Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

House Of The Dragon Episode 1 Recap: I Just Can't Wait To Be Queen

Over three years after the original run of "Game of Thrones" drew to a close in the spring of 2019, HBO is returning to Westeros... and introducing audiences to a story that is, at once, brand new and utterly familiar. Set nearly two centuries before Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) was even born, "House of the Dragon" — HBO's attempt to recapture lightning in a bottle — focuses exclusively on the Targaryen family during the height of their power, with King Viserys I (Paddy Considine) sitting on the pointiest chair in the Seven Kingdoms, albeit without an ironclad heir to follow him.

See, Viserys was chosen by his grandfather — over his cousin Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best), who arguably had a better claim to the throne but is now simply "The Queen Who Never Was" — to lead the Seven Kingdoms, and now, he's faced with a similar choice. Behind door number one, his volatile brother Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) is a semi-viable choice, and door number two houses his firstborn child Rhaenyra Targaryen (portrayed in this episode by Milly Alcock), a dragonrider who dreams of more than just spawning Targaryen babies. However, this might all change, as the show's first episode sees Viserys awaiting the birth of his second child with his wife, Queen Aemma (Sian Brooke), and he's quite sure it will be a son which will cancel out both Rhaenyra and Daemon. With this arrival on the horizon, it seems like Viserys has everything figured out... right?

Daemon Targaryen is definitely trouble

Let's get this out of the way: Daemon Targaryen is a lot, and it seems like he'd be a pretty bad King of Westeros. In fact, that's a belief that Viserys' entire Small Council seems pretty united about, which definitely causes trouble with Viserys himself. That said, by the episode's end, Viserys ends up seeing an entirely new side of his brother, setting up a conflict that will almost definitely last for the rest of the season (at the very least).

Daemon is clearly the troublemaker of the family — at least, as compared to Viserys, who seems kind but relatively ineffective in general — and as the commander of the City Watch, he even manages to make a scene when he massacres scores of criminals in a particularly brutal fashion. Meanwhile, his bond with his niece Rhaenyra seems, perhaps, a little too close for comfort, whether he's gifting her a Valyrian steel necklace or having secret conversations with her in other languages.

Ultimately, Daemon takes things way too far when, after Viserys loses both his wife and his son thanks to a dangerous childbirth, he's seen celebrating the late "heir for a day" and claiming he's the obvious successor to the throne. Viserys, furious, banishes his brother, who takes off on a dragon alongside his lover and companion Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno), although this certainly isn't the last we'll see of Daemon during the series. In his absence, left with only one option, Viserys officially announces Rhaenyra as his heir, which will undoubtedly put her at odds with Daemon going forward.

The Hand of the King has a plan ... or so it seems

The Targaryens might be top dog — or, top dragon — in the Seven Kingdoms during the events of "House of the Dragon," but the powerful Hightower family isn't terribly far behind. Led by patriarch Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), who serves as the Hand of the King to Viserys, the Hightowers are always spotted alongside the Targaryens, especially Alicent Hightower (played in this episode by Emma Carey), who is a close confidante of Rhaenyra. However, one scene in this episode indicates that Otto might have a plan to make the Hightowers even more powerful.

After Viserys loses his queen and newborn son within hours of each other, he goes into seclusion, which is when Otto, who's clearly trying to be casual about the situation, tells his young daughter Alicent to go see the king in his chambers alone. Clearly taken aback and even a little frightened, Alicent dons one of her late mother's dresses and brings a book of histories before heading to the king's private chambers.

The scene cuts away before anything definitive happens, but certainly, there's a very clear sense that Otto is angling for his beautiful young daughter to "comfort" the king in a very specific way... and, probably, become his next queen.

The matter of Rhaenys

Meanwhile, off to the side of nearly every group scene, Rhaenys and her husband, famous seafarer Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Touissant), seem to be lurking and listening... and it feels totally unlikely that Rhaenys will give up on her dreams of assuming the throne. Though she was once overlooked in favor of Viserys simply because she's a woman, now that Viserys has named his daughter as his successor, it's very possible that Rhaenys will try and put herself back into the running.

Ultimately, as the daughter of the former king, Rhaenys has a better claim than either Viserys or Rhaenyra — and Lord Corlys definitely seems to be up to something as well, when all is said and done. Whether he's refusing wine in Small Council meetings (presumably to keep a clear head) or butting heads with Viserys about threats against the realm, Corlys obviously has opinions about how to oversee Westeros. We'll just have to wait and see how Rhaenys and Corlys — who, incidentally, have children that could succeed them, including a boy — make their play for the throne as the season continues.

When does House of the Dragon Season 1, Episode 2 air?

The second episode of "House of the Dragon" will air on Sunday, August 28, at 9 PM EST on both HBO and HBO Max. Now that the pilot has put all of the game pieces in place, it's not difficult to figure out that, though it's focused on one specific family, this prequel is doing a lot of the same work as its predecessor: placing the Iron Throne in the middle of the room and letting everybody vie for the ultimate seat of power.

With Daemon out of King's Landing and out of Viserys' good graces, his next steps are anyone's guess, but considering he feels utterly entitled to the Iron Throne, he'll be back to claim it. As for Rhaenyra, she's now tasked with the official role of successor, has just lost her mother, and has learned about her ancestor's dream of a long winter (clearly foreshadowing the White Walkers and their looming threat of an endless winter from "Game of Thrones"). As the episode comes to a close, representatives from famous Westerosi houses like Baratheon and Stark are pledging their loyalty to both Viserys and Rhaenyra, but only time will tell as to whether or not those promises hold ... and what other threats Rhaenyra will face on her road to the throne.