House of the Dragon 1×10: The Black Queen

The Black Queen - War Table

The House of the Dragon finale, titled ‘The Black Queen,’ was nearly perfect for me. I only have one major complaint, but that issue is on my end, and not necessarily a flaw of the narrative itself.

‘The Black Queen’ was beautiful, brutal, and heartbreaking. The emotions I felt throughout this entire episode are going to make the wait for season two even more unbearable, but it’s the price we have to pay for being a fan of these types of epic shows. We have long waits between seasons as the art is created, but we’re rewarded for it in the end.

Would it be a week without me praising Ramin Djawadi? No, it would not. My favorite song from this week was when Meleys, Vermax, and Arrax, along with their respective riders, take off from Dragonstone to perform their duties. Vermax and Prince Jace head North. Meleys and Princess Rhaenys patrol the Gullet. And Arrax and Prince Luke head South. 

Djawadi’s score is available for purchase, now. So you know how I’ll be spending the evening, at least.  

Another Week, Another Horrific Birthing Scene

When Aemma Targaryen said that their battlefield was the birthing bed, I should have known it was going to be a major theme for the whole season. I’ve read the source material and knew that a ton of kids would be introduced, but could not have predicted the gruesome and brutal depictions of so many of them. This is the third brutal birth in just ten episodes.

I’m not necessarily complaining about this, though. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I enjoy how the A Song of Ice and Fire universe strips down the pretty parts of fantasy and shows the gritty brutality. It’s uncomfortable, yes. But I think this is the point. Life for women here isn’t pleasant. We should definitely have to confront this brutal reality.

This is the second birth scene Emma D’Arcy has done, and they were each incredibly well performed. They were a perfect actor for this role and I’m grateful they were hired for it. Emma for an Emmy? Let’s make it so!

Queen Rhaenyra, First of Her Name

Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen, First of Her NameRhaenyra has now been crowned as Queen, but it’s not as straightforward as it should be. As we saw last week, there’s been a long-laid plan to usurp the throne from her, and it’s ostensibly been a success. The people saw their new King crowned, and many were killed by their rivals. The common folk will not be on their side, and many of the great Houses have been forced to bend the knee.

Queen Rhaenyra is not a perfect monarch. Not by any stretch of the imagination. She wasn’t perfect prior to being crowned, either. I’m still on her team, though. Why? Because I’m biased. Okay, I know we aren’t supposed to admit to our biases quite so easily, but why bother? I love badass Targaryen women and their badass dragons and that’s good enough to declare a side. 

If Helaena were a badass dragon rider, I might have some conflict. While Helaena does have a dragon (Dreamfyre), she’s not exactly a warrior. She’s an incredibly sweet person, in contrast to most of Team Green, and seems quite prophetic as well. Those qualities aren’t enough to sway me to Team Green, however. I’ve chosen my side, and I will suffer through it, flaws and all.

King Viserys’ Crown

By crowning Aegon II with Aegon I’s crown, the usurpers have opened the door for these kind of crown shenanigans. King Viserys’ crown was smuggled out and now sits upon Rhaenyra’s head. I have no doubt that Team Black would have made a new crown, but it would have lacked the symbolism of carrying one over from the previous monarch.

Unfortunately, even though she has been the named heir since she was fourteen and wears her father’s crown, Westeros is too misogynistic and classist for either of these things to matter. Most people do not want a Queen. And the common folk mostly don’t care enough to have an opinion one way or another. 

Words and crowns will not win the throne. Only fire and blood will.

Finally a Daemon Crime I Won’t Defend

Warning: This section discusses domestic violence.

It’s become a running gag that I have to defend Daemon’s crimes every week. His dragon stepped on a peasant? Oops. Well, he didn’t see him in the dark. He smashed his wife’s head in? Welp, that sucks. But we didn’t see it. And we barely knew her. Made out with his underage niece in a brothel? Well, he’s a Targaryen. A sexy criminal Targaryen. What do you expect?

