House of the Dragon: The Black Queen   Books Included 
October 24, 2022 2:59 PM - Season 1, Episode 10 - Subscribe

While mourning a tragic loss, Rhaenyra tries to hold the realm together, and Daemon prepares for war.
posted by suburbanbeatnik (32 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've had a certain amount of beef with the season, but this was a lot of fun!

1. It was a really nice touch having the teenage boys be unable to control their dragons -- I think I heard Lucerys telling Arrax not to try and flame Vhagar, and I definitely heard Aemond's OH FUCK NO shriek at Vhagor chomping Arrax and Lucerys in half. The post-misson debrief with his mom is going to be bad, and I'm also imagining Aegon snickering and delighted that for once, he isn't the one who fucked up.

(Mr. Rhod, who is deeply into the books, was pleased about the storm at Storm's End, and also ended up enjoying that it was sort of a horrible accident that Lucerys and Arrax end up dead, as he took the book canon to have Baratheon being like "lol you can kill him, just not in my hall" and Aemond taking him up on it. But this raises the question of how news got back to Daemon???? Is it a hat-tip to the White Worm/spymaster/Blood and Cheese shenanigans we're getting next season?)

2. From a project management standpoint, it's an interesting choice sending the younger, less-confident, second-in-line on the smaller dragon to the trickier job. It's true that the flight up north is much further and more dangerous, but based on the reasoning, you'd think that Stark and Arryn are the easier "gets" and that Baratheon is the harder one.

3. Mr. Machine: "I mean, I wouldn't buy a new car without talking it over with you. So I guess last episode, Rhaenys didn't want to start a civil war without talking it over with Corlys. Sounds fair to me!"

4. The compare-contrast between Rhaenys/Corlys and Rhaenyra/Daemon was pretty instructive. I'll admit to being surprised by Daemon trying to choke Rhaenyra -- dude seemed to have changed for the better, but uh, apparently not. APPARENTLY NOT.
posted by joyceanmachine at 3:21 PM on October 24, 2022 [7 favorites]


Well, that happened. The finale had some exciting bits, some perplexing bits, and I am assured this is all just backstory for the real story starting next season, which... eh?

So I was talking to my co-workers about this first season of HOTD, and while they were all extremely hyped at the beginning of the season, their enthusiasm has waned. We discussed how we were less than thrilled with the time jumps, the constant recasting (with actors who look nothing like their supposedly childhood selves), the disjointed characterization, and the lack of consequences. One of my co-workers asked me if I thought it was at least better than Game of Thrones season 8: I said yes, but that was a very low bar to clear. He replied that he thought it was more on par with GOT season 6-- entertaining, but with huge leaps of logic, with a narrative that fell apart if you thought about it too much.

Anyway, about the lack of consequences-- Corlys does not seem particularly fazed about his brother's death, Laenor's bonded dragon is still hanging out on Driftmark for Reasons, Rhaenyra has let Rhaenys continue to think that Laenor is dead, also for Reasons, while Lucerys inexplicably thinks that Vaemund should inherit Driftmark. (Of course, let's not even address all people that Rhaenys killed at the Dragonpit last week. This might be developed later, with the Storming of the Dragonpit supposedly happening in later seasons, but I don't have enough faith in the writers of HOTD that this is something that will necessarily happen.)

This was the most whiplash inducing part of the episode was the part where Rhaenys and Corlys debate their allegiance. Within seconds, Corlys goes from "She helped kill my boy!" to nodding along as Rhaenys says "she's the hope of the realm! She wants peace!" Which... huh? She's married to a wife-abusing, wife-killing psycho, who has every intention of dragging the realm into war. Which is what happens.

I will say this for the show: at least Daemon is portrayed as a bad guy. He's not romanticized. But the characterization of Corlys and Rhaenys is hopelessly muddled. I wish I could say I was surprised, but I'm not. Muddled characterization has been part and parcel of the writing for this entire season.

My favorite part was the showdown with Lucerys and Aemond, and their sky battle with their dragons. That was exciting and cool. I'm not sure how I feel about Luke's death being an accident. But it does fit in with what Viserys said in earlier episodes how dragons couldn't be controlled. So I don't mind it.

Some of this was fun. But a lot of it was not. A lot of this seems so serious, so tediously dour, when this is really a mash-up of The Tudors and Conan the Barbarian. I wish they'd lean a bit into the camp and be less self-important.

Dwellordream's commentary is here. I also highly recommend Alt Shift X's recaps of all the episodes. His dry humor is wonderful.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 3:31 PM on October 24, 2022 [6 favorites]


Boy that miscarriage scene was pretty brutal.

