House of the Dragon! What happened in Season 1 Again?

As someone who was delighted by the announcement that The Dance of Dragons was going to be adapted to the silver screen, I am so happy House of the Dragon was a success. There might have been some discussion among fans of the original ASOIAF histories over some of the changes—aging down Alicent, Aemond accidentally killing Lucerys instead of totally on purpose—but overall, this show gets a full endorsement from me and author George R.R. Martin himself. 

Yet I will be the first to admit, it’s a very busy show. You’d think focusing on only one family, on one continent, would make the story easier to remember, but no. There are a lot of players and plots. So we at HCPL are going to tell you everything you need to know to enjoy season 2. 

Get your mead ready, because here we go!  

The Returning Major Players 


Rhaenyra Targaryen – The queen! According to Dad, anyway. She was the only surviving child of King Viserys Targaryen I (RIP)’s first marriage and was named his heir mostly to keep the king’s brother one step removed from the throne. King Viserys married again and had a bunch of other kids, including some sons, but Rhaenyra remained his heir. She was the favorite. Even after she sired some kids out of wedlock and also married her uncle. Unfortunately for her, she was chilling at Dragonstone, awaiting the birth of her last child, when Viserys died. Thus, it is the Queen/Her Stepmom/Former BFF’s family that is able to move and crown his oldest son king. Rhaenyra starts this season as ambitious and sharp as ever, and very, very pissed. Her faction is called the blacks, as black is one of the colors of House Targaryen. Her dragon is Syrax. 

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Jacaerys Velaryon – He is the oldest surviving child of Rhaenyra (RIP Luke) and her heir. He’s a bright and kind teen, although it’s clear knowing the extent of his family’s dynastic troubles weighs on him. Nonetheless, Jace tries to do the best by his mother, and he takes his role as her heir seriously. He is given the mission to travel to Winterfell and the Vale, to win their support for the upcoming war against the other half of his family. His dragon is Vermax. 

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Daemon Targaryen – The younger brother of King Viserys, husband and uncle to Rhaenyra, and an all-around interesting guy. Daemon is a great warrior, with a lot of cunning and a violent streak he can usually control. He was mad at being shut out of the throne in favor of Rhaenyra but then was angry when certain people *cough, cough, the greens, cough cough* tried to shut out Rhaenyra from her crown. See, he does love his family. Does he love his family well? That’s a whole other beast. He does fight well, though. And he has been itching to let their dragons loose since the greens made their move. His dragon is Caraxes.  

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Rhaenys Targaryen – Known as the Queen Who Never Was. Now, if Westeros was actually being fair, she would have ruled instead of Viserys. She had the better claim and was much better suited to the throne. Alas, she was set aside. Rhaenys was blessed with a lot of sense and good self-esteem, so she did move on. She’s reluctant to throw her lot in with Rhaenyra’s side when it becomes clear hostilities will arise. To be fair, previous attempts hadn’t worked out that well, what with Rhaenyra’s not having her son’s kids and also maybe murdering her son. Still, she comes firmly down on Rhaenyra’s side, when the civil war begins. Her dragon is Meleys.  

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Corlys “the Sea Snake” Velaryon – Corlys is head of a Valyrian house as ancient of the Targaryens, only their domain was the sea. The Velaryons have the most powerful navy in the world and they’re richer than the Lannisters. Corlys never forgave the slight to his wife, in passing her over to the Iron Throne. While he is pretty sick of Rhaenyra and Daemon’s shenanigans, he does still want his grandchildren on the throne. He joins his wife in supporting Rhaenyra, making him a powerful ally in the upcoming conflict. 


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Alicent HightowerAlso the Queen! Alicent was King Viserys' new young wife. Emphasis on young. She was 14 when her father pushed her to charm the King, and she succeeded. She wed him less than a year later, forever fracturing her relationship with her best friend, Rhaenyra. She’s smart, filial, and pious, So of course, she does her duty and serves the King the best she can. Alicent gives him four other kids, three of them sons! It makes sense that she wants what’s best for her kids. It’s also just the rules—sons before daughters. It’s not fair otherwise. And Alicent is big on Fair. She also gave the greens their name; it’s inspired by her ultra-late, show-stealing entrance to Rhaenyra’s first wedding. She was wearing... drumroll please...a stunning green dress. 


