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House of the Dragon Season 1 Recap

Emma D'Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra

“House of the Dragon”‘s titular house, House Targaryen, issues a promise — and a warning — with their House words “Fire and Blood,” and season one of the “Game of Thrones” drama definitely lived up to those words. There were brutal deaths and births, painful marriages, literal backstabbings, heartbreaking betrayals, steamy sex scenes, and lots of dragons. Season one covers what leads to the civil war known as the Dance of Dragons, where the realm will be torn apart and forced to choose who they think their real sovereign should be: Queen Rhaenyra or Prince Aegon. So far, the show has mostly focused on Rhaenyra and her stepmother Alicent’s journey from childhood friends to fierce rivals torn apart by patriarchal forces.

If you want a refresher on everything that went down during the first 10 episodes of the Westeros-set drama, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a recap of “House of the Dragon” season one.

Paddy Considine as King Viserys with Queen Aemma

When the series begins, King Viserys (Paddy Considine) is a very happy man. He has a wife, Queen Aemma (Sian Brooke), and a daughter, Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock), whom he loves and cherishes. Aemma is pregnant with her next child, and while she’s had miscarriages and still-births before, he’s feeling sure she’s set to give birth to a happy baby boy. Most of the episode is about the lead-up to the birth. Rhaenyra and her best friend, Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey), visit Aemma, attend a tournament in honor of the baby (where they meet the dashing Ser Criston Cole, played by Fabien Frankel, for the first time), and interact with Prince Daemon (Matt Smith).

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Queen Aemma Dies in Child Birth

Sadly, Aemma’s labor does not go well. The maester tells Viserys to pick Aemma’s life or the baby’s, and — desperate for his heir — he chooses the baby’s without even consulting with her. It’s harrowing. Aemma dies, and the baby dies not long after. Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) encourages his daughter Alicent to comfort the King after his loss.

Rhaenyra Is Named Heir

Daemon is Viserys’s presumed heir, but would have been pushed out of the line of succession by a baby boy. Daemon is heard making fun of the dead infant in a King’s Landing pub, so Viserys removes him as his heir. Instead, he names Rhaenyra as his successor, apologizes to her for being obsessed with having a male heir, and tells her the Song of Ice and Fire prophecy.

“House of the Dragon” Episode 2

Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra

Episode two picks up six months later, and Rhaenyra and Viserys are still grieving the loss of Aemma. Daemon is illegally occupying Dragonstone with his City Watch, though no one is trying to oust him. Rhaenyra is not settling well into her role as heir — and her father isn’t really helping her — but she chooses Ser Crison to join the Kingsguard even though he doesn’t have the noble background of the other knights vying for the role. Later in the episode, Daemon steals a dragon egg, claiming he will give it to his unborn child with Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno). Ser Otto journeys out to get it back, and Rhaenyra secretly follows on Syrax and successfully convinces her uncle to turn it over.

The biggest issue on the table in this episode is who the king will marry so he can start trying for more children again (though he maintains that Rhaenyra will still be his heir regardless). He comes close to picking 12-year-old Laena Velaryon (Nova Foueillis-Mosé), but surprises everyone when he chooses Alicent instead. Rhaenyra is shocked, as is Lord Corly Velaryon (Steve Toussaint), who decides to ally with Daemon to fight the Crabfeeder in the Stepstones.

“House of the Dragon” Episode 3

Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra and Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole

Episode three takes place a full three years later and centers around Prince Aegon’s second birthday. The toddler is the first son of Viserys and Alicent, and they throw him a huge birthday party, complete with a royal hunt. Various lords assume this means Aegon will be named heir, but Viserys doesn’t consider how his actions are perceived. Instead, he berates Rhaenyra in front of the whole court about her unwillingness to find a husband. She runs off into the forest, and Ser Criston follows her. They have a deep talk in the woods and fight off a wild boar together, which bathes them in blood. Rhaenyra sees a white hart — an omen of who should rule — and lets it live. Back at camp, most people are horrified to see her return covered in the boar’s blood, but not Ser Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr), who seems very amused.