This felt more like what would have been an "episode 9 of 10" from Game of Thrones, i.e. the one where stuff happened. Would have liked one more episode of denoument this season, instead of just a very significant "this means war" expression from Rhaenyra, instead of some of those boring earlier episodes.
posted by supercres at 4:36 PM on October 24, 2022


The ending felt oddly fitting. Of course Aemond has to be a dick and of course Luke (and his dragon) are young and a bit afraid. Their parents have been fucking around for years, slowly adding shit to the boiling stew, instead of investing some time into their children. If it hadn't been this, there would have been some other preventable accident that would started the war most of them want.

I'm not a fan of the show and probably only watched most of the season because it's on Sunday nights and curiosity. The creators did the same thing as season 8 of GoT, rushing everything in order to get a point. This is a large cast, yet most of the season was about a small inner circle. Add in the frequent recasting of some of the characters and it's hard to care much about them or remember their names. GoT had its faults, but taking the time with young characters like Arya and Sansa so we could see them grow was huge benefit and deepened the audience's connections to the characters.

The various memes on Twitter and Tiktok have been the best part of the show, which says a lot about the characters and plot.

Finally, the night time lighting choices have been absolutely atrocious. Yeah, we get that they only had candles back then, but holy shit, it's the 21st century, light the goddamn night time scenes so we can see what the hell is going on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:02 PM on October 24, 2022 [5 favorites]


I liked the last 5 minutes or so--the shot when Luke was flying through the storm and we saw how much larger Vaghar, flying above, was than Arrax (?) was spectacular. It was frustrating because yeah, it felt like the season finally actually got interesting right at the very end. It's annoying that we had to wade through so much to get here, and now wait for like a year. I certainly won't be thinking about the show in the interim, because there wasn't enough to go on here (and I haven't read much of the novels).

I simultaneously felt bad for poor sweet, unqualified Luke and also laughed at his demise, because his very sweetness and lack of intensity doomed him as much as that younger Stark brother who couldn't figure out how to zig-zag when people were shooting arrows at him.

I agreed with a lot in this Rolling Stone take: Condal seemed willing to make these big time jumps to make sure the season covered all of the important bits. Clearly to him and the rest of the creative team, those important bits involved major historical signposts along the path to war, and/or dragon sequences. But in sacrificing character development — see also: the show skipping over Rhaenyra’s reaction to the news that her father would be marrying her best friend — HotD became content to skim along the surface of the material, rarely getting deep enough for any of it to matter.
posted by TwoStride at 7:15 PM on October 24, 2022 [2 favorites]


I am SO OVER the horrifying childbirth scenes. They were all unnecessarily graphic, but this last one didn't even add a thing to the story.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 8:38 PM on October 24, 2022 [8 favorites]


At the end of a season that I was not at all sure I would finish when it started, and I mostly liked it. I would have appreciated a drop-in from the grown up version of GigaChad Willem Blackwood but I guess that can wait for season two.

I’m reading Fire and Blood right now and it’s been fun comparing the two; I like the tension of what happened vs. how history remembers it. The Dance is not, in my opinion, one of the more interesting parts of the history of Westeros but I think they made a passable purse out of the proverbial sow’s ear.

Mostly I’m just trying to be patient while we wait for Dunk and Egg.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:03 PM on October 24, 2022 [3 favorites]


It seems everyone finds the aerial duel between asymmetrical foes engaging. Given how closely the special effects in genre shows are scrutinized these days (recall endless kvetching about the She-Hulk trailers), it says something that the show manages to create a gripping sequence out of... a couple of young performers being sprinkled with water and leaning this way and that on saddles strapped to a couple of green vaulting horses, plus a whole lot of ones and zeroes.

For a show that costs a gazillion dollars, I was impressed by the sparseness of the setup to that aerial scene: from Daemon’s serenade of the dragon to the end of the episode is a bit over twelve minutes. In that time, all of three characters — Lucerys, Aemond, and Baratheon — speak onscreen (plus we have an unseen herald announce Lucerys). They deliver their lines in a big empty room; one issues a challenge which is refused by another; the third never stands up from his chair. Still, the tension is superb.

I don’t really know the exact trajectory of the story from here (I haven’t read the source material) but the aerial scene seems to presage the way the war might well go, with overconfident young men losing control of the mighty forces at their command, with grievous results.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:29 PM on October 24, 2022 [4 favorites]


The dragon chase was really amazing and terrifying. I'll miss this show for the next few Sundays.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:59 PM on October 24, 2022


Some of this was fun. But a lot of it was not. A lot of this seems so serious, so tediously dour, when this is really a mash-up of The Tudors and Conan the Barbarian. I wish they'd lean a bit into the camp and be less self-important.

