Well, that was certainly a devastating conclusion to the first season of House of the Dragon.


In the wake of the ninth episode of the series, King Aegon II Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney) has been crowned thanks to the machinations of his mother Dowager Queen Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) and the Hand of the King, her father Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans).

However, in the ninth episode's conclusion, the coronation was interrupted by the Queen Who Never Was, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best), as she smashed out of the bowels of the Dragonpit, spared the Hightower faction and fled King's Landing.

The season finale sees Rhaenys arrive at Dragonstone to inform a pregnant Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D'Arcy) that the throne that had been promised to her by her late father King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) has been usurped by her younger half-brother.

How will Rhaenyra react to this vicious betrayal and is she in grave danger?

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**Spoiler warning for House of the Dragon episode 10**

House of the Dragon episode 10 recap: The Black Queen

Elliot Grihault as Prince Lucerys Velaryon and Emma D'Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon
Elliot Grihault as Prince Lucerys Velaryon and Emma D'Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon HBO

On Dragonstone, the painted table showing the map of Westeros is shown as Prince Lucerys Velaryon (Elliot Grihault) regards it and strokes his future home of Driftmark. Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen approaches her son as Lucerys reveals his desire to not inherit Driftmark, claims it should have gone to Ser Vaemond Velaryon and points out that Viserys let Rhaenyra choose her destiny. However, Rhaenyra reveals that she was not desiring of her birthright either but had to learn for it. Lucerys says he is not like his mother, who is 'perfect'. Rhaenyra corrects him and promises to educate him as Viserys did her. Ser Lorent Marbrand (Maxim Wrottesley) then enters and tells her Princess Rhaenys has arrived to speak with her and Prince Daemon.

Princess Rhaenys enters and delivers news of Viserys' death to a devastated Rhaenyra and then reveals the coronation of King Aegon II, which causes Rhaenyra pain. Daemon reveals his belief that Viserys was killed. Rhaenys relays the details of her recent experiences, while Daemon blames Alicent for Viserys' death and questions why Rhaenys did not kill them all with Meleys and she says it was not her war to start. Rhaenys encourages them to leave before going to depart but is stopped when a pained Rhaenyra begins bleeding and going into premature labour.

Maester Gerardys (Phil Daniels) and a nurse are present as Rhaenyra goes into labour.

Eve Best as Princess Rhaenys Targaryen in House of the Dragon
Eve Best as Princess Rhaenys Targaryen in House of the Dragon HBO

In a council, Daemon gathers allies to arm Dragonstone against any incoming attacks from the Greens. On the beach of Dragonstone, Prince Jacaerys Velaryon (Harry Collett) is tough as he trains his younger brother Lucerys. Rhaenys fetches the boys and brings them to Rhaenyra and she relays the news of what has occurred in King's Landing. The two boys then leave to find Daemon, but Rhaenyra makes clear to Jacaerys that he is her heir and they cannot do anything without her command.

Daemon learns that Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) is sailing to an unknown location, while Daemon plans to travel to Riverrun to secure the support of Lord Tully. Jacaerys arrives and commands Daemon to cease plans without Rhaenyra but Daemon continues with plans to send ravens to allies. Daemon orders Jacaerys to follow him and, outside, presents Ser Steffon Darklyn (Anthony Flanagan) and Ser Lorent with the choice to swear allegiance to Rhaenyra as their queen or die. Daemon promises they will die screaming if they swear fealty now by turning their cloaks later.

Rhaenyra refuses the help of her nurses and endures a bloody episode of labour that results in the stillbirth of a premature infant. The nurses are devastated before Rhaenyra then cradles her lost child. Daemon then enters. Afterwards, the Silent Sisters are present as Rhaenyra embalms her own child before breaking down in tears. Meanwhile, on the beach of Dragonstone, Daemon collapses in anguish.

Elliott Tittensor as Ser Erryk Cargyll in House of the Dragon
Elliott Tittensor as Ser Erryk Cargyll in House of the Dragon Ollie Upton/HBO

The couple and their children, along with servants, attained lords and Rhaenys gather for the funeral and cremation of the child on the coast of Dragonstone. During the ceremony, Ser Erryk Cargyll (Elliott Tittensor) approaches with a message of no harm before producing the crown of King Viserys and swears fealty to Queen Rhaenyra as a member of her Queensguard. Daemon holds the crown before walking over to Rhaenyra and crowning his wife before bowing down to her as his Queen. All those present then bow before Rhaenyra as their Queen, including her three Velaryon sons, Lady Baela Targaryen (Bethany Antonia) and Lady Rhaena Targaryen (Phoebe Campbell). However, Rhaenys remains standing.

