House of the Dragon is coming to a close.
Though plenty of people felt burned by how Game of Thrones ended, HBO has plans to unload a plethora of spin-offs based on their fantasy epic. The first series to emerge from the planning stages is House of the Dragon, which surrounds the legendary conflict within House Targaryen that happened 200 years before the events of the original series.
House of the Dragon co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik (who has departed the series for season 2) has spoken about how he feels “loyal and responsible" to Game of Thrones and the responsibility that he bears.
He said in an HBO chat: "I have a great kind of desire to even be in the same room as that show because it was a game changer. George and his writing was a huge influence on me. It’s an incredible feeling to achieve my dream job. You get that great call which is the thing that every writer is hoping for, telling you, 'We’re gonna go make this thing'. And you’re happy for a few seconds… and then you realise the responsibility that’s on your shoulders."
The series has garnered rave reviews so far, in line with what Game of Thrones creator George R. R. Martin himself had to say of the show. At Comic-Con earlier this year, he said: "I've seen nine of the ten episodes, and it's pretty amazing, I'm really very happy."
Here's everything you need to know about House of the Dragon...
When is the House of the Dragon season finale?
The House of the Dragon finale airs on Sunday, October 23 at 9 pm ET in the US, and on Monday, October 24 on Sky TV's Sky Atlantic and NOW in the UK.
Fire will reign.August 21 on @HBOMax. #HouseoftheDragon pic.twitter.com/A8d4xtw8YTJune 22, 2022
House of the Dragon trailer
HBO steadily built up the hype for House of the Dragon for months before the show finally arrived with a steady stream of trailers. The official trailer teased the "ugly game" of what's to come in the new fantasy series and shows us a few hints at the plot and set up the trouble that's brewing between Daemon and Rhaenyra.
You can check them out below
What's the plot of House of the Dragon?
House of the Dragon takes place 200 years prior to the Game of Thrones storyline, with the plot being derived from George R.R. Martin's novel, Fire & Blood (opens in new tab). The book begins with Aegon's Conquest, which established the new world order over much of Westeros and saw the foundation of the Iron Throne as the unified seat of power over the realm. From there, we follow the Targaryen dynasty as many kings and queens (both good and evil) rule over the Six Kingdoms.
This eventually leads to the vicious civil war between Aegon II and his half-sister, Princess Rhaenyra, who battle over the throne currently occupied by their father, Viserys I. As the trailers all pointed to Rhaenyra being named Viserys' heir, we expect this eventual civil war is likely the endpoint for House of the Dragon, too.
We'll also be exploring some new parts of Westeros in the new show. One of those new worlds is Driftmark, the seat of House Velaryon and the Sea Snake which is situated in Blackwater Bay, near Dragonstone.
Now that the show is underway, we've got full summaries of what's happened so far listed below, but beware: there are spoilers ahead.
House of the Dragon episode recaps
What happened in episode one?
After a brief history lesson revealing how Viserys came to succeed King Jaehaerys after 60 years on the Iron Throne, (over his cousin, Princess Rhaenys), we jump forward nine years into Viserys' rule.
After we're introduced to some of the major players at court, we learn that Prince Daemon Targaryen is Viserys' current heir apparent, as the King's only child is his daughter, Princess Rhaenyra.
Daemon has troubled Viserys throughout his time on the Throne, leaving him with few friends at court. He draws even more ire after we witness one of his brutal, violent raids on King's Landing as the Commander of the City Watch.
Viserys' wife, Aemma Arryn, is preparing to give birth to Viserys' latest child; the pair have suffered miscarriages and lost children after birth in the past, and Aemma tells him that she wants this to be their last child, as she can't grieve another.
Whilst Viserys is at a jousting tournament held in celebration of his second child, Aemma goes into labor. The King is summoned to her chambers as there are complications during the birth. The Grand Maester in attendance then tells him the only way to save the child is to perform a Caesaerean section. Aemma dies during the operation, and their son, Baelon, also dies shortly after his birth.
At the tournament, Daemon proves an early favorite, though he is unseated by Ser Criston Cole, a lowborn Dornish man who subsequently defeats Daemon in hand-to-hand combat.
The small council calls an emergency meeting about Viserys' succession just days after Queen Aemma and Baelon's funeral. At the meeting, tensions rise as the members debate whether Daemon is a suitable heir, before Viserys storms out in a rage.
