House of the Dragon’s tenth and final episode, “The Black Queen,” concludes the first season of the HBO fantasy drama. It premiered on television on October 23, 2022, and was written by Ryan Condal and directed by Greg Yaitanes. The episode was leaked online two days prior to its scheduled air date, and many fans downloaded and watched it from illicit torrent sites.
The story focuses on Princess Rhaenys’ trip from King’s Landing to Dragonstone to inform the people there of King Viserys’ death. After being named queen, Rhaenyra rejects her faction’s calls for all-out war in favour of forging partnerships. Rhaenyra dispatches her son Lucerys to Storm’s End to lobby the Baratheons for her cause. After Lucerys’s uncle Aemond harasses him at Storm’s End, Lucerys is killed when Aemond loses control of his dragon Vhagar. Daemon breaks the news to Rhaenyra about their son’s death.
Critics praised the episode’s narrative, music, cliffhanger/season finale setup, the entire Storm’s End storyline, and the cast’s performances (particularly Emma D’Arcy and Matt Smith).
The Black Queen Episode 10 Of House Of The Dragon
The Earth is getting older, not younger.
With each passing second, another piece of history is lost forever, to be replaced by a new hero, slight, quarrel, love, or war. And what we think is “lost” to history isn’t actually gone forever. It’s not uncommon for our DNA to carry information about long-forgotten events, or for those memories to just vanish into the depths of our collective unconscious. Whether or not we choose to admit it, we all carry the burden of history. And the poor idiots over on House of the Dragon get the brunt of it.
House of the Dragon immediately established itself as an interesting historical drama despite having a completely made-up backstory. In this adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s historical document-style precursor to Game of Thrones, Fire & Blood, the mythical event known as the Dance of the Dragons is presented as if it actually happened in our world’s history. What we do know is that writers have been committed to telling this story as “faithfully” as possible to the “actual” people involved, while skilfully filling in the spaces of what we don’t know.
House of the Dragon’s first season finale, “The Black Queen,” makes it quite evident that the show isn’t about any particular period of history, but rather history in general.
If you don’t learn from your mistakes, you’re destined to keep making them, so the saying goes. Those who do take the time to learn from history, however, recognise that we are destined to repeat our mistakes. This is the way it is with humans. Characters in “The Black Queen” appear ready and able to “break the wheel,” as Daenerys Targaryen will later describe it, and take decisive action for the good of the realm on multiple occasions. However, time and again, they end up being nothing more than a cog in a big historical machine of holding grudges and respecting precedent that began before them and will continue on after.
In keeping with the episode’s name, everything kicks off with Princess Rhaenyra I Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy). In the beginning, we join the future monarch and her court in their Dragonstone manor. Please allow me to reiterate the obvious and say that all of this trouble might have been averted if Rhaenyra and her companions had remained in the city.
While it’s understandable that she would want to return her children “home” after the events of Episode 8, it’s no reason for the heir apparent to abandon the kingdom while the present king is as close to dead as any human being has ever been without actually dying. However, I must stray from the topic.
Earlier iterations of House of the Dragon, like its progenitor Game of Thrones, assumed that showing a mother’s love for her offspring was the quickest way to endear the reader to her. As the series progressed, the repeated refrain of “no really, folks” from Tyrion whenever Cersei Lannister committed a particularly horrible crime became a running gag. You can talk some sense into her. She really cares for her kids!
— House of the Dragon (@HouseofDragon) October 24, 2022
Both of Game of Thrones’s most recent seasons were terrible.
The idea that House of the Dragon is trying to make Rhaenyra into something more nuanced and human, though, gives me hope in this regard. Her conversations with Lucerys (Elliot Grihault) show that she is more than just a caring mother to her children. She has more than a theoretical fondness for her offspring. She’s crazy over those odd tiny dark-haired thugs. Through her devotion to her children, she perpetuates her father’s love for her. It’s the upside of having so much history looming over our heads.
When I was young, my father took care of me and taught me how to do my job. Rhaenyra assures Luke that his mother will do the same for him.
In The Black Queen, The dreadful news that Rhaenys (Eve Best) brings carries the bad weight of history. Rhaenyra may be the last person on the continent to learn that the monarch has died. Furthermore, Aegon II has the same throne as the Conqueror, uses the same sword as the Conqueror, and even shares the same name. Unfortunately for Rhaenyra, the war has already begun even before she realises it. With this news, Rhaenyra goes into labour unexpectedly.
House of the Dragon hasn’t avoided showing the bleakness of childbirth in the Middle Ages (or close to it) at all. In the first six episodes, there were three depictions of labour, and in two of them, the mother died. A lot of us, though, saw at least one more coming, and not just because of the book’s example.
