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The first episode of House of the Dragon reveals one brutal moment

The Targaryens remind us of their past: once, long ago, they were the lords of all Westeros. The only serious threat to their rulers was within themselves and that threat was coming soon.

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When HBO’s House of the Dragon premiered, it wasted no time in reminding viewers that the Targaryens once ruled the seven kingdoms as dragon riders. A previous generation may have been able to delay the inevitable, but the reality of that threat is coming.

Warning: the following contains House of the Dragon episode 1 spoilers!

The kingdom is at a fragile peace in the ninth year of King Viserys’ (Paddy Considine) reign. He still lacks the male heir who could guarantee his safety as King’s Landing degenerates. Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock), Viserys’s daughter, rides dragons; Queen Aemma (Sian Brooke), his wife, is expecting; and Viserys has ten fully grown dragons. Viserys is ruled by his advisors, including Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), who is attempting to keep Westeros stable in the face of the charismatic chaos of Prince Daemon (Matt Smith), the de facto heir apparent.

Death of Queen Aemma is the most disturbing part of the episode. Chills ran down my spine as I watched it, and I was even more disturbed by it the second time around.

She refers to childbirth as “the battlefield of women,” and it is striking to see her die so slowly while the men joust. By the end of it all, Aemma is nothing more than a royal womb, powerless to do anything but bear children. She can only be dismembered in the hopes of producing a male heir. I say this about an episode in which prisoners are brutalized, but this scene is still one of the most violent and tragic in the entire show. This was a sexist mistake that has resulted in the deaths of both mother and child, and no male heir. The price of life is always one’s own mortality, but not in this case.

Rhaenyra is heartbroken that she does not have a son, but she must signal the dragon to light Aemma’s funeral pyre. It would have prevented the death of her mother if she had done that.

When Daemon decides to test his brother’s patience by going to a brothel to drink in honor of the “heir for a day,” he earns himself an exile from the kingdom because the council can’t agree on who should be the heir. Rhaenyra has been appointed heir. However, by Daenerys Targaryen’s time, Westeros has had no queens, so we’ll have to wait for the series to air to find out why that didn’t happen.

A few more ideas about the “House of the Dragon” pilot

Even one terrible Targaryen wig is sad but bearable. With all this money, it’s shocking that they don’t have a stylist who knows that if you’re going to put Matt Smith in a blonde wig, you need to give him eyebrows.

It’s disgusting to see Otto subtly hawk his daughter to the king in a game of thrones that involves everyone over the age of 18. He is the epitome of the “Littlefinger” type of person you want to keep an eye on. See you next Tuesday for sure.

The Anarchy, the period of civil war that raged in England and Normandy from 1138 to 1153, serves as the basis for much of the action in this story. In a separate piece, I’ll go into greater detail.

The adorable friendship between Alicent and Rhaenyra only adds to the difficulty of anticipating what will happen next.

The Joust was a fun event.

Daemon referred to his wife as a “bronze bitch,” but that slur was an allusion to the fact that her ancestors worked in the armor industry. Daemon is many things, but he is at least not racist.

Last but not least, keep in mind that the Targaryen dynasty was known for tolerating relationships between uncles and nieces.

Tell me what you thought of the first episode.

(main image: HBO)

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