Word gets back to Viserys that Daemon had mocked Baelon's death, calling him the "heir for a day". In response, Viserys tells him he intends to name Rhaenyra as his heir, and orders Daemon to return to his wife in Runestone.
Before she is sworn in in front of the lords of the other Great Houses, Viserys apologies to Rhaenyra for wasting all these years chasing a son when she already had the makings of being a good queen.
He reveals the prophetic dream that Aegon had about the Great Winter — known as "A Song of Ice and Fire"— and swears that a Targaryen must be sitting on the Throne to defeat the great evil when it arrives. Then, she is led out, and Viserys names her his heir, whilst Daemon flies away with Mystaria on the back of Caraxes.
What happened in episode two?
Six months on from the events of episode one, the Triarchy are proving to be a bigger nuisance to Lord Corlys Velaryon’s fleet, but King Viserys still refuses to send help as he doesn't want to start a war with the Free Cities. Viserys also faces the conundrum of what to do about Daemon, who's been squatting in Dragonstone. Rhaenyra is dismissed from the small council meeting and tasked with selecting a new Kingsguard, and opts for Ser Criston Cole.
Viserys (who is being compelled to take a new wife) confides in Alicent that he wishes to close the gap between him and Rhaenyra. Later, Corlys collars the king and tells him he thinks their enemies are eyeing up King’s Landing. To cement the bond between House Velaryon and House Targaryen, he suggests Viserys marry his daughter, Laena.
An emergency small council is convened after it’s revealed that Daemon has stolen a dragon egg; he’s also left a note inviting his brother to a wedding. Daemon says he intends to take Mysaria as his second wife (who is pregnant), and the egg—which is the same one that sat beside Viserys son, Baelon—is to sit in the cradle with his child, according to Old Valyrian customs.
Viserys is furious and wishes to go to Dragonstone, but Otto Hightower placates him and offers to go in his stead as a show of force. Before any blood is shed, Rhaenyra arrives on her dragon to confront Daemon and talk him down. He’d actually lied about Mysaria’s pregnancy and marriage and returns the egg.
After a heart-to-heart with Rhaenyra, Viserys summons the small council to reveal he’s taking a new wife, though he snubs Corlys and announces he intends to marry Rhaenyra’s best friend, Alicent Hightower. Corlys storms out of the meeting and seeks out Daemon to ask for his support in taking the Stepstones islands back from The Crabfeeder, suggesting this could be a prime opportunity for him to demonstrate his worth as a potential ruler.
What happened in episode three?
Two years on, Alicent and Viserys have had a son together: Aegon II, and the lords and ladies are the realm have gathered for a Royal Hunt for his second name-day. Relations between Rhaenyra and her father and best friend-turned-queen, Alicent, have grown frosty, and she is unwilling to participate.
Jason Lannister seeks to marry Rhaenyra, though she rebuffs him; after confronting her father about it, she rides off into the King's Wood, closely pursued by Ser Criston Cole.
Viserys grows increasingly frustrated by suggestions of suitors to marry Rhaenyra. Jason Lannister tells him many of the lords expect he will name Aegon his new heir, something which he makes clear is not the case.
Rhaenyra and Criston bond during their time away and are attacked by a wild boar, though they return the following day unharmed after the hunt is deemed a success. Back at King's Landing, Otto speaks to Alicent to use her influence as Queen to urge Viserys to "see reason" and name their son as his new heir, though she seems unwilling.
Over in the Stepstones, Lord Corlys and Daemon's fight against The Crabfeeder is not going well, and Viserys had, up till now, ignored any requests for assistance. However, after chatting with Alicent, he sent word saying that soldiers and ships would be arriving for the war effort.
Daemon receives this message unfavorably and sets off on his own to confront the Crabfeeder's soldiers head-on on the beaches. He gets wounded in the process, but when The Crabfeeder's men surround him, the Velaryon forces Including Laenor Velaryon and his dragon, Seasmoke) storm the beaches, leaving Daemon to rush off and kill the Crabfeeder himself.
What happened in episode four?
Rhaenyra is approached by a range of potential suitors, but finds them all lacking. Daemon makes his return from the Stepstones, having been named King of the Narrow Sea for his defeat of the Crabfeeder and Viserys embraces him.
