her, in what should be an insult and instead is the greatest possible compliment.

Rhaenyra, queen without a throne, has an austere face and a firm and determined gaze as she wears the crown for the first time. She has just placed the little body of her stillborn son on the fire but she shows no signs of uncertainty or weakness. She doesn’t even have joy, however, she can’t be there in the face of the death of someone she loves, she can’t be in a role she didn’t choose, she didn’t want. There is no ambition in her heart, only the acceptance and bearing of an enormous responsibility, the firm will to continue her father’s mission, that of governing by guaranteeing peace.

Rhaenyra shuns war and the only one who seems to understand and appreciate it is Rhaenys, who before her was denied the throne and did not respond with violence. A Rhaenys that in this last episode we see at her maximum potential, capable once again of piloting events. If in the ninth episode she had triggered Alicent’s spring, here she is still the one who pushes Corlys towards the choice to support Rhaenyra in the upcoming war against Aegon: “That girl is holding the United Kingdom”, she replies to her husband who tries to remind her of the role that Viserys’ daughter would have in Laenor’s alleged death.

Dragons play a pivotal role in this season finale, putting together a screentime arguably higher than that accumulated in the previous nine episodes. They play a fundamental role under the strategic aspect, because they shift the balance of the dispute, they also play it in Rhaenyra’s refusal to use them as a weapon of mass destruction. They play it, even more, in a very tense final, characterized by a spectacular chase, by an unequal confrontation. The image of Vhagar gliding above Arrax is impressive for the disproportion of forces he represents and indicates that it will not be that easy for Rhaenyra to win a possible war.

And it is this ending, in which once again the hatred of the children seems to defeat the love of the mothers, that can mark, with the first illustrious victim of this war still in embryo, a clear break in the character of Rhaenyra. Because there is a limit to the suffering a human being can endure. The last frame we have of this first season is a tight close-up of Rhaenyra, her eyes swollen with tears and her gaze fixed and determined, in her irises shines a glimmer of Targaryen madness, the same that crosses Daenerys’ eyes during the attack on King’s Landing in the finale of game of Thrones. Once again we may find ourselves in front of a monster created by the course of events, but to find out if this is really the case, we will have to wait for the second season.