Inside Dragonstone's fortress, the painted table is lit to illuminate the map of Westeros as Queen Rhaenyra I Targaryen enters to meet her Black Council after being announced by Daemon. Rhaena serves her stepmother Rhaenyra wine, as Baela joins her sister, step-brothers, the Queensguard, liege lords Lord Staunton and Lord Bartimos Celtigar, and more at the table. Daemon plans to message his allies in the City Watch, as they plan further great Houses as allies: Tully, Grover, Stark, and Baratheon. Rhaenys reveals that Lord Velaryon is sailing for Dragonstone, revealing that Corlys will reveal his allegiance when he arrives. Daemon notes that House Lannister will be allied with the Greens, meaning the Westerlands will go with them. Lord Bartimos suggests using their dragons and their riders, along with the wild and unmanned dragons on the island - making 13 dragons, as well as the eggs in their possession. Daemon suggests sieging the fortress of Harrenhal. Ser Erryk then approaches with news that a Green ship approaches Dragonstone. Daemon mobilises as they prepare to answer the visitors.

Rhys Ifans as Ser Otto Hightower in House of the Dragon
Rhys Ifans as Ser Otto Hightower in House of the Dragon HBO

On the causeway of Dragonstone, Daemon is faced by his old nemesis Ser Otto Hightower, accompanied by Grand Maester Orwyle (Kurt Egyiawan) with a message from Dowager Queen Alicent Hightower for Rhaenyra alone. The Black Queen then arrives on her dragon Syrax before walking through the Greens' men and past Ser Otto before joining Daemon. When Ser Otto refers to Rhaenyra as Princess, she corrects him. Ser Otto offers Rhaenyra a chance to swear fealty to Aegon who will allow her to retain Dragonstone, let her son Jacaerys inherit it after her, Lucerys inherit Driftmark, her sons Aegon to serve as King Aegon's squire and Viserys a cupbearer. Daemon disregards the "drunken usurper c*** of a king" and says he would rather feed his sons to dragons. Rhaenyra refers to Ser Otto as a traitor, removes the pin as the Hand of the King and throws it over the causeway. Grand Maester Orwyle then brings Ser Otto a gift from Alicent - the page that Rhaenyra once tore out of a book for her and gave her. Ser Erryk and his brother Ser Arryk Cargyll (Luke Tittensor) each hold their swords. Daemon is not happy and draws his sword to give an answer, causing both sides to brandish weapons and Syrax to roar. Rhaenyra promises an answer for Alicent the next day.

Inside Dragonstone, Rhaenyra reveals her concern about using dragons to burn the entire realm and sitting on the Iron Throne no matter the cost, revealing she is considering the terms given to her to avoid war. Rhaenyra orders the room cleared but for her and Daemon. A smiling Rhaenys leaves. Rhaenyra reveals she would rather avoid war if she could take the throne another way. It then becomes clear in a discussion that Daemon did not know about the Song of Ice and Fire, as Rhaenyra relays the prophecy to him but he begins choking her, criticising Viserys and noting that dreams did not make the Targaryens kings, dragons did. Rhaenyra is more shocked that Viserys did not tell Daemon about Aegon the Conquerer's dream. Daemon leaves with his sword Dark Sister.

Emma D'Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon
Emma D'Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon HBO

In a bed on Dragonstone, an ailing Corlys awakens from his slumber and finds Rhaenys sleeping beside him and he awakes her. Rhaenys accuses Corlys of abandoning her after the loss of their children, leaving her alone on Driftmark and turning to war. Corlys claims he did so due to the loss he felt, but Rhaenys is still aggrieved before tending to his wounds. The Sea Snake notes they have a new king before Rhaenys relays that Ser Vaemond is dead after his fury at Rhaenyra in King's Landing. Noting the Velaryon weakness of ambition, Corlys admits his pursuit of the Iron Throne has cost them too much and their role in the powerplays for the Iron Throne is at an end. The Sea Snake suggests they retire to Driftmark, but Rhaenys notes their need to protect Rhaenyra's sons and also points out how Rhaenyra is the only person preventing war.

The morning sees Corlys and Rhaenys visit the Black Council, with Rhaenyra revealing her pleasure at his good health. Corlys gives his condolences regarding Viserys' death and he asks after Daemon, who is now absent. Rhaenyra updates Corlys who comments on her lack of allies but she notes he swore an oath to her. The Lord of the Tides answers that House Velaryon stands with her against House Hightower's treason. A pleased Rhaenyra turns and shares smiles with Rhaenys, before noting that she will not start a war, advocating caution and knowing who her allies are first. Corlys notes that House Velaryon now controls the Stepstones and the Triarchy has been routed, meaning they now dominate the Narrow Sea, recommending that they cut off all trade via sea from King's Landing. Rhaenys offers to monitor the Gullet with Meleys. Lord Celtigar suggests laying siege to King's Landing, while Maester Gerardys suggests sending messages. Jacaerys volunteers himself and Lucerys to deliver messages to potential allies instead of ravens. Jacaerys will visit Rhaenyra's cousin Lady Jeyne Arryn at the Eyrie in the Vale before visiting Lord Cregan Stark at Winterfell, while Lucerys will visit Lord Borros Baratheon (Roger Evans) at Storm's End. Rhaenyra agrees.

