House of the Dragon: Season 1 Episode 1 - 'The Heirs of the Dragon' Spoiler Review

Despite all of the great shows HBO has made, Game of Thrones stands apart as to how big it got in terms of worldwide appeal. House of the Dragon is one of several ideas that were kicked around as a new Game of Thrones universe series (Throneverse), and the premiere episode did not disappoint. The first episode of Game of Thrones had one of the best opening sequences of any series I've seen, and while House of the Dragon (HotD) did not have an opening as great it delivered a better overall episode. House of the Dragon was the second Throneverse follow up series ordered by HBO; they shot a pilot for another series that was not ordered to series by HBO. House of the Dragon was the right choice, but the Throneverse is deep with potential stories that can feature some events mentioned in the books or the series. House of the Dragon is based loosely on the George R. R. Martin book Fire and Blood which covers the history of House Targaryen. HotD had a lot of intrigue going on in the first episode, it was very reminiscent of season one of Game of Thrones. The relationship between Viserys and Daemon started out strong but soured quickly when the King learned that his brother mocked his dead baby son. The main three characters as I can figure are Viserys, Daemon and Rhaenyra, but there are also some interesting side characters to keep an eye on too in Otto, Corlys, Rhaenys and Alicent. 

It is only one episode, but HBO has confirmed that the show has been renewed for a second season which is a good thing for fans. The early renewal is promising since the merger between Warner Bros. and Discovery is off to a rocky start with a lot of projects being cancelled in cost cutting moves. I have no idea where the show will be going in the remaining 9 episodes of the season, but the mention of the vision of the future will be interesting. I still want a show that will explore Robert rebellion, which will end with the Greyjoy rebellion. I am not sure if HBO would ever do that show, but I think it would be great to see some of those pivotal events that led to Game of Thrones. House of the Dragon had some truly shocking moments and imagery, the savagery carried out by the gold cloaks, and the post birth image of Queen Aemma's death stand out. Daemon is the hardest character to figure out, I can't tell whether he is a decent man who has some bad qualities or if he is putting on act in his better moments. The characters of the show do not feel like recycled characters from the original show, these characters feel different, and they are in completely different situation. This is one house that has only one enemy to fear, themselves. It will be interesting to see how the show explores a time when things were at peace, this could be a ruse as war could just be seconds away if Viserys dies or another foe emerges. 


The series opens with King Jaehaerys about to die, and while he has 10 dragons his sons are dead leaving him no heir to the throne. Jaehaerys called a great council to choose the heir to the throne, there was Prince Viserys (played by Paddy Considine) and Princess Rhaenys (played by Eve Best) who were grandkids of the king. The council picked the male in Viserys, who would become king when Jaehaerys dies. We jump forward to the ninth year of King Viserys' rule, we see a dragon flying through the clouds with a rider on its back. The dragon descends over King's Landing making it way to the dragon keep, the rider dismounts and is revealed to be Princess Rhaenyra (played by Emma D'Arcy). The Princess is met by her friend Lady Alicent Hightower (played by Emily Carey) who is also the daughter of the Hand of the King. The Princess goes to see her pregnant mother Queen Aemma, the Princess tells her mother she would rather serve as a Knight than a Queen Mother. The Princess then attends a meeting with the King and his advisors the council. The council features Ser Otto Hightower (played Rhys Ifans) the Hand of the King and Lord Corlys (played by Steve Toussaint) who is known as the Sea Snake and he is also the husband of Princess Rhaenys (known as the Queen who never was). 

The King's brother Prince Daemon (played by Matt Smith) has arrived to see the Princess, he is sitting on the iron throne while waiting for her. Daemon gives her a necklace made of Valyrian steel as a gift. The King is having a wound on his back examined, the Maesters do not know what it is, so they sent a sample to the citadel for examination. Daemon who is commander of the city watch (gold cloaks) is meeting with his men, he sends them on a mission to send fear to the wrongdoers of Kings Landing. The city watch goes around the capitol rounding up people to be brutalized as a message to everyone that the gold cloaks are to be feared. The council meets with Daemon to chastise him for his actions, but the King sides with his brother. Daemon is at the brothel, and he is with his consort Mysaria (played Sonoya Mizuno) who looks after him. The tournament the King is holding to mark the birth of his son has begun, and Daemon duels Otto's eldest son. Daemon gets hit on the first pass, but on the second pass he cheats and aim to disable the horse causing Otto's son to fall face first into the ground. Queen Aemma's labor goes poorly, and Viserys is forced to choose between the Queen and the baby. Viserys chooses to save his son at the cost of his Queen, but his choice was poor, and he loses them both. Prince Daemon loses the tournament after he loses to Ser Criston Cole (played by Fabien Frankel) in combat. 