This was kind of the thing the entire season.

Like, GoT had serious drama and back-stabbing, but it was also a lot of fun.
Characters were wise-cracking, a bit over the top, there were light moments.
They had personalities.

This show was the cardboard characters talking at each other in dark rooms.
Where was the Tyrion? Where was the cast of memorable supporting characters?
posted by madajb at 12:15 AM on October 25, 2022 [7 favorites]


The Lannisters and Tyrells of the Game of Thrones years would have eaten this era of Targaryens alive if it wasn't for dragons.
posted by madajb at 12:18 AM on October 25, 2022 [2 favorites]


Something that I found interesting in comparison with GOT is how normal - by GOT standards, not ours - the HOTD characters are. GOT was full of monsters: we had Jaime throwing a kid out the window at the end of the first episode, whiny sadist Joffrey, Horrible Person Gregor Clegane, Danaerys having hundreds of people crucified (and later burning a whole city), Stannis Baratheon sacrificing his own daughter at the stake, and entire clans of nasties like the Greyjoys, the Boltons, or the Dothrakis, whose main activity seems to be pillaging, raping, and torturing whoever gets in their way. There are no such people in HODT, except the Crabfeeder but he was a minor character and he didn't last. Daemon Targaryen, Criston Cole, and Larys Strong are the closest to "evil" characters and even them have been shown to be kind to others. Even when they are bad, abusive, or plain murderous, they are "normally" so, not Joffrey/Ramsay/Mountain level of bad. Aemond is something of a dick but the last scene makes clear that he did not kill his cousin on purpose. In addition, most of the characters in HOTD seem to genuinely love and respect their spouses and children (again by GOT standards, not ours). It may make them seem boring but I find this somehow refreshing. It seems that the show is going into the direction of the Dance of the Dragons being caused by misunderstandings and accidents and fueled by ambition and rashness, without the need for over-the-top villains.
posted by elgilito at 2:11 AM on October 25, 2022 [5 favorites]


Overall I have enjoyed this season. It definitely has flaws -- the frequent time skips have made it feel a bit choppy. But I think the actors are great, and the dragons are well-rendered, and I have really enjoyed the positive fandom response and reaction memes every week. It's going to be a lonnnng wait for the next season.
posted by confluency at 4:48 AM on October 25, 2022


I like how this season has slowly and steadily set up the Rhaenyra/Alicent drama to be a series of sort of accidents that dig a deeper and deeper chasm between them. They're in some royal form of a prisoner's dilemma, with powers outside their control maneuvering to put them at odds. I think that was really driven home when Aemond yelled "No!" when his dragon chomped down on the other one and killed the other kid. He didn't want that - he knew that a murder would be going too far.
posted by entropone at 5:48 AM on October 25, 2022 [2 favorites]


I felt like this entire season was essentially one gigantic pilot, which is kind of a bummer, but I am invested enough to watch the next season, so I guess it worked.

I could have done without all the time skips and the recasts. It made it really hard to connect with the characters.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 6:09 AM on October 25, 2022 [1 favorite]


Daemon Targaryen, Criston Cole, and Larys Strong are the closest to "evil" characters and even them have been shown to be kind to others. Even when they are bad, abusive, or plain murderous, they are "normally" so, not Joffrey/Ramsay/Mountain level of bad. Aemond is something of a dick but the last scene makes clear that he did not kill his cousin on purpose. In addition, most of the characters in HOTD seem to genuinely love and respect their spouses and children (again by GOT standards, not ours). It may make them seem boring but I find this somehow refreshing.

If GoT was the Age of Heroes and Villains, HotD is kind of like the Era of Schmucks.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:29 AM on October 25, 2022 [3 favorites]


enjoying that it was sort of a horrible accident that Lucerys and Arrax end up dead, as he took the book canon to have Baratheon being like "lol you can kill him, just not in my hall" and Aemond taking him up on it

Yeah, I also really enjoyed that. Like - he's a bully and he's angry and he's tormenting his young nephew, but he wasn't going to straight murder him. But also - Vhagar is a fucking powerhouse - there's no world in which Vhagar can give a fuck you bite or a fuck you burn.

And I think it will also be interesting to see if the book canon is the way the Greens play it, or the way that Aemond plays it. Are the Greens going to pretend they meant to do that all along? They may as well - there's no fucking way Rhaenyra is going to believe "it was totally an accident my son's dragon chomped your boy". Or is Aemond not going to want to admit that he fucked up, after so much time of being the competent one to Aegon's constant fuckupery? Is he going to come back home with a swagger?

