Recap: ‘House of the Dragon’ Season 1, Episode 1 Restarts the Game of Thrones Admirably

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: August 22, 2022 (Last updated: last month)
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House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 1 Recap
House of the Dragon | Image via HBO




House of the Dragon returns to the standard we were used to in the early seasons of Game of Thrones. Compared to the first episode of GoT, House of the Dragon wins for its cunning plots and downright horrifying and tragic death. 

Set 200 years before the events of the most popular series of all time, House of the Dragon — adapted from portions of George R. R. Martin’s novel Fire & Blood — aims to be a return to the glory days of HBO’s all-time epic. Can it return to those lofty standards? According to Episode 1 of Season 1, “The Heirs of the Dragon”, the answer might very well be yes.

In the year 101, the King called a great council to choose a new heir and 14 claims were heard. But only two were considered: Princess Rhaenys Velaryon and Prince Viserys Targaryen. Ultimately Viserys Targaryen was chosen as the successor. House of the Dragon informs the viewer that it is the ninth year of King Viserys I Targaryen’s reign, which makes it 172 before the death of the Mad King and the birth of his daughter, Daenerys Targaryen.

Daemon Proves A Bloody Point

House of the Dragon next cuts to Princess Rhaenyra arriving late to a meeting, where King Viserys I makes it clear that he believes his wife, Queen Aemma, will give birth to a son rather than a daughter. Prince Daemon Targaryen sits on the throne when his niece Princess Rhaenyra warns such behavior could count as treason. As the bell rings, King Viserys has his people inspect a heavy cut on his back that refuses to heal. 

Later, Daemon tells his men that the city has fallen. And tonight he wants King’s Landing to fear the color gold. With that, they begin to violently attack the citizens, either by mutilating or beheading them. News of the attacks reaches The Kingdom and Daemon purposely insults the Hand of the King, Ser Otto Hightower.

Viserys Has A Male Heir — But Not For Long

When the games begin, King Viserys I reveals that Queen Emma has gone into labor. During the games, Prince Daemon picks his partner, who just so happens to be the eldest son of Ser Otto Hightower. As Lady Alison wishes Prince Daemon good luck, Queen Aemma struggles to give birth. King Viserys I has a choice: save the child by cutting his Queen open or “leave it with the gods”.

Viserys tells Aemma that they’re going to bring the baby out now. As he holds her hand, she screams for her life. As House of the Dragon cuts between Criston Cole beating Daemon at the games, Queen Aemma dies after giving birth to a male heir. But during her funeral, it becomes clear that the male heir only survived for a few hours. Rhaenyra wonders if her father felt happiness in the short time that he had a son.

Viserys Chooses His Successor

Otto comes to Viserys with an important issue: The lack of an apparent heir. The council claims that if Daemon remains the undisputed King, it could damage the kingdom. Some even speculate whether Daemon would kill Viserys for the throne. Then, as they discuss whether Rhaenyra would have a claim, they’re unaware that Daemon is listening.

But they’re not the only two with a claim, so the game of thrones begins once again! Afterward, Otto coaxes his daughter, Lady Alicent, into visiting the King at his chambers. Despite not knowing what she would talk about with Viserys, Lady Alicent does as her father tells her.

The following morning, Otto tells Viserys that Prince Daemon was overheard/seen celebrating the recent deaths. When Viserys questions Daemon on whether he said “heir for the day”, a dramatic speech between the two brothers occurs. Viserys tells Daemon that he will not be heir and that he must return to his “Lady Queen”. As Prince Daemon has no option but to leave, Viserys cuts his hand on the throne. 

In the closing section of House of the Dragon Episode 1, Viserys tells Rhaenyra that he now intends for her to be the next Queen. But that’s not all — he tells her of a secret; the end of the world will begin with a terrible winter, or what some call A Song of Ice and Fire.

Viserys tells Rhaenyra she must now carry this secret, as he and previous Targaryen rulers have before her. 


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