House of the Dragon Episode 10: Let the Dragon Dance Begin


The king is dead. Long live the king… or is it the queen? House of the Dragon Episode 10 marked the end of the show’s fantastic first season, delivering a caliber of television that we haven’t seen in a while. For 10 weeks, House of the Dragon proved its mastery of pacing, tension, drama, and transitions. The show took George R.R. Martin’s complex lore and transformed it into a modern Shakesperean tragedy. 

There are no heroes or villains in this story, only deeply flawed and complex characters that level up the show’s writing with every episode. All of whom were made even more visceral by the show’s perfect casting. 

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Emma D’Arcy’s portrayal of Rhaenyra, now Queen, carried Episode 10. In just one episode, Rhaenyra loses the father who named her air, loses a daughter in a stillbirth, loses a son in a violent dragon battle, and loses faith in the loving husband she thought she had. Burdened by duty, betrayal, loss, and grief, Rhaenyra’s emotional turmoil all plays out on her face, a testament to D’Arcy’s extraordinary portrayal of this complex woman. 

In Episode 10, Rhaenyra stands alone in her pursuit of peace as the men around her hunger for war. Her reluctance for war could be seen as weak by some, but in the grander scheme of things, it was a smart decision by the writers. Our last image of the episode and the season is of Rhaenyra after learning of her son’s murder. It’s a turning point for the character, her transition into a version of Rhaenyra we’ve never seen before—as the Black Queen. And it begs the question: Is this her villain origin story? If it is, then we’re willing passengers on this wild ride. 

Photo by HBO GO.

Episode 10 was also a turning point for other characters as we peel back more of their ambitions and motivations. The most shocking was that of Daemon (Matt Smith), who in an absurd turn of events, has become the Internet’s boyfriend. A walking red flag, Daemon’s romanticized image was destroyed in one full sweep by HBO when the show revealed his true colors. Or perhaps merely reminded viewers that this is the same man who killed his first wife, mocked his brother’s dead wife and baby, and lusted for his underage niece. HOTD is not a love story—don’t expect any redemption here. 

Other standouts of the episode were Rhaenys (Eve Best) and Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) who each showed considerable character development in the wake of their losses. From ambitious and mocking bystanders in Episode 1, the two might now be Rhaenyra’s most loyal allies. Rhaenys and Corlys might also have the only healthy relationship in the show, proving that such a thing is actually possible in Westeros. 

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No one is safe from the consequences of war, which Rhaenyra’s children experience firsthand. It’s Lucerys (Elliot Grihault) who becomes the first casualty of the Dance of Dragons when Vhagar chomps him and his dragon Arrax above the Storm’s End. With one bite, the civil war began. Lucerys is just one of the many tragic figures to come, but the episode’s opening scene of him with his mother only made the blow of his death that much more painful. 

Photo by HBO GO.

Based on GRRM’s Fire & Blood, House of the Dragon played with the loopholes presented by the book’s unreliable narrator. Instead of a play-by-play of the Targaryen civil war, the show emphasized the emotions and motivations of war, even changing events in the book on the basis that history is written (or rewritten) but the victors. 

Every episode, scene, and relationship is intentional and worthy of being picked apart and analyzed, which just goes to show the depth of the show’s writing. It’s not lost on us that the show’s pilot episode and final episode each featured a violent birth, a dead child, and a funeral pyre. “Fire and blood” are the words of the house of the dragon, and the imagery that delivers these words is pure poetry. 


House of the Dragon will return on HBO GO sometime in late 2023 or 2024.

Read more about House of the Dragon:

Being Aegon Targaryen

All the Game of Thrones Spin-Offs In Development, Because House of the Dragon Is Not Enough

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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