Meanwhile, Daemon and Corlys are fighting their war in the Stepstones, and it’s not going well. When Daemon receives word that the king has finally agreed to send aid, he decides to end it alone and pretends to surrender in order to draw the Crabfeeder out. Daemon kills him, and his side claims victory.

“House of the Dragon” Episode 4

Matt Smith as Daemon and Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra in diguise in King's Landing

Months later, Daemon is back in King’s Landing. He tells his brother he’s now king of the Stepstones, but he gives the crown to Viserys. Rhaenyra, meanwhile, has returned after a very unsuccessful tour to find a husband. Daemon convinces Rhaenyra to sneak out into King’s Landing with him. Their night of debauchery leads them to a brothel where they kiss, but Daemon leaves his niece there. She sneaks back into the Red Keep and convinces Ser Criston to sleep with her instead.

Things spiral from there. A spy tells Ser Otto that Rhaenyra and Daemon were seen having sex in a brothel, and he brings that news to a furious Viserys. Alicent asks Rhaenyra about it, and she denies sleeping with her uncle. Viserys accuses Daemon, who says it’s true and that he should let him marry Rhaenyra. Viserys calls him a liar and sends him to the Vale to his wife. Alicent pleads Rhaenyra’s case to Viserys, saying she believes Rhaenyra is still a maiden (which, technically, Rhaenyra never told her). Viserys removes Otto as Hand of the King and orders Rhaenyra to marry Ser Laenor Velaryon (Theo Nate). Viserys orders the grand maester to bring Rhaenyra moon tea — a contraceptive — proving he doesn’t quite believe her.

“House of the Dragon” Episode 5

Emily Carey as Queen Alicent in her green dress

Daemon murders his wife, Lady Rhea Royce (Rachel Redford), and plans to return to King’s Landing. Rhaenyra and Laenor agree to the match between them, as do their families. Rhaenyra tells Laenor she knows he’s gay, and it’s fine: She will have her affairs, and he will have his. He tells his lover, Ser Joffrey Lonmouth (Solly McLeod), about the plan. As everyone prepares for the wedding, Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) tells Alicent that someone brought moon tea to Rhaenyra, which she sees as proof that Rhaenyra lied to her. Alicent questions Ser Criston about whether he saw Rhaenyra with Daemon, but he thinks she knows about him and Rhaenyra’s night together, and he confesses. Everything collides at the opening feast for the wedding, where Alicent’s green dress is a bold declaration that her only ally is herself. Rhaenyra and Daemon share heated words when they dance, but the feast ends with Ser Criston beating Ser Joffrey to death, though his motives aren’t exactly clear. Rhaenyra is pulled from the fray by Ser Harwin. She and Laenor marry in a small ceremony in the aftermath.

“House of the Dragon” Episode 6

Ryan Corr as Ser Harwin Strong with Prince Joffrey

Episode six sends the drama 10 years into the future. Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) is giving birth to her third child, who she and Laenor (John Macmillan) name Joffrey. None of their children look like Laenor, and everyone but the king suspects their real father is Ser Harwin — and it is. Alicent (Olivia Cooke) is furious that Rhaenyra flaunts her children all around the Red Keep, and she and her closest ally, Ser Criston, simmer with rage. While training the boys in the yard, Criston is quick to defend Alicent’s sons, Aegon (Ty Tennant) and Aemond (Leo Ashton), and Ser Harwin defends Jacaerys (Leo Hart) and Lucerys (Harvey Sadler) a little too strongly, putting everyone in danger. His father, Lord Lyonel Strong (Gavin Spokes), tries to resign as Hand because of his son’s disgrace, but Viserys won’t let him. Lyonel decides to bring Harwin back to Harrenhal, and he has an emotional goodbye with Rhaenyra and the kids. Rhaenyra also tries to get Alicent to agree to marry Jace to her daughter Helaena (Evie Allen), but she refuses. Rhaenyra and Laenor decide to leave King’s Landing for Dragonstone.

Larys Kills Harwin and Lyonel

When Harwin and Lyonel return to Harrenhal, their rooms are set on fire, and they die. Larys takes credit for the act in a conversation with Alicent, claiming he did it all for her.

