REVIEW: House of the Dragon- Episode 10 ‘The Black Queen’

House of the Dragon E10 closes out a spectacular first season for the Game of Thrones prequel as the Dance of Dragons finally begins. The battle for the Iron Throne in this season has been one fought with words and miscommunication but now royal blood has been spilled and the dragons are ready to burn Westeros.

House of the Dragon E10 follows the path of the first season, introducing a war that has been created not by monstrous villains, but by people wishing to do what is right by those closest to them, and then getting things wrong. It is a war started by people without all the facts, as proven by the miscommunication between Viserys on his deathbed with his wife Alicent Hightower, just as she was softening towards her old friend Rhaenyra. It paints the two sides of the Targaryen civil war in shades of grey with some characters veering more towards the black or white and offers a realistic complexity to the reasons for war that makes for compelling viewing. It is interesting to see Rhaenyra choose patience when first hearing of her father’s death, in stark contrast to her husband Daemon. She is a calm voice of reason, not willing to burn the world she wishes to rule (something Daenerys also claimed in Game of Thrones). This gets Rhaenys on her side, along with the now recovered Sea Snake Corlys Velaryon. There are talks of peace and demands from Otto Hightower, following his daughter’s instruction as both sides seek power without bloodshed. But this is Westeros, and peace is hard to come by. Rhaenyra sends her sons Luke and Jace to the Starks and Baratheons to confirm their oath to her as the new Queen, but Lord Baratheon has already had a certain one-eyed visitor and he wants revenge…

Prince Daemon speaks to Rhaenyra about the might of dragons. He says that dragons, and not dreams gave the Targaryens the Iron Throne. He counts their number, comparing each side and even goes to sing to a monstrous beast, Vermithor, as he wishes to balance the scales against Aemond’s Vhaghar. And it is dragons who take centre stage at the end of House of the Dragon E10. In one of the most epic scenes brought to screen in fantasy, or any other show, Vhaghar chases Luke and his dragon Arrax through a storm. It is a stunningly shot chase with the lighting perfect for such a scene and the tension ramped up to the max. After an episode of those in power doing their best to avoid an all out war, it is this perfect scene that snaps the thread holding Westeros together and informs the audience that Season 2 of House of the Dragon will be all about the Dance of Dragons. It is heartbreaking because the episode highlights the efforts of those involved to not start a war, or at least do their best to keep bloodshed to a minimum. The expressions on the face of Aemond and Rhaenyra in their final scenes tell the story. Words are not needed. It is a stunning end to what has been a near perfect first season.

House of the Dragon E10 is a prefect finale to a season that can stand up beside the best of Game of Thrones with pride. The writing, acting, music, and visuals are perfect in an episode that provides one of the best scenes ever put together for TV. The first season of House of the Dragon has improved parts of Martin’s Fire and Blood (especially the character of Viserys) and provided a show full of morally grey and complex characters who are about to fight one of the bloodiest wars in the history of TV. Season 2 can’t come soon enough, and the Dance of Dragons will be must-watch TV. This is the benchmark for fantasy. The Witcher, The Wheel of Time, and The Rings of Power are enjoyable and will have their fans (me included!), but they don’t come close to this. House of the Dragon sits on the fantasy throne and it’s there to stay.

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Aaron Jones

Aaron Jones

Aaron S. Jones is the author of Memories of Blood and Shadow, and The Broken Gods trilogy. He is Head of School at a school in Kent, UK and when he is not tearing his hair out at students struggling with their, they're and there, he is tearing his hair out as he dies for the thousandth time on Elden Ring. You can find him on Twitter @HereticASjones where he is most likely procrastinating for hours at a time instead of focusing on his Orc murder mystery.