Nutshell Review: House of the Dragon, S1: E10
PG Score: 9.25
Season 1 of House of the Dragon is available on HBO Max.
Talk about finishing strong. Similar to episode 9, episode 10 of House of the Dragon showed one side's reaction to what transpired in the last two episodes, this time from the point of view of the Black Faction. Titled "The Black Queen", the episode takes place almost entirely on Dragonstone and deals with the fallout of the Greens claiming the Iron Throne after Viserys's death, along with the consequences it has for Rhaenyra and her family.
Difficult Childbirth Scenes
Childbirth and a woman's right to rule were major themes in Season 1, and this episode continued the trend. The season started off with a difficult birth that resulted in the death of the mother and child. Rhaenyra had a successful birth, the only one they've shown (remember that Leana, Daemon's wife, chose death by dragonfire when it became evident her labors would result in her and the child's death). Then we have episode 10's labor sequence, which unfortunately resulted in the death of her child.
Rhaenys's escape at the end of episode 9 led her to bring the news of Viserys's death and the Greens claiming the throne to Dragonstone, which indirectly led to an early labor. It is a hard scene to watch, but it helps show the resiliency of Rhaenyra's character as she has to simultaneously deal with the tragic news and a devastating miscarriage, all while planning out her course of action for the battles that lay ahead.
It's ironic that the two calmest, most level-headed people after Viserys's death are Rhaenyra and Alicent. Both loved him in their own ways and, despite all the bad blood, are trying to find a peaceful way forward. Ironic though, because it is their behavior and beliefs that shaped their children, thus extending the bad blood between families. Along with Otto's ambition and Daemon's thirst for revenge and power, this can only lead to one ultimate conclusion: war.
The Race for Allies
Similar to "The Green Council", "The Black Queen" shows Rhaenyra and Daemon's side planning for what is to come. Also similar to the previous episode is how not everyone is on the same page. Both Daemon and Rhaenyra are hugely affected by Viserys's death, but handle it much differently, leading to a lot of friction between the two. Suffering so much loss and having different takes on what to do leaves them at odds, with Rhaenyra seeing a bit of Daemon's true self.
The biggest takeaway is the desperate search for allies for the Blacks. Will the Lords uphold their oaths to make her their Queen, or can they be persuaded by gold and promises in order to switch their allegiances? This leads to the climactic moment of the episode and possibly the season. It leaves us, the viewer, eagerly awaiting Season 2 in order to see the fallout.
Storm's End Nightmare
The visual standout moments of "The Black Queen" all took place in the one scene that didn't take place at Dragonstone. Finally seeing Storm's End was awesome, as it is rumored that Bran the Builder had a hand in its construction. Unique in shape and design to the other great castles we have seen, it left an impression and certainly lived up to its name.
Prince Lucerys, sent as a messenger by his mother, was not the only envoy to visit Borros Baratheon, as his uncle and the man whose eye he took was there as well: Prince Aemond One-Eye. Animosity definitely exists between these two, and for justifiable reasons, but what truly stood out was what was behind the eye patch. The conflict spilled over into a dragon chase that was simply amazing to watch. Set in a storm, it features one very large dragon against one very young dragon. Speed vs age and brute strength. The climax to the finale was breathtaking and all the more reason to tune in next season, whenever that may be.
An Epic Finale and Set-Up for Season 2
The episode, like the season, made it clear that there isn't a cut and dry good guy/bad guy, but shades of gray that make characters like Daemon and Aemond so fascinating to watch. Episode 10, "The Black Queen", was one of the finest episodes of television I have ever witnessed. The pace worked wonderfully and Emma D'Arcy showed a great range of character in portraying what Rhaenyra had to deal. A fiery conclusion with the Greens getting their first taste of war wrapped up an excellent first season of House of the Dragon.