House of the Dragon has proven more than capable of filling the void that Game of Thrones left behind. Much of the strength of the latter can very easily be seen in the former, with House of the Dragon also does quite a bit to differentiate itself from its beloved predecessor in exciting ways.
It has an amazing cast (both pre and post time jump), better effects than even Game of Thrones, thrilling action sequences and plenty of intricate character drama that fans have loved about the franchise since day one. Here are just a few of the best moments from the first season House of the Dragon.
8/8 Daemon vs. See Criston Cole
One of the standout action sequences throughout the season is the tournament battle and subsequent battle between Daemon Targaryan and Ser Criston Cole in the season premiere. Not only was the duel itself shot, but the entire sequence has since been praised for its accuracy (minus Daemon’s rather flashy set of armor).
The hand-to-hand combat between the two warriors is also a sight to behold, with both men gaining the upper hand over the other during the fight. The fight eventually ends with Daemon conceding victory to Cole in what represents one of his only real defeats of the entire season.
7/8 A song of ice and fire
With an interesting twist on the source material, House of the Dragon manages to trace itself back to its predecessor, Game of Thrones. As a sign of trust in his daughter, King Viserys reveals to Rhaenyra the most guarded secret of the Targaryan dynasty; not just about the eventual return of the White Walkers and the Night King, but about the Targaryen heir destined to defeat them.
Originally, it was never specified in the novels that Aegon The Conqueror had any kind of vision of the return of the White Walkers or of any future heir who would be prophesied to defeat them. This change ties the stakes of the prequel show directly to the conflict in which Jon Snow (aka Aegon Targaryan) would find himself embroiled centuries later.
6/8 The royal hunt
The beauty of the royal hunt sequence in episode 3 is that it is a very strong allegory for Viserys’ kingship and the politics surrounding it. Viserys has no interest in hunting the elusive White Hart, and yet he only proceeds with the matter out of anticipation. His own heart isn’t in it, and even when everything has been taken care of for him by smoldering nobles while he drinks alone in his tent, he still can’t properly kill the common stag given to him instead.
All this to say, Viserys just saunters about his royal duties despite his strong distaste for them. He is a good man, but a weak king, at the mercy of those who flock around him. It speaks to the tragedy of Viserys as a character, but it fits the themes of the show quite brilliantly.
5/8 Ruin of the Triarchy
While the war in the Step Stones is never a major conflict in the series, it culminates in one of the most exciting sequences of the entire season. Daemon had already proven himself a capable warrior, but by charging the entire Triarchy army single-handedly (after a clever surrender) and leading his forces to victory over the Crabfeeder, he cemented himself as a legend.
The entire sequence is filmed quite brilliantly, with Daemon’s hacking and slashing of his enemies interjecting into Crabfeeder’s perspective as he scans the skies for signs of Daemon’s Dragon, Caraxes, as he orders his forces into battle. As soon as Caraxes makes his terrifying presence known, the battle is all but lost for the triarchy and its sadistic leader.
4/8 Rhaenyra vs. Alicent
Although the two women were once good friends, the politics of the kingdom would tear them apart as they grew older, leaving them hateful and distrustful of each other. After their sons get into a fight that results in Aemond losing his left eye, Alicent Hightower is outraged by the special treatment Rhaenyra and her (technically illegitimate) children seem to receive despite her obvious transgressions.
In her rage, she even goes so far as to attack Rhaenyra with a dagger, though she later realizes that she had gone too far. It’s a powerful scene that somehow gives the audience plenty of opportunities to empathize with both sides, even as it represents the first salvo in what would become Dance of the Dragons.
3/8 King Viserys’ entrance
Possibly the emotional highlight of House of the Dragon and arguably one of the strongest sequences in the franchise as a whole is when King Viserys makes his triumphant return to the throne room in episode 8. At this point in the show, Viserys is a delirious shell of his former self, with what’s left of his body charred painfully away because of the leprosy. However, even this cannot stop him from entering the throne room and slowly making his way towards the Iron Throne to defend his daughter Rhaenyra.
The sequence is perfectly shot, perfectly scored, and even ends with a heartwarming moment between Daemon and Viserys where the former helps the physically weak king up the stairs to take his place on the throne (which was actually improvised by actor Matt Smith). It’s impressive how a simple scene of a beloved character making just the right kind of entrance can carry more weight than any action scene or shocking death.
2/8 The last meal
If there is one thing House of the Dragon is able to achieve that and makes the viewer feel for King Viserys. Part of this is Paddy Considine’s excellent performance as this broken character, desperate to try and repair the wounds inflicted on his family over the years. Nowhere is this more pronounced than during the dinner scene in episode 8. Viserys pleads with his family to stop their unnecessary fighting, if not for the political strength it would bring or because of a royal decree, but for the fact that Viserys cannot can bear to see those he loves tear each other apart for nothing.
What’s truly heartbreaking about the scene, however, is that for a moment it seems as if his wishes were taken to heart. Viserys looks around to find his family laughing and dancing with each other, only for them to resume hostilities as soon as the king is taken away to his chambers due to his failing health.
1/8 Aemond vs. Lucery’s
The conflict between Aemond Targaryan and Lucerys Velaryon had more or less been building since the two were children. Each of them feels that the other disrespected them and their family for one reason or another. The wider sequence, however, boasts some of the most awe-inspiring visuals in the franchise so far, with the enormity of Vhagar illuminated by the storm of light raging outside storms ending among the episode’s highlights.
After a failed negotiation, the two take to the skies and antagonize each other, although an important fact neither of them had considered comes back to bite both boys; dragons obey no one. Just as Viserys had warned many episodes earlier, dragons have a mind of their own and are not bound to the whims of their riders. Despite the pleas for restraint from their riders, Vhagar and Arrax begin attacking each other for real, resulting in Vhegar killing both Lucerys and Arrax in one fell swoop. With this failure, the Dance of Dragons has officially begun and there is no going back.
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