Are you Team Rhaenyra or Team Wrong?
Welcome back to Rings of the Dragon, a Wonder series where we recap new episodes of House of the Dragon (HOTD) and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (TROP), and then determine which show wins the week. However, because TROP has already ended, HOTD wins by default this week. That’s it, that’s the article. Bye!
But if you do want the recap, have at it.
Previously on Rings of the Dragon, Sauron revealed himself, the actual Rings of Power finally made an appearance, Team Green played The Amazing Race: Westeros and there was some weird sexual foot stuff. Let’s check in on the season finale of HOTD!
SPOILERS AHEAD, as usual.
But before we go into HOTD, let’s get some TROP content in here. Since there’s nothing to recap, I figured I would just randomly give you a Spotify playlist inspired by and dedicated to Galadriel, the baddest alive. Enjoy!
And now, HOTD!
House of the Dragon Episode 10: The Black Queen
We start the final episode of HOTD’s first season with sweet boy Luke caressing The Painted Table, pondering his future. He tells his mommy that he doesn’t deserve to be the heir to Driftmark and next Lord of the Tides. He believes he isn’t perfect like her. Rhaenyra assures him that she is nowhere near perfect. They have a tender mother-son moment.
Rhaenys arrives at Dragonstone, bearing terrible news. Viserys is dead and Aegon the Rapist has usurped the Iron Throne with the help of the Hightowers and the rest of their Green team, AKA Gang Green AKA Team Vomit. This upsets Rhaenyra to the point of triggering her premature labor.
Daemon plans his war as Rhaenyra fights her own battle in her chamber. He squeezes loyalty out of a couple of white cloaks by way of dragon. She squeezes out a dead baby. Hours after learning that his brother and her father died, they lose a child. They cry separately. This will not be the last child Rhaenyra loses—in this episode.
Good Guy Erryk arrives at Dragonstone and swears fealty to Rhaenyra as she lays her child to rest. Ser Good Guy brings with him Viserys’ crown. Daemon puts it on her head and kneels. All hail Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen, First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lady of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm.
The new queen, her husband-uncle Daemon and the rest of Team Rhaenyra review their resources and possible allies in their inevitable war against Team Usurpers. Daemon does a roll call of their 13 dragons. Those are some pretty good odds against Team Jerks’ three dragons.
Highly Punchable Otto Hightower of Team Assholes arrives at Dragonstone, where everyone is apparently, and demands Rhaenyra to acknowledge Aegon the Window Masturbating Pervert as king. She calls him a fucking traitor, but prevents Daemon from killing him and his henchmen. The queen practices restraint, not just for the sake of her friendship with Alicent, but also because she does not wish to rule a kingdom of ash. She can’t just burn them all.
Daemon, who is not a fan of restraint, wants to come in with dragons blazing. Rhaenyra explains why she’s not totally down with an all-out war. She has a greater purpose in taking the Iron Throne. Her pursuit of being queen goes beyond power, prestige and titles. She seeks to rule because she needs to guide and prepare the realm for the looming threat of ice zombies. It’s all about OG Aegon’s prophecy of a song of ice and fire.
Daemon has no clue what this all means because his big bro Viserys didn’t bother to tell him. Oops. He chokes his wife-niece out of frustration, and it’s not the sexy kind. Or maybe it is for some of you? We don’t judge around here.
Rhaenys explains to Corlys, Lord of the Tides and the Abandonment of Wives, why House Velaryon should stand with Rhaenyra. She convinces him that their best bet to keeping the realm together and securing their grandchildren’s future is aligning themselves with the new queen, even if said queen cuckolded their son and played a part in his (fake ass) death. Corlys declares his support to Rhaenyra. He brings with him his control of the Narrow Sea.
With Velaryon ships and a bunch of dragons, Team Rhaenyra now has a chance in (sexily?) choking Team Foot Fetish out of King’s Landing. All they need now is the full support of a few other houses, who had sworn an oath to Viserys decades ago to recognize Rhaenyra’s claim to the throne. Because everyone in Westeros keeps their oath.
Queen Rhaenyra sends her sons to gather their forces because kids on dragons are faster and more convincing than ravens. Jace is to go to the Eyrie and Winterfell to ask for the help of House Arryn and House Stark. Luke is to go to Storm’s End to get the support of House Baratheon.
Daemon serenades the unclaimed dragon Vermithor, seeking to add him to Team Rhaenyra’s nuclear arsenal. Vermithor is a big scary boy.
Luke arrives at Storm’s End. He sees Vhagar, the biggest big girl dragon alive, just chilling outside. That’s a big ass red flag, dude. But he proceeds anyway.
— Matty (@Juraiacies) October 24, 2022
He is received by Borros Baratheon Who Can’t Read Good. Aemond is also there, creepily standing near the throne for some reason. Borros rejects Rhaenyra’s call to arms and sends Luke away, but not before Crazy One-Eyed Uncle Aemond tries to stop the young prince from leaving because he wanted to take out the boy’s eye. Borros says, “Not in my house!” and Luke is escorted out to his dragon, Arrax.
In one of the most terrifying dragon chase scenes in history, Aemond and Vhagar chase Luke and Arrax in the endless stormy skies above Storm’s End. Babies Luke and Arrax manage to avoid their bullies. All’s well that ends well, right? No. Turns out, dragons can’t be fully controlled, and they’re pretty hotheaded.
Luke and Arrax could have snuck out of their dire situation, but Arrax decides to throw fire at Vhagar’s face. Biggest Big Girl is pissed, so even with Aemond protesting, she chases Arrax out of the storm. Aemond just wants Luke’s eye, but Vhagar has other ideas. With one giant chomp, Biggest Big Girl rips Arrax apart and ends Sweet Boy Luke’s life.
— ✌︎︎✌︎︎ (@sarcapsm) October 24, 2022
We end the final episode of HOTD’s first season with the death of Prince Lucerys. He was pondering his future at the episode’s beginning, and now we know, that future no longer exists.
Daemon delivers the grave news to Rhaenyra. We can see her heart break, even when she has her back to the camera. She can never have another tender mother-son moment with her sweet boy Lucerys again. She then slowly turns to the audience and gives us all that “BURN THEM ALL!” look. If she wasn’t all in on waging war before, she most definitely is now.
Welp, here we are, fantasy fans. The last entry to the Rings of the Dragon series. The first seasons of HOTD and TROP have come to a close. What did we learn?
For HOTD, the lesson is you don’t need endless CGI, massive battles and high concept magical beings to tell an engaging story. With compelling characters that have complex emotions and motivations living in a world where morality is not purely black and white, you can have a TV show that will live in your head rent-free.
It’s a stripped down version of Game of Thrones with a relatively smaller cast and an essentially more intimate story. And at its core is probably the most riveting kind of conflict of them all: one that is rooted in family, coming from a place of love.
For TROP, it’s not about sneaky Orcs waking up a volcano, the impending return of the Dark Lord or an unquenchable thirst for vengeance. It’s all about the Elf-friends we made along the way.
Both shows will most likely return in 2024. See you in two years?
Art Alexandra Lara