I do think that Daemon's choking of Rhaenyra did not reflect their usual dynamic but just a moment of rage, but I do think that him being willing to disregard her wishes while she was miscarrying does show their usual dynamic. He may care for her in his fashion, but it's not one of those grand everything-for-the-other-person passions. He's not willing to give up his ambitions to make her happy.
posted by corb at 10:24 AM on October 25, 2022 [4 favorites]


on the whole I have enjoyed this, and found it satisfying.

but yeah...the childbirth scenes, did we need them? really? that miscarriage scene was brutal and gross and just ugh.

re the last 12 minutes yeah!!! SO.MUCH.TENSION. so well done. I kept saying "oh this is NOT going to end well" I had no idea how it wasn't going to end well (and daaaaamn) but it did not end well...someone is in SO.MUCH.TROUBLE!!!

looking forward to more.
posted by supermedusa at 10:25 AM on October 25, 2022 [3 favorites]


"OH DAMN THAT KID GOT CHOMPED!"

is what I said when that kid got chomped.

This was one of the better episodes of the season, just in terms of feeling like things were finally happening. The dragon chase was maybe one of the best scenes of the season because of how well it built tension and dread before suddenly spinning out of control because OF COURSE it will -- hey, stupid parents, don't let hormonal teenagers ride giant death pterodactyls unsupervised, shit is going to go sideways! Also, I had no sense of how different in size the various dragons were. Like, I though Vaghar was maybe 2 times the size of the others; I had no idea that other dragons were literally bite-sized in comparison.

But I also agree with all the problems mentioned by others above. FOUR(!) traumatic birthing scenes (with only 1 not resulting in the death of child, mother, or both) in ten episodes is really going to a very unpleasant well way too often. And even though some shit is finally going down, the whole season does really feel like a pilot, as mrjohnmuller said. When I realized that there was maybe 25 minutes left and Rhaenyra just sent her sons off to visit three different potential allies, I thought to myself, "Next Season on House of the Dragon: Hangin' with the Starks!"

Which brings me to my final point: Sending your two sons -- one heir to the throne, the other heir to the most significant naval force on the continent -- out on diplomatic missions, by themselves, on the eve of war, is about the stupidest fucking thing anyone has ever done ever. Like, none of the possible reasons behind it make sense. You want to send a prince rather than some lowly messenger as a sign of respect? OK, fine, send them with an official retinue of servants and guards. You can't send anyone else because they are going by dragon? Well, don't send them by dragon, send them by horse or ship. You're sending them by dragon because that's the fastest way to get there and time is of the essence because of the impending danger? ALL THE MORE REASON NOT TO SEND THE TWO PRINCES OUT ALONE. I mean, come on, she doesn't anticipate that maybe, just maybe, Alicent will also have sent out emissaries? And if she suspects (or at least, Daemon and some others suspect) that Alicent killed her father in order to usurp the throne for Aegon, why would she think Alicent or any of her family/followers would have any compunctions about threatening or even killing the princes, since you know that their lives are in danger? It's just silly.

Speaking of silly, I thought it was pretty funny when Daemon wanted to throw down against Otto and his knights on a 5 foot wide bridge over a huge chasm. Yeah, that seems like a great place for a battle. And I wonder what happened in Baratheon's hall after Luke left. I imagine it was something like,

Baratheon: "Not in my hall!"

Luke leaves.

Aemond: "Uh, hey, if you don't mind, I'm just going to step out for a minute."

Baratheon: (suspiciously) "You're not going after your cousin Luke are you?"

Aemond: "What? No! No no no, no way. I just have to ... take a dump. Yeah, really big shit, ooh my stomach, yeah, I've been holding it in for a while, sorry, I might be on the chamber pot for a while, so you know... don't send anyone to get me I'll be back in like... 30 minutes or so."

Baratheon: (hesitating) "OK then... but as long as you're really going to the bathroom and not going to attack Princess Rhaenyra's son. When I said 'not in my hall' I didn't just mean you could go fight outside."

Aemond: "Oh totally, no, I got that, ooh, sorry, just starting to cramp here, I really gotta go"

Baratheon: "All right, well... we'll see you in the great hall for dinner this evening."

Aemond: (as he's running out the door) "Vaghar! Prepare to fly!"

Baratheon: "You know, he seems like a nice young lad."
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:25 AM on October 25, 2022 [2 favorites]


How does anyone know that Luke is dead? The big dragon chomped down and swallowed him whole, leaving just the wings behind.
I can't imagine Aemond gets home and brags about his screw up, then has ravens sent out to let the world know.
posted by Marky at 11:21 AM on October 25, 2022 [2 favorites]


It’s not clear how they know and its implied in the final scene that they very quickly know.