HBO’s post-episode special for episode 6 announced that the season would contain four childbirths, almost as if director and writer Miguel Sapochnik was urging viewers to brace themselves for the fourth and final one to come. In the end, I recognised the warning’s value, but nothing can really ready you as an audience member for a violent and heartbreaking representation of a miscarriage.
The day the Greens stole my throne and the day the Gods kidnapped my daughter will forever be intertwined in Rhaenyra’s mind. Perhaps the Greens abducted the infant as well. Nobody knows how a pregnant body reacts to the shock of learning their monarchy has been overthrown. Dark though it may be, the choice to show Rhaenyra in childbirth with Daemon preparing for battle is an inspired one. Queen Aemma (Sian Brooke) explained to her daughter early on that pregnancy and childbirth were a woman’s battleground. And here she is, just in time, getting ready for both.
Before its sad conclusion, this episode (The Black Queen) focuses primarily on the practicalities involved. As such, it makes for a great companion piece to “The Green Council.” Once a king dies, there is chaos to be maintained as a coronation must be planned and the lords must be kept in order. It’s high time to recalculate the budget, for crying out loud! In a situation where two rival groups are plotting to depose the king, things are bound to get chaotic. Since Daemon (Matt Smith) is a man of action, he quickly formulates a strategy.
They need to make sure that the Kingsguard in Dragonstone is sympathetic to their cause first. An appearance of Caraxes puts an end to all of that. Next, they must secure the support of the Blackwater Bay’s regional lords, the Bar Emmons, Celtigars, and Masseys. The important lords, such as the Starks, Baratheons, Arryns, and Tullys, must be persuaded eventually. There is a risk that discussions about politics and coalition building will become tedious. House of the Dragon deserves praise for never having that happen.
Because it never stops considering the human element. Remember how Boremund Baratheon championed Rhaenyra by inviting potential suitors to Storm’s End? Will his son, Boros Baratheon, share his father’s enthusiasm for Rhaenyra? Because Rhaenyra’s mother is linked to the Lady Jeyne Arryn, some have speculated that the Arryns could be ready to overlook Daemon’s infidelities with the Royces, the family that serves as House Arryn’s Bannerman. There’s also the Stark family. There isn’t much comedy in this episode The Black Queen, but Rhaenyra’s observation that “there has never lived a Stark who forgot an oath” is probably the best line. That’s right, it’s the icy narcs everyone loves to hate.
The past matters and must be taken into account no matter what. All of this applies not only to Rhaenyra’s interactions with Westeros’s powerful families, but also to her relations within her own household. Since Rhaenys and Corlys (Steve Toussaint) are concerned about the welfare of the kingdom, they are impressed by Rhaenyra’s reluctance to go to war. They don’t realise that her good judgement is affected not only by her want to keep her commitment to her father, but by her desire to save the world. You can stop pretending; A Game of Thrones is real. And she is aware of this.
Certainly not Daemon. That’s because Viserys never considered Daemon to be his heir. In light of this information, choking his niece/wife was an extreme reaction. It’s safe to say that this is the most harrowing experience Daemon Targaryen has ever had. Whether or not he liked to admit it, Daemon’s brother has always been his compass.
A part of Daemon felt that Viserys believed who could be a king through all the different feuds, misunderstandings, and wife murders. Though Viserys adored his brother, he never considered him mature enough to handle such end-of-the-world information. Daemon must now also bear the weight of past hurt and remembrance.
This concludes our discussion. The Targaryen dragons were the subject of much of the marketing for House of the Dragon. HBO has more than a dozen dragons to work with, compared to only three in Game of Thrones, and each one has the potential to be turned into an adorable plush toy. However, so far House of the Dragon has only sparingly used their dragons. When Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) manipulates Vhagar to join the Greens’ side in Episode 7, they serve as chess pieces, and when Caraxes and Seasmoke destroy the Stepstones in Episode 3, they serve as spectacle.
As the series comes to a close, dragons transform into…everything. At an early stage, Corlys explains that the Blacks’ emphasis on numbering soldiers and bannermen is, in the great scheme of things, utterly irrelevant. What really counts is who has the most dragons and the dragonseeds need to ride them. By this measure, the outlook for the Blacks appears favourable. Despite having a much smaller army than the Greens at the moment, the Blacks have accounted for 13 dragons to the Greens’ four, albeit most of these dragons do not have riders at the moment.