Emma D'Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Eve Best as Princess Rhaenys Targaryen in House of the Dragon
Emma D'Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Eve Best as Princess Rhaenys Targaryen in House of the Dragon

Outside before her sons depart, Rhaenyra makes her two eldest sons swear not to start any violence. Rhaenyra encourages Jacaerys to find common ground with the young Lord Cregan at Winterfell, who is the same age as the Prince. A nervous Lucerys is comforted by Rhaenyra who encourages him to appeal to the proud Lord Borros just a short distance away at Storm's End. The two princes then depart Dragonstone on the backs of their dragons; Jacaerys on Vermax and Lucerys on Arrax.

Meanwhile, in the bowels of Dragonstone, Daemon walks with a torch and sings in High Valyrian before placing his torch on the floor in front of a large dragon, Vermithor, who proceeds to roar and breath a burst of flame. Daemon continues to sing as the dragon approaches and regards him. The pair stare each other down.

Later, Lucerys is seen approaching the coastal fortress of Storm's End on Arrax and lands in its courtyard before dismounting. The young prince then notices the presence of the much larger dragon of Vhagar also in the courtyard. Speaking to the guards, Lucerys announces that he has a message from the Queen.

Ewan Mitchell as Prince Aemond Targaryen in House of the Dragon
Ewan Mitchell as Prince Aemond Targaryen in House of the Dragon HBO

Entering the great hall, Lucerys faces Lord Borros but sees that Prince Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell) is also in the hall. Lucerys reveals he has a message, while Borros notes the presence of two rival monarchs. The message is handed over to Lord Borros as Aemond and Lucerys stare at each other. A maester is called and he whispers to Borros and reminds him of the oath sworn by Borros' father. Borros notes that Aegon offered a marriage to one of Borros' daughters, but Borros asks for a similar offer from Rhaenyra, suggesting Lucerys marries his daughter. Lucerys comments that he is not eligible to marry. The rejection prompts Lucerys going to leave but Aemond calls after him, addressing him as "Lord Strong" and noting his treason. Aemond plans to take out Lucerys' eye, removing his eye patch to reveal a sapphire eye. Lucerys refuses to fight him, but Aemond is intent on the duel to provide a gift to Alicent. Borros bans a duel and orders Lucerys to be escorted out by guards and taken to his dragon.

In the lashing rain and storm outside, Lucerys races to Arrax and calms his dragon in High Valyrian before mounting him and flying into the storm. As Lucerys flies away, however, it soon becomes clear that Aemond is giving chase riding upon Vhagar. Lucerys has the dragon soar high but Vhagar flies above him, scaring Arrax, as Aemond cackles upon his mount. Vhagar roars and lunges at Arrax as Lucerys tries to escape, flying into a thin canyon that Vhagar is too large to enter. Aemond monitors the canyon as Lucerys continues to flee, cackling and falling out that Lucerys owes him a debt for the eye he took from him. Arrax blasts fire at Vhagar against Lucerys' commands, promoting Vhagar to ignore Aemond and chase after Arrax. As Lucerys' dragon soars above the sky into the calm sunny sky above, a calm is shown before Vhagar appears and ripes into Arrax, killing the smaller dragon and Lucerys. Aemond is shown to look horrified afterwards.

Back on Dragonstone, Daemon is seen to enter a Black Council discussion as Rhaenyra note his entrance. In silence, Daemon approaches Rhaenya and draws her aside near the fireplace, delivering news of Lucerys' death. Rhaenyra is shown to briefly crumble in grief before turning around and showing a look of heartbreak and fury in her eyes. The war has truly begun.

What book changes are in House of the Dragon episode 10?

Emma D'Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon
Emma D'Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon HBO

There were a number of changes when adapting Fire and Blood into House of the Dragon episode 10, The Black Queen.

  • In Fire and Blood, Daemon is definitely the figure encouraging conflict while Rhaenyra seeks a diplomatic solution but the book never shows Daemon physically abusing Rhaenyra in their arguing.
  • As the addition of Aegon’s prophecy is original to the series, the conversations surrounding this between Rhaenyra and Daemon are new for the series.
  • In the book, Ser Otto Hightower does not visit Dragonstone with terms and no page is given to Rhaenyra from Alicent. Grand Maester Orwyle travels to Dragonstone with terms before having his chain removed and it is given to Maester Gerardys. It is in this scene in the book that Rhaenyra outrightly rejects Orwyle's terms and gives a message to him for Aegon saying she will take her half-brother's crown or his head.
  • In the series, Rhaenyra is even more concerned with avoiding war than in the book but is continuously pushed into conflict here.
  • The series depicts Rhaenys as being the one to convince Lord Corlys Velaryon into joining the cause of Rhaenyra.
  • In the book, Prince Aemond Targaryen wilfully kills Prince Lucerys Velaryon when he pursues him on Vhagar but the series depicts Vhagar as killing Lucerys independently and Aemond is horrified about what happened.
  • In the book, it is Ser Steffon Darklyn who delivers the crown to Rhaenyra on Dragonstone and not Ser Erryk Cargyll. Ser Erryk was already acting as Rhaenyra’s personal protector on Dragonstone.

So, as this run of the series comes to a close, we now must eagerly await the second season of House of the Dragon.

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