Nothing makes much sense other than body pieces washing ashore in a day or two and/or the Baratheon lord quickly telling Team Black he had nothing to do with the deaths.

Yeah, it’s annoying the show doesn’t explain this. A simple shot of the dragons flying by a ship and sailors pointing at one dragon followed another would have plugged that narrative hole.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:40 AM on October 25, 2022 [2 favorites]


Baratheon: (suspiciously) "You're not going after your cousin Luke are you?"

If I remember correctly in Fire and Blood it is stated that the Baratheons goaded the confrontation while making sure it took place somewhere they wouldn’t be immediately seen as responsible for it, so I’m not entirely sure he’d have any need of suspicious questions.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 12:52 PM on October 25, 2022 [1 favorite]


If I were the Baratheons, I'd be kissing some Targaryen butts with great haste and vigor. Or expect to see Daemon hovering over the castle in the future.
posted by Ber at 2:34 PM on October 25, 2022 [1 favorite]


Aemond is something of a dick but the last scene makes clear that he did not kill his cousin on purpose

I think I would have preferred it if he had killed him and Arrax intentionally. I was thinking that would make the most sense in terms of the unbalanced Dragon numbers that Daemon keeps talking about in the episode 13 v 4. The greens badly need to change that balance so turn up somewhere you think a smaller Dragon might be and chomp it with a big Dragon. The way they talk about men first makes little sense either, not like people who have thought through having WMDs very much.

I only just noticed Aemond is an anagram of Daemon. Mostly cos I don't know most of their names though.
posted by biffa at 4:52 PM on October 25, 2022 [1 favorite]


I think Arrax was a baby dragon; it's hard to get a sense of scale with the dragons, but Luke didn't look that much smaller than his dragon to me. I don't think either of them posed a real threat to the Greens, at least not an immediate one.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:02 PM on October 25, 2022 [1 favorite]


Rhaenyra facing the fire as she processes the news of the death of her son was a fantastic set-up for the final shot of her turning to the camera. I was expecting a facial expression for the ages, but ended up disappointed - - I've seen Starbucks customers give more seething looks over order mixups.
posted by fairmettle at 11:35 PM on October 25, 2022 [2 favorites]


Ooh I loved the face she gave, especially after squaring up her shoulders before turning around: Cold, hard, relentless, still a little dissociated.. To borrow from other peak TV: No half measures.
posted by whuppy at 9:01 AM on October 26, 2022 [4 favorites]


The face.
posted by fairmettle at 11:36 PM on October 26, 2022


Yeah, but now its 12 v 4.
posted by biffa at 6:12 AM on October 27, 2022


Look how they massacred my boy.
posted by yonega at 7:54 PM on October 30, 2022 [3 favorites]


He replied that he thought it was more on par with GOT season 6-- entertaining, but with huge leaps of logic, with a narrative that fell apart if you thought about it too much.

This show to me feels somewhat more hollow, even pulpier, than GOT seasons 1-4 but I'd be hesitant to compare it to any of the other seasons. Nothing in this first season matches the lows of the whole Ramsay and Sansa storyline, as much of a dud as the Sparrows (though nothing as spectacular as that final Great Sept explosion sequence), or as pointless as Arya in Essos.

This season establishes a middling bar for this show, and you know what? I'll take it over the disappointments of every season after Tywin's death. They had some very stirring performances, Paddy Considine alone deserves an unexpected Emmy. This show is not afraid of being slow and measured and even boring at times, which signifies restraint- something that GoT really lost as time went on. Instead, that show had seasons that tried to one-up each other continuously even as they grounded out their own characters and lost the plot.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:55 PM on November 3, 2022


Like, I though Vaghar was maybe 2 times the size of the others; I had no idea that other dragons were literally bite-sized in comparison
The g-force when manoeuvring to chomp little Arrax and rider would have to smart a bit though?

but yeah...the childbirth scenes, did we need them? really? that miscarriage scene was brutal and gross and just ugh.


Yup - it seems like the characters are stuck in a world where there is little choice other than incestuous relationships leading to very bloody childbirth unless interrupted by a dose of probably fatal morning after tea. Or masturbating against a Window, Succession style. Part of the whole GOT universe seems to be the notion that you need to have lots of sex to be sure of having enough kids to leave plenty of spares - and lots of simmering passions which can heat up or die off unexpectantly. HOTD doesn't seem to have that aspect.
posted by rongorongo at 8:48 AM on November 4, 2022


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