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Otto Hightower – The off again, on again Hand of the King. Born a second son of House Hightower, his family creed should be I Would Like That Too. The Hightowers rule Oldtown, which is home to the Faith of the Seven and the Citadel, along with being a major port city. You’d think he’d be satisfied with all that, plus being a top advisor to the king, but like many powerful people, Otto wanted more. And he got most of it, his daughter married the king, his grandchildren are all dragonriders. But he also wanted his grandson Aegon to be king, and after Viserys dies, he makes it happen with a coup! He wanted this all to happen without the muss and fuss of a war, alas. Side note: I will never stop laughing at Otto being the one who pushed the king into naming Rhaenyra his heir over Daemon. 


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Aegon II Targaryen – The king! According to his mom, anyway. Aegon is King Viserys' oldest son, the first child of his marriage to Alicent. Unlike Rhaenyra, Aegon is very much not the favorite. He sucks, actually, and is kind of self-aware of the fact. There is nothing that makes him qualified to run a country over his older and more mature half-sister, Rhaenyra, other than the fact that he’s a son, not a daughter. To be fair, he never wanted to be king. He gets shoved into the position by his mother and grandfather, Otto, via said coup. And he’s vain and attention-seeking enough to settle into his brand-new crown. His dragon is Sunfyre. 


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Aemond Targaryen – The second son of Alicent’s royal marriage. He has two brain cells. One brain cell is dedicated to being the best—in fighting, in academics, in being a good son, etc. The other is dedicated to hating Lucerys Velaryon, his nephew. See, as a kid, Aemond didn’t have a dragon. So when the chance came to claim the biggest dragon, he took it. The timing was bad and the kids fought over it. Aemond pulled out a rock, Luke pulled out a dagger. Scissors won. Aemond lost an eye. Later, as both sides considered war, they each sent an envoy to House Baratheon. When Luke arrived to represent his mother, Aemond was already there. He had won Lord Baratheon’s support for the greens. It wasn’t enough of a win. Aemond chased Luke on dragonback and lost control. Vhagar ripped apart Luke and his dragon. War is now assured between the factions. His dragon is Vhagar. 


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Ser Criston Cole – A member of the Kingsguard. A skilled warrior who bursts onto the scene at the Tourney for King Visery’s would-be son with Queen Aemma. He gives Daemon a thrashing, and it earns him notice from the court, including Rhaenyra. Although he has battle experience fighting against Dornish incursions, he faces an uphill battle in social advancement since Criston has Dornish heritage himself. It’s Rhaenyra who chooses him for the Kingsguard and, later, for her bed. Eventually, a quiet affair isn’t enough for Criston’s romantic soul or his honor, and he proposes to Rhaenyra. She turns him down, and he murders a guy at her first wedding. Things go south. Queen Alicent takes him in and Criston has been loyal to her ever since. The morning after Viserys’ death, he murders someone else for not being down with the coup. He’s Team Green.   

The New Players - We’re going to be meeting a lot of new people. New lords (shout out to Lord Cregan Stark), some new dragonriders, and some really bad people. Also, some new family members. Did you know there was another kid by Alicent, this whole time? Yeah, he was just doing stuff offscreen the entire first season. His name is Daeron by the way.  

What Happened in Season One Again? 

Let's get to it. 

First, the Premise of this entire series: It’s succession with dragons. Or, as I like to say, it’s all Jaehaerys’ fault. House of the Dragon takes place after a century of Targaryen rule. Left without a living son to inherit, Old King Jaehaerys allowed the lords of Westeros to choose their next ruler. Viserys Targaryen becomes king over Rhaenys Targaryen, the Queen Who Never Was. Although the decision was meant to head off a succession crisis, one emerges nonetheless when Viserys’ marriage fails to produce a son. 

Where We Last Left Off 

As a quick recap, King Viserys named his daughter Rhaenyra as heir after the death of his wife and son. Although the Great Council basically said, no female heirs please, everyone hates Daemon. So he does it and Rhaenyra is named his heir. He even tells her about OG Aegon’s prophecy, to nail in her importance as heir. Only Viserys remarries, the new queen being Rhaenyra’s best friend, 14-year-old Alicent. Alicent isn’t happy about it, but it’s what her dad Otto wanted. Otto is really ambitious and wants a Hightower grandson on the throne. 

