The fated Dance of the Dragons is underway and after nine tense episodes, house of the dragon The season finale saw The Greens and The Blacks take their places on opposite sides of the battlefield. Over the course of the nearly two decades since Rhaenyra was named heir, Otto and Alicent have spent most of that time trying to undermine Rhaenyra’s legitimacy and groom Aegon for the throne.
After Viserys’s death, the Greens seized their opportunity and finally succeeded in crowning Aegon as King of the Seven Kingdoms. While last week’s episode focused on the Greens’ ploy to usurp the throne, “The Black Queen” focused on the Blacks’ readiness to retaliate.
10/10 Rhaenys came to Dragonstone
“The Black Queen” began with the arrival of Rhaenys on Dragonstone. After requesting a meeting with Daemon and Rhaenyra, Rhaenys immediately informed them of Viserys’ death. When Daemon asked her how Viserys died, she told him that she didn’t know why she was being held prisoner.
Daemon then concluded that his brother “has been killed”. Rhaenyra was clearly shaken by the news and her grief was exacerbated by Rhaenys’s confirmation that Alicent asked Rhaenys to “testify for Aegon”. Rhaenys also made it clear that she warned Rhaenyra out of obligation to her family, but she did not feel it was her place to start the coming war.
9/10 Rhaenyra went into premature labor
Although Rhaenyra tried to maintain her composure, the unsettling news of her father’s death and her former friend’s betrayal proved to be too much. As a result, she went into premature labor. With everything spinning out of control around her, Rhaenyra irrationally tried to get through the birth alone.
She refused the help of her nurses and disturbingly forced the baby’s birth by pulling him out. Due to the traumatic and violent process, the baby did not survive. She later wrapped her baby up and prepared it for a proper funeral.
8/10 Daemon prepared to retaliate against the greens
As she struggled with her painful labor, Rhaenyra told her children that she wanted no acts of war. When Jace delivered his mother’s message to Daemon and the rest of his council, Daemon ignored Jace and instructed the council members to send ravens to his allies.
Afterwards, Daemon took Jace outside to teach him a “lesson in loyalty”. In a scene that mirrored Randall and Dickon Tarly’s execution of Danearys in game of ThronesDaemon gave two knights of the Kingsguard the choice to bow the knee to Rhaenyra or die. With Daemon’s dragon Caraxes behind him, the two soldiers pledged themselves to Rhaenyra and kept their lives.
7/10 Erryk Cargyll swore himself to the new queen
Episode 10 revealed where Erryk went after he abandoned his brother during his fight with Ser Criston Cole and decided not to get Aegon back for Otto. After his baby’s funeral, Erryk arrived to pledge his loyalty to Rhaenyra.
Bowing the knee before her, he handed her his father’s crown. Daemon received Viserys’s crown from Erryk and crowned Rhaenyra as queen. He immediately knelt before her and everyone else (except Rhaenys) followed him. This is the first time that Rhaenyra is recognized as queen.
6/10 Otto visited Dragonstone
In a nod to Episode 2, Rhaenyra interrupted a confrontation between Daemon and Otto when she arrived on her dragon Syrax. Otto disrespectfully called her princess and she corrected him by referring to herself as queen. In his desperate attempt to make Aegon’s position stand, Otto referred to him as king and informed Daemon and Rhaenyra that Aegon has the conqueror’s possessions.
He then proceeded to make condescending offers to them. If they pledged their loyalty to Aegon, he promised them and their children high places at court. Daemon was ready to kill Otto, but after Otto presented Rhaenyra with a sentimental message from Alicent, she stopped him. She then told Otto that she would have her answer the next day.
5/10 Rhaenyra and Deamon were at odds during the council
Although Daemon wanted Rhaenyra to retaliate, she wanted to uphold her father’s wishes by keeping peace in the kingdom and avoiding war. When her opposing views became more apparent at one of her council meetings, Rhaenyra asked to speak with Daemon alone. Rhaenyra believes that her father entrusted her with the task of holding the kingdom together to prepare the Song of Ice and Fire.
When she mentioned this to Daemon, he responded by grabbing her by the throat and stating that his brother was “a slave to the importance of his omens” and did “anything to make his reign appear to matter”. She went on to state that “dreams do not make [them] kings, dragons did.” Once he let Rhaenyra go, he realized that Viserys never shared the Song of Ice and Fire with Daemon. This exchange conveyed that Viserys trusted Rhaenyra more than Daemon, and never considered his brother his heir.
4/10 Lord Corlys returned
When Lord Corlys awoke in Dragonstone, he found Rhaenys asleep in front of him. Fortunately, she appeared to be in good health as she recovered from a near-fatal injury. Rhaenys informed Corlys of Vaemond’s death, prompting him to admit that his ambitions had gone too far. He suggested that they leave with their grandchildren and not testify for anyone.
Rhaenys explained why her proposal was not possible since Jace, Luke, and Joff would never be safe as long as Aegon was king. When Corlys began to express his contempt for Rhaenyra, Rhaenys stopped him and stated, “[Rhaenyra] is keeping the kingdom together” by showing restraint. Following this, Corlys made an appearance at the painted table and gave Rhaenyra the full support of her “fleet and house of hers” and recognized her as queen. She now controls the rungs and has more allies in the Narrow Seas.
3/10 Jace and Luke stepped up for their mother
When Rhaenyra first informed her children of their grandfather’s death, she made it clear that none of them should take any action. It was obvious that Jace was ready for battle and wanted to act in defense of his mother. Recognizing this, Rhaenyra reminded her of his responsibilities as his heir.
At her next council meeting, Rhaenyra stated that she needed to secure her allies at Winterfell, Eyrie, and Storm’s End. She was prepared to send ravens, but Jace suggested that she send him and Luke instead of her. She agreed and they were sent to meet the lords of the Baratheon, Arryn, and Stark houses. Luke’s nervousness was evident, while Jace trusted her mission. She warned them not to fight and act only as messengers.
2/10 Daemon serenaded Vermithor
As they discussed their position at the painted table, Rhaenyra found that she had more enemies than allies. At that time one of his councilors assured that “talking about men [was] debatable” and “its cause [owned] a power not seen in this world since the days of ancient Valyria. Dragons.
Rhaenyra announced that the Greens have dragons too, but Daemon enlightened her by stating that they only have 3 full-grown dragons and that Dragonstone has thirteen of their four. He also listed some unclaimed dragons, one of which was Vermithor, also known as Bronze Fury, the dragon of King Jahaerys. Daemon went to visit Vermithor and sang to him in High Valyrian to calm him down and gain his loyalty.
1/10 Aemond’s game goes too far
Luke arrived at Storm’s End to meet Aemond. Aemond not only got to Lord Baratheon first, he made him an offer.”[his] swords and banners for a marriage covenant.” As Luke made no offer, Lord Baratheon did not pledge his allegiance to Rhaenyra. When Luke tried to leave, Aemond (still resentful of his lost eye) stopped him and tried to goad him into a fight; Luke refused. As Luke flew through the storm on his dragon Arrax, Aemond gave chase on his dragon Vhagar.
Luke was able to evade Aemond at first, but soon both dragons acted on primitive impulses. Arrax burned Vhagar before Luke calmed him down and forced him to carry him above the storm clouds. Luke was apparently safe until Vhagar showed up. Vhagar attacked over Aemond’s objections, violently biting Arrax, killing him and Luke. The episode ends with Daemon informing Rhaenyra of Luke’s heartbreaking passing. Her expression hinted that her pain would make her abandon her search for peace.
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