Daemon invites Rhaenyra out with him on a trip to the shadier parts of King’s Landing during the middle of the night where they take in a pantomime and then he takes her to a brothel together. They kiss, but Daemon abandons her before things progress any further.
Upon her return to King’s Landing, Rhaenrya invites Criston Cole to share her bed. The following morning, Otto Hightower tells Viserys that Rhaenyra had been spotted together with her uncle in the pleasure house, a report which Alicent overhears and frets about.
She confronts Rhaenyra, who lies about the encounter and says that Alicent should not question her virtue whilst Daemon is brought before a furious Viserys. Daemon says he should wed Rhaenyra to him to “restore the House of the Dragon to its proper glory”, but Viserys instead demands Daemon return to the Vale.
When he speaks to his daughter, Viserys threatens to strip her of her title and name Aegon II as his heir, though she says she will wed Laenor Velaryon and unite their two houses to strengthen her own claim, whilst also accusing Otto of being desperate to see his own grandson on the Iron Throne. Viserys then strips Otto of his position as the Hand of the King.
What happened in episode five?
In The Vale, Daemon confronts his wife, Rhea Royce; she is thrown from her horse, and he kills her. Alicent sees her father off, and he warns that she must prepare Aegon to rule, foreseeing Viserys’ death.
Viserys and company travel to Driftmark, where they are not greeted by Lord Corlys, much to their frustration. To repair their relationship, he has traveled to offer the proposal of a marriage between Laenor and Rhaenyra, prompting Corlys to question how succession would be handled immediately.
Both Laenor and Rhaenyra have their own secret partners: Joffrey Lonmouth, and Criston Cole. Criston asks whether Rhaenyra would consider running away and marrying him instead. She rejects this, but suggests that they could keep up their relationship in secret. Criston is furious and storms off.
Criston is summoned by Alicent, who wishes to question him about what happened between Rhaenyra and Daemon. Criston misunderstands and confesses that he has been sleeping with Rhaenyra, contravening his vow of chastity, leaving Alicent feeling betrayed that her close friend had lied to her.
Wedding celebrations begin and everyone is in high spirits, though the mood shifts as Alicent arrives late, sporting a lush green gown, the same color that the Hightowers display when they call their bannermen to war.
Gerald Royce challenges Daemon over his daughter’s death, though Daemon refutes this and explains that he plans to petition for everything owed to him as they had no heirs. Laenor’s lover taunts a guilty Criston over his affair with Rhaenyra, prompting him to brutally attack and kill Joffrey in front of everyone. Later, whilst Laenor and Rhaenyra say their wedding vows, Criston prepares to take his own life, but Alicent stops him.
What happened in episode six?
Years down the line, Rhaenyra is seen giving birth to her third son. Alicent demands to see the baby at once, and taunts Laenor over the child’s parentage, and it’s pretty clear that both Rhaenyra and Alicent’s children hate each other.
Despite rumblings of infidelity, Viserys refuses to accept that the children are not Laenor’s. Daemon and his wife Laena Velaryon have children of their own, and have been offered permanent residence in Pentos, away from court drama. Laena wishes to return home, but Daemon refuses.
It becomes clear that Commander Harwin Strong is really the father of Rhaenyra’s children, though Criston (who has been training Alicent’s sons in swordplay) is still wounded by Rhaenyra’s rejection, and he bears a grudge against her family. He provokes Harwin into a brawl (which Criston loses), leading to Harwin’s expulsion from the City Watch.
Rhaenyra confronts Laenor about the rumors surrounding their children. Though they had agreed to keep seeing their respective partners after their marriage, these rumors could lead to their exile from court. Laenor wishes to escape everything and go out to sea, but she commands him to stay at her side.
Lyonel Strong offers to resign as the new Hand of the King over his son’s outburst at Criston earlier. Viserys refuses this, but grants him leave to return his son to Harrenhal. Unbeknownst to them, Larys Strong sent agents to set their home on fire, and both Lyonel and Harwin are killed in the blaze. Larys approaches Alicent and tells her he believes she will reward him “when the time is right”.
During a problematic birth, Laena stumbles out to her dragon Vhagar and commands her to burn her alive. Rhaenyra tells Laenor they will be leaving the Red Keep behind and returning to Dragonstone.
What happened in episode seven?