He gets grandsons and granddaughter (Aegon, Aemond, Daeron, and Helaena), but Rhaenyra remains heir. The first season is filled with the growing tension between people who believe Alicent’s son should be the next King and people who respect Viserys’ wishes. There are marriages, affairs, children out of wedlock, and deaths. In short, Rhaenyra marries Ser Laenor Velaryon to make up with House Velaryon for passing over their daughter as queen. However, Ser Laenor is gay, and they have an open marriage. It results in three children (Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey) who look a lot like the head of the City Watch, Ser Harwin Strong. 

Nonetheless, Viserys and Rhaenyra say these kids are legit, so everyone goes along with it. Except for the greens. It finally comes to a head on the night of Laena Velaryon’s funeral. They’re all in the same place for the first time in years. Daemon is freshly widowed, having married Laena and had two kids with her. He and Rhaenyra consummate their romance that very night. Meanwhile, Vhagar, Laena’s dragon, is claimed by Aemond. It is a bit of a party foul to claim Vhagar, the day of Laena’s funeral, in her family home. Laena's daughters, Baela and Rhaena, are particularly angry about it. The kids get into a fight over it, which Aemond escalates by grabbing a big rock. It ends with Lucerys stabbing him in the eye. 

The adults are woken up, no one is happy about how it’s resolved. The blacks, because Vhagar was claimed for the greens. The greens, because Rhaenyra was successfully able to pivot the conversation when it comes out that Aemond called her children bastards. And since she’s the favorite, that’s all Viserys really cares about. It’s not the only drama, Rhaenyra and Daemon helped Ser Laenor fake his death and escape Westeros. Rhaenyra is now “widowed.” She and Daemon marry according to snazzy Valaryian rites, with only their kids in attendance. The contrast between the faces of the happy couple and the traumatized and stunned faces of the kids is jarring. And funny. 

House of the Dragon' Season 1, Episode 7 -- Daemon Rhaenyra Wedding
Daemon and Rhaenyra at their wedding...
young baela and rhaena targaryen, jacaerys and lucerys velaryon & maester gerardys | Young, Targaryen, Dragon
versus their kids

The Time is Nigh 

Anyways, six years later, Daemon and Rhaenyra are expecting their third child, having added a little Aegon and baby Viserys to the mix. They are also facing a succession challenge from Vaemond, Lord Corlys’s brother, who knows Rhaenyra’s oldest sons are not actually Laenor’s. Corlys also knows Luke isn’t his bio grandson but wants him as the next Lord Velaryon anyway. Rhaenys respected his decision, even as she also thought Luke shoudn’t inherit. But Corlys has been severely wounded in a battle and could die. So Vaemond works with Alicent and Otto to ensure he will inherit Driftmark instead of Lucerys, the current heir. 

So Rhaenyra and Daemon take the crew to King’s Landing and see the castle much changed: a lot more religious decoration, Aegon is a sexual predator now, Aegon and Helaena are married with kids, Aemond is a skilled fighter, and Viserys is dying. Viserys is able to meet his new grandkids and give a thumbs up to Viserys Jr. Later, Rhaenyra visits him alone and pleads for him to stand up for her since Vaemond winning would severely undercut her children’s legitimacy. 

In Viserys's absence, Otto has been ruling as Hand. Vaemond has petitioned him directly, and now the entire court is invited to hear his case for why Luke is not a Velaryon. It's clear the decision has already been made, and this is really just an excuse to add public humiliation to the mix. Rhaenyra proceeds to make her case anyway, only to be interrupted by her dad! 

Viserys makes a heck of an entrance and walks to the Iron Throne to take his seat. It’s slow-going since he’s sick, but with a little help from Daemon, he makes it. And he rules in Lucerys’, thus his daughter’s, favor. Rhaenys reveals she’s agreed to a prior offer from Rhaenyra, to betroth their children. This would allow Lucerys to rule Driftmark, while also ensuring that Laena’s bloodline continues through a marriage with Rhaena. 

It’s a blow to the greens, a win for the blacks, but Vaemond isn’t giving up. Vaemond loudly proclaims Rhaenyra a whore and her children bastards. Viserys calls for his tongue, but Daemon just cuts off his head. And the matter is settled. 

