Sunday saw the House of the Dragon Season finale air on HBO and while no teaser was released for Season 2, the “Inside the Episode” featurette offers insights as to what went down in that shocking ending.
Note: Spoilers follow.
Check out a quick recap of the episode followed by what Emma D’Arcy (Rhaenyra), showrunner Ryan J. Condal, and Ewan Mitchell (Aemond) have to say about the ending.
House of the Dragon Season finale recap
The House of the Dragon Season finale sees Rhaenyra informed of the death of her father, King Viserys.
That’s not all as Rhaenyra is also informed how her childhood friend, wife to her father, the mother to her half brothers, and her Queen, Alicent Hightower, usurped her throne and put her son, Aegon, on the Iron Throne.
Upon hearing the news, Rhaenyra goes into early delivery and delivers a stillborn child.
So not only has her father died but her newborn child.
The episode sees Daemon and Rhaenyra disagree on what to do as Daemon wants to go to war (I found it interesting Rhaenyra calling Daemon mad) but Rhaenyra wants to take time and keep the peace for the benefit of the realm.
Daemon says they have more dragons and such, but Rhaenyra takes the peaceful point of view of her father, which Daemon notes, and when confronted by Otto Hightower to bend the knee to Aegon, Rhaenyra says she will think about it.
(I’ve been rewatching the original Game of Thrones series and I couldn’t help but think of Rhaenyra’s decision sort of mirroring that of Ned Stark, in that they both aren’t making the right decision in acting right away as all Ned Stark’s decisions led to death, similar to Rhaenyra.)
So as Rhaenyra decides to wait she wants to know which of her Bannermen are at her side.
Her oldest son, Jace, comes up with the idea to send him and his brother, Luke, on their dragons because it’s faster than a raven.
Talk about foreshadowing.
Luke, who is such a good boy and a young one at that, heads to Lord Boremund Baratheon (descendant of Robert from the first series) and Storm’s End, as Luke is also related to the Baratheons.
Upon arrival, his dragon lands but they see Aemond has already landed first — with the largest dragon in the land, Vhagar.
Aemond promises to marry one of Boremund’s daughters so Boremund refuses Rhaenyra’s request to join her.
When Luke is leaving, Aemond taunts the young boy and tells him to cut his eye out, but Boremund puts a stop to any fighting.
Luke leaves on his dragon, it’s thundering and lightning outside, and then Aemond attacks.
Luke tries to outmaneuver Vhagar and even has his much smaller own dragon, Arrax, hit Vhagar with fire.
Just when you think Luke is going to escape, Vhagar comes out of nowhere and chomps both Vhagar and Luke out of existence as you can hear Aemond screaming, “Vhagar! No! No!” — as Aemond is not in control of his dragon.
So Rhaenyra has lost her Queen, her newborn baby, and now her son.
House of the Dragon: Emma D’Arcy on sending her children away
Emma D’Arcy spoke in the below featurette about Rhaenyra sending her children away for the first time.
“I think it’s quite heartrending for Rhaenyra because she has to look at her boys and she has to start seeing them as men for the first time. I think despite her questions about motherhood, what she discovers in having children is that she gets to build a tribe of her own,” she said.
“And actually finds a space where she feels free to be herself, and that’s — yeah, that’s in this family unit that she builds. And I think sending her sons away is the start of the end of that stability,” added D’Arcy.
Showrunner Ryan J. Condal talks Luke and Aemond
Showrunner Ryan J. Condal spoke about the Luke and Aemond scene.
“When Luke shows up he’s surprised to find Vhagar parked there in the courtyard, but he has been sent in peace and he’s trusting the ‘respect guest’ rights, and all that, all the things that we learned go to hell in the world of Game of Thrones,” explained Condal.
Condal continued, “It’s really a bullying sequence, a torture sequence, a chase sequence, where Luke is trying to escape. No real hope of Arrax fighting Vhagar and anything good happening at the end of that. But Luke relies on the speed of his dragon and the maneuverability to try to escape, and just when it seems like he has, Vhagar is there waiting for him.”
Condal also talks about what is going through the mind of Aemond following the death of Luke.
“I think what you’re seeing in that moment there, is the last vestiges of the little boy that’s left in Aemond and maybe he was trying to scare Luke, but I don’t think, ultimately, he intended to kill him,” explained Condal.
Condal added, “But now he’s done it, and he has to decide whether or not he’s going to own it in his travel back to King’s Landing. Because obviously, if the unsurprising of the throne and them crowning Aegon in the Dragonpit wasn’t the start of the war, certainly killing one of the Queen’s sons is.”
Ewan Mitchell explains Aemond
Ewan Mitchell talks about Aemond and references the Dance of the Dragons, the civil war during the succession between Aegon II and his half-sister Rhaenyra over their father Viserys I’s throne.
“I think anyone who was wronged like Aemond was and has his eye taken out you’re going to feel some sort of hatred, whether it’s subconsciously or consciously, towards the person who did it,” said Mitchel.
Mitchell added, “But what Aemond ends up doing in the skies above Storm’s End ultimately starts the domino effect of the Dance of the Dragons.”
Emma D’Arcy teases Rhaenyra’s intentions for House of the Dragon Season 2
“What I think is really affecting about it, within a series that, you know, there is — there’s a lot of loss, there’s a lot of death, there is lots of pain of different sorts, and yet somehow I think this moves the goalposts for suffering,” says D’Arcy.
D’Arcy concludes, “Once you’ve lost both your parents, and you’ve lost a lover, maybe you think you know grief. And then I think what is so awful is that losing Luke tells her she knows nothing about grief and completely changes her outlook on the world going forward.”