'House of the Dragon' Premiere Recap: Dragons, Power Lust, Gore and Devastating Heartbreak

In the series premiere titled "The Heirs of the Dragon," viewers learned King Jaehaerys Targaryen convened a Great Council to choose his successor

House of the Dragon
Photo: Photograph by Ollie Upton/HBO

Warning: This post contains spoilers for season 1, episode 1 of House of the Dragon.

House of the Dragon opened quite differently from Game of Thrones, which thrust casual viewers unfamiliar with the works of creator George R. R. Martin into a brand-new world with zero explanation about what was occurring. GoT was cold. It was scary. And, at first, it was confusing.

House of the Dragon, on the other hand, opened with a voice-over setting the scene for the HBO prequel series — a move very much reminiscent of the introductory voice-over for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Here, Dragon went out of its way to illustrate the world where the series takes place, a world nearly 200 years before Thrones that's centered on the history of House Targaryen.

HBO - House of the Dragon Season 1
Courtesy HBO

In the series premiere titled "The Heirs of the Dragon," viewers learn King Jaehaerys Targaryen (Michael Carter) convened a Great Council to choose his successor, as he had no surviving sons. Prince Viserys I (Paddy Considine), his oldest grandson, was selected to rule; Princess Rhaenys (Eve Best), his oldest grandchild, was overlooked purely because of her sex.

After a fast-forward in time, Dragon picked up in the familiar King's Landing, with Viserys now ruling and apparently keeping the peace. An indecisive leader, Viserys is more concerned with having a son for succession than any other business in his kingdom.

His Hand, Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), made it clear that he does not like the king's brother, Prince Daemon (Matt Smith), Commander of the City Watch, and wants him ordered back to his wife in the Vale. Viserys refused, but after a brutal roundup of the criminals in King's Landing — all of whom had body parts cut off or are killed — Viserys told Daemon to tone down his brutality. Daemon loves his brother, but it was clear from the start he wants the throne for himself and makes clear he hopes his brother never has a son.

house of the dragon
Ollie Upton/HBO

Sadly, in one of the most heartbreaking scenes in any of the Thrones series, Daemon got his wish when Queen Aemma Arryn (Sian Brooke) died giving birth to their son, who then also died. Viserys made the decision for his wife to undergo a knowingly fatal Caesarean section because he was so obsessed his first son survive.

Viserys does have a daughter, Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) and she is clearly more than capable. She was introduced in the series riding her dragon, Syrax. Rhaenyra is best friends with Otto's daughter, Lady Alicent (Emily Carey). Both women are shown to be quite taken with Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) a handsome, low-born knight who actually managed to defeat Daemon in a jousting match.

House of The Dragon

Following the death of his wife and son, Viserys finally had enough of Daemon after he learned his bother toasted the baby "The Heir for a Day."

Viserys informed Daemon that he had been removed from consideration in the line of succession and ordered his return to the Vale. Rhaenyra was then publicly declared by Viserys to be his heir, thereby putting in motion what will be the Targaryen's civil war, dubbed the "Dance of the Dragons."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

House of the Dragon airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.

Related Articles