Somehow choking Rhaenyra out was a step too far for me. I am fully aware that saying that after he murdered his previous wife is a massive contradiction. But I didn’t know her. I didn’t see him do the most brutal part of the deed. And, most importantly, I am a Rhaenyra loyalist. Hurting Rhaenyra is something I refuse to defend. Finally, I just can’t anymore.

Can I still love Daemon? I’ll probably be able to get over it eventually (just in time for more questionable crimes!), but he’s in the time-out corner at the moment. He can be an abusive jerk to literally anyone except Rhaenyra. And yes, I’ve read the source material, so I know of at least one potential Rhaenyra-focused crime next season, but I’ll worry about that when we get there.

Sexy criminal dragon man, please stop hurting sexy fiery dragon woman. I’d much appreciate it. Thank you.

Let’s Talk Dragons

Daemon stated that they had thirteen dragons while Team Green only has four. We haven’t seen all of them, so this might be a bit confusing. So let’s break down the dragon situation for a second here.

  • Team Black

These dragons belong to Team Black and can easily be used in the war against the Greens. Daemon states that they have thirteen dragons, though I only count nine. He may be including the unclaimed and wild dragons, and some of these may not have been born yet. As such, I’ve separated them into their own section.

    • Syrax – Queen Rhaenyra’s dragon. She was hatched from an egg and grew up with her. Rhaenyra is the only rider Syrax has ever had.
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    • Caraxes –  Prince Daemon’s dragon. He previously belonged to Prince Aemon Targaryen, which is Daemon’s uncle. Daemon is his second rider.

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    • Meleys – Princess Rhaenys’ dragon. Meleys was previously Princess Alyssa’s dragon. Alyssa was Daemon and Viserys’ mother, and Rhaenys’ aunt.
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    • Vermax – Prince Jace’s dragon. Like Rhaenyra, Jace grew up alongside his dragon and bonded with him when very young. We see this occur in episode 6.
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    • Arrax – While Arrax and his rider, Prince Luke, are dead by the end of the episode, I’m still counting them here for now to keep this list nice and tidy. I assume this was included in Daemon’s count as they were alive at that point.
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    • Moondancer – Princess Baela’s dragon. While her sister Rhaena was unable to hatch her own dragon egg, Moondancer is Baela’s dragon from birth.  This is discussed in episode 6.
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      • Possibly Unborn Team Black Dragons
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        • Tyraxes – Prince Joffrey’s dragon.  As the youngest dragon of the youngest Strong Boy, his dragon wouldn’t fair much better in battle than Arrax and Luke, unfortunately. But he’s still technically on Team Black. This dragon wasn’t named by Daemon, so possibly wasn’t included in his count. He possibly hasn’t hatched yet.
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        • Morning – This dragon has not yet been named, and possibly hasn’t been born yet. As the show is moving some things around, I’m not sure what’s going to happen here. Telling you who rides her would also be a spoiler, but I think it’s not hard to work out if you think about it for a moment. Who on Team Black doesn’t yet have a dragon while everyone else in their cohort does?
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        • Stormcloud – Like Morning, this one hasn’t been named and might not be born yet. As such, I won’t tell you who rides him, but it’s on Team Black.
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      • Unclaimed Dragons

As we saw in episode 6, when a dragonrider dies, their dragons are available to be claimed by another. Unlike Vhagar, however, these dragons have mostly just been chilling at Dragonstone without much else to do.

        • Seasmoke – This was Laenor’s dragon before he left for Essos. A dragon can only be claimed by one person at a time, so it’s unclear if she will be claimed again on the show. Laenor died in the books and this dragon was claimed by another in the text. If Laenor is still alive, it will require an adjustment to the lore.

