House of the Dragon Episode 10 Review
One hundred-seventy year’s into the future, Danaerys Targaryen gave the slave masters of Astapor a chilling reminder: ‘A dragon is not a slave.’ In context, she was talking about her dragons wouldn’t obey anyone unless they chose to. However, Danaerys had no idea how right she was. The Valyrians may have learned how to tame and ride dragons, but at the end of the day, they’re still a dragon. If they want to do something, not even their riders can stop them. The hubris of thinking otherwise is what leads to the last chance at peace in House Targaryen to finally, tragically, close. Only the war remains.
A Dragon Loses One Child
After her dramatic escape on dragon back at Aegon’s coronation, Rhaenys makes for Dragonstone to deliver the bad news to Rhaenyra. In one fell swoop, her father’s dead and her throne taken out from under her. The shock of what happens sends the pregnant Rhaenyra into premature labor.
Four times now, House of the Dragon decided to display childbirth in all its graphic detail. Besides the gross-out factor, though, this moment serves as a powerful thematic moment for Rhaenyra. Her refusal to rely on her nurses to help her highlights just how proud and defiant she is in adversity. It’s an admirable quality, but just as it leads to the death of her unborn child, it’s a trait that will likely have tragic consequences for Westeros.
By the time she’s recovered from birth and cremated her dead baby, Rhaenyra’s hit emotional rock bottom. It makes her coronation by the few followers she has on Dragonstone a very bittersweet moment, and things only stand to get worse from there.
Before Being Faced With a Choice…
Almost everyone Rhaenyra knows starts arguing that she should go to war for the throne that her father promised her. She may not have the manpower, but she has almost every dragon alive in her possession. Even Rhaenys, who’s spent years opposing her husband’s plays for the Iron Throne (he’s fine, by the way,), is saying she should do it. And when Otto brazenly comes bearing a message from Aegon promising to let her keep Dragonstone and her son’s alive (as hostages), she visibly considers this.
Underneath her fiery will and temper, Rhaenyra’s very much Viserys’ daughter, someone who sees the forest for the trees. She has the foresight to see that a war between the Targaryens could destroy Westeros, and that the dragon’s are little better than magical nukes. They’re great on paper, but when both sides have a dragon, they risk destroying each other.
Rhaenyra Sees The Bigger Picture…
More importantly, Rhaenyra’s aware of the Song of Ice and Fire and the second coming of the White Walkers. She and her father believe that Westeros needs the Targaryens leading it to prevent armageddon. We have the benefit of knowing they’re right, but no one else does. Thus, what we see as foresight, other see as foolishness. Even Daemon, Rhaenyra’s husband, knows nothing of this future due to Viserys not telling him. For all his skill, Daemon’s as shortsighted as the majority of the Targaryens, urging Rhaenyra to fight despite the risks.
This is one of the great tragedies of House of the Dragon, in my opinion. There are so many chances to avoid war, and everyone keeps making the wrong decisions. It’s tempting to imagine what could’ve been had Rhaenyra accepted the Greens offer. House Targaryen might have stayed in power, the dragons could be booming, and a united Westeros would’ve fought the Night King. Alas, tis but a fantasy. And House Targaryen proves to be the architects of its own downfall.
…Before Losing Another Child to Another Dragon
A dragon is not a slave. This was something that Danaerys Targaryen, one of the last of her family, deeply understood. She saw firsthand that, while powerful, dragons couldn’t win wars or do whatever she wanted. They were their own beings with their own wants and needs, and there was only so uch humans could do to keep them under control. Tragically, the children of Rhaenyra and Alicent learn this the hard way as they herald the start of the Dance of Dragons.
As Luke and Jace leave Dragonstone to find allies for the coming war, Jace travels to Storm’s End on his dragon, Arrax. However, not only is he turned away by Lord Baratheon, but none other than Aemond Targaryen is there, having already won the Baratheon’s over. And he hasn’t forgotten how Luke took his eye.
In the books, what happens was very much deliberate on Aemond’s part, with the One-Eyed Targaryen chasing Luke on Vhagar. The show opts for a different approach, one that hammers home the idea that the Targaryens thinking they control dragons leads to their downfall. This was the result.
Aemond’s face says it all; he was trying to scare Luke. However, he overestimated his ability to control his dragon, just like how he underestimated Vhagar’s ability to think for herself. Luke failed to keep Arrax calm, causing him to give up their best chance of survival. Both boys failed to handle their dragon’s and paid the greatest price possible.
And with that, the final chance at peace is lost—the end of the dragon approaches. And there’s nothing Rhaenyra or Alicent can do to stop it.
Let the War Begin
Wow, what a season. After the disaster that was the last season of Game of Thrones, I was ready to say goodbye to Westeros altogether. I didn’t think Martin would finish his books before he died (he’s in his 70s!) But then, HBO managed to pull out this gem. Now, everyone’s fallen in love with Westeros all over again.
This first season of House of the Dragon managed to span two decades but rarely if ever, lost its pacing. It told a story of a family torn apart by power, greed, and hubris. Now that all the pieces are in place, all that’s left is to see everyone die. My only regret is that the dragon’s will die along with the Targaryens. That, and we’ll have to wait two years for the next season.
Also, the sight of the table at Dragonstone being lit up by candles is so cool to look at!