Lady Laena Velaryon Dies

Laena (Nanna Blondell) marries Daemon off-screen shortly after Rhaenyra’s wedding, and the pair — and their twin daughters — have been living in the Free Cities. Laena goes into labor with her third child, but the baby is in breach. Yearning to die a dragonrider’s death, she orders her dragon Vhagar to kill her.

“House of the Dragon” Episode 7

Alicent, Viserys, Helaena at Laena's funeral

The seventh episode of “House of the Dragon”‘s first season takes place at Laena’s funeral at Driftmark, with the whole court pulled together. Rhaenyra’s children and Laena’s children are all bereft about the loss of Ser Harwin and Laena, respectively. That night, Aemond decides to claim Laena’s dragon, Vhagar. He’s caught by Jace, Luke, Baela (Shani Smethurst), and Rhaena (Eva Ossei-Gerning). The girls are furious that he “stole” their mother’s dragon, and they get into a fight. Lucerys slashes Aemond’s eye with a knife. The adults confront each other, and Alicent demands Luke’s eye in exchange for Aemond’s lost one. Luke and Jace explain that Aemond called them bastards. The king interrogates his son about where he heard that rumor, but Aemond never bends. Viserys forbids anyone from sharing the rumor. Alicent, furious, slashes Rhaenyra’s arm. Otto tells his daughter that he’s proud of her. Meanwhile, Princess Rhaenys (Eve Best) tells her husband Corlys to give Driftmark to Baela, that way it will go to a true Velaryon. But Corlys says he wants it to go to someone whose last name is Velaryon because that’s all history will remmber, and that’s Luke.

Daemon, Ser Qarl, and Laenor Fake Laenor’s Death

Daemon convinces Rhaenyra that she needs him as an ally in the coming war. She agrees, but there’s the problem of her husband, who she does love, even though he could never give her children. Daemon schemes with Ser Qarl Correy (Arty Froushan), and he appears to kill Laenor. In truth, they killed a random man and burnt his body. Qarl and Laenor escape across the Narrow Sea.

Rhaenyra and Daemon Marry

Rhaenyra and Daemon marry in a Valyrian wedding. Importantly, the Valyrian tradition allows for someone to be married to multiple partners, making Rhaenyra and Daemon’s wedding valid, and any children they have will be legitimate. Their five children become step-siblings.

“House of the Dragon” Episode 8

Ewan Mitchell as Prince Aemond

Episode eight of “House of the Dragon” begins eight years later. Corlys is wounded in more fighting in the Stepstones. Luke (Elliot Grihault) is in line to be his heir, but his brother, Ser Vaemond, thinks Driftmark should go to him again. He thinks he has a chance at winning, too, since the King is ill, and Alicent and Otto really control the throne. The episode also contains a scene between Alicent and a servant who was raped by Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney). She comforts her but orders her to tell no one and gives her moon tea to drink.

Vaemond, Rhaenys, Rhaenyra, Daemon, and their children head to King’s Landing. Rhaenyra brings her and Daemon’s two children, Aegon and Viserys, as well, to meet their grandfather. She asks her father to help her secure her family’s place one more time.

When it’s time to hear everyone’s case, Rhaenyra is outraged again to have someone accuse her sons of being bastards. Before Otto or Alicent can move things in Vaemond’s favor — possibly dooming Rhaenyra’s family forever — the King appears. Sick as he is, with help from his brother, he sits on the throne for one last time. He says Rhaenyra’s children’s parentage is a settled matter and asks his cousin Rhaenys what Corlys wants. She says that Corlys always wanted Luke to be heir, and that Luke and Jace (Harry Collett) are betrothed to Rhaena (Phoebe Campbell) and Baela (Bethany Antonia), respectively. Viserys says it’s settled and orders Vaemond’s tongue removed. Daemon beheads him instead.

Viserys brings his family together for dinner and tries to make them all get along. It seems to work, until he goes to bed, and Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) insults his nephews again, calling them “Strong” once more. Still, Rhaenyra and Alicent seem to reconcile, and Rhaenyra says she will return to King’s Landing after bringing her children back to Dragonstone.

