‘House Of The Dragon’ Episode 1: Recap & Ending, Explained – Who Became The Heir To The Iron Throne? & Why?

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“House of the Dragon,” the HBO series, is based on R.R. Martin’s novel, “Fire and Blood.” The story takes place approximately 172 years before the death of the mad king, Aerys, and the birth of his daughter, who eventually came to be known as the mother of dragons, princess Daenerys Targaryen. So once again, let’s begin the epic saga originating from the lands of Westeros and witness a tale of power-hungry men who thought they deserved to rule the world and a few oppressed women who were ready to break the shackles and rise from their own ashes.

Spoilers Ahead


King Viserys Targaryen Desires A Male Heir

King Jaehaerys was getting old, and he desperately needed an heir to the iron throne. The Targaryen empire was at its peak, and Jaehaerys knew that if he didn’t decide on the heir before his death, there would be widespread chaos in the whole empire, and ultimately somebody would take advantage of it. His sons had met their fateful ends, so 14 succession claims were made from throughout the kingdom, out of which two were considered. Princess Rhaenys Targaryen and her younger cousin, Prince Viserys Targaryen, were in the competition. It was obvious that the patriarchal setup wouldn’t allow a woman to sit on the iron throne. So Prince Viserys Targaryen was chosen unanimously by the Lords as the successor to King Jaehaerys. The main objective of this great council was to put the affairs of the kingdom in order, maintain peace, choose the heir in a lawful and justified manner, and also not let a lack of consensus ruin the leverage that the House of Targaryens had created for it over the years. But the decision of the council sowed a seed of vengeance inside Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, who nurtured it over the years, kept quiet, and waited for the right moment to strike a blow.

We skip ahead directly to the ninth year of King Viserys I Targaryen’s reign, where we see his wife Aemma, pregnant with their baby. Aemma had complications in her earlier pregnancies, and this time too, it was getting a bit difficult for her to bear the pain. King Viserys had a daughter named Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, and he desperately wanted a son, as he never considered his firstborn to be a worthy heir. It was not his fault. The society was such that he was made to believe that it was almost seditious to even think that a woman could rule his empire. King Viserys Targaryen had an intuition that this time it would be a son. Once again, there were complications, and King Viserys had to make a choice. Either the child or the mother could be saved. Viserys Targaryen knew that his kingdom needed an heir. He loved his wife, but a sense of duty prevailed, and once again the greed for power superseded love and affection. Aemma couldn’t survive and died while giving birth. Viserys Targaryen was actually right about one thing: it was indeed a boy. But the heir to the throne didn’t live long, and died in less than a day. Viserys Targaryen was miserable. He had lost his wife and now even his son. He realized that he had sacrificed his wife for nothing. Once again, questions loomed over the “House of the Dragons,” and the Lords had to find the answers before it was too late.


It Is Either Daemon Or Princess Rhaenyra

Amidst all these developments, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen was deeply hurt, as not even once did her father consider her claim to the succession. No woman had ever sat on the Iron Throne, and the lords believed that they couldn’t ignore the traditions and customs that had been in place for more than 100 years. But then the next option, and the most powerful claim to the Iron Throne, was that of Daemon Targaryen, brother of King Viserys Targaryen. Daemon had a dubious reputation, and people feared his impulsive, erratic, and unreasonable behavior. He was made the commander of the City Watch, but as soon as he wore the golden cloak, he took law and order into his own hands. The king loved him, had a soft corner for him, and often defended him during the meetings, but he knew that if kept unchecked, his brother could wreak havoc on the established order. Daemon overheard one such meeting, and he knew the exact state of affairs. The hand of the king, Otto Hightower, had a staunch disliking towards him. He was ready to consider the claim of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen if it came to making Daemon the heir. Amidst all this chaos, Viserys Targaryen was constantly getting bruised from sitting on the Iron Throne. The bruise was not healing and the Grand Maester had advised him that he might have to go for a medical procedure called cauterization. Lord Corlys Velaryon very subtly tried to put it in the King’s ear that there were other plausible heirs too, like his own wife, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, but the suggestion was immediately shunned by the other lords. The king was still mourning the loss of his wife and his son, and was in the mood to hear the petty arguments put forth by all those who were actually only looking out for themselves and trying to create a situation where they would be at an advantage.