The two houses meet again at Laena Velaryon’s funeral. Rhaenys suggests to Corlys that they should disinherit Rhaenyra’s children in favor of Laena’s two daughters, but Corlys refuses.
In the middle of the night, Aemond Targaryen lays claim to Laena’s dragon, Vhagar, prompting a fight between him Rhaenyra and Laena’s children in which Aemond loses an eye and blasts the Queen’s children as illegitimate.
The families are called together to discuss the matter. Viserys demands to know where the rumors about Rhaenyra’s sons have come from, labels them treason, and demands the matter be settled. Alicent, though, demands Criston bring her Lucerys’s eye in compensation, though he is stopped.
Furious, Alicent rushes at Rhaenyra and slashes her with a dagger in front of everyone. Otto has been reinstalled as Hand of the King, and he tells Alicent he is pleased to see her resolve and promises they will “win” the brewing conflict. Larys seeks her out again, and offers his services to her to get revenge. She declines but is thankful for his loyalty.
Laenor confesses he’s failed Rhaenyra, but vows to support her properly. Rhaenyra seeks out Daemon, after the pair spent the night together, and asks him to marry her. Daemon notes this could only happen if Laenor were dead, so the pair brew a plan to secure Laenor his freedom to flee with his lover, Ser Qarl and fake his death, leaving Corlys and Rhaenys with no surviving children.
What happened in episode eight?
Six years on from the last episode, we find Lord Corlys afflicted with blood fever after being wounded at sea, with Rhaenys sitting on the Driftwood Throne in his absence. Corlys’ brother Vaemond believes he is now Corlys' rightful heir instead of Lucerys, who stands to inherit Driftmark as his older brother is in line for the Iron Throne.
At a small council meeting, Alicent (who leads in place of an ailing Viserys) agrees to hear petitions from all parties about the matter. Daemon and Rhaenyra return to King’s Landing, and they beg Viserys to back Lucerys as Lord Corlys's successor if he dies, and they introduce their new sons to him.
Rhaenyra seeks out Rhaenys to beg her to back Lucerys's claim and offers to betrothe her sons to Rhaenys’ granddaughters. Otto Hightower takes the Iron Throne and begins hearing the petitions, though the ceremony is interrupted by the dramatic arrival of Viserys.
The king struggles to the Iron Throne and asks Rhaenys what Corlys’s wishes were. She announces support for Rhaenyra’s son and their marriage proposals. Incensed, Vaemond flies into a rage about breaking traditions, though Daemon kills him.
The two families share a banquet, though the peace is soon disturbed by a sarcastic toast to Rhaenyra’s sons by Aemond Targaryen. Rhaenyra says she will see her sons home but will come back to King’s Landing soon after.
In his final moments, Viserys relives Aegon the Conqueror’s prophetic dream of “the Prince that was promised” who is set to unite the Seven Kingdoms against a looming threat (which Thrones fans know to be the Night King). Alicent interprets Viserys’ words to mean their son Aegon.
What happened in episode nine?
News filters around the Red Keep of Viserys’ passing, and Alicent tells Otto about his perceived desire to see Aegon II crowned as his successor. Otto reveals this at a small council meeting, where it becomes clear that members of the council had been plotting against Rhaenyra and Daemon all along.
Otto sends Sers Arryk and Erryk of the Kingsguard to search King’s Landing for Aegon; Alicent sends Ser Criston Cole on a similar mission, though Aemond insists on coming along with him. Whilst on the hunt, Aemond confides in Criston that he believes he should be the one to take throne, not his brother.
Alicent seeks out Rhaenys and asks if she will back Aegon II’s claim. Meanwhile, Otto Hightower forces the senior members of various Houses to swear loyalty to Aegon; those who do not bend the knee are led away and, in one instance, killed.
The knights’ search sees them crossing paths with the “White Worm”—aka Mysaria—who offers to reveal where Aegon is hiding in exchange for some off-the-record assistance shutting down a fighting pit. Criston and Aemond overhear this exchange, and they follow the two knights and step in to recover Aegon themselves.
Aegon confesses that he has no wish to rule and believes himself to be unsuited to bearing the crown, though Alicent is determined to have him installed. She tells Otto that she is not willing to have Rhaenyra killed, as the small council wishes, but will instead send terms of negotiation to her about surrendering her claim to the Seven Kingdoms.