The funeral of the Queen and her baby is done by having Rhaenyra's dragon (named Syrax) breathe fire onto the pyre holding the corpses. The next council meeting is difficult as Otto tells the king he needs to pick a successor, the council appears unsure if Daemon will make a good king. The King defends Daemon (who is secretly listening in on the conversation), but all the members cannot agree on a choice. Viserys storms out of the meeting after feeling the council insulted the memory of his wife and son by asking him to pick so soon. Otto asks his daughter to give the King comfort, Lady Alicent finds the King working on a model of Kings Landing. Alicent wants to read for the King from one of her favourite books, but she also offers her sympathy since she lost her mother not that long ago. Daemon is in a brothel with his men, but he makes a mistake by toasting to his dead nephew (the heir for a day). Otto learns of the toast and tells the King who orders Daemon to come see him; Viserys asks Daemon if he said what Otto said he said. Daemon is mad that he has felt his brother has just pushed him away rather than keep him close. Daemon says he would protect the King from himself because Viserys is weak, and the council knows it. The King orders Daemon to return to his wife at Runestone, Daemon does not argue the King's command. 

The King orders Rhaenyra to meet him in the chamber than contains the remains of Aegon's dragon Balerion. Viserys tells his daughter that the idea that Targaryens control their dragons is an illusion, and that dragons are a power men shouldn't have trifled with. Viserys tells his daughter a secret passed from King-to-King, Aegon had a vision of a terrible future that will start with a winter, Aegon called this dream A Song of Ice and Fire. Aegon wanted a Targaryen on the throne to unite the realm to face the threat. As Rhaenyra is being sworn in by the council, Daemon is leaving with Mysaria aboard his dragon Caraxes as the episode ends.


One of the best things about House of the Dragon is that the story was kept simple, the story unfolded at a good pace, and I never felt overwhelmed by all of the information. I want to read the Fire & Blood book, but when the series was announced I decided I would rather not know anything. It has been a while since I dipped my toes into the Throneverse, so I am a little fuzzy about the history of the Targaryens as discussed in the books and the show. The spelling of the names on House of the Dragon is a nightmare, I am always on the verge of making a mistake. Aegon's vision is where I start to get things mixed up, is his vision what we saw in season 8 or is it The Long Night. I am sure as the show goes on that stuff will be better explained, but the vision had the desired effect as it made me hang on every word Viserys said. I do not think we will hear about the vision again for awhile, but now we know that Aegon predicted the future. I found the scene with Viserys his daughter felt a little odd at times, he seemed so cold to her until that final scene where he admitted he wasted so much time ignoring her. There is an underlying theme that Westeros is a sexist land, the way females are treated is like they are only there to produce a male heir. Queen Aemma says as much to Rhaenyra, telling her daughter that her duty to is produce an heir. 

There was not a lot of action in episode one, but the tournament battles were surprisingly gory and well executed. While the episode did not feature any shocking reveals, nor any epic sequences, it was still an entertaining episode that started setting the story of the show in motion. I think Viserys has come across like a very weak King, he seems to have all of his decisions made by his council. Viserys might be a good man like Ned Stark, but he makes a poor King. Daemon is someone that would make a strong King, but not necessarily a good King. Daemon is more ambitious, strong, a more natural leader and a mighty warrior, but I wonder if he will place the interest of the realm over his personal desires. Besides Viserys, Rhaenyra and Alicent I don't trust any of the other characters (maybe that is some paranoia from Game of Thrones). Ser Otto seems to be trying to influence Viserys, going as far as to use his own daughter. Otto was also pushing the King into getting Daemon out of Kings Landing, which seemed more about self interest than what is best for the realm. I have not read on if Rhaenys or Corlys are good, or if they too have a self-serving agenda. I find the Corlys and Rhaenys marriage interesting as it connected two powerful houses, and it adds an element of the sea which was something I thought Game of Thrones always nailed. During one of the council meetings, Corlys mentioned a potential threat, and I hope that is something that we learn more about.

The first episode of House of the Dragon was great, and while it did not have the electric opening that Game of Thrones had, it was still a great opening episode. I am going to give episode one an 8/10, what it might have lacked in action it made up for in intrigue. Even though we had only one episode, I feel as if I already know the main characters of the show. Matt Smith was far and away the most interesting actor on the show so far; he imbued Daemon with so much life. Paddy Considine is an actor I have associated with comedy, so seeing him in the role of King Viserys was a little weird, but by the end of the episode I was in on his performance. The tournaments scenes were very well done, there was tension as well as a significant amount of gore too. While some hated the final season of Game of Thrones, I did not; while I do not think it was great, it also was not worth hating. The final season of Game of Thrones was rushed, for whatever reason they crammed everything into at least two few episodes, and the writing felt like it got lazy. There is a different creative team behind House of the Dragon, so it is worth giving the series a shot no matter how you felt about the end of Game of Thrones. I am not sure if an outsider who has never watched Game of Thrones or read the books would feel about House of the Dragon, it would help to know more about Westeros to watch the show. If the rest of season one can continue the great work done in episode one, then I think we may have something special here.

Thank you for reading my spoiler review of House of the Dragon episode one, please share your feelings about the first episode. 

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