Verimithor

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        • Vermithor – This is the second-largest dragon alive at the moment. He was previously ridden by King Jaehaerys I, who was King before Viserys.  He has not been reclaimed by anyone yet and lives at Dragonstone. Vermithor is the one Daemon is singing to in this episode.
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        • Silverwing – Queen Alysanne Targaryen’s dragon. She was the wife of King Jaeherys. Like Vermithor, Silverwing has not yet been claimed by anyone else since her rider’s death.
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      • Wild Dragons

Daemon states that there are three wild dragons, though I could only find two in the books. If I’m missing one, please do comment! The lore of ASOIAF is pretty complex and sometimes things like this can be confusing.

        • Grey Ghost – This dragon is mentioned in the books, but so far has not been named on the show. 
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        • Sheepstealer – Guess what this dragon is known for? Yep. It steals sheep. It has not yet been named on the show.
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        • Mystery Wild Dragon – I don’t know? There’s another one out there, according to Daemon.
  • Team Green

Daemon states that Team Green has three adult dragons and four total. I’m counting five here, but I’ll put the likely skipped one in its own section with some further details.

    • Dreamfyre – Princess Helaena’s dragon. She was formerly Princess Rhaena’s dragon (not the Princess Rhaena on the show, but a prior one from a different generation… I know it’s complicated! The Targaryens recycle names a lot). In the books, it’s theorized that her eggs are the ones that end up in Daenerys’ possession. It seems that the show is hinting that they are Syrax’s eggs, however.
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    • Vhagar – Prince Aemond’s dragon who was previously ridden by Laena. She’s the biggest and oldest dragon alive at the moment.
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    • Sunfyre – “King” Aegon II’s dragon. She’s been terribly underutilized this season, but she’s around. As the current monarch’s dragon, she’s pretty important.
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    • Shrykos – This is a baby dragon for Jaehaerys, the eldest son of Aegon and Helaena. I assume this dragon has been born, but is too small to consider much of a threat. My assumption is that this is the dragon Daemon dismisses as not one of three adults.
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  • Possibly Missing Team Green

 

    • Tessarion – The rider for Tessarion has not been introduced, even though they are an important part of the royal family. Many of us assumed this role was going to be cut. There was a line earlier in the season that names a certain number of sons for a certain member of the royal family, which is inaccurate based on what we know in the books. Now a dragon is missing from Daemon’s explanation.
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    • The writers seem to be backtracking and saying they will eventually be introduced.  Some official family trees have shown him as well. I’m thinking this is the one that Daemon wasn’t including and that they’re going to try to slip them into the story in season two. 

It’ll be interesting to see how they write themselves out of ignoring these two characters (dragon and rider) if they really do plan on introducing them. There’s already been two lines that erase his existence, so they’re going to have to find out how to get around that.

The Death of Prince Luke

Prince Lucerys has always been one of the sweeter royal children. Besides cutting out Aemond’s eye, of course. Though I consider that self-defense (need I remind you I’m biased towards Team Black?). He doesn’t want power. Luke doesn’t even want Driftmark, which is his right as a second son to the Queen and Prince Laenor. He knows he’s not suited for it.

This makes his death hit so much harder. Why do the sweet ones have to die?

Making his death an accident has been controversial in some corners of the Internet. I have no problem with it, though. They’ve already given Prince Aemond much more psychological motivation for his actions, and foreshadowed this with King Viserys stating that their power over a dragon is an illusion. I think some would prefer a more brutal Aemond, but I enjoy the complexity.

I’ve noticed that people who hate the Aemond change also hated Rhaenys coming up from the floors in last week’s episode. But they seem to love Daemon choking out Rhaenyra. I’m the complete opposite on these opinions, obviously. But I do wonder why people seem to be grouping themselves into two different camps about what changes are and are not acceptable. 

My reasoning is simple: I don’t like a character I like being hurt by another character I like. That’s it. The other changes add something to the story.

The Long Wait for Season Two Begins

I have absolutely no idea when season two is supposed to come out. They haven’t even started filming it yet, but I’ll be glued to every leak I get when production begins. I can assume that all the talk about introducing the important missing character in season two means they have it mapped out, if not already scripted. This wait is going to be brutal.

Author: Angel Wilson

Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.


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