‘House of the Dragon’ Episode 1: Ending Explained – Who Finally Became The Heir To The Iron Throne? & Why?

The hand of the king, Otto Hightower, knew that he needed to have an upper hand. He knew that he couldn’t let somebody else influence the King the way he did. Political vendettas and the desire for power superseded everything in Westeros. Otto told his daughter Alicent Hightower to meet the king and offer him comfort. Alicent was a young girl, but not naive. She was good friends with Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, and the king was like a father to her. But she was left with no choice. She was petrified beyond her wits. She knew that she was in no position to exercise her free will. Otto told her to wear her deceased mother’s dress before she went. Alicent did end up meeting Viserys and contrary to the general perception, they did have things in common. Alicent knew what loss was. She tells King Viserys that she felt somewhat the same way, when she lost her mother, as he was feeling after losing his wife and his newborn.

Daemon had a lot of affection for his niece Rhaenyra Targaryen. When he came to King’s Landing, he brought a necklace made of valyrian steel for her. But there was an obvious rift that came between them at the end of Episode 1 of “House of the Dragons.” Daemon celebrated the death of the King’s son and called him the heir for a day, as it was reported by Otto. Rhaenyra Targaryen loved her uncle, but she knew that it was a bit too extreme even for a person who was known to be a rogue. Daemon was called to meet his brother, King Viserys Targaryen. Even before meeting his brother, the king had already made a decision, and that was where he let himself be deceived. Daemon wanted to assist his brother; he wanted to be his hand. He didn’t like how he was constantly sent away from King’s Landing.

An enraged Daemon snarls at the King and tells him that it had been 10 years and not even once had he been offered the position that he wanted. Daemon also saw through the intentions of Otto Hightower. He knew exactly what he wanted to do. But the king was fond of him. He wasn’t ready to hear anything against his loyal hand. He tells Daemon to return to Runestone immediately with his wife. The king had made up his mind. It was about time he gave due credit to his eldest child. He realized that all this time he had been wanting a son, but there was an able contender right around the corner. Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen was not like her mother. She didn’t believe that the only duty of a woman was to give birth to a child. She says that she would rather fight on the battlefield than be miserable as her mother was.

King Viserys met with Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and told her what would be expected of her once she was named the heir to the iron throne. He tells her about Aegon I, Targaryen, the first ruler of the Targaryen dynasty. Viserys says that he had a dream where he saw the end of mankind. Aegon saw that there was a horrifying winter emerging from the northern end of the empire. He didn’t know what exactly it was, but he knew that if they wanted to have any chance, then the whole of Westeros must combine their forces and stand against it, with a Targaryen king or queen leading them. The dream was named the “Song of Ice and Fire” by Aegon. It had been a tradition to pass the secret from a king to an heir since Aegon’s regime, and Viserys passed the baton to Rhaenyra Targaryen. On one hand, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen was sworn in as the heir to the iron throne, and on the other hand, Daemon Targaryen left King’s Landing, as he was ordered by his king to do so. It would be interesting to see how their relationship pans out throughout the course of the series. It would be ascertained in the upcoming episodes if Daemon’s affection comes in the way of his political endeavors. His ego is bruised and there is a possibility that he might plot against his own brother. According to Daemon he only expected a kind of position which he thought he deserved. He knew his brother well, and had a belief that if there was somebody who could save him from his own wrath and incompetence, then it would be him. But King Viserys was too much influenced by what Otto Hightower had to say. Maybe he misinterpreted the whole issue and Daemon never wanted to mock the death of his newborn son. We see that Daemon does try to put up an argument but then gives up, maybe because he knows that the king had already made up his mind.

It was said that a female could never inherit the throne, and here was a fierce young girl standing and challenging the age-old customs and traditions. Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen knew that one day she might rule the whole of Westeros. It was a different kind of feeling. For the first time in her life she actually felt powerful. She had a kind of conversation with her father, which he had never had with her before. Rhaenyra always wanted to be on the forefront. She had once told her mother that she wants to be an actual participant in the scheme of affairs and not just an onlooker. Her gleaming eyes said a thousand words. Only time would tell if she is ready for the challenge and more importantly if she is ready to dip her feet into the dirty yet inevitable swamp of palace politics.


See More: ‘House Of The Dragon’ Episode 2: Recap & Ending, Explained – Whom Did Viserys Choose As His Wife? & Why?


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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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