Dragons alter the rules of the game in every respect. It’s been said that one dragon is worth ten thousand men. In terms of military technology, they are the nukes of Westeros. Two of these nuclear weapons end up in the hands of children in this episode (The Black Queen), with tragically foreseen consequences.
The entire scene where Lucerys travels to Storm’s End to negotiate with Lord Boros Baratheon is nicely done. If the constant drizzle of the Stormlands doesn’t get you in the mood, the sight of the giant Vhagar parked in the courtyard will. It looks like a cross between Godzilla and a Toyota Camry. The reality that Luke will be the war machine’s first victim is not masked by “The Black Queen.”
Both his first and second encounters with Rhaenyra, during which she begs him to be a messenger rather than a warrior, are filled with dread. The boy’s soul has been earmarked for The Stranger; now it’s simply a question of when and how The Stranger will come to get it.
We must be prepared for what will happen when we finally see Aemond and his sapphire eye is revealed. If you’re going to introduce a dragon the size of three sperm whales in the first act, it better devour a child in the third. It is still a harsh process, even if one knows what they are doing.
Almond is urged by Lord Boros, who obviously can’t read to him, to respect the right of guests, a right that Lord Walder Frey will one day tramp all over. The technical components of the dragon chase are just as stunning as the boys take off into the raging sky. The wind and rain blasting into Lucerys and Aemond’s faces looks and sounds like it would hurt.
To ensure that the Vhagar chomping moment in issue leaves little room for interpretation, the episode wisely has Luke and Arrax reach clear sky after breaking through the clouds. The death of Lucerys Velaryon has been confirmed. The fighting has begun. We can’t go back now.
Luke’s killing is portrayed as a cold-blooded murder with no remorse on Aemond’s part in the book (which, remember, is published as a history text and is therefore open to interpretation). The show tries to be a little more sophisticated here. In The Black Queen, Despite Aemond’s best efforts to channel Daemon with his eyepatch and anime leather jacket, the two are fundamentally different.
Since the reigns of Kings Jaehaerys and Viserys, peace has reigned in Westeros, meaning that the men of the region have not seen real conflict for nearly fifty years—unless, of course, they actively seek it out, like Daemon and Corlys. Aemond, whether or not he knows it, is a kid just like Luke. He had obtained some power with Vhagar, but he didn’t realise its full extent. Now, though, he actually does it.
The thought of a nearly 200-year-old dragon that is completely senile and convinced that she is reliving the events of her prior lives is definitely funny. In addition, I believe the concept alludes to a more fundamental aspect of dragons in this universe. The masters know very little about the length of a dragon’s life. Though their life expectancy is known to be significantly greater than that of humans, how much longer is unknown because most of them have been killed in conflict. But as the ancient existence of Vhagar demonstrates, they can survive for a long freaking time.
Creating Storm’s End. pic.twitter.com/bIYaWOwogQ
— House of the Dragon (@HouseofDragon) October 28, 2022
Dragons are the world’s living history, not just its nuclear weapons. Vhagar may be an artefact in Aemond’s eyes, but she’s still a tool that can be controlled and mastered. She personifies the spirit of Ancient Valyria. As Visenya, she lives during the Conquest of Aegon. It was in her that Baelon Targaryen placed his faith. Her whole existence represents Laena’s tears.
There is hardly enough time for Aemond to appear in Vhagar’s narrative for him to be practically forgotten. Perhaps Vhagar believes it is still the Conquest and some petty river lord is trying to evade Visenya’s fury when she disobeys her rider and bites down on Arrax’s neck. Perhaps she is attuned to Aemond’s pulse and understands that violence is what he craves. Maybe this is exactly what she’s looking for.
Whatever the case may be for Vhagar’s disobedience, it’s certain that Aemond was not in command. Nobody ever shows up in this story. Time has climbed into the dragon’s saddle and is flying back through space and time. Rhaenyra’s glowering glare of vengeance, the likes of which would make both Aegon I and Daenerys I proud, ensures that she will go there.
The Black Queen Ratings
On its initial telecast on HBO and HBO Max on October 23, 2022, “The Black Queen” was seen by a combined 9.3 million viewers, including linear viewers. It’s the most-watched season finale (The Black Queen) for the network since the end of Game of Thrones. More than 1.8 million people tuned in to watch the premiere on HBO alone.
Generally speaking, the episode (The Black Queen) was well received. Based on 40 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, it has an approval rating of 93% and an average rating of 8.3 out of 10. According to the website’s critical consensus, “The Black Queen” is “a visually beautiful capper to House of the Dragon’s premiere season,” which begins with “a spectacular and melancholy dance of dragons amidst a storm.”