Ser Erryk does not believe what’s transpired is fair, and he tries to free Rhaenys from the capital, though the pair are separated in the crowds on their way to Aegon’s coronation (which is also Viserys’ funeral).
At the ceremony, Aegon is crowned, and clearly enjoys stepping into the limelight. His moment in the sun is brutally cut short as Rhaenys crashes up through the floor on the back of her dragon, Meleys. The pair bare down on Alicent and the rest of her allies, before flying off and leaving King’s Landing behind.
Who worked on the series?
The series’ showrunners are Ryan Condal (Colony) and Miguel Sapochnick. Fans might recognize the latter as the director of some of Game of Thrones' most iconic episodes such as "Hardhome" and “Battle of the Bastards."
He even won the Emmy for Best Drama Series as an executive producer. Outside of the expected increase in dragon-based violence, many are speculating that this show is going to be the most true-to-form of the planned GoT spin-offs.
At Comic-Con, George R.R. Martin revealed his confidence in the new series. "It's pretty exciting", he said, "You're always nervous at the beginning because these books, these characters are like my kids, and when you give your kid to someone for adoption, you wonder how they will be treated...I think Ryan has done a good job of adapting the books. Well, so far."
Clare Kilner (The Alienist: Angel of Darkness, The Wedding Date) and Geeta V. Patel (Meet the Patels, The Witcher) will also direct the series. Greg Yaitanes (Banshee, House) is serving as a director and co-executive producer.
Game of Thrones and Westworld composer Ramin Djawadi returned to provide the score.
House of the Dragon cast
King Viserys Targaryen will be played by Paddy Considine (Hot Fuzz, Peaky Blinders), the successor of the Old King. He’s said to be a warm, kind, and decent man who only wants to continue the legacy of his grandfather. Place your bets now on how many people mistake that kindness as weakness.
Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel, The Sound of Metal) stars as Alicent Hightower. She’s the daughter of Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, and was raised in the Red Keep (the castle on Aegon's Hill in King's Landing), close to the king and his innermost circle. Alicent possesses she possesses both a courtly grace and a keen political acumen.
Emma D’Arcy (Truth Seekers) is Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, the king’s first-born child. She is of pure Valyrian blood, and she is a dragonrider. Rhaenyra is almost everything a royal family could want in an heir... except she's not a man.
Likely the biggest fan favorite is the Doctor himself, Matt Smith (Doctor Who, The Crown) who will play Prince Daemon Targaryen, the younger brother of King Viserys and heir to the throne. Daemon is a dragonrider with the true blood of the dragon, but as King Jaehaerys once said, “madness and greatness are two sides of the same coin. Every time a new Targaryen is born, he said, the gods toss the coin in the air and the world holds its breath to see how it will land.”
Steve Toussaint (Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Judge Dredd, and Shooting Dogs) joins as Lord Corlys Velaryon aka “The Sea Snake.” The lord of House Velaryon, a Valyrian bloodline. “The Sea Snake,” is the most famed nautical adventurer in the history of Westeros. He built his house into a powerful seat that is even richer than the Lannisters.
Princess Rhaenys Velaryon will be played by Eve Best (Nurse Jackie, The Honourable Woman) Rhaenys is a dragonrider and wife to Lord Corlys Velaryon, and was known as "The Queen Who Never Was" after she was passed over as heir to the throne at the Great Council as they favored her cousin, Viserys.
Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill, Berlin Station) stars as Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, a loyal steward to both the king and his realm. As the Hand sees it, the greatest threat to the realm is the king's brother, Daemon, and his position as heir to the throne.
Fans of Alex Garland’s Ex Machina and Annihilation will be thrilled to know Sonoya Mizuno has been cast as Mysaria. Her character came to Westeros with nothing, sold more times than she can recall. Instead of wilting, but instead, she rose to become the most trusted — and most unlikely — ally of Prince Daemon Targaryen, the original heir to the throne.
British theater actor Fabien Frankel (The Serpent, Last Christmas) has been cast as Ser Criston Cole. Of Dornish descent, Ser Criston is the common-born son of the steward to the Lord of Blackhaven. Criston has no claim to land or titles; all he has to his name is his honor and his preternatural skill with a sword. This tells us we shouldn’t sleep on the potential of him becoming a major player.