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House Of The Dragon Episode 10 Recap: Don't Look Up

"House of the Dragon" just finished its wildly successful first season — and luckily, a second season is already on the way — and in doing so, it laid the groundwork for a gripping sophomore outing. This series is simultaneously a prequel and spinoff to "Game of Thrones" as well as an adaptation of "Fire & Blood," a history of the Targaryens written by creator George R.R. Martin, "House of the Dragon" is set to tell the story of the Dance of the Dragons, the name given to the civil war that wages between the Targaryens over the Iron Throne just under two centuries before the events of "Game of Thrones."

Throughout its first season, "House of the Dragon" focused heavily on both Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D'Arcy) and Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke), former childhood best friends who now find themselves locked in a battle over the throne. While Rhaenyra was publicly chosen as the official heir to the Iron Throne by her late father Viserys (Paddy Considine), Alicent has a son by Viserys, and is acutely aware that she has to make a play now in order for her son to become the undisputed king. After last week, where Alicent crowned Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney) in a rushed ceremony so as to thwart Rhaenyra, we finally get to see the heir's side of things; here's what happens in the "The Black Queen," the season finale of the first season of "House of the Dragon."

Rhaenyra's realization

Let's not forget this season's penultimate episode didn't feature Rhaenyra at all, meaning that she opens this with no idea that her beloved father is dead. The very pregnant named heir to the Iron Throne and Targaryen princess is having a completely normal day as she counsels her second son Lucerys (Elliott Grihault) about his future as Lord of the Tides. That discussion proves to be pretty irrelevant, however, once her father's cousin Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best) arrives on dragonback and demands an audience with Rhaenyra and her husband-uncle Daemon (Matt Smith).

Rhaenys breaks the difficult news: Viserys is dead, and beyond that, his widow Alicent has crowned her son in Rhaenyra's stead, completely ignoring her late husband's wishes. In this moment, it's clear to Rhaenyra that she has to do something in order to secure her legacy and place on the throne, but what she needs to do remains to be seen.

Rhaenyra suffers a loss, but also wins

Rhaenyra goes through a lot in this episode, and there's one enormous complicating factor for all of it: she's pregnant. Seemingly midway through a full term, Rhaenyra, upon hearing about the death of her father, grips her belly for dear life before feeling something unsettling. Clearly, the stress she feels over Viserys' passing and Aegon's sudden coronation gets to her, and she goes into labor far too early, with her maesters commenting that she isn't nearly ready to give birth.

Ever the warrior — as her mother Aemma (Sian Brooke) told her in the show's pilot, childbirth is its own battlefield — Rhaenyra valiantly tries to deliver her baby, but after a truly harrowing sequence where she refuses help and pushes as hard as she can, it turns out that her sixth child is stillborn. The tiny Targaryen babe receives a full funeral pyre, and it's interrupted by something welcome even under these terrible circumstances — Ser Erryk Cargyll (Elliot Tittensor) arrives from King's Landing with a Targaryen crown and swears his fealty to the new Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, at which point Daemon steps in and crowns her right then and there.

Daemon's dying to fight

Are we really surprised that Daemon wants bloodshed... and more to the point, wants it now? Daemon, ever the warrior, is ready to demolish his enemies, fighting for his wife Rhaenyra in the only way he knows how. Unfortunately for Daemon, his wife isn't on the same page.

As Daemon — correctly — points out, Rhaenyra's Black faction does have the advantage, in that they possess thirteen dragons over the Green faction's mere four. However, Rhaenyra is hesitant to go all in on death and destruction; in a striking moment, she essentially echoes her eventual ancestor Daenerys' words in saying that she won't be "queen of the ashes" and that warfare with dragons only brings utter destruction. Incensed, Daemon snaps, choking out his own wife in a move that doesn't exactly predict any future marital bliss between the two. As the Dance of the Dragons truly gets going, it feels like Daemon might strike out on his own, and the damage he causes in the process could be irreversible. Beyond all of that, his last big act in the episode is to try and tame yet another enormous dragon — whether this is for the Black army or for his own gain remains to be seen.

Otto's offer

Since the penultimate episode focused exclusively on the Greens — the side of this war led by the Hightower family — it makes sense that Alicent doesn't appear in the finale, but she's still represented by an unfailingly loyal representative. Her father, the Hand of the former King Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), ventures to Dragonstone to try and level with Rhaenyra, though it definitely doesn't go well when all's said and done.

Met by Daemon on the lengthy bridge to Dragonstone, the former's sword at the ready, Otto is then surprised by Rhaenyra, on dragonback, riding her formidable beast named Syrax. Otto tries to make a deal with Rhaenyra, offering her full control of the Targaryen stronghold Dragonstone and promising that her sons will hold high positions — like "cupbearer" — to Aegon and his own heirs. It's utterly unsurprising that Rhaenyra says no and, as insult to injury, flings Otto's Hand of the King pin into the sea, but it is surprising that Otto hands Rhaenyra an old page from a book she and Alicent once studied together to try and tug at her heartstrings. Shockingly, this works, and Rhaenyra tells the Hand that she'll think about his terms, much to Daemon's consternation.

House Velaryon makes a decision

In the second to last episode, we learned that Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Touissant) suffered a life-threatening injury during a war in the Stepstones, and now, we see that he has, miraculously, recovered. Though he needs a cane to move around, Corlys is quite well, and after a counsel with his wife Rhaenys, he decides the fate of House Velaryon as it pertains to the oncoming war.

As Rhaenys tells Corlys, their grandsons Jacaerys (Harry Collett) and Lucerys, known colloquially as Jace and Luke, will never be safe as long while Aegon reigns, so they have to pick a side that protects their own. Luckily for Rhaenyra, Corlys and Rhaenys decide to back her claim to the Iron Throne, and they've got some weight behind that; Corlys controls not only the Stepstones now, but the Narrow Sea. Though Rhaenyra seems low on allies, the Velaryons are an important house for Team Black, and it's heartening to see Corlys and Rhaenys stand behind their grandsons even though they know full well that their son didn't sire them.

The Dance of the Dragons officially begins

At their request, Rhaenyra sends Jace and Luke forth on their dragons to curry favor with lords who once promised Viserys that they would back her claim to the throne — and Luke heads to Storm's End on Arrax, only to find there's another dragon waiting at the gates. Upon entering the throne room to speak to the Baratheon clan, he sees his uncle Aemond (Ewan Mitchell), whose eye he once personally removed, trying to reason with the lord. Unfortunately for Luke, Aemond is free to marry, while Luke is already betrothed.

Guess what? Things only get worse for Luke from there! As Luke soars through a thunderstorm on Arrax, he sees an unsettling shadow above him — Aemond on his dragon Vhagar, one of the largest dragons in recorded Westeros history. The two battle in the skies for a bit before things go horribly wrong, in that Arrax sends fire towards Vhagar and, with both dragons wantonly disobeying their riders, the latter responds by biting off the former's head and killing Luke in the process. It definitely seems like Aemond didn't mean to kill Luke, but, what's done is done.

The final moment of this season sees Rhaenyra learning of her son's death, a realization which infuses her with pure fury and rage. We may not have seen much of the Dance of the Dragons in the first season of "House of the Dragon," but we'll be sure to see more real warfare in season two.