What You Missed From HBO’s ‘House of the Dragon’ Episode 1
It is a Game of Thrones precursor and a mediaeval spinoff of Succession.
The 700-page narrative chronicles House Targaryen 172 years before the Mad King’s death and Daenerys’ birth (played in GOT by Emilia Clarke). The episode begins with questions of succession and why no woman will ever reign on the Iron Throne.
In the premiere, Dany’s spirit almost appeared. After a history lesson about House Targaryen, a blonde is seen riding her dragon while King’s Landing citizens go about their day. When the young woman dismounts with her back to the camera, it seems like a Dany scene from later seasons. Instead, it is Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock), King Viserys’ lively daughter. Ser Harrold Westerling (Outlander’s Graham McTavish) and Alicent (Emily Carey) are waiting for her on solid ground. Alicent helps Rhaenyra study history under a weirwood tree.
Viserys loves his daughter, but he is focused on his wife (Sian Brooke), who is carrying the son he hopes will inherit his title. The queen rationalises her tough pregnancy by saying “the discomfort serves the realm.” Since the baby is breech, she has a primitive C-section that kills her. Her infant kid dies as a cosmic punishment. A male heir?
We also meet Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith), Viserys’ brother-cum-city watch commander who enjoys beheading criminals in King’s Landing. He is also a great jouster and participates in a spectacular scene. It is also the goriest; a kid puking after seeing a jouster’s face crushed is the most relatable event.
Daemon is the apparent option to follow his brother on the throne, but he has enemies, particularly Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), the King’s hand. He creates a stir by saying Daemon named the king’s son “heir for a day” at a local pleasure house. No such words were spoken — at least, we do not hear them — but Viserys gives up hope of his brother conquering the realm. His daughter Rhaenyra accepts her fate at the end of the episode.
More palace intrigue is introduced in the premiere, including how Princess Rhaenys Velaryon (Eve Best) should have been considered for the throne over her cousin Viserys and how Hightower sends his daughter Alicent, Rhaenyra’s pal, to comfort the grieving king while wearing one of her mom’s sexy dresses. We are not sure what this means.