Viserys Dies

Alas, after Rhaenyra leaves, Alicent visits her husband in his room. Addled by milk of the poppy, he thinks Alicent is Rhaenyra and talks to her again about Aegon’s dream, the Song of Ice and Fire. But Alicent, not having any context, thinks he’s saying he wants his son, Aegon, to be king. She leaves him, and he dies soon after, calling out for his first wife, Aemma.

“House of the Dragon” Episode 9

Tom Glynn-Carney as Prince Aegon being crowned as king

Alicent’s maid Talya (Alexis Raben) wakes her up to tell her Viserys has died. Alicent goes to her father to inform him, and she shares her report of Viserys’s last words and intentions. The servants who know Viserys is dead are sequestered, and the small council meets to discuss what is to be done before Rhaenyra finds out. Otto and Lord Tyland Lannister (Jefferson Hall) reveal that they’ve already been working in secret to ensure that Aegon can be king when Viserys dies. Alicent is upset, though she doesn’t stop them. Lord Lyman Beesbury (Bill Paterson) strongly objects, and Ser Criston kills him in an instant.

They begin their plans to make Aegon king, but no one can actually find him. Alicent sends Ser Criston and Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) to collect him, while Otto sends two Kingsguard of his own, Ser Arryk (Luke Tittensor) and Ser Erryk (Elliott Tittensor) Cargyll. While Criston and Aemond check brothels, Arryk and Erryk come across the fighting pits where children are forced to battle each other. Some of the children are Aegon’s illegitimate offspring, and he’s a frequent attendee. A woman brings them to Mysaria, who will only tell them where Aegon is if Otto promises to stop the fighting pits. He says he’ll look into it.

Aemond, Criston, and the twin brothers all find Aegon at the same time, but Aemond and Criston are the ones who grab him and take him back to the Red Keep. Alicent uses the fact that she has Aegon in her custody to get her father to promise to give good terms to Rhaenyra and not kill her family. She convinces Aegon that it’s right for him to be king — even though he knows his father never wanted him to be heir — and Aegon is crowned at the Dragonpit. But Princess Rhaenys, who Alicent had been holding captive to convince her to come to their side, is able to sneak out of her room with Ser Erryk’s help, and she crashes the coronation on the back of her dragon, Meleys.

“House of the Dragon” Episode 10

Queen Rhaenyra in her crown

Princess Rhaenys arrives on Dragonstone to announce that King Viserys is dead and Aegon has been crowned the new King in front of all of King’s Landing. Rhaenyra is devastated and goes into early labor. While Daemon rages and plays at being the one in charge, she labors alone, and her daughter is delivered stillborn. Ser Erryk arrives from King’s Landing with Viserys’s crown, and Rhaenyra is named queen after her daughter’s funeral.

While Rhaenyra tries to count her allies, Rhaenys refuses to declare that House Velaryon will ally with Rhaenyra until Lord Corlys arrives. Otto appears with terms of surrender for Rhaenyra, which will see her five sons given honorable positions. Daemon wants to kill him, but Rhaenyra decides to seriously consider not going to war. Her father made her heir to keep Westeros together, she says, and she won’t break it apart because of her own pride. She mentions the Song of Ice and Fire to Daemon, who’s obviously never heard of it and thinks his brother is a fool. He chokes Rhaenyra and yells at her.

Rhaenys convinces her husband to side with the blacks, and Rhaenyra looks to see if she has other allies. She sends Jacaerys (Harry Collett) north to the Vale and Winterfell to check on their allies there and Lucerys (Elliot Grihault) to Storm’s End to treat with Lord Borros Baratheon (Roger Evans). But at Storm’s End, Lucerys runs into Aemond, who was sent there by the Crown. Aemond is still intent on getting revenge on Lucerys for cutting his eye out. After Lord Borros dismisses Luke, Aemond chases him and his dragon Arrax on his dragon, Vhagar, who is much larger than Arrax. Both boys lose control of their dragons, and Vhagar eats Luke and Arrax. Back at Storm’s End, Daemon tells Rhaenyra about Luke’s death, and, from her steely look, it seems she’s ready to go to war.

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