‘House of the Dragon’ season finale: That murderous ending explained

After years of waiting and over two months of airtime, House of the Dragon season 1 is out. done and dusted. The excitement was great for HBO game of thrones prequel, and with about 30 million people watch each episode, it turned out to be a success. This is despite no one really knowing what to expect from the series – Game of Thrones itself has a complicated legacy. We got answers about the scope of House of the Dragon at the start of the season when it was renewed for a second seasonrevealing that it would take over 10 episodes to tell the story of the Targaryen Civil War.

In Sunday’s finale, we saw the Civil War precursor known as Dance of the Dragons. News of King Viserys’ death finally reaches Rhaenyra and Daemon Targaryen, but the queen is reluctant to go to war for the throne. Aegon the Conqueror’s prophecy echoes in her head as she declares the need to preside over a united kingdom, not smoke and rubble.

Still, the show’s final moments test his resolve, so we know war is assured. Last warning: Dragon House spoilers below.

Vale, Lucerys and Arryx

The main story in the House of the Dragon finale is the death of Lucerys Targaryen, Rhaenyra’s youngest child, whose real father is Harwin Strong. Lucerys, you may recall, was named heir to Dragonstone in Episode 8 – a decision a disgruntled Vaemond Velaryon died contesting.

During the House of the Dragon finale, Rhaenyra and Daemon decide that they need to build support from the Eyrie, Winterfell, and Stormlands if they want to have a credible force to challenge the Hightowers. Near the end of the episode, she sends her two eldest to petition the lords and ladies of those regions. Jacaerys will go to the Eyrie to procure Lady Arryn’s forces, then travel to Winterfell to speak with Cregan Stark. Lucerys, meanwhile, must travel to Storm’s End to speak with Borros Baratheon.

When he gets there, however, we see that Aemond Targaryen has beaten him to the punch. It’s the same Aemond Targaryen who lost an eye thanks to Lucerys – the same Aemond Targaryen who’s been fantasizing about revenge for years. Lord Baratheon rebuffs Lucerys: Aemond at least came with a marriage proposal to marry both Houses, while Lucerys only got a reminder from Rhaenyra that House Baratheon had pledged their swords years ago to his estate .

Lucerys tries to leave, but Aemond isn’t about to let the prince escape her. He asks Lucerys to gouge out his eye to pay off the debt he incurred when he looked away from Aemond. Lord Baratheon asks the two to break it, so that no blood will be shed in his castle.

Lucerys rides Arryx, her dragon, to return to Dragonstone. Unfortunately, a restless storm has erupted – it is Storm’s End, after all. Aemond and his huge dragon Vhagar pursue Lucerys. Aemond just wants to capture Lucerys and gouge out her eye, but her dragon has a mind of its own. After Arrax ignites Vhagar with dragonfire, the angry beast takes a bite out of Arrax. But because Vhagar is so huge, Arrax is cut in half.

Lucerys is gone, as is Arrax. Basically, Aemond Targaryen looks overwhelmed with regret seeing his cousin killed. It’s not out of family sentiment, but rather knowing how escalating his death is likely to be.

Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen.

HBO

The dragon dance

Dragonfire was a motif throughout the finale, which is what you’d expect from a show called House of the Dragon. But a recurring argument was the same one Daenerys Targaryen faced in Game of Thrones: Should Rhaenyra try traditional peace or war? Or should she just burn King’s Landing with dragons?

Aemond has Vhagar, the most powerful dragon of all, it’s true. But dragon numbers are on Rhaenyra and Daemon’s side – even without Arrax. A brief scene from the episode may end up having additional significance: we saw Daemon walking through a dark cave, where he found another titanic dragon. He sang a song in Valyrian, seemingly successful in his attempt to bond with the beast. More dragons mean more trouble for the Seven Kingdoms.

In the final scene of House of the Dragon, Daemon informs Rhaenyra of Lucerys’ death. Rhaenyra says nothing, but her determined grin is reminiscent of Daenerys’s after Missandei’s public execution. “If it’s war you want,” his facial expression said, “it’s war you’ll get.”

Although we have seen Lucerys’ journey end in tragedy, we have seen nothing of Jacaerys’ travels to the north. If I’m a bettor, I’m betting on House of the Dragon season 2 which kicks off in Winterfell. It will be nice to be back.

How long should we wait for season 2?

We don’t know yet, but I guess it’s 2024.

After the finale aired, House of the Dragon showrunner Ryan Condal says Variety that the second season will begin filming in “early” 2023. When the publication asked if season 2 would air in 2023 or 2024, he replied that it was still “to be determined”.

So, while a 2023 release is certainly possible, it would be a best-case scenario. For comparison, the first season of House of the Dragon began filming in April 2021 and began airing 16 months later in October. Whether that’s in 2023 will depend on both the filming schedule and where HBO wants to place the show. George RR Martin confirmed the information the company is working on a Jon Snow showso the plans for that will surely affect the airing of House of the Dragon season 2.

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