Viserys wants to do one last thing with his kingly power. He wants a family dinner and asks for them all to Get Along Please. Miraculously, they do. Alicent and Rhaenyra share a touching moment, Helaena gives a hilarious toast, it’s a good time. Things seem like they could be okay. The blacks fly home for Dragonstone on a hopeful note. Only Viserys dies that night, leaving it all undone. Alicent is there for his final moments, which is nice, but also bad because he confused Alicent and Rhaenyra. He mumbles about Aegon’s prophecy. Alicent then confuses the Aegons. Inevitable, with all the Aegons in the family. 

Thus the greens move to crown Aegon while Visery’s body is barely cold. They don’t announce his death and set the coup in motion at the Small Council meeting, which features a murder. Only, no one can find Aegon. He’s missing. Alicent, who wants to make sure Rhaenyra and her kids are not straight-up assassinated, is determined to find him first. Aemond and Ser Criston are on the case. The Kingsguard twins, Sers Arryk and Erryk Cargyll, are dispatched by Otto.  

Meanwhile, Alicent approaches Rhaenys, who has been detained in her rooms, for an alliance. Rhaenys is not impressed. Aemond and Criston have found Aegon. He desperately does not want to be king but is dragged back. At the same time, the twins’ trek across King’s Landing has led to some disgusting places. The Kingsguard know all of Prince Aegon’s regular haunts, and there is a child fighting pit at one of them. Ser Erryk renounces his loyalty to Aegon because he sucks. He manages to sneak out Rhaenys and a crown. He loses her in the crowd. 

 People are being gathered for the King’s coronation, which, of course, has to be as big and public as possible, so it has to be held in the Dragonpit. Rhaenys gets an idea. 

The coronation starts off great. Aegon has been pep-talked by Alicent on the ride over, and he is getting into the crowd’s adulation. Then it’s all ruined by Rhaenys busting out on her dragon, hurting a lot of people quite casually. She doesn’t roast Aegon and his family, though. Instead, she escapes and brings the news to Rhaenyra on Dragonstone. 

News of Aegon’s coronation and her father’s death pushes Rhaenyra into labor early, and the baby is stillborn. The castle rings with the sound of her cries, but Daemon focuses on shoring up their resources and support. Rhaenyra pushes past her grief to join in. Ser Erryk also arrives with Viserys’ crown and Rhaenyra is proclaimed Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. 

The blacks begin strategizing, and it comes to this. The greens started on the stronger foot and they have Vhagar, the biggest and baddest dragon. The blacks have more dragons on their side, though, and a few assured alliances. Then an Otto appears! Alicent sent her father to treat with Rhaenyra. Daemon refuses, knowing his children will be taken as hostages. Rhaenyra doesn’t blow him off. She weighs the potential civil war carefully.  

This impresses Rhaenys enough that she tells Coryls, who’s mostly recovered from his wound, that they should back Rhaenyra. Plus, as their granddaughters are engaged to Rhaenyra’s sons, their support protects them as well. House Velaryons joins the blacks and plans to put a blockade on King’s Landing. Rhaenyra and co decide they need to check in with their allies. Jacaerys thinks it would be better for him and Luke to do it. Flying on dragonback, as her heirs, is a powerful symbol. She agrees, on the condition they fly as messengers only, safe from combat. 

Jace is sent to the Vale and Winterfell, two alliances Rhaenyra is sure will be respected. Luke is sent to Storm’s End, which is much closer. Lord Borros Baratheon is related to them and Rhaenyra believes he will be kind to Luke. But Aemond beat him there. He won Lord Borros for the greens. It wasn’t enough of a win, though. He also demands an eye from Luke. Lord Borros kicks them out of their home, but Aemond just takes the one-sided fight outside. 

It’s storming and Luke’s smaller dragon is struggling to fly. Vhagar gains ground quickly, and a merry terrorizing ensues, with Aemond in control. Until he isn’t. Luke’s Arrax finally lashes out at Vhagar. Despite Aemond’s frantic commands, Vhagar rips Luke and his dragon apart. 

The news makes it to Dragonstone, and now, war is assured.  

House of the Dragon season finale: Luke scene major moment of no returnRhaenyra's face after receiving news of Luke's death. Peace is out the window.

And that is where we are at folks. If you would to catch up the House of the Dragon, or check out the original histories via The World of Ice & Fire and Fire & Blood, HCPL has them. Enjoy the dynastic chaos!